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The Scarlet Crown

one month ago
*Thunk*… “That damn thumping is driving me up the wall,'' I thought. *Thunk*… “Why are they practicing archery at this hour?” *Thunk*… “Arg, I guess that’s a sign to get up.” I begrudgingly open my eyes to gaze at my modest home, a stove in the corner, a small mat for my dog to lay on, an old armchair, a bookcase, a small table next to my chair, a table, a few nicknacks from my time in the army, and my uncomfortable cot in the corner, complete with a scratchy quilt and a rock hard pillow. It’s an alright living. I’m not hungry, cold, or sick. And, I always got a book to keep me occupied when it's too cold or dark to be out. Plus, my daughter comes around every couple of days to visit and make sure I haven’t moved on yet.
The only downside is that I’m right next to the archery shoot. I don't mind the occasional arrow getting shot into my walls, and I know that we’re supposed to be training the recruits, but when they start shooting from dawn and don't stop till midnight, I get mighty grumpy. “But, what the hell can I do about that?” I thought to myself. “They’re just kids, and I don’t want to be starting anything with anyone.” I sighed and then groaned because I remembered I have a night watch tonight. Nightwatch is the most mind-numbing job in the village. You get to sit at the top of the watchtower while the lovely, freezing, bone-chilling wind blows directly into your soul and makes you wish to be dead, rather than sit on top of that blasted tower! The only upside though, is that the pay is good. 30 denarii every two hours, which is good if you’re a poor old man living in a shack, which I am.
I reach up and rub my chin. “Ugh,” I think to myself, “I’ll have to shave today.” I hated shaving but considering that guards are supposed to be clean-shaven. Gods know why, but I think it’s supposed to make our helmets fit better. My bones groan as I get up to perform my morning ritual, shave, wash, get dressed in my favorite, unstained, gray tunic, and prepare my modest breakfast. Which, if you’re interested, consists of a couple of pieces of stale bread, one egg, a piece of gritty meat, and a cup of watered-down mead. “Gourmet” I muttered to myself.
As I sat down at my old, frayed armchair, plate in hand, I noticed that my dog wasn’t on his mat. He wasn’t anywhere in my shack. It’s odd, but not uncommon for my dog to find some hole in my shack and slip out of it. He’ll be fine, someone will feed and water him and he’ll find his way home, I hope.
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Rest of the story coming in Fall 2022... I hope...