Chapter 1

Chapter 1 – The Cloth and The Cudgel

The city of Crater only came into existence 25 or so cycles ago when it was discovered by a Barbosian merchant caravan who sought a swift route past the mountain flatlands. Led by their curiosity, a party which included Issac Tan, The Great Traveller, ventured to the bottom of the basin to discover the entire cavity had a plethora of exotic minerals with marvelous properties. All 13 of the lesser merchant clans at the time banded together to create their own state. The name Crater is quite literal for a city built inside a Crater.  – Tinkers Notes # The first strike of the hammer caused a crack to appear in the rock. A second more powerful blow tore it asunder. Pieces crumbled away to reveal a white chunk of ore. Silver veins ran through it that glinted even with the lantern’s glim. The boy who wielded the hammer took a moment to glance around the room. All around him sat youth of the same age. Each with their own tiny mallets. Breaker Boys they called them. They all sat in neat little lines separating the impurities from the ore. It was tedious at best but still better than the alternative. The boy thought to himself. 
Tap, tap, tap an insistent tone that droned into the boy’s head as the others continued their work. Tap, tap, tap the noise controlled the room in the same way that a fly dominates dung. It was enough to be maddening. The boy imagined it was the reason those working the mines drank so much even if they laid the fault with their wives. Every so often the rhythm was broken up by a loud bang. One such a disturbance drew the boy’s attention. Among the workers strode a man with a cudgel. Every third row he would crack his cudgel down into the wooden runners in which the stone was deposited. To distill discipline. More often than not it would ‘mistakenly’ hit a hand. The man loved his routine and repeated it throughout the day. He had just finished a circuit of the room. Now was the time.

The boy’s hand raced to the only pocket on his ragged trousers. The one he had sown himself. He took out a necklace, a piece of metal that still had a shine to it. He opened it to reveal a tiny illustration of a woman. She stood tall on a lush hill with free flowing hair reaching for a wishful sky. Of course there was no colour, that all came from his imagination. Deft fingers took the picture out and brought it to his lips at the same time the soft glow from the shard of ore in front of him vanished. Once the picture was replaced he tied the keepsake around his neck and tucked it into the cloth shirt that barely covered his shoulders.

A pair of eyes flickered in the boy’s direction.  “Where’s your mother’s wit?” Came a hiss from his side.  “My what?” he whispered in return.
“Your sense, Zephyr, what the hell are you doin?” said the neighbouring boy.  “My own business, Joulan,” replied Zephyr. Joulan shook his head which made his mousy hair sway at his shoulders.
“Tis’ my business when your slack gets me a thwack.” Joulan replied as he shot Zephyr a pointed smile. Followed by a slight giggle from Mitzy, next to Joulan, the last seat on the row.
“Hush, both of you” Mitzy attempted mid titter.

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