Chapter 31: Patron Journey; Carbina Village (P3)
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We asked if we could buy some corn but were quickly educated on how farms work. He isn’t a retailer, he’s the manufacturer, he’d only give out on charity and seeing as I may have as well killed his horse, he was short on charity as he wasn’t demanding compensation for the accident.

So, we have to head into the village proper. A few minutes of walking and I realize all through it’s just been farmlands, cattle ranches here and there, as well as the occasional stable. But this was all simply where these livestock were reared, not sold, not unless you wanted to buy a whole batch.

Despite the village having such a bolstering agricultural economy, it seems all the wholesalers; the farmers and ranchers were very unhappy with the way things were now. Business was not booming. No one had enough money to buy their livestock so they weren’t making any profits and had fallen into deficits with the over production.

I didn’t exactly understand how there could be an excess of food, mostly because in any era there is always a food shortage, there are always those starving. And I was one of said people starving, eating rats in caves and having to carry dead, stiff rats in my pockets just in case I don’t find a good meal. Looking back, I wonder how my mind didn’t absolutely break from all that.

But it wasn’t until Anselm explained the problem that I truly understood what an over production meant. The farmers and ranchers weren’t selling because no one was buying, and no one was buying because the roads weren’t safe for traders or whole trade companies buying and transporting goods out of the village and elsewhere. Without this flow of coin and goods, Carbina farmers and ranchers were stuck running a deficit maintaining their overabundance of crops and livestock.

Why is this happening? The Cult of Phien.

We’re both unsure why they let us through, maybe they weren’t as strong as the ones in Arak village were. Or maybe they wanted to trap as many people in the village as possible, a possibility like this is one, I fear. Would I be able to fight back? I doubt it. And yet I must, worse yet, I have to seek them out and attempt to kill them for the glory of Lotar or something.

Well, I hadn’t much choice in my growth options. I could always go fight some monsters, risking my life for some measly levels and drops? No, monsters didn’t conveniently drop items here, their stiff, unmoving carcass was your reward.

Tah! Thinking about grinding aimlessly like that vexes me. Fortunately, I don’t have to think on it long. My attention is torn away in marvel at the village before me.

Carbina is unlike any other village I’ve encountered. In place of a wide open ‘Everyone come in’ kind of gate, there is a stone walled entrance with a wood battlement over head where men are visibly patrolling, scouting ahead and keeping watch.

These men wore uniforms that vaguely resembled each other, it’s nothing like the soldiers we met earlier but it’s definitely better than Perlman’s peasant patrol back at Ioina.

The guard greets me a warm welcome, his smile looks a bit tight but that’s understandable given what’s been going on.

“Welcome to Carbina village. You’ll pardon the atmosphere here won’t you? We’ve been beset by heretics.” He says calmly, like he barely minded the fact that everything he said was upsetting.

I return his polite smile as he asks, “What will be your business here in Carbina?”

My business?

“Well, we’re just travellers passing through, we might restock our supplies and get on moving, but mostly we’re here to ask some questions regarding the Cult you spoke of?”

“The Cult? And whys that?”

“Well, we’re hunting the Cult you se-”

“You’re members of the Following? Praise Anera!” he exclaims, his smile stretching over his face into a grin, “You must come at once, the Mayor will want to speak to you at once!”

He takes hold of our hands and starts dragging us along, his action prompts more of his colleagues to come over and ask what’s going on. He tells them, instantly stapling the Following all over us.

I don’t mind the attention. It saves me time in garnering followers if I were to try summoning people’s ghostly families again. But I doubt that’ll be on my to-do list anytime soon. Not while I’ve got money anyway.

The inside of the village is beautiful. The path from before continues on and branches out around the corners made by the wooden homes. Some homes were made entirely of stone, others had only their base cobbled, but a majority are simple wooden homes with straw roofs.

I think I could safely assume that the stone homes belonged to either businesses or really rich people. Most of them had some extra space around the back that houses things like a small, personal ranch with one or two cattle, or a cabbage garden.

Everyone else seemed a bit busy which their own things, most of which was sweeping the front of their homes/business or just wandering…somewhere. Most of the denizens had a downtrodden look on their face, some were worse, an example being the man who cried out in anger whilst fixing a roof.

“Sorry, everyone is pretty frustrated about the trade block. Especially now since the new Mayor has been making some exciting changes to the village.” Our self-appointed guide sighs, “Got my job because of Mayors idea for defence, but now I’m about to lose it because of that damned Cult.” He curses extensively under his breath.

He flashes me a smile, “But now you’re here, you’ll get rid of the Cult for us, won’t you?”

Before I can get in that I am not in fact a member of the Following he goes on to proudly announce, “We’re here! Our town hall, although now it’s the Mayor’s Office. She lives and works for the benefit of the town here.” His voice is filled with adoration.

“That was fast.” Anselm mutters.

“We’re a small village trying to fill in the abundance of space we’ve been blessed with. Come in, I’ll show you to the Mayor.”

Meanwhile I’m still reeling over the fact that the Mayor is a woman. I honestly wasn’t expecting gender equality so soon.

We walk into the large stone structure. It’s filled with people, but more importantly it’s filled with what are obvious luxuries. The knock of my feet on the floor disappears the instant I step into the hall. There’s a red carpet splayed over the entire floor and ahead there’s a long dinner table with many chairs and fruit baskets filled to the brim.

“You can take one,” our guide mutters as he snatches what looks like a mango for himself, “Sometimes I spend my break here, just sitting around and eating fruit.”

I give Anselm a disapproving look as he shines an apple on his sleeve before taking a huge bite out of it.

“Wait here, I’ve just got to speak with someone.” Not waiting for a response our guide glides off up the stairs to speak with a scary looking woman. She’s dressed surprisingly modern she wore a pale blue linen shirt, tied at the waist with puffed short sleeves over and ankle long brown skirt that fell just enough to reveal her matching brown boots. Peasant with a splash of ‘hmm’.

I watch their interaction closely; he approaches her with a humble bow so she’s definitely someone important. Their too far for me to hear their mutterings, certainly not with Anselm’s loud chewing, but with the sidelong glances and the overall change in demeanour, I’m sure I can expect a warm welcome from her.

Our guide turns around and flashes us a grin and waves us over.

Once there I let the guide do the talking.

“Ah, this is…Oh wow, I’m sorry, I forgot to ask your names!” He pinches the back of his palm and gives it a good slap before asking our names properly.

“I’m Asher, Asher Taserman.”

“I am Anselm.” Anselm speaks matter-of-factly. He’s been so disinterested today.

“Right then, Sir Taserman, Sir Anselm, this is the lovely lady Mathilda. She is the right hand of our wonderful Mayor.”

The woman now known as Mathilda flashes me a smile, I notice her lips are an extra shade of pink and her eyes are a piercing green that blended well with the fall of red hair.

“Taserman,” she muses, “A nobleman, are you?”

Nobleman? No, not yet at least.

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” I smile right back. She’s sizing me up already. Fucking bureaucrats.

She snorts lightly, tilting her head in a sign of some recognition. “Well, the Mayor will want to see you. Wait here while I inform her of your presence will you, Sir Taserman.” She doesn’t give me chance to answer and simply waltz right out of the conversation.

Ah, hopefully I won’t have to deal with that one.