Using magic was harder on an empty stomach. Douglas did his best to keep his stomach full now, but it wasn’t easy finding people who would let him work for them. After all, a random traveling young man didn’t exactly fill people with confidence. Then there was the trouble of finding people who could read- and were actually willing to. He wished he could be back at the tower with his father and sister, who were always ready to listen to him, and give him the time he needed to ‘speak’.
Negotiating for good prices was hard, both because he had to write and because he didn’t have an established reputation. He continued travelling west as much because he had no other idea of where to go as because he actually still cared about magic. Well, he did care about magic, but he didn’t always feel like it. The endless monotony of travel didn’t help him keep his mind off of what he was running away from, either.
He had already passed the soldiers from Scoubar, so he didn’t have to worry about them, but he did have to deal with dishonest merchants. Not everyone paid him what was promised- or at all- and there was little he could do about it. Sure, he could go to some guards he didn’t know and who probably couldn’t read and then try to make them take the side of the traveling mute boy over someone from their town… but he didn’t have the will to try. He considered various forms of petty or violent revenge, but while setting their shops on fire would certainly be bad for them, it would be even worse for Douglas, as he would be seen as in the wrong.
The consequences didn’t stop him thinking about it, especially when he’d worked hard. Sure, most people paid exactly what was promised- some of them even more- but the few people who didn’t soured his whole view of everyone. Douglas was seriously considering burning down the clothing shop he was in. The clothes would go up in flames easily. If he stayed in the shop with the fire, then the only consequences to him would be him dying. It almost didn’t sound too bad. Unfortunately, there was a customer in there, and she probably didn’t deserve it.
“Go on kid, get out!” The shopkeeper waved his hand. He was behind the counter, so it would take him some effort to physically remove Douglas from the premises… and perhaps that would be worth it.
Douglas held up his slate and glared. His head hurt from using magic, the repair spell’s hole in his mind still burning. His slate still said, “You owe me 2 silver.”
“What’s that then?” The woman asked, looking back and forth between Douglas and the shopkeeper.
“Don’t worry about that kid. Anyway, here’s that dress. I worked long and hard on those repairs. Quite some trouble. That’ll be one and a half gold pieces.”
“Oh, I see.” The woman held up her dress, “Why, these repairs are… perfect. I’m impressed.” She started to reach for her coinpurse, and Douglas stomped his food on the floor to get her attention.
He was furiously writing- as furiously as he could with his left hand. He was still a bit slower than with his right… or than he had been with his right. Now he couldn’t quite grip things as well as he would like, so he used his left. “I repaired that dress.” Douglas held up his sign accusingly. It was a very expensive dress, the sort that couldn’t afford to get a hole in it. He’d only gotten the chance to do it because it was impossible for the tailor to fix. If he’d been paid- even the small portion of the actual cost being charged- then he wouldn’t have said anything… but he hadn’t been paid.
The woman raised an eyebrow, “This young man claims he was the one who fixed it. Now, he doesn’t have the look of a tailor about him, but I recall you saying this dress wasn’t mendable.”
“I said it was nearly impossible. I worked long and hard on that, as you can see by the quality of the fix.”
Douglas continued to hold up his sign, and just pointed at it to reiterate his statement glaring at the shopkeeper.
The shopkeeper stomped his foot, “Get out! I’ll not have you lying to my customers!” As Douglas clearly refused to move, the shopkeeper started around the end of the counter to come remove Douglas himself- and as Douglas was still in his early teens, the older man probably could do so.
Before the shopkeeper got close, Douglas moved forward and grabbed the dress. Then he tore it using the edge of his slate to push through the material. That was the thing about expensive dresses- they were actually usually not any stronger than cheap ones. Not that Douglas knew a lot about dresses in general. Douglas held the torn dress out to the tailor.
“You! You ruined my work!” The shopkeeper moved forward to strike Douglas, but the woman reached out to grab his hand.
“Now now, that won’t be necessary. You fixed it once, so you can do it again… and when you do, I’ll of course pay double.” The woman smiled, “Unless of course you really can’t do it?”
“I- I have other business to attend to,” the shopkeeper frowned.
“Really? Because I don’t see any other customers… and even if there were, I doubt the work would be more profitable than this. It was just two days ago you said there had been no progress.” The woman released the shopkeeper’s hand as he stepped away, “I think a gold and a half is pretty good for two days of work at most, is it not? Even if you barely stopped to sleep, it’s more than a sufficient rate…” then the woman turned to Douglas, “How about you, young man? Since you ripped my dress… you must be confident in repairing it. If you cannot, I shall be… very displeased.” Douglas nodded, and held up a hand. “Five gold coins? No, that’s a bit too much I think. You shall get no more than three- and only if it’s ready for the ball tomorrow night.”
Douglas blinked, then wrote on his slate, “I meant that it will take me an hour, and that you will just need to wait a short time.” Douglas’ hand had actually meant five minutes, but that was a foolish thing to admit. He’d taken two hours for the initial tear, just to avoid suspicion, but this new one was clean and would only take a single casting of the repair spell, which was good because that was just about what he had left in him. He might be able to rememorize another iteration of it, but he wasn’t quite sure.
“Is that so? Get started then.”
“I need a place to work and tools.” Douglas pointed to a back room, “That’s where I did it the first time.”
“Fine. Ronaldo!” The woman called towards the door, and a large man in a gambeson with a sword at his side came into the shop. “Watch this young man while he repairs my dress in there. Make sure he doesn’t run off.”
Douglas swallowed nervously, writing quickly, “I get nervous with someone looking over my shoulder…”
Ronaldo glanced at Douglas, and his slate, then looked into the workroom. “No windows he could crawl out of. I can just watch the door.”
“Whatever,” the woman waved her hand. “Once it’s fixed, bring him to me.”
“But that’s my workroom!” the tailor complained.
The woman looked at him, then turned to leave the shop. Douglas made his way into the back room, while Ronaldo stood guard at the door. As the door closed, he sighed in relief. Then he proceeded to spend the next hour trying to approximate sounds someone would make while fixing a dress. Mostly he just rubbed his shirt on the table.