Barrett didn’t know where to go. He had a plan, and it failed. He wasn’t going to give up, but there was no way the guards would let him in, and sneaking in would be foolish. However, he didn’t have high hopes for other bankers helping him either. If he was a banker, would he have let himself in? Barrett thought he actually would, but he wasn’t a banker, so maybe he wouldn’t have. He wasn’t even dirty, just in poor clothes and bandages. Still, the banker didn’t even listen when he mentioned he had legitimate business. Barrett was a better person than that, wasn’t he?
He wasn’t going to go back to the manor right away. Every moment spent there increased his chances of meeting his cousin or his aunt. Even though they were keeping a roof over his head, he could barely remain cordial with them. Or perhaps it was the way his cousin dangled the roof over his head and threatened to drop it on him. That comparison didn’t help him appreciate it more, due to recent experiences.
Barrett wandered blindly for some time before he found himself in front of another grand building. It was a cathedral to Ristos. Barrett thought he could use some prosperity in his life, and even if this cathedral was somewhat less grand than the one in Durham, that was what it should offer. It was just the right time for the service, even… perhaps a bit late. However, he once again found his path barred.
“No entry.” The guard stood in the way, expressionless.
“Is this not a church of Ristos? Should it not be open to everyone?”
“The god of prosperity welcomes all. Handouts are tomorrow morning. Come back then.” The guard remained standing in his way.
Barrett took time to politely leave. He got the message. He went back to walking the streets, and wondered to himself. Was the world always like this? He was treated like a stray dog just because he had bandages and poor clothes. No, Durham was better. His father managed Durham, so it was certainly… at least… a little bit better. Wasn’t it?
It was only a short while more before Barrett realized something. He shouldn’t be walking. He probably shouldn’t have gone all the way to the bank, but he definitely shouldn’t have gone far afterwards. Unfortunately, it took until his legs gave out to realize this. He managed to drag himself off to the side of the road and lean up against a building. He watched people walk by and the people… ignored him. It was as if he wasn’t there at all, but invisible. He looked down at his own hands to make sure he could see them… and saw bandages. Those were quite visible, at least.
It was a cool day, which might have been pleasant if Barrett had decent clothing. As it was, his thin clothes did nothing, and the bandages did little more than that. He shivered, but he couldn’t stand up to get inside… and doubted most places would take him. A tavern might, but only until they realized he had no coin. Not that he knew where one was or could get to it. At this time of day, perhaps a bistro might be more appropriate, but the same points remained.
Barrett’s vision glazed over as he looked out at those passing by. Nothing was interesting enough for him to actually focus on, so he just saw the legs passing by, those of humans and of horses. When his vision was blocked, it took him several moments to realize there was someone crouching in front of him. It was a scruffy looking man, a pauper- barely better off than Barrett himself looked. When the man spoke Barrett’s eyes focused on him. “Hello friend. Do you need a meal?”
Barrett was indeed hungry, but he wouldn’t resort to begging. His stomach betrayed him, however, grumbling.
“I’ll take that as a yes. Let’s get you inside… and in a chair, even.” The man didn’t wait for an answer, but lifted Barrett to his feet. Barrett expected pain, but the man had chosen the one part of him that didn’t hurt, his armpits. At least, they didn’t hurt much. The man saw that Barrett couldn’t stand on his own feet, and supported Barrett, walking along the street.
Barrett didn’t have the strength or will to resist. He could have said something, but the thought of food was nice… and he had no reason to refuse. As for thinking the situation was odd… it truly seemed so, but it wasn’t like he could be robbed. He had nothing on him worth taking. Even his shoes were so poorly made as to have no value, which made him wonder how the Ravenhalls even got them. That must have taken special effort.
It wasn’t long before Barrett found himself inside… a house. That was unexpected, really. There were seven others in the house already, sitting around a table that didn’t have room for all of them, let alone two more. Somehow, though, Barrett found that everyone ended up sitting there.
A slightly rotund man sat at the head of the table, though he wasn’t quite aligned correctly to accommodate the chairs crowding around. “Welcome, everyone! It’s good to see some new faces.” He nodded to Barrett, and one other. “God, please bless this meal to keep us healthy.”
That was the shortest prayer Barrett had ever heard, so much that he nearly missed it. It didn’t bother him, though, because that meant the food came even faster. There was the smell of fresh warm bread. A woman, presumably the rotund man’s wife, brought the bread and a pot of soup… and then they managed to squeeze yet one more space around the table, and everyone started eating.
Barrett wasn’t sure exactly why he was here… but he found that the simple bread and soup filled Barrett quite well. Even though they were simple, the taste was good… which made him realize how much the food he had been given at his cousin’s manor had been downgraded, to actually be as it had been. He’d thought maybe he’d lost some of his sense of taste, but instead the food had really been that bland. That thought went on the list, though it soon faded into obscurity as the good food overwhelmed his thoughts. Then, a boisterous conversation began.