Part 2: The Magician

Willifred’s house was small, with only one bedroom. Godric had to sleep on a makeshift bed in the corner of the main living area. It was near the stove, so it at least kept him warm as the nights grew colder. Although he was used to getting up early on the ship, his body ached for long hours of sleep given his despair and healing. Unfortunately, between the fitful sleep on the floor and the old man stirring early, sleeping long was nearly impossible. 

Over the next month, Godric didn’t leave the house much. He would remain indoors, waiting for Willifred to come back with any information about the shipwreck or other survivors. The village was small, though, and no one knew of any shipwreck. There was the odd report of debris washing up on the shore, but no bodies were found. Godric could never be certain what had happened that fateful night out on the sea, or how he had even survived.

His sight never improved. Every morning when he opened his eyes, he saw the same fog. It never changed and never left. He could make out shadows if they passed in front of the light of the sun or a nearby fire, but details and colours were lost to him. As Willifred promised, he never forced Godric out. After the first week of mourning his crew and hiding indoors, however, he was expected to look for work. Food was scarce in the small home, so anything helped to ensure that Godric didn’t go without all day. 

As he left the house to wander around the small village, he met a few other young men like himself, searching for opportunities to make money. Most in the village were in a similar predicament, so work was hard to find. The other teenage boys weren’t particularly nice to him, given that he was blind and easy to play tricks on, but it gave Godric a sense of companionship like he had had with his old bunkmate, Edmund. Fenwick, the oldest of the group, was the kindest to Godric, so they had become close friends quickly.

Sitting around a fire one night in a field outside the village, Godric listened to the boys talk about the nearby city, Westbreach. He had heard talk of it around the village before. It was a small city, but full of travellers from around the country. There was frequently talk of the riches that sometimes passed through it. Younger men and women from the village often left to search for a better living amongst the city, but many returned, no richer. They would move back into their childhood homes, taking over the chores and duties from their aging parents, giving up the dreams of a better life. The few that never returned became part of the village stories. Most imagined that these few villagers were living extravagant lives, finally having made their way out of the poor, dirty village. Those that were jealous told different stories, of course. In their jealousy, they would come up with plots where the past villagers were mugged and killed. Or perhaps they had been turned into slaves for some foreign, rich emperor, wishing they could return to the safety of their small village. These tales were told as warnings to those like Godric that longed for a better life outside of the small village. Fenwick was one of the many that didn’t believe these tales.

“Godric, we are going into Westbreach. There’s talk boys our age can make some coin acting as jesters in the streets. You should come with us tomorrow,” Fenwick prodded.

“How? I’m blind, remember? What could I possibly do to entertain?”

In the end, through much poking and prodding, Fenwick convinced him. The next morning, after Willifred left the house to go fishing, Godric packed a small bag of food and clothing to take with him. The boys had talked about potentially staying the night in Westbreach if the streets were profitable that day. Godric was grateful that Willifred was not home while he packed up. Although grateful to the old man and everything he had done, he was excited about the city for more than just an opportunity to make some coin. He wondered if someone in the city would know more about the shipwreck and any surviving crew. Surely there would be someone in the city that would have more information for him. His family had to still be out there.

As Godric felt his way to back to the front door, he paused, his hand pressing on the rough wood grain of the door. It felt strange leaving this house, even though he had no memory of living in a house on solid ground. He was picked up from an orphanage at a young age to work on the ships, so a home on land wasn’t something he was used to. It had felt nice to have a steady place to live, even if it was on the floor. The people of the village were nice enough, but if there was any chance of finding his real family, the crew, it had to be in Westbreach. Letting out a sigh, he pushed open the door to meet Fenwick and the others in the town square to start their journey.

The road to Westbreach was not commonly travelled. Very few made the journey between the village and Westbreach, so passersby were rare. The boys were giddy at first, pushing each other and making fun. Godric tried to remain in the middle of the group, periodically reaching out to touch Fenwick’s arm to ensure that he was keeping up with them. Fenwick would reach back and pat Godric on the back, assuring him they were watching out for him.

As time passed and their legs grew tired, everyone became quiet. Godric listened to the stomping of their feet on the soft dirt ground. The bag draped over his shoulder, although light, began to feel heavy as they continued to walk. Then, in the distance, he could hear a low murmur starting. It reminded him of the sounds he would hear while on the ship, docked to a big harbour city. It was the sounds of a busy, growing city in the afternoon. They made it. 

The small group of boys huddled around Godric as they moved excitedly into the streets of Westbreach. The boys whispered around him about the sights of the people dressed in rich clothing and colour. They talked about the merchants on the sides of the road selling exotic looking fruits and items. The noise and smell overwhelmed Godric. Adjusting to his blindness in a small, quiet village had not prepared him for how the noise and retched smell of a city could overtake his senses. He gripped onto Fenwick’s shirt as a wave of dizziness washed over him.

“You okay, Godric? You wouldn’t believe how different everything is here. The colours and fabrics alone make me never want to return to that forsaken village.”

Fenwick’s voice was full of wonder. Godric wished he could see. Perhaps the visual would improve the sense of dread that had come over him with the wave is dizziness. The city was too crowded and busy. It made him anxious and unsure of his footing. As the boys continued through the busy streets, Godric got bumped by the crowd, as passersby were unaware of his blindness or just didn’t care. 

“Look over here!” Fenwick exclaimed, breaking away from Godric’s grip in his excitement.

Godric frantically tried to reach out for another boy’s arm. His fingers touched many bodies, but he couldn’t tell which were his friends. Godric closed his eyes, trying to calm his panic, as he searched for the voices of the boys he travelled with. He thought he heard one of them, and started forward, but bumped into something solid.

“Watch it, boy,” a gruff voice said.

“Sorry,” he stammered, backing away and putting his hands out in front of him to protect him, but he bumped into something solid behind him. 

“Hey! Watch it. You nearly knocked over my cart!” a woman squealed.

Godric turned to the new voice, “Sorry, sorry.”

Panic settled into his stomach. He couldn’t see where he was going, and he could no longer hear his friends. He needed to find them. Slowly, he allowed the crowd to move him in the direction he thought he last felt Fenwick, hoping his friend would eventually notice him missing and turn back to find him. After a few minutes of walking, the crowd parted, leaving him to walk straight into a stone wall. He put his hands up, feeling the stone and mortar rough under his fingers. It was a dead end. He had hit a fork in the road. Which way the boys would have taken, he had no way of knowing. Perhaps they had never walked this far down the road, instead turning at a crossroads that Godric couldn’t see.

Godric turned to face the crowd, backing up until his back hit the cold, hard wall. A feeling of defeat washed over him. He was lost. He was lost in a city that he didn’t know, with no one to help him get back to the small village. He felt foolish for not telling Willifred where he had gone that day. Being lost in the streets of the city without food or shelter was much worse than living in a small village, in a small house, for the rest of his life. He slowly dragged his body down the wall, the mortar catching at his shirt and bag, as he sat down, hopeless. He pulled his small bag into his lap, reaching in to grab a small piece of bread he had taken from Willifred’s kitchen. 

‘Hopefully, they come back to find me. Maybe if I stay in one place, they will come looking for me, and they can take me back home,’ he hoped.

He picked at the small, dry bread while he waited. The hours passed by without a familiar voice calling out his name. As the streets grew quieter, Godric’s stomach growled. He didn’t bring enough food to last for another day sitting in the streets.

‘What am I going to do?’ he thought.

He dropped his head in his hands, rubbing at his eyes to stop the tears from coming. He didn’t want to be crying in case Fenwick and the other boys showed up. The teasing would never end. In case they didn’t come, however, he needed to come up with a plan.

“Are you alright?” a soft woman’s voice whispered over his head.

Godric startled, whipping his head up to look in the direction of the voice. He moved too fast and hit his head on the stone wall behind him. The pain exploded into his right ear from the impact, and he instantly raised his hands to cover his head.

“Oh my, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you. Are you okay?”

“Yes… No… I don’t know.”

“Are you lost? I don’t think I’ve seen you around these parts before.”

A hand touched Godric’s shoulder. He recoiled, unsure if the touch was out of kindness or a threat. 

“Oh, my poor boy, you’re blind, aren’t you?” the woman’s voice sounded kind. “I’m sure it’s frightening when you can’t see the person talking to you. Especially a stranger. Why don’t you come with me? It’s going to be cold tonight. You will catch your death out here.”

“But my friends, I need to find them. If I move, they may never find me.”

A moment of silence passed. Godric wondered if the woman had walked silently away, although he didn’t hear her feet moving away on the dirt road. 

“I don’t see any other young men in the streets, dear. I think perhaps they have deemed you lost. Maybe they will come back tomorrow in search of you. Believe me, you don’t want to be out alone all night in these parts. One never knows what may happen to you. Come. I live in a house nearby. I work for a nice man, cleaning and cooking. I’m sure he would allow you a room until you are able to find your friends. He’s a well-known magician in these parts. Perhaps he could even help you find whoever you have lost.”

As the woman placed a hand on Godric’s hands to pull him up to standing, he felt a ray of hope fill him. A magician! He had heard that magicians could help with many things, including finding lost objects. His mind let go of his fear of losing track of Fenwick. Instead, it filled with hope of finally finding out what happened to the crew. Perhaps this magician was the key to finding the other survivors. 

Godric eagerly accepted the woman’s help in standing up. He pushed his bag onto his back and gripped onto the arm she held out for him to hold. She felt much shorter than he was, making him stoop slightly to keep hold of her. Her arm felt warm underneath a thick fabric. He assumed she was wearing a heavy cloak over her small frame. The air was growing colder by the minute as the day faded into night. As the two of them shuffled in silence, Godric’s stomach began to growl. 

“Oh my, you are hungry, too, I hear. That’s alright, we will get you all better at the house. Nearly there.”

“Thank you for helping me. I don’t know what I would have done otherwise. I really had hoped my friends were going to find me.”

“I’m sure they will come back. Are you from the city? Do you have family here?”

“No. I don’t have family anymore. I lost them in a shipwreck over a month ago. I don’t know if anyone else survived.”

“You poor thing! Wait, a shipwreck, you say? I remember the magician talking about a ship going down nearby about a month ago. Maybe he knows what happened to your family. Wouldn’t that be lucky that I found you then.”

Godric turned to face the woman as they continued to move quietly through the streets. To hear someone say they had heard of the shipwreck for the first time in a month was a miracle. The slight hope grew to excitement. He couldn’t wait to meet the magician and hear what he had to say. Now it was clear, coming to Westbreach was something he should have done the minute he felt good enough to walk.

“Now, here we are. Watch your step.”

The woman guided Godric through a door, leading him up a small set of stairs into a warm, bright room. She guided him to sit at a small, wooden chair at a table. 

“Now you rest here. I’ll bring you some food and then I’ll go find the master of the house to meet you.”

Godric sat, but an excited energy coursed through him. He couldn’t help bouncing in his chair. His vibrating made the chair creak against the floor under his feet. The smell of bread and stew filled the air as he heard the woman shuffling closer again.

“Here we are. A nice steaming bowl of lamb stew with some buttered bread. Now you eat while I go find Mr. Aldmen.”

“Thank you so much,” Godric said before reaching out and feeling for the bowl. 

The bowl was hot in his hands, but Godric didn’t care. His stomach growled angrily at the smell of the meat and potatoes in the stew. He couldn’t wait another second. Nearly scolding his mouth, Godric picked up the spoon that was left in the stew and started to eat, quickly. Too quickly. Although he knew he would have a stomachache later, he couldn’t’ stop himself. Something about the stew made him want to eat it faster. The first taste of it seemed to put him in a frenzy, forcing him to devour the stew until the bowl was empty.Once he scraped the bottom of the bowl with his spoon, his stomach felt like it was going to explode from the sudden ingestion of food. Pushing the bowl out of his way, he leaned over and to lay his head down on his crossed arms on the table. He listened for the return of the woman and the magician. As time passed by, his world slowly morphed to darkness, as he fell asleep.

Part 3 coming next week …

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