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   Chapter 3 No.3

The WeatherMaker Hearts Desire By Lady Lilium Characters: 5348

Updated: 2018-07-10 12:04

'Trouble ourselves?' Brice gave a disapproving expression. 'We do not trouble ourselves with you. You're our brother.'

'Why do you pray so much anyway?' Farrell asked him.

'There are many people who send their prayers to the gods' Arlen replied. 'I must pray often so that I get noticed.'

'And what do you pray?'

'I pray' Arlen said, 'that when I meet the right woman, I can give her a good home, safety and wealth.'

'Shouldn't you pray to meet the right woman first?' Brice suggested. He and Farrell dissolved into sniggers.

'You may laugh' Arlen replied carelessly. 'But some of us believe.'

'Forgive me brother' Brice apologised. 'I did not mean any offense by it.'

'No matter' Arlen replied curtly, rising to his feet. 'They are watching you as well.'

'I don't know why you buy into this holy nonsense' Farrell said shaking his head. 'There are no gods, and there is no one watching us. All of this' he said indicating the temple around them, 'is made up by men.'

'If you say so' Arlen said, turning to him finally. 'Do you like your new horse?'

Farrell sighed wearily at him.

That evening, they celebrated.

Arlen agreed to go along with his brothers only reluctantly, and allowed himself to be dragged away from the holy temple he loved so much, and to other parts of their small town. There was only one inn where they lived, and this is where Arlen found himself, hours later, watching his younger and elder brother down mug after mug of ale.

He heaved a heavy sigh, thumping his elbow on the table and resting his chin on his fist, his other hand around his one mug of ale he had barely sipped yet.

'Cheer up brother' Farrell slurred, slipping forwards and spilling the contents of his mug everywhere.

Arlen drew back in distaste, flicking the ale spilt on the table back at his brother.

'Keep your drink on your half of the table.'

'Oi' Farrell cried indignantly, trying to hide from the splashes as Arlen continued to flick at him. 'Stop that!'

Brice cackled hysterically at this. Leaning too far back he fell off his stool and hit the floor, legs waving in the air ridiculously, at which point Farrell began to cackle also.

Arlen groaned into his hand, ignoring his brothers as Brice picked himself up off the floor, and then picked a fight with Farrell.

The two became locked in a drunken fistfight in which neither was able to land a punch.

Arlen rose from the table and walked away, hearing the sound of bodies crashing into tables behind him, and the disgruntled reaction from the other guests. He left the inn, heading home.

It was getting dark outside he noticed with regret, thinking of

all the time he had wasted watching his brothers get wasted. The sun had just dipped below the horizon, bringing along in its wake the coming darkness.

Arlen hesitated then, noticing a female figure silhouetted against the sky before him. She was sitting upon a low wall, with the failing light behind her. He had to squint to see who it was.

'Mandy?' he asked uncertainly. 'Is that you?'

He heard her teasing chuckle, and watched as she uncrossed her legs, sliding off the wall and sauntering towards him.

He drew in a breath as she came closer to him, lifting her head to his so that their faces were inches apart. She gleamed at him seductively.

'Arlen' she purred. 'It's such a coincidence for you to run into me like this.'

'Uh…you looked like you were waiting for me' he stammered.

'Well…' a devious glint shone in her eyes. 'I guess some people are just drawn together.'

He stumbled back away from her, and into the wall of the building behind. Mandy giggled at this, hunching her shoulders as she did so.

'Such a shy little thing you are' she went on. Mandy glided towards him, the hem of her skirt lifted as she moved. 'One might think that you've never been with a girl before.' She leant forwards, resting her hand upon the wall behind him, trapping him further. 'But I know that cannot be true, not with all the women that are chasing you.'

'But I have never been with a girl before' Arlen protested.

Mandy hesitated.

'What?' she laughed.

'I…I mean…' Arlen stammered, '…not serious…I've not…found someone. Not the right one…yet…' He gave a nervous laugh.

Mandy raised an eyebrow uncertainly at him. She remained standing over him.

'There are no women chasing me' Arlen denied, showing his hands and waving at her, his heart hammering in his chest.

'Don't give me that' she frowned. 'Half the women in this town grovel after you, and the other half are either too old to remember what goes where, or too young to know what goes where.'

Arlen slumped his shoulders, heaving a dramatic and heavy sigh.

'It's just so hard' he whined, suddenly sounding desperately sad. 'I wish I had more time to myself, but my poor mother…she is sick. I spend so much time trying to make her better. She hardly recognises me most of the time. Her eyesight is failing, as is her memory. She still thinks my father is alive; she calls for him….it's so tragically sad…' He covered his face with his hands, shaking his head as if in denial. 'My father died in the war years ago, but she's forgotten. I have to keep pretending that he's on his way home, or she will be driven mad through grief and kill herself on the very spot.'

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