Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 74

The four boys, in far worse a state this time than last time, shook the town a second time. The pier and quay was so crowded other ships had to fight to get space to unload their cargo.

Eriksson, despite his off state from the concussion, knew what to do. He had Pegg close the pier and moved everyone out. His family's pier wasn't that big. It was quite a bit smaller than the public quay at just twenty metres long and a couple wide. Both of the sides had a couple of berths where the family's boats could moor.

The crocodile was quickly dragged out of the water and in front of the house.

Several people tried to sneak in to get a better look and maybe even touch the thing, but Peg was a good guard and they were quickly dispatched.

Eriksson had someone put the nets away while he helped Borkal free the crocodile from them. Welikro helped Claude, whose face was now permanently contorted in a pained scowl, limp off the ship, down the pier, and to the house.

"We should get you to the apothecaries as quickly as possible," Welikro said.

"I'll be fine," Claude protested, but Welikro was insistent.

Claude didn't quite trust the medical practices of this world's apothecaries. They had decent medicinal treatments, not as good as back on earth, of course, but passable, but their physical treatments were far behind. Blood-letting and lobotomies were still common practice, and induced diarrhoea was considered a great cure-all. First aid was quite decently advanced, though hygiene was a major problem, but anything beyond basic triage was uncharted territory.

No one really knew these days where all their herbal knowledge came from. It certainly wouldn't do to reveal to them that magi were the primary generators of that knowledge.

Tooth aches were quite the issue. Any problem with a tooth saw it pulled, and quite violently as well, and without proper after care. Claude's torn muscle, for example, would most likely be treated with an ointment and a regular blood letting. He could only hope his muscle healed properly, otherwise he would be limp for the rest of his life.

He smiled bitterly.

I guess I'll have to let them cut my leg to let the blood out or it won't recover..."

"So do you want to go to the apothecary right away?" Welikro asked, his head starting to throb from the incessant noise nearby.

Claude also shrugged helplessly.

"I'll rest in Eriksson's house for a while. We can go once the crowd dissipates. It's getting late, so you'd best get to selling it off before people decide to go home. Just send my cut home like you did last time."

Borkal would be in charge of sales again. They'd first pay for the repairs, and split whatever was left afterwards.

The two watched Borkal and Eriksson -- suddenly fully alert again not that he was in the spotlight -- go about their usual tall tale telling.

Welikro put Claude down in a nearby chair and dashed back outside. The other two numskulls were too busy spinning their yarns to care about actually selling anything, so someone had to be responsible.

Claude had a good view of the entire scene through the window. Pegg was doing a stellar job, and was even coldly ignoring anyone that tried to exploit their relations to him. He knew who to let in, however, and all the right people gathered around Welikro to make bids for their haul.

There were also some everyone knew wouldn't bid on the fish that Pegg also let in. They were the kinds of people with whom you didn't interfere, much less offend. Whitestag was a medium town with just over twelve thousand residents and an incredible grapevine. News spread faster than the cold in the town, and the crocodile became famous almost before it was out of the water. It had been years, nearly a decade, since one had last been caught, and no one had caught one that big in living memory. The story was made even more incredible by the fact that it had been caught by four sixteen-year-old boys.

The chief constable soon arrived and dispersed the unwanteds and the bidding could begin in peace and quiet.

Claude sat quietly in front of the window and most people didn't even notice him. The chief constable was not one of them, however.

"Claude?" the man asked as he stepped into the house.

"Good evening, Uncle Thomas," Claude greeted hurriedly.

Thomas was one of his father's colleagues and a frequent guest at the house, and one of the greatest drinkers Claude had seen in either of his lives.

"You shot it?" the man asked, glancing at Claude's musket.

The boy simply nodded.

"A fine lad you are. Your father will be so proud."

"Thank you, Uncle. It was all luck, though. I nearly pissed my pants when it dove into the boat, and Borkal actually did piss his pants."

Thomas gave Claude's shoulder a satisfied pat.

"So you're humble, too, huh? You'll get far in life like that, boy. But why are you sitting in here?"

Claude pointed at leg.

"Hurt it badly. I need to go see an apothecary, but I'll have to wait till the people disperse."

"Looks serious. You should've gone earlier," Thomas said, a slight reprimand in his voice, then turned to his subordinate, "Mark, take him to the apothecary."

His subordinate nodded and head outside to bring the carriage over.

"Thank you, Uncle Thomas."

The constable waved.

"You're welcome. Your father is my colleague and a good friend. And you're not so bad yourself. It's the least I can do."

Someone called out to Claude from outside, a woman, from the pitch. He glanced in the voice's direction and saw two beauties rushing over. He didn't recognise the older of the two.

"You know them?" Thomas asked.

Claude wanted to shake his head, but while he didn't know who the older of the two was, he did indeed know the younger. Kefnie charged over with quite a worried expression.

"My schoolmates," Claude said simply.

Thomas nodded and let the two in.

Kefnie couldn't look Claude in the eye and hid behind the older girl instead. The older one was unbridled, however, and even checked him out unreservedly.

"Good afternoon, Kef-- Kefnie..." the boy stumbled.

He glanced at her empty basket and clasped the chance for a topic.

"Here to buy fish?" he asked in a tiny voice.

"Yes..." The girl nodded, red-faced.

For all her discomfort at the situation, she still managed to remember she had to introduce the older girl behind whom she was so shamelessly hiding.

"This is my sister, Kesline. We were on our way to the docks when we heard you guys killed a crocodile, so we came over to see. They wouldn't let us in though, but we saw you through the window."

Claude nodded at her sister.

"It's fine. The boys are with the carcass, just tell them I said you could have a look--" Claude saw Mark step in through the door. "--Sorry, I have to go to the apothecary now."

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