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|Creators: Mike Hebel (Writer)|
|Oranaan finds that something lost can sometimes cause great trouble.|
|Posted: 08/12/10 [1 Comment]
~ 1728 words.|
Yawning and running his ﬁngers through his hair Oranaan blinked wincing at the burning sensation in the corners of his eyes. Reaching blindly he grasped the small bowl of water he kept near the workbench and splashed his eyes.Author's Notes
"Ahhh....that's much better." once the burning abated slightly. Blinking again his vision cleared. Unfortunately this allowed him to see the clock on the wall near where he hung his tools. "Dammit. I'm late again!"
Rising from his workshop cot, he frantically grabbed at the book pack leaning against the wall next to the door. Throwing the pack over his shoulder he grabbed a piece of bread from the nearby table and opened the door and rushed off to class.
'Maybe today will be better than yesterday,' he thought. 'It couldn't be any worse could it?'
Entering the classroom for his advanced mechanicals class, he saw that his regular lecturer Science Master was not present and an unknown man had taken his place.
'And of course it's worse. When will I learn not to bait the universe? Still' he thought grinning slightly 'this could be a rare opportunity to slack off.'
Setting his pack next to the auditorium chair he extracted his sketchbook and a pencil to take notes during the lecture. Dropping the notebook onto the ﬂoor next to the pack it ﬂopped open to a drawing of a device he'd been working on last night.
'Damn thing doesn't work right yet,' he thought, glancing at the sketch. 'If I could only get the right sequences...'
Something else about the machine still bothered him. Not the design of the device in question, but the way it could be misused.
'Wouldn't be the ﬁrst time,' he thought ruefully. 'Still, best to be prudent and keep it to myself.'
Quickly turning the book to a fresh page, he ﬁnished pulling the pencil out of his bag and straightened in his seat as someone below wheeled a large mechanical device into the front of the lecture hall for the start of the lecture session. Mentally capturing every word, Oranaan began to sketch...
Stomach growling, Oranaan packed his sketchbook into his bag and left the lecture hall headed towards the school meal building.
'My own fault. Shouldn't have been up all night again. Got to get a handle on that. Still, I think I solved the major problems with the design during the lecture today so I should be able to get some fun in this evening.'
Occupied with his growing hunger and his mind whirling with ideas, he failed to see a street lamp in his path and strolled face ﬁrst into it, knocking himself onto the ground.
"Can I give you a hand up, young man?" said a deep voice from Oranaan's left.
Looking up, Oranaan shook his head a bit and focused on the large heavyset gentleman extending his arm down to Oranaan.
"My thanks moses," he said, taking the unknown man's hand to help steady himself as he picked himself up.
"You should be more careful where you walk." the large man said with a slight grin on his face. For some reason, the grin on the man's face put Oranaan ill at ease. "Thank you for your hand moses, but I have to get moving or I'll miss using today's meal voucher!" he said backing away and turning to continue on his way down the street.
Watching Oranaan go, the large man waited until he disappeared around a corner before picking up the sketchbook on the ground near the lamppost. "You should be more careful indeed, Oranaan..." he said, putting the sketchbook into his coat.
Food consumption, for Oranaan, ranged from a mildly pleasurable experience to a daily evil to be endured only at the most extreme times of necessity. 'I think the worst thing about eating is that I can do nothing else with my hands while doing so. Still the soup is pleasant. Even if I'm not quite sure what it contains.'
His eyes focused on an unknown particle floating in the bowl and for some reason his mind was caught by the circular pattern it followed.
"Hey Oranaan! Think fast!" came a voice to Oranaan's right.
Dropping his spoon to the table, Oranaan hastily put his hands up just in time to catch a fairly hefty volume lobbed at his head.
"Roilam!" he said with a slightly irritated tone in his voice but a smile on his face. "You almost made me spill my soup!" Then in mock sternness, "Be more careful next time!"
"The king of chance takers telling me to be careful?" Roilam said with a grin "What's this world coming to? Besides," he said lowering his voice, "what kind of bookmaker would I be if I didn't take chances?"
The book, to Oranaan's surprise, was Roilam's ledger, containing all the current bets and odds for almost a quarter of that area of the city.
"I know," said Roilam calmly. "I don't normally let other people hold it, let alone throw it at them. But I need a favor. And besides you're my best customer."
"What kind of favor?" asked Oranaan raising an eyebrow.
"I need that brilliant skull of yours to factor some odds for me. Nothing dangerous or illegal, but fairly complex," Roilam said simply. "In return, I'll drop any debt you happen to acquire for the next six months."
His mind running fast apace, Oranaan looked sideways at Roilam and matched his grin. "Nothing dangerous? What's the fun in that? I'll take it. Just let me jot it down in my sketchbook..."
Oranaan handed the book back to Roilam and began rummaging through his book pack, then realized with horror that his sketchbook was nowhere to be found inside. Swearing slightly, Oranaan ran his thoughts back over the last place he remembered having it and suddenly recalled the exchange at the lamp post.
"Something wrong?" Roilam asked, a puzzled expression on his face. "Here, I've written down what I need," he said handing Oranaan a piece of paper.
Slightly flustered, Oranaan took the page and said, "It's nothing. I just forgot I have to go and do something. I'll catch up with you later this evening so we can go over what you want me to look at."
"Fair enough. This evening then," Roilam replied, but by that time Oranaan was already headed in the direction of the door at a moderately brisk pace.
"You'd think a sketchbook on the ground would be easy to find." Oranaan muttered under his breath searching the street for the third time. "It's got to be here somewhere!"
With a start Oranaan remembered the man he met near the lamp post and his feet slowed to a halt as the gravity of the situation struck him. Feeling more than a little ill he stopped and closed his eyes to consider the situation while massaging his forehead with his right hand.
Calming himself, Oranaan slowly replayed the incident in his mind.
'Well trimmed coat, heavy almost rotund, what else...' Oranaan though in desperation 'Callouses! The man had almost no callouses on his hand when he helped me up! And his boots were polished!'
Opening his eyes Oranaan took out one of his remaining sketchbooks and quickly began to draw a picture of the man now firmly affixed in his mind's eye. After several minutes he finished with a satisfied "There!" and closed up the sketchbook to keep the likeness from prying eyes.
By this time, the light had almost faded to nothing and the lamps along the street sides were doing their duty to take the place of the sun as they did every evening.
'Got to see if Roilam can help me find this man!' thought Oranaan, choosing a particular street among the lanes and heading off towards his evening meeting. 'Better get there before curfew.'
Roilam was a careful man. As such, and a purveyor of illicit vices, he took many precautions to keep from running afoul of the city monitors. So much so that his meeting places changed every week as well as every night. Tonight the location was in the small basement of an out of the way merchant's building near the outskirts of town. Oranaan knew Roilam always kept one entrance and exit location for himself as well as giving out a public one, so to speak.
In the lamp light, Oranaan grinned a little. So far, Roilam had not been able to construct a hidden door that Oranaan himself could not find. Tonight was no different.
As Oranaan approached the building, he spied the public entrance, identified by a red and black rag which was this week's signal that games were available. Thinking quickly, Oranaan rounded the corner of the building to find a stack of barrels arranged just a little too far from a side door to be convenient for storage.
Carefully rolling one of the barrels aside he noticed a disturbed area of ground in the space between the three barrels. Brushing some dirt aside, he found a pull ring that opened a trap door leading to a ladder in the darkness.
Taking a wrapped crystal from his pocket, Oranaan undid the cloth at one end to reveal a soft blue light which was just enough to see by. Moving the barrels back into place so they concealed his entry Oranaan climbed down the ladder into the darkness.
The pale blue crystal held above his head, Oranaan could easily make out the large support beams and fieldstone columns supporting the building above his head. At the far end of the room he could just make out a thin line of light from beneath a door.
Slowly walking forward, Oranaan carefully picked his way between unmarked barrels, striking his foot uncomfortably more than once. Upon reaching the door, he could hear sounds of shouting and merriment and the distinct clatter of wooden mugs being struck on tabletops in great enthusiasm.
Oranaan paused to let his eyes adjust to the increase in light before opening the door to step into the room beyond. Even then, he almost collided with Roilam sitting behind - of all things! - a small accounting desk barely wide enough to have his book open on top of it.
This is the first of three parts of the same story. (Asleep, Awake, Dreams) I'm happy with this part right now and will start writing the next part as can.
In some ways I identify with Oranaan. Quite frankly I was immediately drawn to him when I looked over the list of adoptable characters. :-)
Hopefully I can get more writing done here soon...