Chapter 43, Home
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Since their arrival in Arrats, Jero and Mariah found good fortune. Despite the terrors and challenges encountered on the journey through the Cremat, they often found many reasons to smile, being thankful for the refuge and new opportunities offered by their new city.  Having found rooms in an inexpensive inn near the gates, Mariah slept, needing the rest. Jero slept for a few hours, but when he awoke, he set-out to explore the area, looking for a new home. Even though the inn was inexpensive, it was not a place to live, nor to raise a child. Mariah was due anyday, so Jero was determined to make sure that his child was born in a home, not in a set of rooms over a pub.

 

Making his way back to the city gate, Jero sought out the Spearpoint, the gate commander who’d greeted him and Mariah.  As he approached the gates, Jero caught sight of the Spearpoint. The commnader stood at the base of the stairs leading to the guard house atop the wall.

 

“Commander! Do you have a moment?”

 

Turning in response to Jero’s call, Joaquin waved Jero over. As the he drew near, Joaquin smiled and extended a hand.

 

“Ah... Jaro, wasn’t it?”

 

“Close... It’s Jero.”

 

“Right, Jero... How are you and your wife? Has she had that baby yet?”

 

“Fine... we are just fine. Mariah hasn’t given birth yet, but we expect it any day now. ”

 

“Good. I’m glad that Arrats is treating you well. How may I help you today? I’m on duty soon,” said Joaquin, pointing a thumb at the wall behind him.

 

“Well, given that I have a family coming, I want to get Mariah and I into a good home before the baby comes.  We can’t afford much, but I also don’t mind putting a little work into make a home.  Who do I talk to about buying a home or a plot of land to build one?”

 

Eyes wide, Joaquin smiled and began to laugh.

 

“I wish that all refugees were as enthusiastic as you.  I have a friend on the city council, by the name of Arnau. Arrats has a good number of derelict houses and buildings around the city. Some are falling apart and are likely to be torn down, but some are still liveable, with a little work. And if the property has been vacant for a good amount of time, the city tends to offer a reasonable price, well below market value. And if you’re planning to start a business, you may be able to get additional benefits. How does that sound?”

 

“Thank you! Thank you! That exactly what we need.  And yes, I was a blacksmith in Irune. I’d like be one again. I just need a place to get started. Where can I find Arnau? I’d like to find a place quickly, as soon as possible.”

 

“A smith, right... Arrats can always use a good blacksmith. You are good, I hope? The city always needs more metal workers and craftsmen. If you’re good, you and your family with live quite well, if the workload doesn’t kill you. So, the sooner you are ready to work, I’m sure that you won’t have a problem finding something to do.   Just head towards the city center. The tallest building is where you’ll find the city council. Arnau’s office should be the second door on the left once you enter the building. He’ll be able to get you a list of properties to examine. Be sure to mention your plans to open a shop. If that’s all, good luck to you and your family.” Smiling and shaking Jero’s, Joaquin turned and climbed the stairs to the top of the wall.  Thanking Joaquin again, Jero turned and began to run towards the city center.

 

A few hours later, Jero burst into the rooms at the inn with a huge smile on his face.  Startled, Mariah threw a ball of yarn at his head.  Seated in the small sitting room, Mariah glared at Jero, who immediately grabbed her hands, pulling her to her feet into a hug.

 

“I found it. I found it. It is absolutely perfect. Well, nearly perfect. It just needs a little work,” Jero said, rambling on about a courtyard and old furniture.

 

“What did you find? What about old furniture?”

 

“I found us a new home. It’s not far, we can afford it, and with a little work we can open a new shop in a few weeks.”

 

“Why do you always buy things while I’m asleep and unable to stop you?  Am I allowed to see this perfect place?” Mariah asked, an impish smile curling her lips.

 

“I haven’t purchased it yet. I want you to see it first. It needs some work, but I think you’ll love it. It has a huge kitchen, a courtyard and two levels for our house and a shop. Shall we go?” 

 

Smiling, Maraih nodded, following Jero out of the inn.

 

 

A few days later, Jero signed the papers and paid the fees. For nearly a week, Mariah rarely saw Jero during the day. Each morning, he kissed her cheek, had a bite to each and then disappeared until dusk. When returned, his clothes were covered in dust and dirt, sometime torn. Each night,  kissed him, asked about what he’d worked on that day, and gathered his dirty clothes to wash the next day.  No matter what he’d done nor how difficult it had been, Jero always had a huge smile on his face.  Then one night, Jero returned to the inn, looking much cleaner than he had in days.  Without a word, he pulled Mariah into a hug and whispered in her ear.

 

“We can move in tomorrow. It’s ready, mostly ready.”

 

The next morning, Jero took Mariah to the house. The house was only a few streets away from the northern gate. It was a simple two story building, a mix of sandstone, mud brick, and wood. Much of the lower level was sandstone and brick. When she’d first seen it,  weeds, junk, and broken furniture littered the courtyard, which had become a repository for the abandoned and forgotten refuse for the immediate neighbors.  Mariah had her concerns, but Jero saw potential in it all. What couldn’t be fixed could be used for parts or sold as scrap.  The majority of the refuse had been remove, reused, or repaired. Much of the useable scrap had been moved into the small barn, which Jero had turned into a workshop. Several pieces of discarded furniture, which had been piled in the yard were lined up and repaired, ready to be sold or moved into the house.

 

Since it was in the ground floor, at the opposite end of the little courtyard, Mariah used the rear door to enter the kitchen. The tile floors gleamed, as did the counter tops, and stove. The kitchen was fully stocked and ready. Even without a proper forge and furnace, Jero had managed to craft a full set of pots, pans, and cookware, which seamed to be a mix of brass, bronze, and iron.  Jero kissed her forehead and grinned.

 

“I can’t believe how much you’ve done in a few days,” said Mariah.

 

“This is just the beginning. Wait until you see the rooms upstairs.”

 

As she entered the attic rooms, tears welled up in Mariah’s eyes, a contradiction to the smile curling her mouth. The floors were mostly sandstone, but some areas had been covered with polished planks or carpet.  Cushions, tables, and chairs had been distributed around each room, adding comfort and color. While Mariah already had plans to rearrange and redecorate several areas, tears dotted her cheeks.  Smiling, Mariah threw her arms around Jero’s neck, pulling him in for a kiss.

 

“It’s amazing. I love it,” said Mariah, still crying.

 

“Then why are you crying?”

 

“I just wish that Isa and Joaquim could have seen this. This is even more amazing that our house in Irune. If it hadn’t been for Isa, where would we be? Would we even be alive? Has anyone heard anything? Isa and Joaquim, could they...”
 

Jero, pulled Mariah close and kissed her forehead, turning his face away to hide the tear rolling down his cheek.  After a moment, Jero stepped back, with his hands gripping Mariah’s waist.

 

“Hungry?”

 

Turning , Jero rotated Mariah around until she faced a small round table covered with bread, fruit, vegetables, and chicken. Facing Jero, Mariah kissed his cheek, scurried across the room,  and took a seat at the table. Before he could join her, Mariah was already biting into the chicken on her plate.

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