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Chapter One

Chapter One

A Chapter by Omegax45
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Who would've thought a simple day of trying to earn enough coin for a bit of food could turn into this real fast?

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The. Game


by omegax45


 


 


Chapter 1:  Game Start


 


 


        Among the mountains and in a large valley, there was once a large kingdom called Minstal.  It had a large castle in the center that was surrounded by large houses and stores, which were then surrounded by smaller houses and those were surrounded by farmland.  There was one small section within the farmland area that wasn’t used for farming, but as a place for the poor and homeless to make some sort of shelter to live in while trying to find work to pay for food and other things.  Unless you were of the poor, everyone stayed away from that section. 


        The people of Minstral, with the exception of the poor, loved to try and outdo one another in order to be revered and gain a higher status than what they have.  If one wore a nice dress, others would buy better dresses to outdo the one with the nice dress.  If a hunter caught a large prey, the other hunters would spend days in the forests to catch a much larger prey.  The only time they seemed to get along was to harass the poor whenever they walked by looking for work, food, or even a copper coin.  They would laugh at them, throw stones at them, or even assault them and took whatever they had.  Many of the poor women refused to walk around without a man by their side out of fear of being raped.  It came about after several soldiers kidnapped a group of young women looking for work and a few of them were killed from the abuse.  Nothing was done against the soldiers responsible.  None other than the victims’ families seemed to care.


        One particular young woman just happened to be the favorite target of the young noble women in the area she worked at.  Her name was Rose, a simple tailor that fixed small holes in one’s clothes with whatever thread she had on hand.  She could always be found with the shoe shiner Joseph, a boy of nearly eleven summers yet acted much older than his age.  He had to be, for he was the only man in his family and it fell upon him to make a living for them.  He always came to Rose’s aid whenever the noble girls went after her, playing on her fear of large crowds fighting for the latest wares.  To Rose, they looked like wild beasts feasting on a single carcass, and that frightened her gravely.  The noble girls would gang up on her like that, acting like she was the item they wanted more than life itself.  Rose would end up either in a corner or by the wall of a building, curled up into a ball and in tears as they laugh and laugh at her misery and fear.  Joseph would chase them away with his polish brush, threatening to ruin their clothes with it while they threatened him with their fathers chasing after him before leaving.  Rose was always grateful, but Joseph refused any kind of reward.  They were a team, he told her, and that they worked together to help each other. Rose would fix his clothes and Joseph would polish her shoes.  They both would search bins of garbage at the end of the day for food or supplies if they didn’t make enough to buy them and help each other escape whenever the nobles or store owners chased after them.  They would then part ways after reaching the poor section of the kingdom, Joseph going to his family while Rose would search for a place to rest for the night. 


        It was like that almost every day since the two first met.  When Joseph was first starting out as a shoe shiner boy looking for a place to set up shop, and Rose trying to find work in order to make money.  She noticed a tear in Joseph’s clothing and she fixed it with what little thread she had at the time.  Joseph suggested they worked together, and they had every since.  They were a mystery to the nobles around them, for they seemed so happy for living such a miserable life.  Unsure when your next meal would come in, not having a safe place to call home, living off the scraps of what was found in the garbage…  How could one really be content?  The again, the nobles had everything they could ever asked for and then some, so it was just a mystery to them.


        Then, one day, all that changed for Rose and Joseph.


 


* * * *


 


        “All done,” Rose smiled as she finished sewing up a tear in a soldier’s tunic, “Nobody will know the difference.”


        “Thank you Rose,” the soldier smiled brightly as he put the tunic on and inspected the fabric, “I’m glad you were here today.  The misses would’ve had my head on a plates if I ruin this.  What do I owe you?”


        “The usual two coppers, please.”


        “Here you go,” the soldier gave her the coins, “You know, you can always charge a little more.  I really can’t see you living off two coppers a stitch.  With a little extra, you can get yourself a good meal.  Maybe a new dress.”


        “I’m okay,” Rose placed the coins and her sewing supplies in a pocket of her dress, which looked like a patchwork of many different cloths sewn together to make a dress, “I don’t really need much, really.  My dress keeps me warm at night, and I don’t eat much.  Thank you for the concern, though.”


        “Anytime.  I better get going before my wife comes after me.  I’ll bring you a basket of food next we meet.”


        “Have a nice day,” Rose waved at the soldier as he left, then sat down and waited for the next customer to come by.


        “He’s right you know,” she turned to see Joseph throwing his shining towel on his shoulder, “Rumor’s going around that the high council plans on raising taxes soon, and will raise prices on everything.  Even we poor folk can’t keep our prices low if we wanna keep trying to make some sort of living to scrape by.”


        “True enough,” Rose sighed, looking down at her worn shoes, “but Victoria down the street has been competing with me.  She charges one silver for any stitching and her threads are top of the line, not like the threads I get from tossed fabrics.  As it is, I lost three regulars to her in the last few weeks.”


        “Victoria is such a b***h,” Joseph snorted, checking his supplies, “She was whoring herself out beforehand.  Someone must’ve snitched on her to the authorities if she is trying to take over your job.  She won’t last, I bet you.”


        “Maybe,” Rose mumbled before hearing trotting, “Her Majesty is coming.  Looks like our day is over.”


        “Tch,” Joseph picked up his small box full of supplies, “I only made ten coppers today, not enough for a small cake for Tiffany.”


        “It’s her birthday today right,” Rose guessed, then pulled out the coppers from her pocket, “Here.  I think this will be enough.”


        “No,” Joseph put his hand up against the coins, “I can’t accept this.  It’s all you made today.  What about supper?”


        “I’m sure I can find something,” Rose smiled, dropping the coins in his supply box, “Besides, think of it as a birthday present to Tiffany.”


        They didn’t get a chance to say anything else as soldiers marched down the streets and they were forced away from their spot.More soldiers marched down the street before a carriage followed shortly, it's design and extravagant coloring stating royalty.  A single hand stuck out of one of the curtains covering the windows and handed letters to the soldiers, whom gave said letters to certain young women wandering about.  The young women opened the letters and squealed in delight, showing the letters to family and friends with proud smirks on their faces.


        “I wonder what’s going on,” Joseph asked, watching the ones that didn’t received a letter become jealous and angry.


        “Probably invites to a ball or something,” Rose guessed, “It has nothing to do with us poor class folk.  I doubt I could even scrapped up enough money in a year for a dress worthy enough for Queen Usio’s standards.”


        “I would say make that two years,” the shoe shine boy added, making Rose snicker. 


        It was a joke most often shared.  After all, they were of the poor class, the lowest class one could be in.  A cow or a chicken had more worth than they, as they were told so many times.  They had no illusions of rising beyond their class.


        Suddenly, one of the soldiers came up to Rose and Joseph, both becoming nervous that their words were heard and they would soon end up in the dungeons.  The soldier stared at Rose, a look of disgust on his face, before handing her a letter.  Rose looked at it, dumbfounded, but slowly took the letter into her hands.  She stared at it, unsure as to what to do with it.  She was of the poor class, so why was Queen Usio giving her a letter?  Her, of all people?!  What did the queen wished with her by giving her the letter?!  She went to voice these thoughts, but the queen’s carriage and her soldiers were already down the street and nearly out of sight.


        “We need to go,” Joseph suddenly stated, grabbing Rose’s hand and pulling her away.


        “What,” Rose uttered in confusion before looking around, her eyes widening in fear at what she saw.


        The noble girls that didn’t received a letter were giving chase, their eyes full of greed and obsession and aimed directly at the letter in her hands.  They were whispering about taking the letter, claiming that Rose had no right to it unlike them, and the letter was rightfully theirs.  Rose recognized those looks as the same looks they gave any time a merchant came by with something new and exotic, something they all want and will fight for it with everything they had.  And right now, the letter was what they wanted.


        Rose would’ve gave into her fears and ran into the closest corner to curl up in had it not been for Joseph dragging her along with an iron grip on her wrist.  Instead, she kept her eyes forward and grabbed her skirts with her free hand, running as fast as she could.  Joseph led her throughout the kingdom with the noble girls nearly right at their heels, ducking and dodging passerbys as well as rocks being thrown at them by the noble girls.  They eventually ran into the poor side of the kingdom, the poor looking confused as the two young adults were chased.  They stopped their search for food or coin to watch, surprised that the noble girls were so desperate to catch Joseph and Rose that they had not noticed that they were in the one place in the whole kingdom they’ve had avoided like it was the gallows.  They were pretty certain that they would shriek in fright once they realize it.


        Joseph and Rose kept running, even as their legs ached and their lungs burned.  They knew that if they stopped, the noble girls would not leave them alone once they got the letter.  They would fight over it, beating Joseph and Rose until they were either dead or close to it.  They would probably beat them anyway for just receiving the letter.  They were the noble class, the privileged.  Even if the queen gave the letter to Rose, they felt they had more right to it than her.  If Rose wasn’t strong enough to rise from her position, then she deserved whatever misfortune came her way.


        Joseph took a sharp turn, nearly letting go of Rose, and led her into the nearby forest.  They reached a river and waded through, Rose holding the letter as high as she could along with her skirt.  The noble girls stopped at the bank, screeching their denial that the letter was lost to them, and they screamed for their fathers, brothers, and even their servants to go after them.  By the time anyone came to their call, Joseph and Rose were well out of sight after reaching the other side.


        The poor young adults continued further into the forest until their legs could go no further.  They sat upon the ground, panting to ease the fire in their lungs.  They were both wet from sweat and the river, their clothes even dirtier from the dirt beneath soaking in the water and becoming mud.  Neither cared, just thankful to have gotten away.


        “Well,” Joseph suddenly said, catching Rose’s attention, “Let’s see what the letter says.  Those brats wouldn’t have been chasing you if it wasn’t important.  So… open it up.”


        “Uh….sure,” Rose hesitated for a moment, looking at the letter as if studying it, before opening it up and finding a letter inside.  Pulling out the crinkled piece of paper, she began to read:


 


 


        Dear Guest,


 


                You are invited to the Redreu Estate Castle as a honorary guest of her Majesty Queen Usio.  You and nineteen guests will be competing in a game to win the hand of the renowned paladin and hero Dios, and earn a position of greatness among the royal class.  Proper attire is not required, but it is recommended.  The game will be going on for a month.  No need to bring anything but yourself, for you will be provided all the necessities during your stay.


        Come to the entrance gates of our kingdom before sundown today to arrive by carriage.  If you are late, or do not arrive, you will not be allowed to participate.  Do be on time and good luck to you.


 


                                    Sincerely,


                                Usio of the Minstral Kingdom


 


 


        Rose reread the letter in shock, Joseph looking confused as he could not read.  The queen wanted her to compete in a game against the chosen noble girls to win the hand of Dios, the post powerful and dangerous paladin known to all in the kingdom, and possibly the world.  His victories were uncountable.  His reputation full of exaggerations that had been proven true.  He had served under the former king of the kingdom, King Havier.  Rumors had said that Dios went to war with the kingdom that sent assassins that killed King Havier, but had not been seen since he had returned victorious.  Some say that he had suffered grievous injuries that forced him into retirement.  Others say he refused to swear loyalty to Queen Usio and left the kingdom in search of adventure.  Regardless, the invitation was proof that he was still alive and in the kingdom… looking for a wife.


        “Whoa,” Joseph’s eyes widened when Rose told him the contents of the letter, “This is big news.  Really big.  We’re almost at the entrance gates.  You have to go.”


        “But,” Rose protested as Joseph helped her up, “I don’t want to.”


        “Why not?  This is your chance, a real chance, Rose!  You can get married and escape the poor class!  You will be set for life!”


        “I have to compete against nineteen noble's who are prettier and more well-off than me just to marry someone we only know by reputation and stories.  I’ll lose for certain.  Why go through such humiliation?”


        “You’re way prettier than those pathetic cows, and much kinder too!  They’ll turn him away with their selfishness and greed, and see how wonderful you are!  If Dios can’t see you would be a better choice, then he is a fool!”


        “He would be a greater fool to choose a beggar for a wife over a noble girl that has a dowry!”


        “Ahem.”


        Joseph and Rose turned to see a tall man standing nearby.  He wore a tailored suit that showed his status as a butler, the crest upon his breast pocket unidentifiable.  He had dark silver hair that was set in a short pony tail with his bangs hanging over his face, a face covered in horrific scars and protruding flesh.  The one eye they could see was a bluish gray with hints of white spots, an indication that he was blind or close to it.  They knew it was rude to stare, but they couldn’t help it.  How did someone like him received such scars, and why?


        “Pardon me,” the butler bowed before them, “My name is Rowen.  I am the head butler of the Redreu Estate Castle.  I was awaiting the chosen guests for Her Majesty’s game when I heard a ruckus and came to investigate.  If I had heard correctly, the lady here is one of the chosen guests, correct?”


        “I-”


        “Yes indeed,” Joseph interrupted Rose before she could protest, “but it seems Rose here has a bit of cold feet.  We were on our way to the entrance gates, actually.”


        “Excellent,” Rowen smiled brightly, gesturing with one arm, “If you would follow me then, please.  The sun will be setting soon, and we should not be late.”


        “Come on Rose,” Joseph pushed Rose and they followed Rowen to the entrance gates, a carriage waiting for them, “You’ll be fine.  You’ll show those girls off and win.  And when you do, send me an invite for the wedding.”


        “Joseph-”


        “In you go,” Joseph smiled brightly as he pushed Rose into the carriage after Rowen and closed the door, “You can do it.  Believe in yourself.  I do.  We’ll be cheering for you.”


        “I’m afraid I must cut the farewell short,” Rowen said as he looked out the window, “We are losing daylight and Her Majesty is impatient.  Thank you for your kindness Mr. Joseph, and I bid you safe travels back to your home.”


        “No need,” Joseph replied, “Please take care of Rose.  She is quite shy and gets scared easily.”


        “I shall,” Rowen smiled before waving to the driver and the carriage took off.  Joseph waved to them until they were out of sight before heading back home, hoping to evade the noble girls for awhile.  He’ll have to find a new spot for his business, after all… and a cake for Tiffany.








© 2018 Omegax45



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Added on June 4, 2017
Last Updated on August 6, 2018
Tags: mystery, riddles, romance, game classes


Author

Omegax45
Omegax45

CT



About
After so many years of writing, I finally published a book on Amazon Kindle: Hell's Detective: Murder. It is the first in a series I am working on and I hope it will take off. If interested, pleas.. more..

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