Sending Out Shoots

Prompt: The Open Road, The Bitter Song, The Heavy Load

“You grew up in a wayside tavern?” Barnabas said, arching an eyebrow at Eishi. He took a sip of his wine and shook his head. “What was that like?”

“Well,” Eishi said, scowling, “People would stop and rest from the road. They’d bring news from other parts of the land, as well as music or arts that we’d never seen before. All in all, it was rather pleasant.”

“It must have been hard during the Occupation,” Joram said, frowning. “I’ve heard that the Berklians would demand free lodgings if they passed by such places close to evening.”

“They did,” Eishi confirmed. “Lodgings, drink, food… Whatever they wanted they took and we were meant to bow and scrape and thank them for their thieving.” He shook his head. “That was part of the reason my parents wanted me educated. They saved every bit of coin they could and held it aside, for my future education.”

“They wanted a different life for you,” Amera said. A faint smile touched her lips. “I bet they’re glad they made that choice now.”

Eishi smiled wanly. “I’d like to think so,” he said. “They… aren’t around anymore. My mother took sick and my father died in a fire.” For a moment, he looked troubled. Then, he seemed to shake dark thoughts away and he smiled. “My inheritance was enough to get me away from that little wayside tavern – let me see the wide world I’d always only heard of before.”

“Like a plant sending out shoots,” Henry said, grinning brightly. Even if the parent plant dies, the little ones live on, sometimes under better conditions than the parent did.” For a moment, everyone stared at him.

“You,” Barnabas murmured, “will never cease to amaze me.”

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