The door of the bakery rattled on its hinges from repetitive strokes to the outside. Someone was ignoring the knocker, and also ignoring the still blue-grey skies of early morning, untainted by the sun's rise.
The door swung open, and the woman outside nearly knocked on the Durnath patriarch's head before she noticed.
"Lady Thyron! What in the Valley could bring a butcher's wife to my door after I've just got the first loaf in? I haven't forgot an order, have I? Not in a decade..."
"Oh shut up, Durnath. It's the delivery boy..."
Durnath's face fell. "Has he been getting into mischief? I told his family that I didn't want an apprentice and wouldn't take any trouble from one now that I had to..."
"No, not that oaf you brought on. Your son!"
"He's here?" Durnath had nearly jumped out the door when the butcher's wife caught his arm.
"No no no. It's so much better than that!"
Durnath's hard expression accosted her more harshly than any words could have. "Oh? Tell me how it's better than my getting my boy back." Durnath did not waste his breath on yelling. He reached behind himself, preparing to finish tying his apron and get back inside.
"Thurgod, Durnath! Thurgod."
"The Queen, may her reign be glorious, the Queen's golem-maker?"
"Shut up and let me tell you, Durnath. Your boy's apprentice to the smith god!"
Durnath took a step back. "Are you awake, woman? You'd have had to sleep walk many stairs and a street to get here."
"Stop questioning me and let me tell you what's gone on!"
"Please do. But step inside. It is bitter cold still."
The lady thrust past the baker and sat on the first chair she could find, in fact a particularly uncomfortable stool, but she took no notice. "I had a dream this night, Durnath. Not like any dream I've had. It hit me in the middle of the night, while I had been dreaming another thing. It was like I woke up, and stepped outside, just in time to see your boy come running up my stairs, you know, the shortcut I gave him, because I felt sorry..."
"Because you knew no one knew the town's rumors and gossip than the baker's boy. Go on."
"Would you stop interrupting! He was running up my stairs, as though he'd just carried bread out, but instead he was carrying one of those big, metal, wafer coins they use in the capital."
"Yes! That's what they are. I've been half crazy trying to remember. It's the morning, and all..."
"Yes, it is, and you're in my house before my family's even awake...."
The butcher's wife called out, "Lady Durnath! Mairda! Up you two!"
Durnath raised his eyes to the ceiling, then quickly composed himself as his family appeared on the stairs.
"What are you doing here, Thyron?" yawned Durnath's wife, then awkwardly she covered her mouth.
"I'm trying to tell your fool husband what happened to Oorgo, but he won't stop interrupting me.
Durnath threw up his hands, and as his wife opened her mouth to respond Mairda squeeled, "Is he alright?"
"Alright? He's working for Thurgod now, the smith god. Your son is the apprentice to a god as old as the Queen herself! Her greatest servant!"
"How do you know this?" asked the boy's mother.
"Oh, just stop asking questions and I'll tell you. I just dreamed, not a normal dream, you know, but it felt like I was awake. I dreamed that he was coming up my stairs carrying a boon-coin, the token that grants a favor from the gods, and when I asked him what'd become of him he said, 'While in the capital with Henlick I went to see Cyllgod, but angered her.'"
"He did what?" belched his mother.
"Shut up you all!" bossed Lady Thyron. "'I went to see Cyllgod, but angered her. I found grace with Thurgod, who was seeking a new servant for his forge. Now I am well cared for, but do wish I could see my family again. I must not leave the city, for Cyllgod would not allow it. Take this boon-coin to my parents, that they may come to the capital, and that I may see them again. Tell them at once to bake all the flour for the week, and to transfer their orders down the hill for a week, so that they may come."
Then with a flourish Lady Thyron produced from a pocket an elliptical wafer of metal, engraved on one side with the emblem of Thurgod and the seal of Her Majesty Cyllgod, and on the other, "Passage on Royal Roads and Lodging in the Royal Inns, Until the First Frost."
Durnath's eyes were wide, and as he approached that week's remaining flour he said, "You said you dreamed it. How'd you get the boon-coin?"
"I ran out of the house to tell you the dream, and the town golem was standing in the middle of the road. It held out its hand, and while I nearly fainted away to see it standing away from the gong, it dropped this on the ground."
Durnath dropped the sack of flour on the ground, causing a great chorus of clanks and clinks. He uttered, "It's not flour, Janith. It's not flour."
Durnath's wife flew down the remaining stairs and tore open the bag of flour. Silver coins spread across the floor. "We could eat for weeks on this."
Durnath's eyes were wide. "It's not for eating. We have passage on the Royal Roads and lodging in the Royal Inns. The journey there and back is covered, but the first frost will come in only two weeks at most. We will need a journey-cart."
Janith whispered, "Its the second day of the week. The journey-cart leaves at dawn."
Durnath said, "Then we must be quick. It's at the bottom of the village."
Lady Thyron offered, "You can take my stairs..." but after the boon-coin was out of her hands she could not get one more word of hers to be paid any attention.
She was left with this last instruction, "No doubt you know all our orders. Tell the baker down the hill to take them until we return." Before she was done being told, she already was relishing in the joy it would be to be the only one in town who could explain the mysterious disappearance of the rest of the Durnath family. The rumors!
The Durnath family had gathered what they needed, including all the silver from the flour sack, and left in only two minutes. Lady Thyron was abandoned in their house, and just before she left she had the wit to put out the fire in the fireplace, and finding a few fresh loaves there, she scooped them up and took them home, locking the door of the Durnath bakery behind her.