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The Last Yule in Halabor
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Day 15 - The Tax Collector

For disclaimer and further details see Part 1.

Rating: General, for this part.


Day Fifteen – The Tax Collector

It was still not entirely dark in the outside – in fact, one could almost read without a lamp – when Wella, Lord Orchald’s tax collector, finished his work in the Town House. He rubbed his fingers, which were stiff with cold, and breathed on them to warm them a little.

Unfortunately, this caused another coughing fit – he had ceased to count them by seventeen, several hours earlier – after which he had to sit there with wheezing chest, trying to catch his breath again.

His health had taken a turn to the worse lately. T’was bad enough that he had to inherit his father’s weak lungs. Travelling on a wain in winter, to collect his lord’s taxes (and his own percentage, of course) in the scattered farmsteads and manors, did not help things. And sitting in he poorly heated Town Hall to write his tax records was killing him for sure.

He could have done the writing at home, of course. But that would mean to drag the leather-bound record book over to his house, which, he felt, was beyond his strength today. His useless sons were drinking in the Old Sailor, like they did every evening, so he could not count on them carrying the heavy tome for him, either.

The lads truly were a waste of food and good ale. If only he would not need them for protection on his tax collecting trips! But having two large and menacing lads on his side gave his rightful demands more weight. As he was short and wiry himself – not to mention balding – and some of his “customers” quite unwilling to pay, he needed that additional weight.

But his sons were still such a disappointment. They were interested in naught but drinking and fighting – would they only help the Wardens with it, but nay! – and playing those foolish board games with the Rohirric saddle-maker and his straw-headed band of friends and family. Barbarians they were, true barbarians. And his sons spent all their spare time with them. No sense for the fine art of writing they had, no talent with numbers, no finer interests whatsoever. A shame for a family that had given Castle and town tax collectors and excellent clerks for generations.

At least his daughter made him proud. Medraut learned her letters so finely that she became a copyist, working for Lord Orchald himself. And she married promising young Dunegal, the Warehouse clerk Dufgal’s son, who matched her stand neatly. Wella wished his sons had half the sense for what was proper for someone of their family as his daughter had. But there was no hope for that. Not now, not ever.

He coughed again, the cold air stabbing into his tormented lungs like and ice dagger. He needed to go home. Mistress Angharad had ordered warm wrapping with crushed mustard and line seeds for his wheezing chest; mayhap he would ask his wife to make one for him. It burned like fire when applied, but it blessedly relieved the pressure that seemed to he his constant company lately.

He knew his failing health caused his mother and his wife great concern. He was concerned, too. His father had had almost the same problem with his chest and lungs – and had barely lived sixty years. Well, at least he already had a year on his father. Mayhap he would manage to stuck around for a while yet. And if not…

He smiled, thinking of the hallowed Yule candle he had ordered from the chandler. It cost him a shocking amount of coin… he knew it would, which was the reason why they never had them before. But if this was to be his last Yule with his family, he wanted it to be one they would never forget.

~The End – for now~


Note: Wella’s entire family was killed by the destruction of Halabor.


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