Fantasticoe Spring 2011

Lilli Of Mulberry - Chapter 1

Daniel Halstrom

Lilli squeezed under the mill wheel. Terry, her cat, yowled his disapproval as she hauled him out of his hiding place. Turning around she pushed him  through the hole and attempted to follow. Things did not go as planned; as she pulled herself upright the wheel rotated ever so slightly trapping her half way under it. In the moment it took her to push herself free Terry managed to vanish. She swore angrily. Her father appeared , she immediately felt the sense of guilt that the appearance of a parent to a guilty child can cause.

He didn't say anything, there was no need, the "daddy is disappointed" look more then sufficed. Feeling terrible, Lilli trudged back to their house to sit in her loft and feel sorry for herself. She knew the wheel was dangerous, but Terry wouldn't stop hiding under it.  One day he could get crushed.

Climbing into her loft she found Terry sound asleep as though he had been there all day. She sat down next to him to mope.  Life just wasn't fair. Ever since mother had gone, father was just not the same.  He rarely spoke except to Lord Fatty and those who came to grind their grains.

Lord Fatty was the knight in charge of the village. He lived in a large stone house in the center of town, rarely coming out except to hassle folks about their rents. Lord Fatty did not like being called Lord Fatty. Unfortunately for him his great weight combined with an inanely long name that nobody could remember ensured his nickname would never fall out of usage. Lilli sometimes dreamt about what it would be like to live in Lord Fatty's house. Having a featherbed and mortared walls that did not let the wind in during the winter seemed as though it would be paradise. Why he always looked so angry made no sense to her.   Maybe she just did not understand how awful it would be to have a name like Lord  Alredric  Peledelalealogdion.   Or maybe he was just mad about people always talking about his great weight.   Lilli felt sorry for his horse.

 Lilli was jolted back to reality by the sound of someone entering below. Her father made some weird grunting noises, and then began feeding wood into the hearth. It was a relatively warm day but not so much that night would be pleasant. Sighing, she gave Terry one last stroke and clamored down the ladder. Father pulled a loaf of hard, brown bread from the cupboard. Lobbed off a hunk, and tossed a piece her way. He muttered something about winter coming and the damning of some nobles, and then wandered out again. She felt like he was just going through the motions of existing. Once upon a time they would have had conversations about the gods or the latest village gossip. Now all he cared for was work and even that didn't seem to keep his mind as of lately. Feeling neglected, Lilli gnawed on the loaf and then headed out the door. She decided to go visit the shrine and see if anyone was out an about. At the very least Father Bennit would be there to talk to. Despite his age, his knowledge on the goings on of the divine, made him interesting at times.

As she approached the temple, she realized that most of the town was gathering in the square outside of Lord Fatty's Manor.  Wondering what was going on she meandered over. A very agitated man was speaking in a loud voice about how the Lords of Fiefer were once again threatened. Before she could grasp what he was saying something poked her in the back. Whirling around she came face to face with Sebastian, the rather obnoxious son of Grutella the innkeeper. Despite his outspokenness Lilli had a certain fondness for him  which was hard to express with her vocabulary.

"Come on, everyone's in the wine cellar," he hissed.

She turned and followed him back behind the inn.

Rachel, a spindly lass of about 11 harvests was holding the hatch open as they arrived. She gestured for Lilli to hurry, chattering something about terrible news. Entering the cellar Lilli spotted Sebastian. He was sitting next to the trouble twins, Henry and Harry. Instead of the usual candle, Henry appeared to have some sort of lantern. The three of them seemed far more excited than usual.

Henry quickly piped up. "Lilli, the king of Grange has declared Mulberry and many other towns to be part of"

"Grange," Harry finished.

"Quit talking for me," squawked Henry.

"Anyway," Henry continued. "There was a herald here earlier from Lord Arkuntoli shouting about how this would not be so and everyone needed to start showing their appreciation for him."

At this point Harry once again cut him off.

Lilli shook her head, those two never would learn to tolerate each other. She wondered how it was possible they were both brothers and best friends.

Sebastian interrupted her thoughts by starting into a rant about how this would lead to another war. This just bothered Lilli, bad things were bad enough without someone pointing out the obvious. To make things worse the way the boys eyes would shine when they talked of these things yanked back horrible memories.  It was almost as like they didn't understand that people died.    People dying was exciting but when it was close to home it was terrible.

Rachel dragged her back into reality when she said, "Stop being silly, kings and lords don't worry about villages like Mulberry. This is just people getting excited about nothing."

Lilli decided to voice her opinion "will you people stop being so excitable, war won't come here and it's a terrible thing when people die……..they don't come back" she started crying.

Sebastian and the twins seemingly taken aback, attempted to comfort her, but it really just made things worse. Talking about things that lead to topics like death just made her miss Mother more the ever. Finding a bit of inner strength, Lilli managed to put on her brave face and tell everyone it was alright. Realizing her outburst had effectively silenced everyone, Lilli suggested that maybe they should go find out what was going on in the square.

Probably just because they did not want to upset her, the gang trooped out of their hideout to find out what was going on. The crowd in front of the Lord Fatty's had largely dispersed except for a few knots of excited looking people. A couple of men started towards them almost immediately,

Recognizing one of them as Ronald, a farmer who occasionally visited the mill, Lilli attempted to greet them much like her mother had taught her.

"Good Day, Sir," she recited.

The man scowled and looked them over. "You should be at your homes now," he almost growled.

Attempting to be assertive, Eustace sputtered "why is is is I everyone grumpy on this fine day?"

Ron's scowl deepened. "I said you should go back to your homes" he growled.

The children scattered. 

Lilli, now feeling much more of a sense of purpose, circled the inn and once again scrambled into their wine cellar hide out. It was only a few minutes before Rachel showed up. Waiting for the others, the two of them lit the lantern and speculated what all the fuss was about. Rachel had quite a lot to say about dunderheaded cranks who seem to think that children are to unsophisticated to be informed of things that impacted them. After what seemed like forever; the Trouble Twins showed up. They both proceeded to talk at once in such an excited tone that neither one of them could be understood.