"A few weeks passed as Yule began to settle into his new role as gravedigger in the town of Sirus. He conducted a few more burials in this time and the people always tended to regard him more warmly after the funerals."
"Some even returned from time to time to offer him baked goods. Yule gladly accepted of course, he loved delicious goods, incidentally Yule's first friend in the town, Julie, also loved delicious goods and would visit him often to raid his stockpile."
"Yule would always act annoyed and try to shoo her off but deep down he was enjoying the company. It wasn't just the company either, he was beginning to enjoy the town and his job as well."
"On one particularly lazy afternoon Yule was sitting beneath a large oak tree in the graveyard as he watched Julie place some flowers on her mothers grave. Julie came often to visit her mother and he would always sit beneath the oak tree with a basket of baked goods when she did."
"He wouldn't offer any to her but she would always come over after to sit beside him and eat some of them."
"He would try to shoo her."
"She would laugh and carry on munching."
"He would eventually laugh and smile too."
"*nom nom nom* Hey did you know *nom nom* there's a new merchant in town? *nom nom*"
"Did you know that talking with your mouth full is considered rude?"
Julie looked at me with her mouth clamped onto a large bun and she muffled out a response.
"*nom* Really? *nom*"
"So, what's special about this new merchant, don't merchants come through here every once in a while?"
"Mmm this ones different, he actually set up a shop full of clothes, trinkets and drinks! And also..."
Julie looked around to make sure nobody was around.
"Don't worry, it's only me and the dead here, and dead men tell no tales."
Julie nodded as if that was enough reassurance.
"To be honest he speaks really funny!"
I should've known it would be something dumb.
"I see, so you want to go see this merchant I presume?"
"Do you want to buy new clothes or trinkets or something?"
"Y-yea, something like that..."
I looked at her curiously as she twiddled her thumbs together.
"It's just that..."
Julie looked at me with puffed up cheeks.
"It's just that there's a promotion for free drinks if you buy something!"
"That's the real reason you want to go isn't it..."
"You don't have any money do you."
"So you probably want me to go with you because I have money."
I sighed as I massaged my forehead. This girl was truly driven by her stomach. However, I do have a bit of money saved up and I have been wearing the same clothes for a while. It probably wouldn't hurt to go shopping.
I got up and stretched letting out a yawn.
"Alright let's go."
"Yup, I did a funeral this morning so I doubt anyone else will be coming today."
"Nice, lets go!"
Julie jumped up and pointed towards town then ran forward. I sighed and walked after her, eventually she slowed down and waited for me to catch up and skipped beside me humming.
I smiled softly and hummed along with her as we made our way through town. Along the way many families I had conducted funerals for greeted me warmly.
"Hoh? Good to see you in town gravedigger!"
"Hey, I have some fresh goods here, why don't you take some gravedigger?"
"Good to see you again gravedigger!"
I smiled softly at them and waved back whenever they greeted me. For some reason they all called me gravedigger, I guess occupation trump's name in this town.
As we were passing the town stables a man came out and yelled towards Julie.
"Julie! Where have you been, I'm not letting you stay here for free you good for nothing brat, you gotta work!"
I looked at the man curiously, he was a short stubby bald man who was fat by all definitions. Contrary to his words he looked like a man who did very little work.
"But Uncle I did my chores for the day already..."
"You little shit, I feed you three meals a day and you always eat more than you should and yet you can't even do extra work, you're just like your worthless mother-"
When I heard Julie's Uncle begin to bad-mouth the dead I felt an extremely cold anger come over me. Before I knew it I was only a few inches from the Uncle's face looking at him coldly with no smile on my face.
"You shouldn't say such things about the dead."
Julie's Uncle flinched back a bit before stuttering a response.
"W-whats it to you punk, s-she was my sister I can say what I want about her."
"I'm the gravedigger who buried her and it would be best not to disrespect the dead I've buried or else..."
I slowly reached out putting my hand on the Uncle's shoulder then looked at the Uncle with wide eyes and coldly whispered to him so Julie couldn't hear.
"You may be joining them."
The Uncle went a bit pale then flicked off my hand and walked back inside.
"W-whatever punk, and Julie don't be late for dinner or you're not getting any. Hmph!"
I took a few deep breaths and released the anger I had felt. How strange that I felt so angry because of that. I whispered under my breath to question Izmus.
"What was that about Izmus?"
(You're a gravedigger, your job is to bury people and send them off. It's only natural to get upset when your work is disrespected.)
"Is that so..."
(Just a thought, but maybe you actually take pride in your work.)
Take pride in my work? I bury bodies and watch people cry for their loved ones. Is that really something I should take pride in?
I felt a tug on my clothes and I saw Julie looking up at me worried.
"Hey are you okay?"
"Oh, I'm fine, no worries. Sorry about snapping at your Uncle, for some reason I got very upset when he was talking poorly about your mother. I hope he doesn't take it out on you."
Julie smiled then hugged me.
"It's okay, I was kind of happy when I saw you get upset for Mommy. I think she would have liked you, she never liked Uncle either."
I patted Julie's head and smiled softly as we continued walking towards the market.
"It's unfortunate you have to stay with such a mean person though."
"Mmm yea, once I'm old enough to leave I'm going to become an adventurer!"
"Why do you want to become an adventurer?"
"When I was little Mommy would always tell me stories about cool amazing places that she read about in books. Mommy read a lot since she was always stuck inside."
We had entered a busier part of town, the market square, it was filled with stalls and vendors selling goods.
"She told me about the sand dunes of the Cru kingdom which would shimmer like gold during the day but would become filled with poisonous insects during the night. And more importantly they also say they serve these super unique and delicious spicy insect kabobs!"
"Sounds hot, dangerous and gross."
Julie puffed up her cheeks at me again and I only laughed back.
"Mommy also told me about the high mountain range of the Zox federation which is filled with cities and towns built directly into the mountains. They are said to be filled with wonderful geothermal hot springs but also man-eating mountain ogres. Also, they create a special kind of rock candy there that I want to try."
"That doesn't sound so bad, minus the man-eating ogres."
"Yup, and she also told me about the famous man-eating cave fish of the Dirk kingdom which is a rare commodity. They apparently live in cavernous lakes and shine a light to attract prey, they have been known to swallow men whole. But more importantly I hear that when cooked they provide the most delicious fatty fish known to man and that kings have sent armies out just to get some!"
I put my hand to my face for a minute thinking through everything that Julie had just told me.
"Spicy Insect Kabobs, Rock Candy, Fatty Fish... All these places are related to food! Don't tell me you want to be an adventurer just for food!?!"
Julie put her hands up and made a 'you got me' face. I couldn't help but laugh loudly.
"Jeez, you really are ruled by your stomach, to think you would consider braving man-eating fish just for a taste!"
"I'm sure it would taste even better after the adventure!"
"Oh, how so?"
Julie smiled widely at me.
"Food always tastes better after events or with people you like. For example when I eat with you it always tastes better than eating alone!"
I stopped and looked on at Julie as she continued walking forward.
"Oi. You always steal my food though..."
Julie turned and looked at me curious.
"Hmm? What are you-"
I picked up Julie and put her on my shoulders so she could sit above the crowd. She smiled widely and laughed.
"Wow so high up! Oh I can see the shop over there. Onwards!"
Julie pointed in a direction and I smiled following the direction she pointed. To be honest I only got about 10 steps before I had to put her down due to getting out of breath.
Don't look at me like that!
I never did any sports or hard labor!
"Jeez you're pretty weak, I don't think you'd make a good adventurer..."
"Be thankful I carried you at all, you look small but you must be as dense as iron, no wonder, I always wondered where all the food you ate went..."
Julie curtly kicked my shin, puffed up her cheeks and walked towards the store.
"Ouch! W-wait for me!"
I smiled and limped along after her. We finally reached the store and we both stood there looking at the storefront for a good moment. I have to say this was the oddest looking store I had ever seen. The windows were filled with goofy and interesting looking clothing, trinkets and vials of colorful liquids. Atop the store in big yellow letters was the store name.
'Baron's Bizarre Bazaar!'
In the window I saw a promotional sign that read.
'Get one free Bizarre specialty drink with each purchase!'
Me and Julie looked at each other with our eyebrows raised then we shrugged and walked in. The door opened with a jangle and we were met with a strong scent of candy. The whole store smelled seriously strong, I had to scrunch up my nose a bit initially before getting used to it.
I heard a high pitched squeaky male voice call out from the other side of the shop and there I saw a short man with a black dress coat, white gloves, slicked back hair and a golden monocle approaching us.
"A young-man and a child have come to visit Baron's Bizarre Bazaar, I am honored!"
The man stared at us stroking his small goatee.
"Oh yes, yes! Where are my manners? I am Baron! Owner of Baron's Bizarre Bazaar!"
Before I knew it Baron had reached out and grabbed my hand looking at me with sparkling eyes.
"I can sense something special about you Mister...."
"Y-yule, you can call me Yule."
I tried to dislodge the man's hands but he wouldn't let go! I could see Julie covering her face hiding a laugh from the side of my eye.
Help me you little muncher!
"Yule! A magnificent name indeed. What is it you seek from the Baron's Bizarre Bazaar? Is it trinkets perhaps?"
Baron put his arm around my shoulder and dragged me to a section of the shop where many trinkets were displayed.
Despite his small size he was very strong!
"As you can see we have many wonderful necklaces, wristbands and even hairpins, perhaps your daughter would like one?"
"Eh? She's not my-"
"OR! Perhaps you are looking for some new clothing!"
Before I could object I had once again been dragged to a different part of the store where rows of clothing stood.
This was making me dizzy, I had to get him to stop.
"Clothing! Yes I want clothing so stop rushing me around!"
"Of course, of course! I can tell from how you carry yourself, you must have a unique occupation, tell me, what is it?"
"Im a g-gravedigger."
The Baron put his hand to his goatee again and closed his eyes in concentration.
"Mmmmmmmmmmmmm. I've got it!"
The Baron pulled out a black woodsman cloak with simple mahogany stitching on the ends and near the hood. He also pulled out a nice looking mahogany belt and pair of mahogany leather gloves.
"These are perfect for a gravedigger, the cloak is made from double weaved high grade flax and has been waxed to resist even the harshest of weather so you could go on doing your job with no issues. The gloves will protect your hands from nasty bodies or from blistering on your shovel."
Julie and I studied the clothing the Baron pulled out and I must say they did indeed look very sturdy and fitting. I tried them and asked Julie how I looked.
"Yup they suit your dead eyes nicely!"
Was that a compliment or insult!?!
"Well there are others you can try-"
"NO! *Ahem* I will take these."
I didn't want to spend another minute in this shop being dragged around. This guy was crazy!
The Baron nodded smiling and brought me to the counter where I paid for the clothing. It was surprisingly cheap even though it was very good quality, how Bizarre.
Just as we were leaving the Baron called out to us smiling.
"Don't forget your free Bizarre specialty drink! One for you and the child."
There were many pink vials on the desk and Baron handed one to Julie, he then pulled out a blue one from a drawer and handed it to me, he winked at me.
"A special drink for you since I can tell you are different. I'm sure the new clothing will come in handy in your occupation as a gravedigger very soon Mr.Yule! And please, enjoy the drink!"
I raised my hand in farewell as we left the shop.
After Julie and I reached a few blocks away from the shop we both looked at each other and laughed.
"He sure did talk funny just like you said."
"Yup! And I got to see your distressed face as he dragged you around the store! Ha ha!"
"Pffft, you could have helped!"
"Yup I could have!"
I checked out my new cloak, belt and gloves and I have to say they did feel very nice on me and they definitely would provide great benefits when digging graves.
"I wonder why he gave them to me so cheap... Mmm. Anyways here's your drink."
I tossed the drink of pink liquid to Julie who smiled and quickly opened it and drank some. I also drank all of mine in one gulp, it tasted like berries.
"How is it?"
"It's sweet. Thanks for coming with me today."
"As repayment, stop stealing my food."
I let out a sigh.
Will my snacks ever be safe?!?