Chapter 83 The Northern Coachman
Winter was the time of no harvest for most people of the North, especially near the Hermes Plateau. The Months of the Demons not only brought endless wind and snow but furthermore brought cold, hunger, and death. However, for “False Leg” White, Winter meant something different. Every winter, the Church’s envoy would come to his door to let him drive several turns to the west border of the kingdom. On the way to the border, he would collect suffering orphans with his carriage and bring them to the old Holy City.
For him, this was a good deal since he would almost earn twenty silver royals for each trip to the border. What was even better was that he could also accumulate merits of doing good work. It was almost the end of this year’s Months of the Demons, so this turn should be the last run of this season.
“Your honor, please go back to the carriage and stay inside. Outside, it will still snow for a long time, so you don’t need to eat the wind and drink the snow every day like I do you aren’t allowed to freeze.”
“This is nothing,” the Church’s messenger contradicted White and took a big gulp out of his jug before continuing, “In the new Holy City it can be much colder than it is here. At the plateau, leather clothes and armor aren’t able to stop the cold. If you are there, the cold will come through every opening and drill into every part of your body. Without the usage of cold pills, no ordinary people can survive at that place.
“What you said should be right,” White nodded, he hadn’t been to the new Holy City, and he also didn’t plan to go there. Since only the cold and the demonic beasts existed there, why should I go there? However, as an experienced coachman, it was easy for him to find another topic to speak about, a subject that would be preferred by the envoy. “Your gloves should be made from the leather of the wolves native to the west border of the Kingdom of Graycastle, right?”
“Oh? You can see that?”
“Hey, my lord, I’ve been doing this work for thirty years,” White proudly said, “first for the baron, then for the countess, and later even for the Wolfsheart Kingdom’s little princess. If it were not for the accident when I broke my legs, maybe I would still be working for the count’s house. They had nothing besides plenty of gold royals and paid excellently for Graycastles’s fur and silverware, jewelry from the Kingdom of Eternal Winter, and the fjord’s handicrafts. They demanded so much that I could never deliver enough.”
“So,” the Ambassador nodded, “this is the origin of your nickname? In what kind of accident were you involved in?”
“Well, it was a refugee riot. The group of thugs didn’t stop for anything as long as they could get something to eat from it,” White disdainfully answered. He spat on the ground, “When they surrounded the carriage, I had no other choice than to urge the horse to run if I wanted to save the countess. But, it got frightened, threw me down, and turned over the carriage.
“So you broke your leg?” the Ambassador curiously asked, “but what happened to the countess?”
“She got away since there were many cushions and thick quilts inside the carriage, so she got some light bruises,” White barked, “She just crawled out of the carriage and left me on the road to die. On my broken leg, I dragged my body home.” He slapped his hand against the brass stick that showed from under his cut-off trousers.” However, the count’s house threw me out on the pretext that I could not drive anymore, those damn aristocrats!”
“What a pity,” the Ambassador paused, “but God did not abandon you, now you are driving for the Church.”
“Yes sir.” Answered White, but inside, he thought, No. If God were merciful, he wouldn’t let me do this. Instead, he would have saved me when I needed him the most.
At this moment, the cry of a young girl could be heard. “We need a little pause.”
Hearing this, White pulled at the reins so that the two horses gradually stopped. At the moment the carriage had stopped, the ambassador jumped down and went to its back. Soon, a whip crack could be heard from behind the carriage.
Poor child, thought White as he sighed, you have to endure it, this is your savior. If it weren’t for the Church’s envoy who always supported me through the winter, I would only be an unattended corpse at the side of the road.
Soon, the ambassador came back, climbed up, and sat beside White and only commanded, “Go.”
“Brace yourselves, I am driving!” shouted White as he shook his reins, removing the carriage. “Are they all from the Wolfsheart Kingdom?”
“Almost, the churches in every town in the Kingdom takes in some of the orphans especially during the winter, when there is a food and clothing shortage everywhere. We receive many times more people compared to the other seasons because of this. If we only depended on our Church’s own members, it wouldn’t be enough, so we have to employ some drivers with good reputations to help us to transport the orphans to the Oldy Holy City. Until now you have done very well, White. My predecessor could only praise you.”
“It is my privilege to be part of such a good deed,” said White, honored. “Your excellency, will they also be sent to the monastery? I hate to ask, though they are orphans, their characters aren’t the same. Although some of them aren’t so old, some of them have already done terrible deeds, so won’t these people contaminate the pure and holy earth?”
“God will judge them, and even if they are guilty, they will get the opportunity of salvation.” answered the envoy with complete conviction.
“Will they? That’s a good thing.” Wright was amazed, but soon he raised his head and looked at the sky before he continued. “It’s late. Sir, shall we stay in the next town? If the weather tomorrow is good, we will arrive at the Old Holy City at noon.”
“It’s already this late?” asked the Ambassador, “Look for an inn, and after you bring the carriage to the yard you can prepare the food for the orphans.”
“Okay!” White agreed to the plan.
This town belonged to the Wolfsheart Kingdom, and if someone wanted to reach the Old Holy City, they had to go through this town. So, it wasn’t White’s first time here. Thanks to this, he quickly found the inn he had previously frequented. He drove the carriage into the yard and then took some coins from the Church’s envoy to buy some food for the orphans. As usual, he bought sweet potato porridge, which was the most appropriate choice since it was cheap and still had a pretty good taste. After watching them divide the porridge, White limped back to the inn, asked for some bread with butter, and sat at the bar to eat. As for the envoy, he certainly had a better place to go.
If White hadn’t broken his leg ten years ago, he would have gone to the tavern to order a glass of wine, and he would also have thrown some dice – he had always had a good hand for them. But now… White took his purse and found his room to sleep early.
Later, in the evening, he heard some voices from the yard. So, he got up and lifted the curtains to control the situation. But White only saw that the Church’s drunken envoy had come back. The envoy opened the door of the carriage and went into it. Soon he returned outside, pulling two orphans with him. Beside the carriage, two people dressed in aristocratic clothes were already waiting.
Seeing that it was only the envoy, White put the curtain down and went back under the warm blanket.
This wasn’t the first time he witnessed the envoy doing this. Actually, it was a regular thing for him. Being alive is the greatest happiness, he thought, they have just to endure the pain for the moment. You only have to survive until we reach the Old Holy City, there you will be able to start a new life. At least in the monastery, you won’t have to fear starving. Thinking until here, White yawned and soon fell asleep.
At dawn, he got the envoy and drove on. The last part of the journey went without incident, and they even reached the Old Holy City two hours sooner than expected. There were already other church’s carriages waiting for them; it seemed that these poor devils still had some way to go, but all this had nothing to do with him.
“This is your reward.” The envoy called to White and threw a bag toward him.
White took the coins out of the bag and counted them twice. Indeed, it was twenty silver royals. So he nodded and said, “I hope I will see you again in the coming year.
But the envoy did not answer. Instead, he waved his hand to indicate that White could depart.
White noticed that in addition to him, several other coachmen were doing the same job. Are they the from the other Kingdoms? He asked himself, but soon he noticed something strange, it seemed only girls would come down from the carriages. So when the church adopts orphans, they only adopt girls?
He shook his head, threw this problematic thought to the back of his head, and started the journey back home.