The Peasant Trials: Part 1 by Ella Thomson
Ebony Huggersworth walked the grimy streets of Nulbarukth, beggars everywhere. Nulbarukth was a small town in Ahoy. She felt a sharp tug on her ankle and looked down to see a greasy old woman under a piece of cardboard on the side of the road. Ebony knew she was a beggar like herself, over half the population of Nulbarukth were now either slaves or beggars. The food and water restrictions were driving people crazy, to the point of hundreds of people dying of either dehydration or hunger. Ebony knew many people that would drink their own sweat to survive. Ebony looked up again and walked past. People in Nulbarukth were no use to her. They were dumb and poor, what could they do for her? It was either them or her. Plus, they had no one that would miss them, she did. Or so she hoped. Once she finally reached Broadway street, she turned into the porch of the Great Manor. The Great Manor was the only proper house in Nulbarukth. To be honest it’s not even a house. It’s a mansion. The Great Manor was the only mansion in Ahoy, all the others were raided and destroyed. The provost of Nulbarukth lived there, with his many servants and slaves. He was a very wealthy man. He had a very nice wife called Rosemary Bigglesworth, though she died four years ago of Dianomatosis. Ebony had no idea what the disease was, all she knew was that there was no cure, and one of the symptoms was a rattling cough that didn’t stop until you had to get your tongue amputated. When Ebony’s family disappeared one night, with only a letter to tell five year old Ebony that they were in the largest town of Ahoy, Nulezdaddt, but no description of why they went. Ebony had roamed the streets alone for four months, no one to look after her. Being only five, she had no idea what to do, until she stumbled upon it. The Great Manor. Ebony was awestruck, she had never seen such a magnificent home in her life! Not thinking, she walked up to the door, thinking to herself that she had finally found home. She knew her parents were not rich, not even close, but maybe they had found the jackpot.
Ebony rang the doorbell. The man who answered was not her father. Instead, the man who answered was a balding man who looked to be in his late forties. He had long greying whiskers, and a very greasy suit on.
“Do you know where my family is?” asked Ebony, sucking on her thumb.
“No I do not, peasant child.”
From inside the mansion called a soothing voice.
“Who is it?”
“Mother?!” squealed Ebony, racing inside. Finding herself in a dining room, she saw Rosemary sitting on a chair, a newspaper in hand.
“I didn’t know you read the news!” cried Ebony, running to the lump and hugging its legs.
“There there child. I am not your mother. Are your parents dead?”
“Course not. They’re alive, they just disappeared one day.”
“Well until they come back, I’ll look after you.”
“Really?” squealed Ebony, running back and forth on her spindly little legs.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
But deep down, Rosemary knew that Ebony’s parents were dead, but Ebony thought differently.
The night before Rosemary died, she made her husband promise to look after Ebony. Her husband agreed.
2 months after Rosemary died, Mr Bigglesworth kicked Ebony out of the house and gave her a place on the front porch, with ten free ration coins.
Ebony wished Rosemary didn’t die. She was sweet, even though she wouldn’t let Ebony go out and play and made her wear tight fitting dresses that she couldn’t breathe in. Ebony sat down on the porch. “Ebony, your back,” muttered Mr Bigglesworth slyly behind her.
“Yeah. Why come to say hello, you almost never talk to me these days.”
“Yes yes, well, since your sixteenth birthday is coming soon, I have decided that you are old enough to fend for yourself.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Fine, I’ll tell you the hard way. I’m kicking you out. You’ve been living on my porch for nine years now, and I’m sick of it. The other provost’s are bagging me for letting a peasant girl sleep on my porch.”
“Wha, what? What about the thing you promised Rose, the thing that you’d look after me no matter what. Doing this will disgrace you, the gods will not let you do this. You of all people should know that.”
“I have said my prayers to the gods, and I think they agree with me. Now, if you do not leave, I should have to order the guards to do it for you. Shoo shoo.”
Ebony had had enough bone scraping experiences with the guards of Nulbarukth, and she was not about to have another one.
“Fine. I’ll pack my bags.”
Mr Bigglesworth smirked.
“You don’t even have bags. Your parents died before they could give you some!”
Ebony clenched her fists and gritted her teeth.
“My. Parents. Are. Alive!”
She launched at Mr Bigglesworth, punching and pulling hair. Mr Bigglesworth shrieked so loud, everyone in Nulbarukth heard. Ebony could hear the guards boots on the concrete, running towards their boss’s scream. Ebony knew it was time to go. She looked down at Mr Bigglesworth, his eye swollen and blood dripping from his nose.
Running away from the sound of the guards, Ebony thought about what to do now. She could do what she did when she was five, but surely no one would accept her, the feral peasant girl that attacked the loving, caring provost. Or that’s how the provost and the guards would tell the tale.
Running down the street, Ebony knew she stuck out like a sore thumb. Pulling up the hood of her patched cloak, she slowed down to a walk, trying to blend in with the crowd, all rushing to see what happened. Ebony kept walking forward, away from the Great Manor.
Read Part 2 here: https://www.mywritersstudio.com.au/the-peasant-trials-part-2/