Persephone and Mann

Fed Starving

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The highland was luscious with endless wilderness and plenty of flora. A long and deep river cut through the highland, running off the mountain chain in the distance. Hetzen, a small and remote town built along the river was a charming and lively place, loaded with gold miners, loggers, hunters, craftsmen, textile women and was a favorite supplier of the country's warriors and office men. Hetzen would get on with life uneventfully and detached from the hustling and bustling of the country's capital. The townspeople liked the mild life.

Hetzen was a land far away and unknown to the people of the distant west. The country was made into legend in the western people's storytelling but none of them in recent memory traveled there. That was till Mann and Persephone of Prague left their homeland, bringing with them goods and medicines, and departed toward the deep horizon, the unknown ahead of them with no plan and no destination. They wanted adventure and they wanted to see the endless world beyond.

Mann, a warrior of the Prague state, brought with him his sack of gold and belongings that he would need for a long journey while his wife Persephone, a healer and a medicine woman brought her medicine in bottles and her books. They sold most everything else and would purchase and build what they would need when they decided they wanted to stop and start a new life. They went alone, without accompaniment aside from the other travelers along the same routes, whom they banded together with for protection whenever necessary.

Months they would travel and meet new people and see new lands, pressing on with a hardy thirst of discovery. Eventually they arrived at Hetzen and loved it. There was something of legend and wonder within the life of Hetzen that captivated them and held them firmly in place.

Persephone would set up shop there while Mann would search the surrounding countryside and wilderness, hunting deer and wild cats. She would sell health potions and cleansing creams, gaining the attention of local women while Mann would store up their meats and sell off his surplus. They bought a house on the edge of town and settled in nicely, getting along with the people there and becoming part of their society. The learned the language and attended their holidays and celebrations.

Mann would bring home different samples of plants and flowers for his wife to use in her medicines. The plant life in Hetzen was different than that of Prague and she knew there was some new medicine that could be made of these new ingredients. She inquired of the local medicine makers to learn new medicines and share the recipes she brought with her. She hired a local girl to help her prepare medicines. Life was good for Persephone and Mann. They loved life in Hetzen and were happy they chose to settle there.

There were several temples in Hetzen that the townspeople would visit and hold ceremonies of spiritual power and offer gifts to their gods. One such temple was abandoned and rarely visited. Mann happened upon the temple while on one of his adventures around the boundaries of the city. The temple was covered in vines and moss on the sunrise facing side of it and the door was gone. Made of stone and featuring and missing a roof, there were plants growing inside of it. Many unusual plants with odd attributes.

What caught Mann' attention was a pink flower with blood red beads growing on the upper stem. The beads looked like berries and were soft on the touch. He didn't see this flower type at all while on his adventures throughout the countryside. There was many of them on the inside of the temple, on the outside of the temple he couldn't find a single one. He considered tasting a bead then decided that he shouldn't risk getting poisoned without his wife around to heal him. On one of the new flowers he cut the stalk with a hunting knife and placed it carefully in a sack so that the beads wouldn't pop.

Persephone loved the new flower, saying that it was beautiful. She removed the beads and tested them, finding that they weren't poisonous. She made a tea with the sweet nectar found inside the beads and drank the tea with her husband. They were invigorated and highly boisterous, feeling an intense burst of strength. Their thoughts were quickened and their enthusiasm multiplied. This new ingredient was going to become Persephone's prized treasure.

Mann would wonder should he ask the townspeople about the abandoned temple or should he keep quiet about it? What if the incredible flower couldn't be found anywhere else? He would draw attention to the temple if he asked about it and he wasn't ready to risk that before he was done. Persephone would want him to retrieve a greater bounty of flowers, he didn't want to risk them being taken. They discussed this situation and decided to wait. In the meantime Mann would return to the temple the next day and take up a sample flower with the roots intact and they would attempt to grow it inside their house.

Persephone would create a health potion with the mysterious flower nectar and develop new uses for it, finding that it reduced wrinkles and restored her slightly blurry vision. Once she perfected her new health potions she stored them in a locked trunk they'd taken over half of the only known available source. Townspeople started to compliment them on their looks, saying that they looked like they were getting younger. Surely they felt that they were. They were feeling like they did when they got married ten years ago and when they looked in their mirror they could see what the people were talking about.

Mann hesitantly kept taking flowers till there was a handful left. They now kept three of them growing in the house and several others growing in their shed. When Persephone finished making health potions with this last retrieval they decided to start selling the potions at a hefty price. They decided that they should keep the flowers a secret till absolutely necessary since Mann couldn't find any other place that they grew. If the townspeople of Hetzen knew anything about this special plant they would mention it once they tried the new health potions.

And none of their customers said anything about the flower at all. The customers would ask them what the secret ingredient was and they would tell them that the secret ingredient would stay a secret.

The new health potions sold quickly. That first batch was a third of her stored inventory and they wouldn't be able to replenish their supply till they could grow it themselves or find another location where it grew. They used a second batch of the same number, increasing the already high price and telling customers that supplies were limited. Although the price was inflated they sold out once again within days of the restock. That left a third of a trunk of health potions that they would keep to themselves. They placed a sign on their health shop apologizing that the new health potion was out of stock and that they wouldn't know when there would be another batch ready. This disappointed customers but there wasn't a thing they could do about it.

They resisted the urge to take the last handful of flowers and Persephone accompanied Mann on a trip to the temple to see them. They rode on horseback and the trip was an hour away from their house. With their horse tied to the nearest tree, they entered the temple together.

She was stunned with the beauty and mystery of the temple and the divine brilliance of its construct. Inside of it the plants were overgrown and diverse. They wondered why such a majestic temple was abandoned. They went to the last patch of pink flowers and Persephone made sure they were healthy enough to accept pollination. They discussed his search for another patch location and that he didn't find them anywhere else.

She decided that once the flowers were pollinated she would plant as many of the seeds as she could around inside the temple and at other locations in the countryside with similar conditions. She would also try and grow them in their garden. If they could plant another crop of them they would be able to sell the nectar raw and could even start farming them.

They spent a quiet and peaceful morning inside the temple, admiring the architecture and bathing in the warm sunlight. They were done hanging about the temple and got ready to leave. Before they reached the door they heard their horse scream and shriek. Mann went sprinting fast as he could through the temple door and directly at the oversized shape trying to wrangle his horse from the tree.

Mann kicked the harrowing figure aside and off his feet with all his force and made a step onto his horse, bending across the horses back, drawing his sword. The oversized foe was wearing a suit of armer and carried a sword of his own. When Mann hit the ground once again the attacker was already on his feet. Mann wore no armor.

They circled each other with their swords. Mann’s foe advanced with a swing of his sword and Mann blocked the attack with a swing of his own and knocked him backwards with another kick. Then he thrust directly at his foe and hit the armor with a scratch but no dent. Mann circled around his foe in a sideways run and swung hard at his backplate, leaving a dent. Mann’s foe tried to side swipe Mann but wasn't fast enough. Mann kicked at his foe's hip. Both of them regained their positions circling each other.

Mann was disadvantaged without his own armors. Mann’s foe's weaknesses were his wrists, ankles, neck and back but his skill was enough that he could protect himself.

Mann’s foe leapt with a diagonal cut at Mann and he followed the attack, throwing his foe’s sword into a wider swing then he got right on his foe before he could draw his sword up, dropping his own sword and clenched his foe's sword arm onto his chest with both his arms. Mann yanked his foe off his feet and onto his back, falling with him and hitting his chest into the armors and the armors into his own arms, cutting them open and hitting his face into the dirt. When his foe hit he cried out but held his sword firm. Mann yanked his bleeding arms out and got on his feet swiftly. Mann’s foe tried sitting up but Mann was quick and took hold of his headgear and yanked it backwards hard, stunning his foe.

Mann’s foe rolled onto his hands and knees while Mann leapt at his sword, his foe started to get on his feet again when Mann kicked him once again and knocked him onto his empty-handed side. Mann swung hard at his foe’s neck armor and his sword cut through but not enough to draw blood. He tried to yank his sword away but it was stuck. Mann’s foe thrust himself up onto his knees, sword stuck in his neck guard and all, and then punched Mann hard in the gut with his gauntlet. Mann retreated a step trying to breath but couldn't. Mann’s foe swung his sword to cut at Mann' legs and Mann leapt backward and then leapt ahead once the sword went past, stomping his foe's elbow as his foe got onto one knee. Mann’s foe finally lost his sword and Mann was dewinded with the gut punch a moment earlier.

Mann took up his foe's sword and swung hard diagonally at his neck right as he got on his second leg. This swing cut through as before and when Mann yanked the sword out blood sprayed out of the cut in spurts. Mann kicked his foe hard once again and his foe smacked into the dirt on his back. Mann’s foe tried covering the hole in his neck armor but that was useless in stopping the bleeding.

Mann watched his foe die.

Persephone quickly went to Mann's side and he accepted her into his arms and she cried. They would be alright.

When Persephone was calmed Mann set her onto the horse and he pried his sword off the dead foe's neck armor and noticed the scratch and gouge against the blade. The armor was harder than a lot of armors he's seen and weighed a lot in comparison as well. That made fighting him a lot harder but slowed him up significantly.

Mann climbed up onto his horse and sheathed his sword. They would ride to their house silently and leisurely.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The next day they received a messenger. They let him into their house and he took an envelope out of a pouch. The messenger announced, "Greetings, Mann and Persephone of Hetzen. His Lord Majesty the King has heard of your wonderful potions of health and good fortune and requests that you make him a generous amount, that he, his Queen and their children can benefit well of your service and he shall award you in due confidence for your kindness."

Persephone said, "Our supply is finite and limited. We can offer what we have right now and I do not know when we can make some more as the ingredients aren't available on hand. The key ingredient is of a rarity that is so scarce we cannot restock our supply. Are you, the messenger, going to deliver the potions or shall we?"

The messenger handed Mann the notarized request and said, "I shall deliver them."

Persephone said, "We must go to my shop and I shall give them to you."

Persephone and Mann accompanied the messenger to their shop and gave him the trunk that was a third full of health potions made of the red nectar beads of the pink flower. He bowed to them and dutifully left.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Mann didn't return to the temple since the battle with the enemy, fearing that there could be others waiting there and he would be outnumbered. Him and Persephone were tending to the plants they were already growing and planned to take them to a location with a lot of bees so that they could become pollinated. If that wouldn't work Persephone would need to take up the hard task of pollinating the seeds herself and she wasn't all that confident about that.

Mann continued to hunt but on the other side of the town and got in conversation about bandits when he attended a town pub. There were bandits known to make hillside houses and live under the dirt. There was a settlement on that side of town long ago and the people were slaughtered, all that is left is an abandoned temple. The bandits that roam that area are considered the descendants of those murderers and most of the townspeople of Hetzen avoid leaving beyond the outer walls on that side of town. Mann wasn't notified about the bandits and were he notified he would have avoided that area altogether. In fact, Mann hunted plenty of wild animals in that area and till that day with Persephone he didn't see any of them nor see any evidence that anyone lived there.

Months went on and Persephone and customers continued to ask her whether the health potions would be available again but all she could tell them was that she didn't know when she could restock her supply. They purchased her original health potion instead, a good and effective potion but nowhere near the power of the special health potion.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

When their pink flowers were finally sprouting their seeds Mann and Persephone did well in getting them pollinated, not needing to leave their house property because the bees were everywhere. Mann built a small wooden shed designed to let the bees inside without calling too much attention to the flowers from the road, protecting them from being picked when a passing townsperson saw them.

Persephone collected all the pollinated seeds and planted them around their yard and their shop near the center of town. There was a lot of seeds and Persephone saved a large number of them inside envelopes. She and Mann discussed the abandoned church and dared that they risk planting seeds inside of it so that if the seeds could not grow anywhere else there would be a large number of flowers for the next growing season. She showed him how to plant the seeds, and she made him agree that if he were to go to the abandoned temple he would need to bring armed guards because he couldn't risk a repeat of the same incident. The plan was made but they waited, hesitant to return.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

There was a loud knock on the door in the late evening. Mann answered the door and it was a citizen of Hetzen, dressed inside some small armors and armed to fight with an axe. He said, "Mann and Persephone, there is a battle on the west side of town. We ask that you, Man, saddle up your horse and fight, that we protect our city. There's a horde of bandits and they are fierce, burning the houses and killing everyone they can. We need hardy warriors and you Mann, can lead the charge on your quick and healthy horse."

Mann said, "And you are?"

"Kinsley, the Hard."

Mann sprinted to gear himself up, Persephone let Kinsley in.

Mann said, "Are they armed with bows?"

Kinsley said, "They were but their archers were slain, now there are about 30 of them and they fight like mercenaries, slipping around randomly, they are the bandits that inhabit the hills out of town. They must be killed at any price."

Mann said, "Do you need another sword? I own two swords. Shall I bring them both?"

Kinsley said, "We are well armed. You should bring it nonetheless."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The battle was fierce and brutal. Hetzen was outnumbered to start, with reinforcements eventually turning the tide in Hetzen's favor. The bandits weren't armored as well as the warriors of Hetzen and the Hetzen warriors learned the bandits attack patterns and were able to anticipate them at their attempted siege of the second borough, ambushing them on their side and overpowering them before they could retreat. The surviving bandits were tied to wooden poles and executed at the town square the next day at noon. Mann fought well and killed a few of the bandits but his most notable actions were rounding the bandits up during the ambush, as they were on foot and without horses. Mann, and two other horsemen kept the bandits from retreat, allowing their total annihilation. The next day following the executions a counter-attack party was formed that went into the hills and slaughtered anyone left living in the bandits encampments and settlements. Their bodies were piled into a single mound along with all of their possessions and burnt. Nothing of their lot was kept or spared and the townspeople would celebrate this victory every year thereafter.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Mann and Persephone lived well following the battle of the west side of Hetzen and were able to farm the nectar they needed to supply new health potions using the seeds that Persephone saved. They used a large plot of their land, being only three acres, to plant their crop. The pink flowers became very popular and it wasn't much time before many other farmers started growing the plants for themselves.

They would start a small family having two children and living happily ever after.
 
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Fed Starving

Fed Starving

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I was going to make it longer but I didn't have enough time.
 

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