|The Merchant's Daughter
Author: Aurelia Knight PM
Much time has passed since Gwen and Brandon returned from Adony. Now, their daughter decides to take a bandit problem on by herself and runs away. To find her, they set off on yet another journey. It will take everything Gwen has at her disposal to save her marriage and rescue her only child. Meanwhile, the leader of the bandits has caught her daughter's complete attention...Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Romance - Chapters: 14 - Words: 19,111 - Reviews: 7 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 04-29-13 - Published: 01-24-13 - id: 3095005
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Hey everyone. Here's the third and final installment to my Of Love & Swordplay trilogy. This one can be read on its own; however, for those who haven't read the first two, there will be references to them. I suggest you read Of Love & Swordplay and Of Strength & Fidelity first. They aren't very long and won't take much time to read.
On an unrelated note, as usual I'll keep the author notes to a minimum so as not to interrupt the story. I will only include one if it is absolutely necessary. In which case, I would advise reading it. Don't forget: the points of view will alternate each chapter. I try to make it decently easy to tell who is narrating the chapter, so don't strain yourself thinking too much about it.
Orlania is a small country smashed between the sea to the east and Aldaren to the west. To the north, the mountainous Lapin area borders it. In the south, monsters of untold horror roam the darkened, sparse desert.
It is a country of commerce. Here, they spare no expense when it comes to trade and taking care of their merchants. The system runs in a triangle internally. Money, gold, and gems are brought in from overseas and taken to the capital city. From there, it is transported to the dwarves in the mountains. After that more merchants take it to the forest to a drop-off point for the Elvin Cities to craft the tempered metals into objects of beauty. Once everything is crafted, it is brought back to the capital city to be exported.
Of course, that's just how the business is run within the country. The Merchants' Guild commands an entire fleet of cargo ships to transport good to and from other countries across the seas. I'm not quite sure exactly what goes on after the ships sail away from port, but to my knowledge it's nothing more than loading and unloading goods.
All of this is managed by the merchants that belong to the Merchants' Guild. I suppose I shouldn't say just "merchants", necessarily. The sailors technically count too. Either way, everyone worked together to keep the system running smoothly. Though none of it would be possible without the guidance of possibly the most powerful person in all of Orlania, the Head of the Merchants' Guild. The current head was the Lady Gwenivere.
How do I know all this? Simple. I'm her daughter. My name is Autumn, and my parents are the Head of the Merchants' Guild and the Captain of His Highness's Royal Guard. I can't tell you happy I should be, being a part of potentially the most powerful family Orlania has ever seen. But I'm not happy. Do you know why?
Because I hate living here.
"You're free to go." She waved him away absently, turning to look down at the sheet of paper on her desk.
The man scurried away. I winced at the slam of the door. "Mother…"
"Sh." She held up a hand to stop me. Once she finished, she turned her gaze to me. "What is it, dear?"
"Can… Can I go now?" I fidgeted uncomfortably.
She removed her spectacles, her dark blue eyes searching my face. "And what will you do if I let you go?"
She sighed and turned to me. "Autumn, darling, you know as much as I do that this is good for you future. Unless you have some sort of pressing appointment or business elsewhere, you're staying here. With me." She replaced her glasses and went back to scribbling furiously.
I sighed quickly, allowing the silence of the room to settle. The only sound I heard consisted of her mad writings and the bustle of the city below us. I had to find out something to do before I completely went insane. Hoping she would act on her maternal instincts, I decided to do what any other person in my situation would: I pretended to be ill.
"Mother…" I moaned, pressing a hand to my stomach.
"Hm?" She didn't look up.
I coughed harshly. "Mother, I don't feel very well…"
At my second groan, her head shot up and she looked at me worriedly. "Autumn, what's wrong?"
"I need to lie down…" I swayed on my feet.
She stood and wrapped an arm about my shoulders. "All right, you go home and get some rest. If I'd known you weren't feeling well I would have said yes." She led me down the grand staircase to the lobby of the building and into the sunshine. "Go tell the driver to take you home. I'll be home a bit late tonight, so you'll probably be asleep before I get there."
I nodded and watched her go back into the building, her red hair disappearing behind the door. Once I was sure she was gone, I dashed away. The spring sunshine shone down on me. I ran through the streets, pulling out my hair ribbon and letting it flow behind me as I went along.
I slowed down as I arrived at the port. The smell of seawater wafted to my nose and I took a deep breath before continuing on. One of my best friends was due back to Orlania today. She lived with her parents on a ship that carried cargo from here to Emstarina Island and back. Occasionally they went on longer trips, such as up to Lapin to visit her grandparents, but for the most part they stuck to the tropical waters.
"Annika!" I waved when I saw the mast of the ship.
Suddenly, someone wrapped their arms around me tightly. "Autumn! I have missed you muchly!"
"M-muchly?" I wheezed. "Annika, put me down!"
She let me go and grinned at me. "How are you?"
"I'm fine, fine." I hugged her again, only much more gently. Pulling away, I turned to the ship. "When did you pull into port?"
She shrugged. "Eh. Late last night, I thinks. I waited for you!"
"I can tell."
"Come! I show you something!" She looped her arm with mine and led me to the ship.
Once on board I saw one of my mother's old friends. He nodded in my direction. "Autumn. What a wonderful surprise." His clear green eyes flashed with a spark of sadness.
I swallowed hard. Mother had told me the stories; I knew he loved her in the past, and I had a vague feeling he loved her still. "Hello, Luke." I couldn't imagine what went through his head each time he saw me, the product of her and my father.
"Welcome aboard. Anything I can do for you today?" He crossed his arms.
"No, I'm all right. I'm just visiting Annika."
"I see." Luke cleared his throat. "How… How is your mother?"
I averted my gaze. "She's all right. Works herself to death, but all right."
"I might go visit her…" He trailed off into his thoughts.
I didn't get the chance to respond as Annika grabbed my arm again. She pulled me down to the galley and into the cargo hold. "We found an old ship, half in ocean."
She stopped to pry open a crate. "Yes! See?"
I gasped as I beheld the gold and jewels inside. "You found all this in a half-sunken ship?!" Taking some of it, I relished in the feeling of the cold metal against my skin. "Do you have any idea how much money is here?"
"A lot, I thinks." She picked up a coin proudly. "Father is one who found it."
"You might just be rich, I thinks." I grinned at her at my poor attempt to mimic her Lapinian accent.
One of her brown-black eyebrows rose. "You might be right…"
From above us, I heard Sonny call for her in a foreign language. She responded tiredly. Turning to me, she sighed. "I am sorry. Father wants me on deck." Smiling, she winked. "I will see you tomorrow, yes?"
"It depends if I can get away from my mother…" I began to leave. "But I'll try my hardest!"
My feet pounded up the wooden stairs as I jogged back up on deck. Waving to Luke, I went down the gangplank again and disappeared in the crowd at the docks. With the rest of my afternoon to waste, I decided to go find trouble in the marketplace.