Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 67





Claude's father was angry at him for the rest of the week. Claude did his best to act the same as always towards him, but he would only get cold snorts at his attempts to start conversation. It had looked like things were on the brink of going back to normal two days after the incident, but then the Whitestag Dawn reported the incident, and his father went back to angry snorts.

The newspaper at least did his father the courtesy of not outright saying it was Claude, referring to a 'Mister A' instead, but everyone knew it was him. His father was furious, as much at the newspaper for making his son into a laughingstock, as at his son for giving them the chance. Things were only made worse by his colleagues teasing him about it every chance they got.

He had to hear things like 'your son didn't sleep on the roof last night again, did he?' every morning.

At least half his anger at Claude, however, stemmed from his frustration at his son's recklessness, rather than just irritation at him giving his father a bad name.

As angry as he was at the guards for making a scene, he was thankful that they'd spotted his son before anything happened. He could handle gossip, horrid as it was, but he couldn't handle losing his, thus far, only decent son -- Bloweyk was still too young to be either good or bad.

He saw how the constables in question walked on eggshells around him despite his assurances, so he freed up one afternoon to have lunch with the captain. That went farther towards repairing his reputation than he'd thought since everyone that saw it thought he was at least someone who knew how to be grateful for receiving help.

As for the newspaper, Morssen called for a large meeting the moment he returned to the town hall with the agenda of tackling tax evasion and town hygiene. The factories and workshops in all of Whitestag went under a huge investigation campaign and the slightest error was punished with a fine and an order to rectify the errors in as little time as possible.

He came down on the newspaper especially harshly. He made sure to find as many issues with them as possible, coming up with 13 in the end. The fines nearly bankrupted the newspaper and Morssen only let up after the investors came to him begging for a reprieve and after they convinced Sir Fux to put in several words for them. His actions on that front, however, undid the good will he'd won with the public with his lunch meeting with the captain.

Claude didn't have things any easier. His father banned him from the roof and very nearly boarded up his window to make sure he didn't slip up on occasion, and his schoolmates mocked him relentlessly. His nickname from that day on was Claude the Roofer, or just Roofer.

Claude didn't mind nicknames himself, but Eriksson and Welikro completely lost it and beat up half the school. That only made things worse, however, as the victims turned from playfully teasing to vindictive. None of the four friends had ever gotten along with the rest of the children. They were the four 'young masters' as they would have been called in some novels back on earth, and they deserved the names through and through. Claude had gotten a lot better since the transmigrator had taken over, but he was still very much one of 'the four' as they were known, though he knew quite a few had taken to adding 'bastards' at the end of the name.

His mind was elsewhere, however. He wasn't so much concerned about his father's anger as he was with his banning from the roof. He could do only half as many meditation sessions a night in his room. He could probably squeeze in a fourth if he really tried, but the queasiness and slight headache after the third told him he'd be best served by sticking to three.

That reminded him of the moon's influence on him and made him wonder why he'd not seen any notes on it in Landes' diary. Surely he should have noticed the difference between meditating indoors and meditating under the moon, and if he could notice that, then he would certainly have deduced it was because the moon was having an influence on his mental power.

He refused to believe that, even if Landes hadn't figured it out, or even noticed it, then, in all the thousands of years magi were commonplace in the world, no one had ever noticed it. Either the effect was only there for very few magi who never really bothered telling others, or it was intentionally kept secret.

Either way, he couldn't meditate under the moon, which also meant he wasn't refreshed by a night of meditation, and it showed after a few days. He was still energised by the meditation, but his body was showing strain. Luckily it was Sunday, and he could sleep through most of the day without any trouble.

Unhappy, but resigned to his fate for the time being, Claude took up sleeping again. Despite that, he still only got five hours of sleep, but sleep right after meditation was much more effective so it was still enough, his youth also helped.

The only bit of good news he got that entire week was that Borkal had finally gotten a buyer for the shaliun. He'd gotten a good price for it, too; twelve whole crowns. His friends nearly fell off their chairs when they heard it. A shaliun was worth just two crowns at the bank, so who would pay 12 crowns for it? The other two immediately wanted to throw their coins at Borkal, but he said he'd only sold the one with a healthy helping of luck and could not do it with theirs again. He'd found someone looking for a crown for his collection, and the man was not interested in more than one.

Borkal had put the coin up for auction when he heard of the man looking for one, and got him to bid it up to that price. Even the man himself felt a little over charged for it, but he would get the worth back in a couple of decades. They were not being produced anymore, they could not be produced anymore since the alchemical techniques used in their minting were lost with the magi, so they only got less with every passing year. Their rarity, and the reason for it, made them very demanded by every collector worth his salt, however, so their value was destined to increase no matter what.

Borkal's explanation snapped the other two boys out of their frenzy. Since he reasoned the coins would just get more expensive, they wouldn't lose anything by not selling them now. It wasn't like they needed the money, anyway.

Eriksson had some good news as well. His boat was finally completely finished and they could go hunting along the lake's shore next weekend.

They'd initially planned to go hunting two weekends earlier, but the painting took a lot longer than had originally been anticipated. They'd then thought they'd go the previous Sunday, but Claude had his trouble and they didn't want to ask his dad in his state.

"Are you sure you're not asking us to go there and work our arses off again?" Borkal asked, suspicious and Welikro nodded.

The two made the mistake once, and their bodies had yet to recover. They were not about to do it again.

"No," Eriksson said solemnly, his ears red, "Uncle Pegg finished everything yesterday. You're too suspicious!"





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