Raven Willoughby – Origins ~ A Fantasy by Dellani Oakes – Part 15

“I imagine not. What happened to my ship? Was it cut loose? Sold?”

“Impounded by the Governor. It’s in dry dock.”

“Come with me.”

“Where to?”

“The Governor’s house.”

“Can’t see him without an appointment. And it’s right hard to get.”

“I’m not worried.”

“As you wish.” He slipped on his coat, smoothed his hair, which immediately struggled free, and followed Raven. Taking a key from his pocket, he locked the door. “I’ve a spare in the bank. I’ll fetch it for you later.”

“Thank you, Master Haynes.”

“Governor’s this way.” He pointed toward town and set off at a brisk pace. There was more to Uriah Haynes than met the eye. His loose fitting clothing hung on a body of lean, hard muscle. the calves, clad in stockings, were sturdy. though he walked with stooped shoulders, his jacket bunched at the base of his neck, there was power there. Master Haynes bore watching—closely.

The Governor’s house was an impressive edifice, far fancier than Raven had expected. It had been his observation that the governor of such a small area, rarely had great wealth, yet here was an ostentatious display.

“How big is his territory?” he asked Uriah.

“About fifty square miles, mostly wilderness.”

“And the tax base?”

“That I don’t know, Mr. Willoughby.”

“Call me Raven. Is he a wealthy man in his own right?”

“Not as I’ve heard.” Uriah examined the house as they drew close. “He’s the third or fourth son of a minor lord. It’s rumored he has a large debt he owes back home, so he came here to escape it. Thus far, they haven’t felt the need great enough to pursue him.”

Raven nodded, taking in more details. This property, alone, exceeded what he, himself a rich man, could have afforded. Here in Labrador, it wouldn’t be as dear as back home, but still would be a hefty chunk of gold. Servants scurried around like bees. Workmen trudged back and forth, carrying heavy crates.

“Looks like he’s planning a party. Shall we?” Raven said, inviting Uriah with a sweeping motion.

He found it interesting, when faced with a challenge, Uriah squared his shoulders, revealing a more impressive physique than he’d previously shown. His hair was still wild and unwieldy, but broad shoulders and muscular chest filled out the innocuously clad form. He now rivaled Raven in height and breadth.

Uriah stepped ahead of Raven, ringing the bell, before taking his place a step behind and to the left of his employer. “I’ll introduce you. Men of means around these parts, don’t announce themselves. Once we’re admitted, you do the talking.” He said all this very softly.

Raven nodded, doing his best to look the part of haughty lord and merchant. Having grown up with them, he knew the mannerisms well.

A servant opened the door. His faded eyes widened when he saw the two men, but he didn’t invite them in.

“This is Sir Raven Willoughby, late of Wales. He presents himself to His Honor, the Governor, as befits his station.” Haynes spoke clearly, using a more sophisticated accent than he’d used in the office. His face remained placid, though there was a hint of superciliousness about his nostrils.

Raven did his best to equal his companion, in his level of detached aloofness. The servant looked them both over carefully, mouth working.

“His Honor is busy….”

“I don’t have time to waste,” Raven snapped. Despite what Uriah said, he knew he had to step in. “If you continue to tax my patience, your hide will pay the price.”

“I’ll see if he’s able….” He started to close the door.

Uriah stepped forward, hand on the door, foot on the sill. “You do that.” He made an inviting gesture to Raven. “After you, my Lord.”

Raven found it interesting that he’d received a new title, but didn’t let on that it wasn’t his. Normally, he’d have thanked Uriah, but he was playing the role of a snobbish, entitled man. He’d been on the receiving end of it often enough to imitate.

The servant scurried off, deeper into the house, telling them to wait. Uriah and Raven exchanged a glance and set off after him. Moments later, they heard a deep voice, raised in anger.

“You idiot! You let them in?” the smack of an open hand on a cheek, followed.

Uriah held Raven back, shaking his head. A man of his station wouldn’t rush to the aid of a servant.

“Beg pardon, my Lord. They forced their way in. How as I to stop them?”

“By shoving them back out again, you useless imbecile. Let them stew half an hour, then I’ll think about seeing them.”

“Yes, my Lord.” The servant didn’t see them right away, but froze when he did. Incapable of speech, he could only stare as the two men walked around him.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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