A Children’s Story: Scene 1, Part 2

Bertram made his way outside, moving from the warmth of their house and into cold of the winter air. Though the season was coming to an end, winter had dug its claws in deep this time and was refusing to let go. Thankfully, their home was built as a fort, with high walls surrounding the house and a large courtyard, which helped to protect against the biting winds. It also allowed a safe place for Bertram and Blasa to play when they were younger, and a place for Alexis to tinker with his tools and tend to his small garden.

Once out in the courtyard, Bertram came across a cloth piled with everything Blasa had gone to collect, but no Blasa. He looked around the grounds until he saw the ladder, one of the few wooden things they owned, propped up against the northern wall. Bertram assumed his father left it out after repairing some damage to the wall and now Blasa had climbed to the top of the bulwark. He called out to his sister as he approached the ladder, but since she didn’t respond, he begrudgingly climbed up after her.

“You goof,” Bertram teased as he neared the top, “what are you doing up here when there’s cake to be had?”

“I saw a morning bird in the courtyard and decided to chase it like Kiki would,” his sister responded in a serious way only a child could.

“That cat hasn’t moved fast enough to catch a bird in nearly a year,” retorted Bertram as he finally stood beside his sister, “sometimes I think he’s a completely different…”

Bertram trailed off as he looked out from the top of the wall in the direction Blasa was staring. Their fortress of a home was situated on a small island at the south end of an enormous lake. Mountains barricaded the western border of the waters, while to the south and east were forest and fields with the town of South Ridge directly south of them. To the north, though, was only water, frozen this time of year, as far as they could see. Except today, when there was the faintest sign of smoke on the horizon.

“I stopped when I noticed the dark cloud. I’ve been up here before when you and father go to town. Don’t tell,” Blasa whispered the last part as she saw Bertram looking at the smoke. “All I ever see is the water. I didn’t think it ended.”

The two siblings scanned the rest of the frozen lake for anything out of the ordinary, but the landscape, blanketed in the smallest trace of fresh snow, looked just as serene as it always had. They were both well aware that smoke meant fire, and Blasa’s personal curiosity of the matter would have kept her staring at the far off smoke all day. But today was Bertram’s day and above all his own special interests were finally going to get some answers. He couldn’t let his sister’s discovery keep his father preoccupied as well, or else he may lose his opportunity to learn about his father’s past. He convinced Blasa the smoke was nothing important and she didn’t need to bring it up to father. If it was still there when Alexis and Bertram returned home in the evening then she should mention it. For now, it was time to return to the house.

Blasa’s fast moving attention jumped back to her original task and she flew down the ladder and raced over to her pile of utensils. Bertram climbed steadily down and then leaned the ladder sideways until it came down resting on the roof of the shed. Carefully he pushed it further up until it was off the ground enough to be out of Blasa’s reach. As he dusted his hands off on his trousers, Blasa called for him to help carry the dishes and together they walked back into the house to their father, who had jokingly sprawled out on the table complaining of dire hunger. After Blasa admonished him for acting like such a child, the three finally sat down to each enjoy a wonderful piece of cake.

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