Shadows Bane: Foundation Part 5

Part Five

For the other parts click on the links Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

Kayden, a common-looking lad from the Core, dull brown hair with similar coloured eyes, just another face in the crowd. That was perfect for his particular set of skills. On this day he was summoned to the Deep Hand, leader of their ‘social’ group. He has just been initiated into the Murky Depths. Kayden knew that the group that oversaw the coming and goings of the underworld in Favinonia City. He had only seen his Sergent Hand as he was just a lowly footpad. But why am I being summoned? Have I done something wrong?

What Kayden didn’t know was that he is a highly prized member. Young but skilled through learning sleight of hand and distraction with a touch of pizzazz from a mummery wizard and a retired locksmith who was the foremost genius of thievery. The Deep Hand has plans for Kayden, just he is too damn small-minded to the greater world, today the Boss will change that.

Kayden was surprised that he wasn’t going down into the sewers or some dark alley pub. It was a well-respected villa on the outskirts of Favinonia City proper. A small estate with an orchid and with small children playing in front of a group of adults. Watching such mirth from children just hammers in the point to Kayden, being an orphan sucks Jara’s balls.

“Oi, no lollygagging boyo, the Boss is ready to see ya.” Calls out Kayden’s Sergent, Mattix. A bald dark-skinned man with a mass of scars etched across his face as he fell into a grinder face first.

“Sorry Mattix, just never seen this much space in my life.”

Kayden sigh as he moves closer to his Sergent, at least one thing he won’t die in some refuge pit. Maybe a shallow grave under one of those apple trees. Not that he has had the opportunity to eat fresh fruit.

“Yeah, I nearly crapped my pant coming ‘ere. The Boss knows how to live, but us folk will never see this sort of thing.” Mattix slaps Kayden on the back.

With a twist and flourish, a knife appears in Kayden’s hand against Mattix’s throat. Lowering the blade, “I am so sorry, Sergent Hand Mattix, I I I…”

With a burst of laughter, Mattix wraps his arm around the young lad. “I am glad to see that ya knife hand is still up to the task of slitting throats,”

With two fingers, he pucks the knife out of Kayden’s hand and as Kayden looks four more blades are in Mattix’s hand. He didn’t even feel them being lifted by the master thief, Kayden still has much to learn.

Mattix tucked the knives into his belt. “Just for this meetin’, I am gonna keep a hold of these, boyo.” He laughs again, “Don’t want you to go stabbing someone who doesn’t have my humour.”

All Kayden could do was nod as he was lead through the villa, so many objects that could fetch a handsome price popped into his thieving gaze. But if he partook on that errant thought, the shallow grave would be inevitable.

With a few more twists and turns, the two obviously out of place thieves come to a chamber that has many comfortable seats and couches. The only one in the room is a woman wearing a weird dress, all puffing out at the hips. Kayden thought That doesn’t look practical. How could you move in it?

Mattix calls out. “Boss, we are ‘ere.”

The woman or Boss, as Mattix called her, turned from the window to look at the two dirty men in the room. Her hair is dark with a few strains of grey streaked through it, with a handsome face but the eyes were unbreakable, and Kayden could see the steel inside her. Gulping, he stepped further into the room.

“Good, you both are here. Please sit.” The Boss Lady said.

Brushing off the perceive dirt from his pants, Kayden sits on the edge of one of the couches as his Sergent just flops down on another. Kayden watched the corners of the Boss Lady mouth turn up a little. Laugh lines to appear on her face but before you could blink they disappeared behind the mask of Judge and Executioner.

Standing still, she leans on the back of another couch, “He doesn’t look like much, Mattix.” As she looks over Kayden, her eyes analysing every part of him. “You sure that this is the one you want to carry out this mission?”

“Yeah, he doesn’t look much but got fast hands, and just back there he nearly gave me another cheery smile,” Mattix says, scratching his face.

A peal of laughter from the Boss, “Truly, this one had the drop on you. Colour me impressed.” Kayden just wanted to leave, or just think get it over with. I’ve lived an okay life no point delaying it. “What did you say, young man?”

Kayden blinked, “I am sorry, Boss, I didn’t say anything.”

“Hmm, you think we are going to kill you. Your thoughts are just screaming out that right now. Good poker face, though, he’ll do.”

She sweeps her dress away from the couch and leaves with Kayden dumbfounded. “What is happening?” Kayden said as soon as the Boss leaves.

“Well, boyo, she just gave you a job.” Mattix smirks at Kayden, “You goin’ to the big house, Kayden’s been a bad boyo.”

Kayden stood there, shocked, as Mattix laughs at his stunned appearance and directs him to the exit. I am being arrested, I never been caught before. What of my crimes did the Blues know about?

Shadows Bane: Foundation Part 4

Part Four

While Slate is ‘subdued’ by the Watch, Arcareius the White awakes in acolyte cell in the Cathedral of the Trinity. His life was simple since being found on the altar of the Trinity as a babe. It was deemed by the High White Jessica Pureheart, that he would be trained as one of her successors.

Glancing at the small mirror in his room, Arcareius dons his habit. Most people would say he is beautiful, high cheekbones, soft and full mouth, deep golden eyes with white-blond hair. The only marring he has on this perfect body was six scars on his back, three on each side. He has had them since being a babe, no one knows how he got them.

As much as the calling to Arcareius was easy to hear, the other successors didn’t admire his faith. At the age of only fourteen, he passed the test to be view as a member of the Church while most acolytes don’t complete the examination until their mid-twenties. This caused no end of bitterness in his fellows, but as much as Arcareius was blind to the others scorn and jealously.

Heading to morning pray, Arcareius moves through the white halls of the Trinity’s Cathedral. Ignoring the whispers of his fellows, Arcareius strode into the sub-church as that is what a humble man would do.

Kneeling at the marble pedestal, Arcareius murmurs the words of the White, “We are the holy fires that burn within. We bear the sword of justice with conviction. Our earth is pure as the cycle of life and death, we are Trinity’s light that brings clarity and purity to mind, body and soul.” Taking a breath, he pleads to the Trinity. “In your boundless wisdom would you guide your fragile follower, he doth know what need of him but fears that his path is not a straight line as most claim.” 

An older but gentle voice rings out in the pews, “Maybe It is just waiting for you to figure out yourself?”

How dare someone commits such heresy in the Trinity’s Church, Arcareius whips around to see the High White standing there smiling at him. She has a presence that has not diminished in her later years. Many laugh line surrounding her brilliant green eyes with only a touch of her ruby hair within the mess of grey.

“Oh, High White, I was merely praying to the Trinity to give me some guidance,” Arcareius said as he kneeled in front of the High White.

“Do not worry and rise, my son, in Its light we flourish. As much as we, old folks, prattle on about the Trinity, we know that each one’s path to White is their individual journey.” Jessica explained. “Maybe my old ears lend you a listen, how about it Acolyte Arcareius?”

Looking into the eyes of the holiest person in Faviniona, Arcareius hesitates his next words for only a moment. “I do not know, your Grace, I feel wrong somehow. I listen to the journeys of other Whites, and you all had a full life in each Aspect. Even your Grace did a stint in the Orange Crusaders. I am being moulded to be a White, maybe to be your successor, I am an only twenty-two-year-old, and I don’t know enough to lead the Church.”

With a bark of a laugh, mirth rises in High White Jessica. “Finally, my son, you have realised that your path is longer than you thought. I have never said there is a distinct journey to White, but you have to understand that. We can preach and tell you our stories, but you have to listen to concede that your path differs from your sisters and brothers of the White.”

“Then what should I do?” Arcareius asks.

Standing up, with no sign of age. “Then we go grab a tram and head to the Blue gaol.” As Jessica leaves Arcareius dumbfounded in the aisle of the outer Church, she glances back. “Coming, my son?”

With a rustle of hemp cloth, Arcareius jogs to catch up with his High White. The only thing on his mind is why are we going there? If Arcareius could hear Jessica’s thoughts, he would know.

Shadows Bane: Foundation Part 3

Part Three

Natasha could hear the comments from the armed thugs that surrounded her brother. Said the balding man with a large gut barely covered by an arming jacket. “Are you some sort of Rock creature? You know your kind are allowed here. I think we might need to escort you back to your district to the other whores.” The rest of the group growled their agreements.

Another called out, his hair greased up to look stylish with a handlebar moustache to finish off his look. “Lookie at these dreads, by Mela they are green like a moss rock. Have you ever seen such rustic shit in your life, at you from the boonies?” As he reaches out to handle Slate’s hair.

From all the way over in the archway, Natasha watched as Slate shook. It was apparent that it wasn’t fear but fury. It wasn’t the first time he was accosted by humans, due to his unique look. With Slate topping over seven-foot and could easily lift a cow over his head, he has to learn not to knock the teeth out of stupid townies.

One thing Natasha dislike is the small-mindedness of her fellow humans, especially ones that treat other races with disdain. Seeing Slate’s shoulders bunch and knuckles whiten, Natasha knew it was time to act.

“What in Saint Jara of the Hammer, is going on here?” Natasha calls out.

Looking around, she noticed that the owner was not anywhere to be seen, more likely he is running to get the Watch. Having this many armed people in your place of business would be cause for alarm.

The one still holding Slate’s hair looks over at the solid armed woman that is Natasha. “And who in the Abyssus are you? And do you know this non-citizen scum?”

“Simple, this is my brother, and we are here for none-of-your-slip-sucker business! Slate come over here.” Natasha called out to her brother.

With a burst of movement, Slate moves like a reed in the wind, for someone as big and gaudy as he put most dancers to shame. As he slaps away the hand holding his hair, Slate flows through the crowd of six as he was akin to water flowing around rocks.

The six thugs barely even notice the movement, the only reaction was the man who was holding Slate’s hair as that small slap caused no small amount of pain to radiate up the thug’s arm.

Natasha whisper to Slate as he positions himself behind her, “I will handle this.”

Slate just nods, as this a regular accordance being non-human, especially in Favinonia City. He has his papers, but at least once per week, he is accosted by some small-minded thug or Watchman. It is better to not resist than to be in even more trouble.

“I was wondering why you are bullying a citizen of Favinonia?” Natasha asks.

The large balding man sorts at the question. “He is no citizen, he’s not even one of the demi-humans. Is he just a little savage you have to warm your bed? If you want a real man, you just have to ask.”

Being nearly a half a head taller than most of the so-called men in front of her, Natasha retorts. “If I was interested in men, you would be the very last on my list.”

“What you some sort of dyke? I would imagine being more looking like a man than a woman.” Said the one with the greased-up pencil moustache.

With a whip of her hand, Natasha grabs hold of her falcata, and with that, the six worms she is facing are just another annoyance.

With a loud crash, the doors to the inn are thrown open, and a booming voice comes from the opening. “Put up your arms, you are under arrest!” Reliquciing her blade’s grip, Natasha breath out. Good, the Watch will figure this out. “Capture that one.”

As Natasha turns around, she watches as eight Watchmen charge towards Slate, billy-clubs high. The last thing she sees before Slate raises his arms in the air and the first crack of a club was resignation in Slate’s eyes. Like this was just a Twosday.

Shadows Bane: Foundation Part 2

Part Two

Slate was excited for today becoming an Adventurer knowing that he will be finally free from studying at school. His big sister Natasha thought that would be the best way for him to learn how to be a Favinonian, but in his heart of hearts, he is still one with the Mountain.

As to his nature, even though mother nature itself doesn’t exist in Favinonia City, State wakes up with the dawn. As there is no need to find new wood for the fire or even hunt breakfast, Slate doesn’t have much to do this morning.

Heading down to the foyer, he spies the owner of the inn Natasha and Slate are staying at. Looking up from his notes as he hears the creaking of the wooden planks of the stairs due to Slate’s size.

“Good Sir, what can I help you at this hour?” Jonas Cuvar asks, his voice has a hidden catch in it as Slate knows it was from fear.

Inwardly sighing at being called a Sir, Slate steps in front of the inn’s owner. Putting on a smile as he found humans become less fearful of his noticeable size and strength. Being one of the Folks of the Mountain, or Gakk’en in his language, it was normal for people to cower in fear.

Lightening his voice as it can be quite intense, Slate answers. “Oh nothing, just waking up early and wondering when breakfast will be served?”

“Yes, Sir,” Jonas, with a little hitch in his voice. “I will ask my wife to rustle up some for you and your…”

Shaking his head, Slate supplies. “Sister, and before you ask, I am adopted.”

“Um, ah, that was not my meaning, Sir.” With a small whiff, Slate could tell that Jonas peed himself a little.

Nodding and ignoring the palatable fear in the man’s scent. “Have that made I will be down with my sister.”

Maybe it was the eight-foot bow he had on his back when he walked in yesterday or even the colossal stone hammer he held easily held in his large hand. Slate will never relinquish those two weapons as they are his only connection to his people.

He owed everything to Natasha, if it wasn’t for her, he would have died after surviving

the landslide and being incarcerated. As Slate walks towards the stairs, a gruff voice calls from behind. “Look at that, a walking statue. Jara’s balls you are huge, rock boy.”

Just ignore him, not the first or last time you have been thought as part rock

Slate lectures himself.

“What are you too good to talk to me, bah!” All Slate could hear as he walked up to the third floor to wake Natasha up.

Little did he know that that loudmouth had friends and having a peaceful breakfast seemed not to be on the table for Slate and Natasha.

Shadows Bane: Foundation Part 1

Part One

“Natasha! Today’s the day!” yells Slate the teenage youth trapped in a giant’s body. His skin colour of granite, large teeth in his massive grin and green dreads pulled into a warrior’s tail.

Groaning the blond woman, Natasha pulls her sheet over her head. “Slate, it is barely dawn, and the Hall doesn’t open for another three hours.”

Slate dances and prances around Natasha’s room. “I know, but I can’t wait until we are registered. Imagine, we will be Adventurers!”

 As she pulls down her sheets, Natasha’s scarred face looks over at her adopted brother. “Should have stayed in Brick.” She mumbles to herself while rubbing her cropped blond hair. “Have you at least ordered breakfast?”

“Sure, the first thing I did.” Slate retorts, “No mission should start on an empty belly, you taught me that.”

“Well, leave so I can dress.” Natasha quips.

“Sorry, Tash, see you downstairs.” As Slate ducks through the door.

Natasha throwing off her blanket, shakes her head. Only two years ago, she found Slate outside the Wild Lands, dragging a massive stone hammer with a bone bow large than him across his back. Natasha had to stop her fellow mercenaries from killing the boy as they assumed he was a monster. She couldn’t blame them, as Natasha has never seen anyone else the same race as Slate. Not even Slate knows what he is, but by the Trinity, he is growing huge. Already a half a foot taller than her height of six foot four.

Looking over at her armour, Natasha thinks Maybe no today as we are in Favinonia City. Being raised in an orchard burb of Favinonia City limits, Natasha has seen the inner Core only four times in her life. The sight stills overwhelm her as the hustle and bushel of the Capital is like it’s own living organism. Opening the block out curtains, Natasha has a beautiful scene of packed buildings and brick walls. Not wanting to open the window as the smell of ten million souls still permeates the air.

Clothing herself in sturdy hemp clothing, Natasha straps her oversized falcata to her back and walks out the stout oak door. Coming down three flights of stairs, Natasha comes into the inn’s main foyer. Noticing that there were no one at the front desk, she turns to the dining area for her breakfast with Slate.

The first thing she notices walking through the archway was six armed and armoured men surrounding Slate. What has he got himself into now? Natasha ponders.

Review of Dire series by Andrew Seiple.

I have mixed feeling with this series, listening to the six books in just over three days means introspection. Overall, I think I could give the series 4 out of 5 stars. This is averaging over the six books. As this is a review for the whole series, I will be trying to be as non-spoiler as possible.

Before I dive deep into the review, I would like to comment on the superb and fantastic job by the narrator Amy McFadden. She made the characters come alive with her voice acting work, 5 stars!

My thoughts of the book are that it is a series about the strengths and weaknesses of humankind. This is set in a Teslaverse, where Tesla created superhumans and that his technology runs the world. How did this shift the paradigm of the world? Not much, it seems. Just add people with superpowers in the annals of history and boom this world is created.

I am oversimplifying this, but I am glad Mr Seiple did not have a need to change history dramatically as allowing you to focus on the actual message of the book, that humans are their own worst villains. Which helps the main character goals, strengths, and flaws to shine. The main character is named Dire; she wakes up on an operating table that seems to have herself performed brain surgery to remove all her long-term memories. Then six books later, she is still Dire and one of the best all-round characters I have ever read.

There were many moments of tears, laughing out loud and palm smacks. I did love this series and will go back to reread it.

Covid-19 Lockdown: Welcome to being a Caregiver.

I have been doing a lot of soul searching since the pandemic has begun, not in the way many people have but through my own perspective. Using generalisation here but I think the lockdown is an insight into being a carer or caregiver. How did I come to this conclusion? Forced circumstance social isolation.

As I don’t talk to anyone, I cannot conclude strong support for my hypothesis as I am a data set of one but being alone with one’s thoughts can come to a realisation with a touch of watching the news.

Stripping on what is happening in the world as that infuriates me as black lives do matter. This insight comes from how I have seen the world react to social isolation as akin to my first six months of being a full-time carer. I am now in my fourth year, and I do have to laugh in mirth and hope on how people are coping. They are making an effort to keep in contact and making sure their burning desire to continue being a social species stays alive.

Then why watching this remarkable movement of social dynamic makes me even feel more alone? I am in my fourth year of social isolation.

Being a caregiver means that you have to make sacrifices and most people just don’t understand or care about the burden of a carer (using a generalisation here as I can see people will always be sympathising to us carers).

Here are some questions for anyone who read this blog, what are your plans after the lockdown? Most people will return to how they lived before, work, socialising, plus more. Now, what are my plans after I stop being a carer? Grief and loneliness. Mourning for my mother as she would have just died and loneliness as I would have no-one in my life anymore. Why so cynical? I am fated to be single and being a carer made sure that was going to happen.

Things I know, I will never marry, I will never hold my child in my arms, I will never know what it feels like to be loved by my soul mate, and I will never know what it is like to wake up each day and see the love of my life next to me. This has nothing to do being a carer, but it didn’t help. Some people are destined to be alone, I am one of those people. I have had three real relationships in my life, and each one ended as soon as it started to get serious.

I still weep when I think of these subjects as I think I would have been a good dad, but life is not fair. How does this relate to Covid-19? Simple, stop bitching about being locked away for a few months as it is temporary and “truck me” you will survive as we humans are adaptable. Hence why I am nearly at peace knowing that I will never leave this social isolation.

Occultist by Oliver Mayes Review

I am surprised by how much I enjoyed reading/listening to Occultist by Oliver Mayes, published by Portal Books. This book is in the Litrpg sub-genre, an up and coming category that capitalises on the online gaming and RPG mechanics. It talks about stat points and hit points (hp) and experience (XP) as part of the narrative. Anyone who has either played an RPG on their computer or gone old school with the pen and paper would understand the basis of this fantastic world-building.

As I try to do is not to spoil the book too much while talking about my feeling and emotions that drive my subjective reviews.

Occultist starts in-game with a new Virtual Reality MMO (VR-MMORPG) in the near future with a 16-year-old trying to balance his gaming and real-life stuff. I can’t go to what happened but wow! The roller-coaster ride Mr Mayes takes the reader on is amazing. The rich MMO with a dictatorial feel of an over-corporatized real world and a touch of viral social media sets the stage for many complications for the MC, Damien.

Images from Occultist, Copyright Portal Books and Oliver Mayes

Being taken on a non-stop exciting adventure which spans both realities was brilliant. I could not help yelling my encouragement to Damien as he jumps through the muddy plot created by Mr Mayes.

Two surprising supporting characters are two AI’s in the MMO, Bartholomew and Noigel. I would love to go into why they are both so fabulous, but you will have to read the book (it is a little spoilery).

Just like to also shout out to the narrator, Adam Sims. He gave birth to this amazing book. I had many chuckles as he superbly narrated this book.

All I can say it is, if you love World of Warcraft or Dungeons and Dragons or love a good fantasy novel then this book is for you! 5 Stars!

You can find this book at Amazon or Portal Books!

Servant of the Empire Review

Strangely, one of my all-time read blogs is a review on Daughter of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts, and I have not reviewed either of the other books. So here is my review.

One good thing is that I don’t need to refresh my mind to know what this book is about as I have read it at least 20 times. Obviously, it expands on book one, if it didn’t that would be boring. Big win for Mara (spoilers) and she survived another assassination by the hands of her mortal enemies, the Minwanabi. So all in all, not a fun-filled book one for Miss Mara.

I do love this book and series, one that the main character is a woman, and not a Xena, warrior Woman sort of gal throwing men like they are sacks of grain but I would never mess with her. Her skills in politics, business, war and espionage were her strength. Her recognition of the worth of a slave (which is the lowest life form you can be) was a pinnacle of this beautiful story.

In this story, another MC comes into Mara’s life, Kevin, a slave/war prisoner from the dimensional war between two worlds. How he brings a heart to this rigid caste system, showing Mara that the Wheel is corrupt and ignores common sense with humanity to people. He was instrumental in proving there was another path, not this blood-soaked path where her brother and father died to protect their ‘honour’.

There is so much more than I could gush over in this book, but the heart of a story was change, break the status quo. I love this book; I highly recommend reading it! Five stars

Pack of Wolves (Part 4)

Sun rose on the Smith farm; all the foster children were up and working doing their chores. They were all told that it is not a charity on the farm if they want to eat, the kids worked. Benan is out with Ruairì and James shovelling out the barn then redoing the hay. Heidi and Mariah milking the cows, Betty, Kelvin and Brad feeding the chickens, pigs and other animals.

All in all, it was a typical morning thing for Benan, but sometimes he wondered why the Smith’s kids never helped them with the chores, besides the twins coming over kicking over buckets or complaining that the job wasn’t done right. Any complaints about Joeb or Gertrude would mean at least being ignored or at worst punishments.

Washing up and getting ready for the bus for school by 7.30am, the fosters had to wait for the bus while the twins left later as they got a lift from their mother. Once on the bus, the seven fosters took up the front seats as this is the only time they have to themselves.

Benan looked at Ruairì, “I’ve been finding our morning chores easier today, how about you?”

Ruairi shrugs, not even a bead of sweat on his face. James crinkles his eyebrows, “You tore through that pile of hay in no time. Been on the ‘roids, Benny?”

“‘ Roids? Haha, little Jimmy.” Benan barks out a laugh, posing like a bodybuilder. “Like we could afford that sort of stuff and aren’t we supposed to start getting big muscles?”

“Yeah, but it seems weird.” James turns to look at Ruairì. “You guys have been weird since being sick.”

Benan hears a laugh from the barn door, “You, Fatty, with muscles? Best joke I have heard this week.” It was Joeb, Benan thinks to himself, why can’t there be one day that this little pest leaves us alone? “Even if you got muscles, you’ll still be a discarded loser!”

Just take it Benan, his words can’t hurt.

Ruairi stares at the farmer’s teenage brat. “Go, we have work to do.”

James nods, “Yeah, piss off, Joe.”

“You can’t talk to me like that. Or are you fighting Fatty’s battles now?” Joeb sneers. “My father would like to know that you tossed out trash were picking on me. He might just send you away if I complain enough.”

All the foster children knew that Joeb’s parents were decent people but would and have believed everything their twins have said. Neither one could do anything wrong in their eyes.

Benan gives an involuntary growl. His body shakes in anger, calling him names was one thing but threatening his family was another completely different kettle of fish. As he turns, Benan’s skin starts to stretch, the growling increases to deep bass.

Taking a step forward towards Joeb, Benan could feel his anger rising, his body flushed with heat. This is a trespasser, a threat to our pack! Fight to preserve pack!

Those words reverberate through Benan’s mind. His muscles bunch and grow. Skin starts to break, and slick wolf hair could be seen emerging underneath. The very air around crackled with anger around him, all there was to do is remove the threat!

The scent of fear and urine stung the air, Benan growled an appreciation of this, you should fear the pack, intruder! Now it is time to remove the threat!

Before the change could completely take control, Ruairi steps in front of Benan. His own eyes have started to change, a reaction to Benan’s transformation. Just starting into his eyes, Benan knew the pack was safe, not need to worry.

As Benan takes a deep breath. Words were exchanged with the interloper, but this was ignored by him. The flush of instinct cooled, Beta will fix this, the hunt has not started.

“Wow, where did that come from Ben?” Benan blinks at the pup, his eyes blurred realising he was looking at James. “That gave me the willies.”

Ruairi came over to Benan, “He is gone and won’t say anything. Let’s get back to work.”

James gives an affirmative while Benan shrugs at Roy’s comment and heads over to the new hay bales and picks one up in each hand. Why should he care about the Smith’s children or William any more he is a wolf, not the fat 15-year-old anymore, I could just run away and be a wolf. Hunt and have fun, not caring about all this shit!

At least one thing the chores have been getting easier for me Benan thought not realising that he is carrying two bales.

Snapping the ties of the bale with a twist of his hand, Benan starts to spread the hay over each pen’s ground. James, with his face full of worry, calls out. “Didn’t that hurt Ben?”

“He is fine, James.” Ruairì says. “but Ben should be using the knife as he would hurt his hand doing that.”

Putting on a fake grin, Benan picks up the knife and cuts the next bale.

After all the chores, the children rush around getting ready. It is their responsibility to be on time for the bus, not Farmer and Mrs Smith. Ruairì and Betty get the lunches ready, while Mariah double checks the younger one’s bags are adequately packed.

Being the last to have a shower, Benan could hear the commotion going on in the main living area. Looking at his reflection, could he see muscles under his flab?

Keep dreaming fat boy, you are an overweight failure who will be a nothing forever. You will never get a girlfriend because you are disgusting. You are pitiful and pathetic, just run or die. A little ‘pick me up’ for each morning. Guess you are nothing, and no one can make you feel worse.

Knowing that he will be at the library today, that will mean he will have to be quick out of class before his bully corners him again. If he could, he would just run away and be a wolf. No one would pick on him as he could just run away or bite them. His luck he would only be shot by some hunter, either way, Benan would not be missed.

Three loud bangs on the bathroom door distracting Benan with his musings. “Come on, Ben, you will miss the bus!” Mariah yells.

“I am coming, keep your shirt on,” Benan grumbles, dropping his voice. “It not like I am excited about school.”

Pulling on his shirt and shorts for another beautiful summer’s day, Benan leaves the bathroom. Everyone else has their backpacks on, Ruairì and Betty have packed the last of the lunches, only his and Mariah’s are gone.

Putting on a big simile. “Sorry, Mariah just was lost in the mirror on how sexy I am.” Posing like a model on TV, all the younger kids laugh. In a fake Fabio voice. “What can I say? I am the most beautiful man in the world, ha ha ha.”

This got another round of laughter, Betty, with a big smile. “Hey Fabio, here is your lunch.”

Bouncing over to the bench, winking at Betty. “Thank you, my dear, you are most awesome.”

Betty laughs at Benan, he is always silly in the morning, let’s hope he has a good day

Dropping back into his normal voice. “Hey, Betty and James, me Roy and Mariah are playing Fantazim in the library today, want to come to play too?”

“Sorry, Ben, but I am with my hockey squad this lunch. We want to do a few drills for this weekend’s game.” Betty replies.

James shrugs. “Why not, is Mariah playing with her counter deck?”

“I choose a different deck today, want a bit more of a challenge today.” Mariah gives a snappy comeback.

“Bring it!” Both Benan and James yell.