212/366 – The New Guy

Day 70 of 100 Word Prompts: Safari

Strong winds whipped through Madigton, unseasonably cold and humid, causing every inch of the city to see a frost in early summer for the first time. Simultaneously, the statue of Runthor the Great, suspended by a series of ropes and pulleys, moved slowly over Flint’s head as three goliaths pushed on the mechanism supporting its weight. Besal’s hands were already on the base of it as Flint reached over to grab it.

As he took a step forward, the wind suddenly changed direction, catching the broad side of the statue, sending it swinging toward Flint. The sudden swing of the statue made the ropes holding it begin to slip from the grip of the crew responsible for it.

“Move!” Retius, the foreman, yelled to Flint, who looked in the direction of the man paying him.

Flint didn’t see the statue drop four inches as the damp rope slipped in the grip of the crew. Nor did he see the statue when it connected with the side of his head with a sickening crack.

“Do you think this is some kind of game?” Besal scolded as Flint landed heavily on the ground. Though he appeared irritated, there was also a genuine spark of fear behind his eyes as he struggled with the statue. “This is more than some afternoon safari through Baswea. This is the history of our people, and your future, Flint.”

“Sorry,” Flint said as he scrambled to his feet to grab the base of the statue that swung in the air. “I didn’t mean to slip. It just got away from me.”

“I don’t want excuses,” Besal replied, trying his best to hold on.

Flint grabbed the base of the statue once more and helped guide it into position as the crew holding the ropes slowly lowered it.

“Careful now!” Retius yelled, “We’re almost there!”

A few tenuous seconds later, the statue connected with the platform built to hold it on the cliffside, and the entire crew took a collective sigh of relief.

“Take a break,” Retius shouted, turning his back on the crew as he stormed away.

Flint looked to Besal, who simply sat where he had been standing, stretching his long legs out across the ground as he laid back.

“What?” Besal asked, seeing Flint’s curious gaze.

“Why is he so angry?” Flint asked. “The statue is in place. No one fell off the cliff like he said happens every time he does one of these jobs. I don’t understand.”

“He’s just always angry,” Besal replied with a shrug. “It’s best not to pry too much.”

Flint nodded and walked around the statue, sitting on a step close to his friend. The side of his head throbbed a little, but otherwise, he felt fine. He ran his hand over the side of his head to check for blood but instead found a very tender bruise.

“Can I ask you a question?” Besal said after a moment.

“Sure,” Flint replied with a shrug.

“Why do you always have something on your forearm there?” Besal asked, motioning to the cloth tied around Flint’s forearm.

Flint floundered in his response for a moment as he tried to think of something clever to cover up the truth, but in the process of creating the lie, he said, “It’s a really horrible scar that never healed right. Like so bad, it turns my stomach to even look at it.”

“Really?” Besal asked, raising one eyebrow.

“Oh, yeah,” Flint replied, nodding emphatically. “So bad. You wouldn’t even want to see it. I’d bet you wouldn’t eat for a month.”

“That bad?” Besal asked, pushing himself upright with genuine interest.

Flint felt a surge of panic at the display, knowing what was coming next. A knot in his stomach formed and twisted violently in an instant.

“Can I see it?” Besal asked.

“No,” Flint replied quickly, pulling his arm into his stomach as though Besal had just asked for half of his favorite sandwich.

“Sorry,” Besal said, leaning back. “I didn’t think you were that sensitive about it.”

“I-I just don’t want anyone else to see it,” Flint replied. “It’s so bad. You don’t even know.”

“Alright, I understand,” Besal said with a wave of his hand. “Some things are better not shared. No further explanation necessary.”

“Sorry,” Flint said, suddenly feeling bad.

“For what?” Besal asked.

“For snapping at you,” Flint replied. “I didn’t mean to. It’s just a really sensitive thing, you know?”

“You’re fine, Flint, really,” Besal said as he clambered back to his feet. “I suppose we should get moving to the next job. Retius isn’t one to be kept waiting.”

“Already?” Flint asked, producing a squished sandwich from his pocket. “I haven’t even eaten my sandwich yet.”

“You’ll have to eat it on the way,” Besal said, shaking his head.

Flint put the sandwich in his mouth and stood up, following Besal down the street to another site where a statue of Xaas the Bold was being prepped for placement.

“Why are we putting up these statues anyway?” Flint asked as they arrived. “Seems like a lot of work for something that only takes up space.”

“The Council of Nine wanted to ensure that every city under their rule remembered the goliaths who sacrificed themselves for the Kinian Republic,” Besal said as though reciting a practiced speech. “Personally, I think one of the council members found himself in a tough spot with a new lover who is also a crafter.”

Flint looked down the street to the other sites in the line. In total, fourteen locations had been selected for statues, with the potential of more to come in the next few spans. As long as he didn’t do anything to mess it up, Retius would keep him busy for some time to come.

“Flint, Besal, Valos, and Dlezos,” Retius called, “You four are on ropes. No messing around this time. This one is my great great uncle. If anything happens to it, I’ll have all of you exiled!”

“Really?” Flint whispered to Besal.

“Not really,” Besal shot back, “Retius is a bit of a storyteller if you ask me. He has stories about why every one of these statues is important to him personally. He’s either related to them, or he owns some great item handed down through the generations from another. It’s always something.”

“Why would he lie about that?” Flint asked, grabbing the rope with the others.

“I hear that he’s the last remaining in his clan,” Dlezos chimed in. “I bet he’s making a show of being close to these just so that he feels more important.”

“Now I’m just sad,” Flint said, shaking his head slowly. “It’s no wonder he’s mad all the time. Did he not find a suitable partner to have children?

“I don’t know,” Besal said.

“Me either,” Dlezos agreed.

“Vaflos?” Besal asked.

“I’ve got nothing to add,” Vaflos said with a shake of his head. “I’ve only just met him. I don’t know enough about anyone here to say anything.”


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