Best Friend's Burden, by Charles Matthias

Story name: Best Friend's Burden
Author: Charles Matthias

Date: May, 706 CR
Location: Metamor Keep

Overview

Lindsey shares a letter he receives from his family with Zhypar, and the two share a silent reminiscence of their past life.

Summary

Copernicus beats Zhypar at a pool game, and the two of them sit and make small talk with Tallis and Nahum. Lindsey shows up while Tallis and Nahum depart, leaving Zhypar alone with Copernicus and Lindsey. Zhypar notices a tension in the air. Lindsey tells them that he received a letter from his family in the Giantdowns, that they are still struggling but making the most of it. When Lindsey prompts Zhypar to make a remark about his old home, Copernicus becomes curious about their shared history before the Keep. Both of them are uncomfortable sharing, and Zhypar threatens him not to pry too deeply.

Copernicus excuses himself for the night, leaving Zhypar and Lindsey to sit silently by themselves. Zhypar thinks back to a time he visited Lindsey's house years ago, when Lindsey's brother was just a boy, playing idyllically as the family worked. Back in the present, Lindsey says that he will soon have to leave for the evening shift. Zhypar asks to let Lindsey's family know that he wishes them well, and then challenges Lindsey to arm-wrestle, noting that "it wasn't what they wanted, but it was what they had, and that was the most important thing friends could share".

Characters

Main characters:

  • Zhypar Habakkuk: A kangaroo morph. He came to Metamor Keep 4 years ago, under unusual circumstances, and has known Lindsey from before then. He is unwilling to talk about his past, calling it a "burden".
    • Zhypar says that his father was a merchant, and that he traveled with him frequently and took over ten years ago when his father lost his arm in a Sathmore-Pyralian skirmish. It's possible, however, that this is merely a cover story for Copernicus.
  • Lindsey: A male gendermorph and lumberjack. He and his family came from the Giantdowns. His family still refers to him as their "daughter".

Supporting:

Minor characters:

  • Nahum: A friend of Zhypar, and a fox morph. He has been helping Channing with Writer's Guild business.
  • Tallis: A friend of Zhypar, and a rat morph. He was with the other rats when Jack tried to take Saulius's armor away.

Cameo:

  • Donnie: The bartender of the Deaf Mule.

Important mention:

  • Jack deMule: The armourer of the Keep. He had been willing to let Saulius keep his sword and armor, until he heard Saulius attacked Michael's door. He tried to wrestle Saulius for the armor, until the rats persuaded him otherwise.
  • Saulius: An absent-minded knight and rat morph. He was twirling his sword and damaged Michael's door. Jack tried to take his armor afterwards, until the other rats convinced him they would watch Saulius.
  • Michael: A lumberjack. He is still recovering from his injury in Battling a Tree.
  • Andrig: Lindsey's younger brother by 10 years. He was the last of seven children, and the only one besides Lindsey to survive infancy. He still lives in the Giantdowns, and is ready to join the Resistance.
  • Lindsey's father: A big burly man with a bright red beard. He is a good carpenter and hunter, although hunting hasn't been so good after Nasoj moved in.

Referenced:

  • Charles Matthias: A headmaster of the Writer's Guild.
  • Channing: A headmaster of the Writer's Guild. He has been very busy lately.
  • Nasoj: The enemy wizard of Metamor Keep.

Locations

  • Giantdowns, north of Metamor Keep. Nasoj's rule in the Giantdowns is less harsh than it seems. In the west countryside, the citizens are typically left alone, and asked only for taxes and civility. Giants and Lutins are found only in Nasoj's armies, rather than marauding the countryside. Most crimes take place in the cities or further east.
    • Lindsey's house is beside the sea on the western border, past the mountains. It burned down 2 years ago, and was rebuilt a few months ago.

Points of interest:

  • Matthias is much better at pool than Zhypar, and Copernicus is better than both of them.
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