The next few days passed uneventfully. Trelmar had given him a wide
berth once he had been released from the healer’s hut. An old
comfortable routine re-established itself. Alador and his friends worked
their bows in the morning, they did their village tasks till the
learning bell and then took the small ones out. These trips included
picking berries, learning to swim and other simple skills. Evenings were
spent with family tasks, or on occasion, Alador would go hunting with
Tentret or fishing with Gregor. The hunting and fishing had been
outstanding since the snows had fallen off.
While many of the villagers still watched and whispered as he passed, he
was becoming accustomed to this new kind of attention. The awkward
moments were when one actually took a moment to ask after his day. He
would shuffle, murmur and disappear as quickly as he could without being
rude. For years, he had complained that he was an outsider. Now, with
more acceptance, he realized just how much more peaceful life had been
left on his own. At the same time, this new attention still was a form
of being on the outside. It was just now people cared if he also
This routine continued till the traders’ caravan came to town. It was
a rare event for the caravan to visit. There was always a cry of
excitement when the dust on the road was noticed. The caravan would roll
in, armed guards surrounding it as it moved. It was always a day of
celebration, feasting, music, and of course bartering. The caravan
worked a route of Daezun settlements.
Each village excelled at differing crafts and then passed their wares on
in the caravan. Added to this, were items from Lerdenia, which the
villages found hard to acquire on their own.
By the time all the wagons filtered in, the center of the village was
full of wagons turned into stalls of goods. At the very center, rough
boards were set up for tables and benches and a prang was set to
roasting on a large spit. The middlins took turns keeping the wild beast
turning and brushing it with the sweet sauce that brought out the
meat’s rich flavor.
Prang, though available year around, embodied the image of winter. Their
white and brown coats made it easy for them to blend in in amongst the
dead foliage of the cold winter months. An adult prang could weigh up to
two hundred and fifty stones and so were not butchered by individual
families, but the village as a whole to prevent losing any to spoiling.
The upswept and back curving horns were used in many medicines by the
healers for headaches and eyesight.
When not trading, the women were busy cooking and soon the boards would
fill up with foods of all varieties. The traders always brought the
drink to the table as their contribution. This way, they could spend
their time in trade and did not have to worry about a meal when they
were done. While on occasion medure slips changed hands, most of the
trading was exchanges of goods. Of course, traders always made better in
the bargains, but it was just the way of it.
The strange rectangle pieces of metal were the currency between Lerdenia
and Daezun. Medure was a hard metal that was difficult to find and
harder to work. It glistened with flecks of blue. Most villagers
didn’t want to keep it about as it drew thieves and greed. Some would
not trade if they could not barter fair goods straight across.
Dorien had suggested that they wait till the day was mostly done before
heading over to the trader that bought bloodstones. This would not be a
trade of goods because the bloodstone trader worked with the Lerdenian
Empire, and he only had slips to give in trade. As Alador worked his way
through the stalls, a crowd began to appear behind him. By the time he
made it to the stall, he had his personal retinue of as many villagers
as could fit into the small spaces and still see him.
He waited patiently as one of the other miners traded in an egg sized
stone. It brought fifty medure. A nice price for any miner. A single
medure could get a great deal in trade goods. When the man had completed
his trade, Alador stepped up. The crowd about him became quiet.
“Ah, I do not have to ask. This is the young man with the hulking
stone I keep hearing about." The man’s smooth way of speaking was
only outdone by the silken robes he wore.
Alador had traded before so was used to the odd appearance of the stone
trader but even so, he found himself at a loss for words so nodded. He
set the stone upon the weight board. He heard the intake of the man’s
breath and looked up as the man stared at it.
“It is clear?" The trader tapped it curiously.
“I know, I hope it does not lower the value over much." Alador looked
up at the taller man with concern. He shifted fearfully. What if the
trader did not want it? He looked from the stone to the trader with
The trader had been watching Alador closely. He licked his dry lips and
then spoke. “Well, I do think I will be lowering the weight price a
bit. I have never seen one that had the appearance of a window pane, red
though it is." The trader stroked the smooth stone curiously.
“What do you offer then, sir?" Alador’s hands were clenched tight.
His brother, Dorien had worked his way to Alador’s side and put a
reassuring hand on his shoulder. He surely could get at least four
hundred for it.
“Well, it is substantial to be sure. And its weight measure is the
largest I have seen." The man pursed his lips and tapped his chin in
thought. “I will offer you five hundred medure.”
The crowd gasped about him, and the price was whispered back all over to
those that could not hear. Alador was ecstatic. That was one hundred
more than he had been hoping to receive.
Before Alador could speak, his brother scooped up the stone. “I think
we will just make a trip to the border Alador. I mean, why should you
stand here and let this thief rob you? Seriously, five hundred is an
insult.” Alador looked up at Dorien as if he had lost his mind. He was
more than happy with five hundred and was about to tell his brother so
when the trader raised a hand.
“Wait! Wait now. Perhaps I have been a little hasty in my offering."
Alador’s eyes riveted to the trader’s in disbelief. His mouth hung
open with the weight of
his shock. He had never considered that traders would undervalue the
bloodstones. He had always just accepted what the men offered in the
past. He had felt so grateful to have slips that he had focused on the
things they would purchase.
“Well then, my friend, you had best be giving a fairer accounting to
my brother, or we will have no business to attend." Dorien answered him
imperiously. Alador looked over to his brother and was surprised to see
a bit of anger in them. In addition, Dorien’s usual jovial manner was
gone as he drew himself up. The large size of the blacksmith made Alador
look small beside him.
“One thousand medure and that is fair for you would have to take time
from your shop to go to the border for a better offer." The trader
fired back. The trader looked between the two brothers and bit his lip
as he waited for Dorien’s counter.
Dorien did not answer right away. “Five thousand and I might consider
it an apology for an attempt at thievery." Dorien’s tone brooked no
argument. Dorien was tense at his brother’s side. His eyes were
watching the trader closely as if watching for something.
The man paused, his face flushed a dark color and the murmur of the
crowd took a slightly bitter turn as word spread that the trader had
undervalued the stone with intent. “Two thousand is all I can offer
and still make my own slips when it reaches the border." He finally
spit out. The trader was clearly concerned now.
Traders that were known to cheat were often cast out and could not make
a good living due to distrust. Not only that, but word spread quickly
from village to village. Alador wondered if the trader would be forced
to be generous the rest of the day.
Dorien turned to leave as if he did not believe the man. Alador panicked
for fear his brother had just lost him his slips, and he would have to
wait an entire season before he could sell the stone. Not only that, but
he had never heard of anyone with two thousand slips. “I think we will
just find a mage who is need of a strong stone.”
“All right two thousand two hundred, but you are making it very hard
to keep my own small ones fed." The trader countered wringing his
Dorien turned back around and dropped the stone down with a dull thud
upon the weight board. “Done!" Dorien held a satisfied grin as Alador
stared on in amazement.
His brother turned him toward the door and pushed him forward. Alador
did not need any more prompting to set out and to find Mesiande amongst
the trading stalls. Alador had never had as much fun as he had that
night. It had not taken long to find Mesiande and Gregor. In fact, given
the ease it was more likely they had found him.
The first stop had been at the stall for arrows, fletching and bows. He
bought each of them new strings and searched through the feathers for
the best fletching. His friends were stunned at the price and attempted
to protest, but Alador would have none of it. If he could not have fun
this one night, what was the point of even having slips?
They bought sweetmeats and looked at many stalls before the bell
sounded. Slowly around them, the wagons closed up. It was rather
interesting to watch. It seemed almost as in unison that the traders
would finish the last sale and a process of packing up began. The people
of the village slowly migrated to the feast. One by one, the stalls
became just wagons once more.
The feast was crowded, but food was to be had at every board. Each
family had picked a board and filled it with their own offerings to the
meal. Large platters of the prang had been carved up and laid out upon
the tables. Roasted fruit and nuts sprinkled amongst the meat. The smell
of food filled the air and the sound of laughter and music was a cascade
of sound tumbling down around them. The weather had held for them, and a
warm breeze still filled the air as the sun settled behind the hills.
People mingled and shared their offerings with friends and even those
they did not particularly like.
The dancing began as soon as the boards were cleared from the feast. The
fire from where the prang had roasted had been built up to light the
circle. Middlins and adults danced about in circles and pairs with no
apparent rhyme nor reason to the step. Children dashed about the dancers
or attempted to imitate their elders, creating a vision that truly was
the village. The Elders played flutes, drums or shakers. That was
Alador’s second favorite part, the pulsing beat of those drums seemed
to snake deep into one’s soul and the feet could not help but keep
The favorite part, however, was watching Mesiande dance. In honor of the
festivities, she had taken down her usual braids and her hair hung in
waves that the long standing braids had dressed into her hair. Despite
its brown color, a trait of the Daezun people, it glimmered in the fire
light with streaks of golden fire. Her eyes were closed as her feet kept
rhythm to the drums. Her hands were high over her head, and her fingers
snapped to the same beat. She had donned a skirt rather than her usual
To Alador, she was a picture of perfection. Her body, despite the days
mining, seemed perfectly formed. She didn’t have the over muscled
appearance of many of the mining women. Only the palms of her hands gave
an indication that she spent so many hours digging amongst stones.
He smiled when she looked up to see him watching her. She waved him to
her. He joined her, and the two of them stomped and spun to the pulsing
music. The beat began to build in the song as the two of them moved
about one another. He could feel the calluses of those small hands
whenever she placed her hands into his to dance about in circles. As the
music came to a sudden stop, she collapsed against him laughing. She
felt so right in his arms as he held her up.
As the evening progressed, he and Gregor both danced with her in turn.
Sometimes the three danced together. Alador was leaner and a head taller
than the other two. But tonight, he did not feel out of place. Tonight,
the village was home. As he watched Mesiande prance around in circles
with Gregor, he smiled. Tonight, he would not have wished to be anywhere
Excerpted from "Outcast (The Blue Dragon's Geas Book 1)" by Cheryl Matthynssens. Copyright © 2013 by Cheryl Matthynssens. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.