“There’s a severe lack of magical poisoned apples today. In my day, you had an enemy, you went to a witch in a secluded hut, charmed an apple and snuck it into the enemy’s lunch. Preferably during a grand ball or something. Nothing told your opponents you meant business like making some square jawed prince slam face down into his porridge mid gala,” the rounded man in a leather shirt said. He laughed, apparently recalling actual occurrences of such events.
Odetta called the man ‘Uncle’ Allister. He was not a brother to either of her parents, but he ‘uncle’ was his title none the less. Odetta knew very little of her uncle except that he was white haired, round bellied, often spoke of the ‘good old days’ and worked in dragon waste management. Not an enviable job she thought.
She poured tea from a kettle into the cups of Allister and her father, who were busy talking business and, of course, talking of days gone by.
“Odie, your friends at school? They ever talk about poison apples?” Uncle Allister asked.
“It’s a bit old fashioned, Uncle. We’re more into hiring fairies for hit jobs these days,” Odetta said as a joke.
“No dung?” Allister was shocked.
“Language, Al, come on,” Odetta’s father said,
“Sorry. But really, fairies are for hire these days? That would have saved me some time,” Uncle Allister did not laugh. Odetta was pretty sure one was supposed to laugh after such a statement.
“Allister, let’s let Odie return to her chores, yes?” Her father said.
“I am finished actually, father,” Odie said smiling.
“The kid’s a peach getting her chores all finished before the lanterns light fills the night,” Allister reached over and pinched her cheek. Odetta hated such things even when she too young to know she hated such things.
“Well done, dear, why don’t you sit in the corner and read. Ignore Allister and I, please?” Odetta saw a threat in her father’s eyes that guaranteed no sugary treats for a week.
She sat near a window and from a book of stories about children using machines and glowing cubes to conquer their fears. It was an incredibly dull book. She had read it already. Knowing the stories already, she could listen to her father and his friend talk.
“You know that new castle project ol Prince Darling Face?” Allister said.
“Big contracts going around for that one,” Odetta’s father said after sipping his tea.
“We need your particular brand of negotiating to help get us, well, get us all the contracts. The Guild would be most appreciative,” Allister said. Odetta saw a small leather pouch pass between the hands of the two men at the table.
Odetta’s eyes widened when a gold coin slipped from the pouch and rolled off the table. She guessed the pouch must have held at least one hundred more gold coins. In her amazement she couldn’t help but whistle. Not a heart beat later a small blue bird collided with the window beside her.
“Every time I whistle this dung happens,” she said. She tried to look out the window to see if the bird survived; so few did.
“Something the matter over there, Odie?” Allister asked.
“Nope, just window seat stuff, ” Odetta said shuffling through her book once more.
“Anyone in particular I should ‘negotiate’ with?” her father asked.
“There’s some guy, Duke Sleapie, came up through the mining industry. Seems most amenable to our needs,” Allister said.
“I’ll have a ‘meeting’ with him tomorrow,” Odetta’s father said, counting his coins.
“Ehhhh, wonderful news. I’ll check in tomorrow night to celebrate our new gig building a castle for a reasonable fee,” Allister said. He rose from his chair, waved good bye and left the house.
“So what are you doing tomorrow, father?” Odetta asked.
“Oh nothing, just work stuff,” he replied.
“Work stuff for a bag full of coins?” Odetta asked.
“I’m picking up after a really big dragon, ok?” He chuckled.
“Gross,” Odetta closed her book. She knew her father and ‘uncle’ spoke in hidden terms and could not talk about what they actually did with their day. She just wished they could use a cover that did not involve dragon waste talk during meals.