Alden and the Teacher Part 1: One in every crowd.
by Eli and loren
Soaked to the skin and chilled to the bone, Alden trudged ashore, hauling the makeshift barge well out of the water. He caught the eye of the schoolteacher as he dropped his tether rope and she chivvied children from the raft and onto even higher ground. The look was brief, but her gratitude was apparent.
And then it was gone.
“You,” came the voice from one side, “what do you think you are doing letting that thing destroy our homes? Now where am I supposed to live?” The man who owned the voice—a grating voice made more irritating by agitation—pushed Alden to add emphasis.
Alden was so incredulous as to be stunned. He opened his mouth to reply, but the complaint was so misplaced as to render Alden unable to respond. He stammered gutterally in search of a reply, but was beaten to a rebuttal.
“Hold your tongue, Mister Berrow,” said the schoolteacher, smearing a hank of hair back from her face as she rallied to Alden’s defense. He noted oddly that her rain-soaked clothes clung to her in a manner that was not altogether unattractive, but she was speaking, and so he paid attention.
“This man did everything he could to save both myself and near every single child in this village,” she had a finger out now for emphasis, and wagged it in Mister Berrow’s face. “So don’t you dare go whining like your old mule at plowtime.”
“Thank you," Alden began, feeling his rhetorical bearings start to return.
“No, thank you, sir sword,” said the schoolteacher. “I can only—”
“Oh indeed,” interrupted Mister Berrow. "Look at you, big man. This is twice now a woman tried what you cannot. The first was the one you left to face that beast alone, the second our own Miss Tannyr as she comes to your defense. It’s pathetic it is, a man who needs a woman to fight his battles for him.” He was still laughing a nasty bullying laugh even as he turned to see who was tapping him on the shoulder.
Lilliayn’s fist caught Mister Berrow solidly in the face. He gave an ungainly squawk, his knees buckling as he crumpled, flopping in the mud twice he staggered back to his feet. Lilliayn had already stormed away, and for her part Miss Tannyr stood with her arms folded, daring Mister Berrow to say anything further.
“Perhaps,” said Alden, “you should think twice before belittling women in front of a female Iomedan spirit of justice.” he clapped Berrow affably on the shoulder, the man visibly flinching. “Just a thought.”