Upon looking at the beggar, Barrett immediately regretted it. He was an emaciated man, so thin that Barrett could count his ribs through his barely substantial clothing. Worse yet, he saw that one leg of his pants was tied off just above the knee. He was the most unfortunate sort. Barrett knew he wouldn’t even be able to get a place in line for handouts at the church of Ristos. “Damn, there goes my bandages…” he muttered to himself.
Nobody but Barrett even glanced down at the beggar. When Barrett crouched near him, it was like they were invisible to the world. He held out his two silver coins and placed them in the beggar’s hand. He could barely even hold onto them. “Oh, thank you kind sir, thank you.” He bowed his head, as much as he could. Barrett thought he should have perhaps kept one of the silvers. After all, they could buy this man food for a week or two… but it might be the last week or two of his life.
“If you can… make your way to the residential district at the end of the week. No, perhaps it would be better if you told me somewhere I might find you. I can take you for a meal.” Simon wouldn’t mind one more. In fact, he would be happy.
The beggar nodded, “I’ll probably be in that alley over there…”
Barrett nodded and stood up, “I hope to see you then.”
He turned to leave, but the beggar’s voice came up from behind him. “Ah, wait, young man!” Barrett turned around and saw him digging through the remains of his shirt, in which there seemed to be a small pocket. “I heard something about bandages?” The beggar smiled an almost toothless grin, and held a small roll of bandages out on his hand. “I happen to have some spares here. I don’t think I’ll need it anymore…” He stretched his arm out as far as it would go. “Take it.”
Barrett gingerly plucked the bandages from his hand. “Thank you.” He wouldn’t reject the gift… and he did need bandages anyway. He tried not to think about the fact that they might be the only ones the beggar had, for emergencies.
Barrett looked down at his hand. If nothing else, the bandages were good. They were soft and not abrasive, which was rather new. They also had just the right amount of stretch and yet tautness… easy to tie off, yet also simple to untie. Barrett only wished he didn’t need them.
His injuries from the fire had healed, at least as much as they ever would. The horrible scars would surely stay as reminders. Unfortunately, he was accruing new injuries. Though he got better at his job as a servant, the beatings grew worse for small or even nonexistent infractions.
Barrett couldn’t help but think he was at fault. Not for failing at his job. His performance was more than adequate. No, instead it was that he wasn’t strong enough or brave enough. He didn’t have the courage to fight back, or to strangle someone in the night. He didn’t have the strength to retaliate, or to take down even a single guard, let alone the rest around the manor or the city guards. Perhaps he couldn’t. Yet, he also didn’t have the courage to run. He was afraid of the wilderness. Would it be worse than where he was? He didn’t know, but that was the problem.
Of course, Barrett never forgot who the real blame fell on. Denton and Melody… Albert, the servants and guards of the manor, excepting Margarit… they were all to blame. Not to mention the bankers who wouldn’t even consider giving him what belonged to him. There was no way they didn’t know, they had to have been influenced by his ‘family’. Yet, even with all those people being responsible, Barrett still couldn’t help but wonder how things would be different if he had power here. He had no connections, and wouldn’t be able to make them, but could he be personally strong?
Barrett tried to do the exercises he had started for sword training, but he didn’t have any energy for it. He wasn’t given enough food. Enough to survive, but not enough to grow. He couldn’t even buy more now, since even more excuses were being made to dock his pay. He didn’t know if he could make it even another week without going crazy, except he had received a small glimmer of hope.
There was going to be a recruitment drive in a few months. This wasn’t just for the army either, but even better. It was a combination of various mages, warriors, fencers, knights, healers… Those who were strong. Barrett didn’t know how strong, but he knew Robert was strong enough to fight at least a dozen regular soldiers. If he could join any of them… it would change his life. He just had to make it until then…
Barrett held his wrist gingerly. It was probably broken. Even moving his fingers made it hurt. He didn’t have much to use as a splint, but he took what he could and then wrapped bandages around it tightly. He looked at the roll, and it appeared the same size as always. It was hard to believe, but it seemed he had magical bandages. The roll never seemed to run out. He didn’t really know how it worked, but he wasn’t going to complain. He thought of the beggar who had given them to him. Had he known? There was no way to find out. Barrett had gone to find him to bring him to the meal, but he wasn’t there. He also had never shown up at Simon’s place. That made Barrett think the worst had probably happened.
Barrett was often up late. He had to finish his work, after all, because otherwise he would be punished in a manner that was almost justifiable. Likewise, he had also learned to move quietly, because people didn’t like being woken up at night. On this particular night, that served him quite well. Barrett didn’t go out of his way to spy… but he didn’t particularly value the privacy of those who treated him worse than a pile of dirt. Thus, he had no problem listening in on the conversation in his aunt’s study. He heard both Melody and Denton talking… and he didn’t like what he heard at all.