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The Adventures of Larson and Garrett - The Sleeping Tree By AaronDennis Characters: 11088

Updated: 2017-12-28 12:04


The Sleeping Tree

Larson and Garrett Adventure the First by Aaron Dennis

Published by www.storiesbydennis.com March of 2015

New edition released December of 2017

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned or distributed in any form, including digital and electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the prior written consent of the Publisher, except for brief quotes for use in reviews.

This book is a work of fiction. Characters, names, places and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

The Sleeping Tree

Flotsam was a small town in the country of Ruvonia, and while the majority of the country was wooded, Flotsam was no exception. The town, however, had an odd history. A ship had wrecked in the Derring Sea, and after the survivors coasted down the river, they used what remained of the wreckage to start a small camp in a clearing by a tributary. Years later, the town came to be what it is now, a quaint, little place surrounded on the north and west sides by Red Pine woods with farmlands to the east and south. The tributary from the River Jons ran from west to east away from the sea rather than towards it as the Jons itself did.

The Third Age, as humans call the current era, had led to the sprouting of innumerable small townships and farmsteads like Flotsam; if there was running water and some form of protection, people were sure to build. Like many other human towns, Flotsam was relatively new, a hamlet, and home to a handful of families—descendants of the shipwrecked—and little else. The Ross family, however, were newcomers, or at least the parents were. The boys, Largo and Larson, were born there. Margaret Ross, the boys' mother, died shortly after Larson's birth, leaving their father, and in part Largo, to raise the younger son. The boy's father, Mathew, was a gentle yet imposing farmer, and while he instilled obedience, he also made certain the boys learned respect, honed their bodies and minds, and understood the value of hard, honest work.

****

An unceasing disturbance accosted Larson's face. He shut his eyes tight, bit his lower lip, and rolled his face away and into his soft, goose down pillow.

"Wake up, ya' lummox, " Largo howled.

Larson scrunched beneath the woolen sheets and pulled them up over his head. The morning light along with his brother's antics—slapping him softly but repeatedly on the cheek—was enough to work him into a foul mood. Ensconced in semi-darkness, he tried to resume his slumber, but suddenly the blanket was yanked off so brazenly that he nearly went flying off the bed.

"What's the matter with you?" Larson cried out.

Largo, the older of the two, stood with a mischievous grin on his face. The boys were nearly ten years apart. While Largo had light brown hair and some stubble on his face, Larson's hair was nearly black and long.

"You've got school now, kiddo, " Largo chuckled and left the room.

Larson grumbled. Since the boy had turned eight, his father had decided it was time for him to enroll in school. Sleepily, he trudged down the wooded steps of the room he shared with his brother and into the common area. Their home was large but modest, and Mathew was no carpenter, so the common area held little in the way of décor. Still, there were wooden floors and squared walls, which was more than some of the nearby homes boasted.

Larson ambled about the table and chairs and stumbled for the kitchen. "There's no breakfast?"

"Eat your grains, " Largo replied from the adjacent storeroom.

For a moment, Larson looked around for the alleged grains, which he didn't really want since there was smoked rabbit in the storeroom. Then, he realized that his brother had not yet brought out the grains. Largo rounded a corner with two, wooden bowls. He slid one across the table to his brother.

"I don't want grains, and I don't want to go to school, " Larson snipped and rubbed his eyes.

"Tough."

"How come you don't have to go to school?" he complained and crunched on the hard grains.

"Chew with your mouth closed if you wanna' keep your teeth, boy, and I already did my schoolin'. Now, I gotta' help da' with the farm work, " Largo replied.

That sounded even worse to Larson. He arched a brow in wonder. Largo laughed. That action was something their dad did when he was about to ask a serious question or was duly confused about something.

"What do I do in school?"

"Just do what they ask. It's easy enough. Da' says the school here is easy, nothing the like of universities, or magick schools, or whatever."

The young boy ran fingers through his hair, still chomping on the bland breakfast. He thought about school, and figured reading was neat, but he cared little for what else school provided; early rising, rigid structure, homework. Looking over his husky brother, he remembered Largo told him there were older people in Flotsam who didn't know how to read, but their dad demanded they learn because it was important for a strong body to have an agile mind. In fact, it wasn't long ago that they had read a few books out loud to him, which had always been delightful.

Larson was excited about reading, but what he really wanted to learn was fighting. He saw his dad teach Largo once, but for some reason they stopped, and no

one fessed up to why. Suddenly, he realized something, which had eluded him; his dad wasn't there.

"Where's dad?"

"Travelin' to Half Pine, downstream, " Largo said, indifferently.

"He go by ferry?"

"Save your questions for school, boy. Now hurry up, I gotta' get you there soon."

"I can go on my own!"

"And yet I'm comin' anyway, " Largo grinned.

Flotsam was a small town even by small town standards, and Larson had been left to play outside enough times that he knew where the school was. He complained again, but Largo insisted on walking at least part ways, and after breakfast and dressing, they strolled beyond the crops. The sun had barely peaked through the western canopies by the time they reached the bridge by the miller's. Dark water swirled beneath them.

Larson turned around at the edge of the bridge and stomped his foot, stating the school was in sight. Largo rolled his eyes, nodded, and as Larson tottered off, he watched his little brother enter the schoolhouse. The boy didn't so much as turn back around.

Inside the long, wooden building, Larson scrutinized the large room. The wooden walls were covered in large canvases. Some of them had letters on them. Others had paintings of people or castles, lands, and boats. There was a fat woman behind a desk at the far end of the room opposite the doors. She stood, dusted off her buff colored apron, and motioned for the boy to come closer.

"Good morning, Larson, " she said. He walked past the chairs and tables. They were empty. No other boys and girls had arrived yet. "You're early. That's good. I'm Mrs. Graham."

Larson remained silent. He looked her over. She was an older woman with gray strands of hair rampant in an otherwise auburn ponytail.

"Where is everyone?"

"They'll be here soon, " she replied, apathetically. "I taught your brother. He's a sharp lad. I expect as much from you."

Larson furrowed his brow. He didn't understand why she expected anything of the sort. They looked at each other for a long moment. Mrs. Graham bore a happy smile, though. It made Larson feel safe, and he finally smiled back.

She motioned at a long table with three chairs behind it. He took a seat, and then suddenly turned around. Children were noisily making their way inside. Some of them were a bit older. A few were his age. He had played with some of them by the river before. The boys, Larson included, all wore tunics and trousers while the girls wore drab dresses; country clothing was simple, utilitarian, and handmade.

The first day of school was both fun and boring. Larson learned about letters from one of the older girls. Mrs. Graham spent most of her time teaching the older kids, and in turn, they taught the younger ones. By the end of the day, all Larson had to show for his attendance was a book about the alphabet and a book about counting. Upon exiting the schoolhouse, he spotted Largo standing by the bridge.

At first, Larson smiled and started to run over, but there was something about Largo's appearance that made him uneasy. Slowing down to a trot, he noticed his brother's hair was a mess, he was sweating profusely, although it was not an altogether hot day, and there were splotches of something dark red or brown on his green tunic.

"How'd it go?" Largo asked once Larson reached the bridge.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothin'. Let's get home, " Largo snipped and started off.

Water swirled noisily under the bridge. In the light of mid-afternoon, it was brownish but clear, and Larson noted a school of mullet swimming against the current.

"What'd you learn?"

His brother's voice jolted him for a second. He looked up. Largo didn't look as carefree as he usually did.

"Letters, and numbers, and stuff."

"Letters, and numbers, and stuff, " Largo echoed quietly and nodded.

"Dad back?"

Largo didn't answer. By the time they made it indoors, the sun was making its descent behind the farmhouses at the eastern edge of town.

"Sit down, and eat, " Largo ordered. "I made rabbit stew."

The boy then figured his brother had been upset by having to scrounge for fresh rabbit and gutting it; something Largo hated doing. After eating, and while his older brother tended the crops, he decided to fiddle with his new books. They were interesting, but not as interesting as swordplay. As he started to leave the dinner table, Largo came in. He had removed his tunic while working; the young man was toned and muscular like some of the paintings of the warriors in the schoolhouse; very few of the people in town were built like warriors.

"When's dad coming home?" Larson groaned.

"Tonight, tomorrow, who knows?"

"What's he doing?"

"I told you, he's got business in Half Pine."

Larson was an astute boy, even if young and uneducated. "What aren't you telling me?"

The older boy's jaw clenched a few times; same as their dad did when he didn't want to reveal something that might upset them, but then Largo's demeanor relaxed and he smiled. "Don't worry about it."

The next two days went by pretty quickly in Flotsam, at least for Larson. Waking early for school made him tired early, so apart from Mrs. Graham's lessons and being forced to relive them at his brother's request, nothing happened. Oddly enough, their dad had still not returned. Late one evening, while Larson was upstairs washing himself out of a bucket with a clean cloth, someone pounded on the door downstairs. Freezing on the spot to listen, he overheard his brother answering the door.

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