1. A Fair Days Work
Paedan swung his pickaxe into the rocks with a heave. As his body told him to give up, his mind's eye showed him his niece and his sister, at home waiting for bread and cheese. He swung again. What ate at his patience was the measley two pieces of copper that he would take home at the end of the day working in this rat infested hole in the ground. He must have carted up enough gold to melt into fifty crowns in his time down at the mine, maybe more. He scowled as he dropped the axe again, iron thunking into rock. He stopped for a moment to swig from a leather flask, leaning on the lever of his pickaxe.
Jaygan Traymore, the owner of the mine, would laugh heartily at that last thought, his chin rolls flapping up and down while his dark beady eyes glared holes in his skull for even contemplating ownership of the gold he carted out. After that he would dock that days wage from his weekly earnings and give the message to Dunar that one of their miners was acting up. The days following this would include several encounters with Dunar's cronies and possibly a broken nose.
Suffice to say Jaygan did not like dissension.
A thick hand, with knuckles like walnuts, slapped onto his shoulder and sent Paedan forward, his left hand saving his face from a collision with the rock wall. Paedan turned around in irritation and found Ungar, his friend from childhood and co-miner, with a toothy grin on his abnormally large head. The man was built like a fortress, his dull blonde hair tucked underneath his ears, and that huge toothy grin of his did nothing to compliment his huge round nose. The sleeveless red tunic he wore showed off his huge bulging arms whose hands held a pickaxe and two pieces of parchment.
"Give you a fright my friend?" Paedan shook his head and turned back to the wall, swinging his pickaxe yet again. With a pleasing thunk, two tiny lumps of gold flitted onto the mine floor.
"Only with your face, comrade." Paedan said dryly, "what are you doing down this end, is it quitting time already?" He hoped it was.
"Almost, string-arms, but I came to give you this." He held out one of the parchments and Paedan put his pickaxe down, leaning it against the mine wall. Ungar held out the parchment in his huge hands for Paedan to read. He reached out and just before he grasped the pages Ungar moved his hand back placing the palm of his free hand on Paedan's temple and thursting his head sharply into the mine wall.
Padean grabbed his hand and tried to stop the ringing in his ears. Through blurred vision he glared at his friend who was grunting quietly in amusement. Ungar unrolled the pages himself and began to read. "Valued employees, filth, filth, filth" He read, gliding flippantly over the letters pleasantries, "You appreciate our financial trouble, filth filth... ahh... here we are; we regret to inform you that we must withhold all wages until the beginning of spring." Paedan howled in frustration.
"Again?! But that's almost a month away!" Paedan's permanent glare had no plans to move on this day.