By EM Malachi
Trust Thy Brother
The lamb looked at the shepherdess and gave a confused bleat. With the new smells, the small animal had grown shy. Katrina gently guided the lamb into the pen. Feridwyn, the animal’s owner, had sold the rest of his flock, but he had wanted her to have this one. “Why Britain? Why can’t you do their work here?” she asked.
Feridwyn emptied the oats from his pockets and tossed them into the pen. “It’s where I’m needed. The poor of Britain and Paws are crowded together in that awful city, and the Fellowship goes where their help is needed.”
“There are poor people here too.”
“True, but the shepherds take care of our own. When those vultures came for the gold I owed last year, you paid them and prevented them from throwing me out of my home. That is what the Fellowship is trying to do on a larger scale.”
“Other groups perform charity. That isn’t new.”
“But they haven’t done enough! For too long, the powers in the gilded houses and castles have made promises, but those at the bottom have only gotten poorer.”
“You are giving up everything, your whole life here.”
“I already lost it. Lily and the twins. Ever since I lost them to the pox, there have been many times I didn’t think I could go on. When I met the Fellowship envoy, I was in the darkest place I had ever been. She talked me back from the edge.”
“I didn’t know things had gotten so bad. I would have helped.”
“I didn’t want help. I wanted a reason to go on. I needed a purpose again, beyond living another day. I believe in the Fellowship’s work. For the first time in so long, I feel hope.”
With the Pirate Guild wanting him dead, it cost Mole all his gold to bribe a sailor to let him stowaway in the ship’s hold. It was a week of worry and claustrophobia, followed by a month of sickness, alone in the dark. He arrived in Britain nearly dead.
Those unloading the ship found him when they moved the stacked crates that had been his cell. The sailors drew lots to see who would move him to a convenient alley. The docker with the short straw was surprised Mole was still alive. He helped the wretched stowaway get to the Fellowship House.
For a week, members of the Fellowship brought potions to his bedside and helped him eat. Mole soon regained enough strength to sit by the window and listen to Batlin speak to the people of Britain.
At the end of the week, they came to him with a job. They brought him to a warehouse where people from Paws and refugees from the pirate conflict were working for the Fellowship. A stern woman named Brita showed him how to wrap powder charges for a ship’s cannons. Mole didn’t let on that he had done it before.
Settling down to work, Mole looked at the child next to him who was counting out grapeshot pellets, and muttered, “Better than starving.”