6 Ch-5 Cainshire
With the horses and the gates open, Felix, Aslak and Yvette mounted and rode outside. After crossing the moat by a drawbridge, only the first wood-steel portcullis closed down, leaving the Castle defenses weak but it wasn't a problem since they were not in a siege.
The town of Cainshire was very close to the Cainhorn Castle. It only took them a few minutes to reach the Residency area, the place where the few permanent residents of Cainshire lived. Beyond this, was the market and then the outer barracks and the gates of Cainshire. In reality, Cainshire isn't really a town of such, but was more of a settlement of seasonal traders. It thrived on the in-land river trade of the Grey Canal and the herbal trade of the forests around it. Unlike most towns, Cainshire didn't house any hunters, herders, farmers or such people and there were practically no farmlands or livestock outside the walls. The only permanent residents were fishermen, herb-gatherers and slave traders and even they were slowly moving out.
In short, the town of Cainshire was filled with more degenerates than honest people, but most of the crimes weren't reported because of one reason. Lax governance. The Dean Household, for centuries has been lax and generally didn't care about the Cainshire town other than imposing a reasonably low monthly tax.
The only piece of buildings in the town on which the household actually spent money was the barracks and the outer town walls and that was centuries ago and haven't been improved much. The barracks, too are moderately furnished and old-fashioned, but it was only used as a place for the veterans to live and train, rather than for training. It was simply the lack of warfare and conflicts that made the soldiers of Cainshire meek.
Other than that, the markets are the only interesting place in the whole of Cainshire. With new commodities coming and going every day, it is filled with new slaves, oddities and spices, but it was also only a checkpoint in a rather big trade route. Not many people in Cainshire can actually buy the stuffs which are sold there. All in all, the town of Cainshire was nothing special.
As for the reason why there are no hunters or farmers when there are big, wild forests around, is due to certain believes of the residents. It is believed that the forests around Cainshire is haunted by the Spirits of the Woods, or commonly called Dryads. They are immensely powerful monsters who gain strength from the nature around them and can utilize nature to ambush, sneak and annihilate any invading force. With the huge the forests around Cainshire, it is believed that the Dryads have become immensely powerful, powerful enough to deal with any simple army. And with a lazy and untrained army as the Cainhorn army, it is highly unlikely to kill the Dryads, instead it is highly likely to be killed. The next option is the simplest one and that is to burn the forest but it is a bad and tiresome option. Burning the forest might kill the Dryads, but with new forests growing, new Dryads will also be born and the Cainshire army needs to constantly deal with these monsters and various others to keep its wilds safe, but it was a no-no for the lazy Dean family. Along with that, it would destroy the natural livelihood of the many herb-gatherers, who were just keeping them afloat in the town of Cainshire. And to add it, the Lords of the Cainhorn Castle forbade any burning of forests or massive lumbering. The reason is never spoken openly and it is believed that only the closest attendants or perhaps on the Lord of the Castle knows the reason why.
Felix and company rode through the Resident's area into market and browsed the various side stalls, occasionally ordering one or two side-dishes and candies. The stall-owners, even though poor, readily gave them a serving, without asking for any money, partly because of flattery and partly because of obligations. They didn't really care about the Dean family or their lordship, but still put on a bright smile. The reflex of peasants, if you would call it and to the young Felix and Aslak, the smiles of flattery seemed true and honest. But to the experienced Yvette, it wasn't. She looked coldly at the all the people, men or women, old or young, who would serve without asking for anything other than to remember their names. Infact, she held more regards to those people who would ask for a fee, no matter how small the task was or even when knowing that the person infront was the Lord's son. And they were going to meet one such person, Master Lobster.
They rode through the market and entered the barracks compound. Over there, they had a small talk with the garrison Commander and the many veterans, who fought with Sir Aston on battlefield. It wasn't really a talk, it was more like spectating a gladiator show between two gladiators in an arena and occasionally asking a few questions about swordsmanship. Other than them, there weren't any spectators around. The barracks were usually empty.
From there, they visited the outer gates of the town, which unlike the Castle walls were only three meters tall and half that wide. The gate of the outer town wall was a portcullis but it was only made of Hardwood, but even that was rotting and eroding. Felix and Aslak ignored such stuffs, because they believed the myths of the family, which said that the Cainshire town to be impregnable and the Cainshire army invincible. They only stayed there for a small amount of time before moving on to the Master Lobsters' tavern.
Master Lobsters' tavern was located around the docks, like all other taverns. It had a huge dining hall where most of the traders, merchants and fishermen would goof around and Felix liked to stay there and listen to ramblings of common people. The other reason he liked it, was because most of the people who visited these taverns, didn't much visit the town and wouldn't know that the young guy sitting beside them was actually the Lord's son. But it was only what Felix and Aslak thought. The regulars of the tavern and even the most recent traders and merchants could easily understand the real identity of Felix and Aslak right away, because, firstly they were too young to come to a tavern, secondly, they never ever tasted ale and thirdly, they always ordered a lobster dish, which Master Lobsters' best dish and was the most expensive. Only a noble or someone as rich as that can afford it and in the rural Cainshire, only the Lord and his family was that rich. This was the reason why Yvette always travelled with them, even if they didn't like it.
Felix and Aslak reached it right at the time of lunch, perhaps a bit late, but still quite on time. They dismounted their horses and dashed into the tavern crying, "Lobsters! Lobsters!"
Yvette behind them, sighed tiredly and followed. She unlike her first time, was wearing a black cloak around her and a mask to hide her face. She hid her face so that no lusty men would eye her and make troubles for the little kids.
She entered the tavern and looked around to find Felix and Aslak sitting on the last few tables, with Felix waving his free hand at her. She gestured them to sit down and went to the counter to order for food. She paid for the bill and returned to the seat which Felix and Aslak had chosen.
"You guys really love lobsters, don't you?!" said Yvette.
"Yea, of course," replied Aslak, "Nothing beats the soft meat of the inside and the juice of the head, oh! My goodness that is legendary. Isn't it, Felix?"
Felix, who was fidgeting in excitement and because his new back-strapped scabbard, replied, "Oh! Yea and not only that. The spices which is used is also awesome. I would like to buy a ton of lobsters but if I do, mom would scold me and dad steal them. Oh! He also likes to eat lobsters, you know."
Yvette shook her head and sighed. "You are incorrigible." She didn't talk much after that. After half an hour or so, the dishes arrived and Felix and Aslak dug into. Yvette didn't eat anything and only stared at them, occasionally tasting the soup or vegetables. The lobster dish was called Master Lobster's Lobsters, a weird name, but no one seemed to care about it. I mean, who would care about 1 Gold a serving of a dish which is only eaten by two noble kids and no one else.
Felix and Aslak ate 3 servings and were ready for more when Yvette interrupted them with the threat of the evening practices. Disappointed, they agreed to leave the tavern and headed back, after Yvette paid for the extras. She also had a talk with the attendant on the counter, who handed her some letter of sorts, but the pair didn't quite notice it. On the way, they still browsed a little of the spice market, but due to it being the Month of Snowflakes, not many of the spice traders had arrived yet. They walked back to the Castle a little before 4pm. Yvette guided them back to Keep before taking her leave.
Felix and Aslak entered the Castle Keep with a light mind and filled tummy, but unknown to them, inside a war was raging on between Lady Faye and Sir Aston. Actually, it was not even a war, it was a one-sided slaughter of Sir Aston by his wife, who was berating and scolding him constantly with a wooden stick, while the other maids and butlers were trying to calm her down in vain. It was a funny situation and surprising to find the mighty Sir Aston, the Wolf of The Battlefield to cower infront of his wife.
Felix and Aslak had seen this situation many times and were intelligent enough to not poke their nose into. They slipped away silently from the back without heeding to any of the pleas of Sir Aston. On the way, the encountered Sir Torgeir who told them that Master Loann was waiting for them and was quite angry. The moment they heard the word 'angry' along with 'Loann,' they rushed to the Great Courtyard.