Chapter 2

Chapter 2

A Chapter by Dean Vaksman

Risha returns back to the settlement, witnessing the crowds preparing for the next day's harvest.


You can say many things about Risha's meagre settlement. You can say it’s crowded, call it dreary in most days, and you can even suggest that it is only temporary - doomed to crumble. Such as was the eventual fate of all settlements that she and her mother took their refuge in. But above all, you can say that it is lively before the days of harvest.

As soon as Risha's mother hardly managed to push the central hall’s heavy, creaking, wooden door out of the way, a rowdy, yet good natured rumble of a jabbering masses boomed and flushed over her. Along with the sudden burst of warmth, generated by the large hearth fire that kept the entire interior of the hall surprisingly warm and pleasant.

'Hey Risha! Where have you been hiding?' Seref, standing at a corner by the hall’s entrance, called out while swaying from side to side, displaying great difficulty of steadying his practically dancing feet on the wooden floor. Drunk, beyond all doubts. Not that Risha held it against him though. He was one of those unfortunate enough to be given the task of collecting sufficient supplies of wood. And there were not forests in the nearby vicinity, for all that Risha knew.

She stopped and smiled at him, but her mother had quickly urged her to move along, pushing her deeper into the masses. Her mother never cared much for Seref after all. She always told her that he’s a troublemaker, and that she shouldn't mix herself with the likes of him. Risha, it goes without saying, was actually quite fond of the blubbering drunk head. He was only three years older than she was, at the most. Except for him, there was none other that could be said to even remotely reach her own young age.

 It wasn't only Seref though. From all around, people called and cheered at them - loudly. They were all drunk, men and women alike. Not a single sober soul could be spotted in the interior’s vicinity.

A lot of effort has been put into this. It’s not that the settlement had excessive reserves of beer supplies. It’s that the entirety of it was always kept for the night before the harvest…

Most men have been assigned to take part in the harvest. They will go out into the world, exposed, helpless. All for the sake of wood, brick and stone, leather and fur. Lucky few were blessed by receiving the task of collecting fish, which was fairly easy, considering that the sea was a only a number of strides away.

The women would risk their lives as well, of course. There were no exceptions to anyone. They would leave the relatively safe borders of the city and go prepare the land for sowing. Agriculture requires a vast room in order to suitably sustain a settlement, and to say that space inside these walls is sparse, would be an understatement.

Yet, tending the fields was practically a daily routine, and was nothing compared to the harsh days of harvest. The true burden would be seeing their men departure away. Away to the wilderness, to a world of chaos and death. To the unknown.

She set down on a log next to the hearth " warming her hands in its pleasant, flickering heat.

'Risha', she winced by a sudden calling and a nudge on her shoulder, restoring back the awareness to her loud, lively surrounding.

'Your mother tells me that it's your first day in the fields tomorrow', it was old Marish, wheezing and panting as though putting great effort to his words. He was the only man in the world to ever reach such an elderly age for all she knew. ‘Are you nervous?’

'I've been outside before', she puffed her cheeks, a childish scowl forming on her face. She loosened her face muscles before resuming, not wishing to give a rude impression. 'I've been to many places already after all. You know that.’

'That I do my child. But is it not the first time you will be out there without your dear mother?'

There was a momentary silence as the old man’s words were still sinking into her.

Risha was dumbstruck. It was true, she had never been without her mother, and tomorrow will be the first time that she goes out to tend the fields. Without her mother whose daily job is to work in the central hall.

Her eyes sought for her all-time companion, who had suddenly vanished in between the masses drunkards. She was finally able spot her next to a beer barrel, serving those who were already well filled up by its content. She felt a sudden sensation of relief, meagre as it was.

'Now I can see the anxiety clearly', old Marish chuckled while squinting his eyes at her. He smiled pleasantly at her as his sudden burst amusement slowly subsided. 'You have nothing to fear my child. You will not be alone, there will be other women there with you. So to show you the roots. Oh, it is the Giants that you worry about, isn’t it? That's good, because I cannot give you a reason not to be. But if it's of any comfort, know that you are not safer here than you are out there. If the Giants were ever to stumble upon our little refuge, you can rest assured that they will bring it to ruins in less than a day.'

It wasn't reassuring in the least, and Risha started wondering whether the old man was trying to comfort, or just plainly scare the colors out of her. She waited, but the man didn't laugh, only smiled reassuringly.

'Thank you Marish…', she mumbled half-heartedly.

'Oh, oh, there is no need to thank me child’, he said while tapping her shoulder several times. ‘Just remember, death comes to us all my dear, and when it comes, there is no need to fear it, but only graciously accept it as your eventual fate.'

'Hoy Marish!' Risha turned stared to her left as she heard a sudden calling.  It was Otesla, one of the lead patrolmen, swallowing his own words. He set on another log next to the hearth with a wooden mug in his hand, drunk as one can be without passing. 'Dis here… is not a way o' speaking to a lil' girl…!'

It was almost as though Otesla was just looking for a reason to half shout, half murmur his hardly comprehensible words. Still, Risha had no argue with them. She was doubtful that they've reached Marish's ears though. The man was old, and half deaf.

'Excuse me Marish', she raised her voice while standing up. 'I will be retiring to bed now.'

'Oh, of course dear. You need your sleep for tomorrow. It will be the start of the harvest after all...' He gravely reminded her of what’s to come, sending a chill up her spine. Honestly, Marish was a truly nice, gracious man. Yet needed a grave lesson in basic sensitivity.

She surpassed the need to grimace, nodded, and smiled at the elder before taking her leave.

The central hall had two floors, and the benefit of her mother working there was that she and Risha held the luxury of sharing a single room between the two of them. Most folks had to settle for large, crammed barracks. Brimming up with no less than fifteen people.

She laid on top of her straw bed, rolling, moving and shifted uncomfortably until finally finding the exact right position to help her sleep. She tried not to move so to not ruin her good efforts.

All this was done in vain, as she was soon to realize. Sleep will not be coming tonight. Her anxiety was too great, tightening her chest, making her bowls turn inside her stomach.

And of course, the ruckus rising up from the bottom floor, booming against her thin wooden door, was not much of a helper either.

Tomorrow, she told herself, will be a long day.

© 2016 Dean Vaksman

Author's Note

Dean Vaksman
Again, this is hardly edited.

Hope that you'll like it!

Oh, it goes without saying. You should probably read the first chapter beforehand haha

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Added on July 17, 2016
Last Updated on July 17, 2016
Tags: Fantasy, Woman Protagonist, short story, collection, monsters, giants, tragedy, survival


Dean Vaksman
Dean Vaksman

Hello everyone, My name is Dean Vaksman. I first practiced the actual act of writing two years ago, during my millitary service, and I found myself frustrated, yet, overjoyed with everything that h.. more..

Chapter 1 Chapter 1

A Chapter by Dean Vaksman