This is one of a series of unpublished flash fictions that examine the character of Jaysynn’s siblings. This story concerns itself with an incident in his brother Bulon’s life. If you haven’t read The Fall of the House of Kyzer, check it out!
Wyn spotted the men from afar. A rabbit couldn’t approach his square of wilderness without his noticing from a mile off, never mind the column of dust trailing behind the strangers’ vehicle. He leaned, bent and wizened, on his hoe and waited. It took more than half an hour before the strange, boxy contraption rumbled to a stop near his warped fence and three men emerged.
“Guvment,” Wyn croaked. “You come to say my son’s dead?”
The lead of the three stepped through the broken gate, casting a disgusted look over the enclosed area. A dim shack cowered at one corner, with a rain barrel on one side and a splinter of an outhouse on the other. A few goats and chickens pecked around the scrub. A small well, no bigger than a dog curled up to sleep, shimmered in the sun, surrounded by neatly tilled rows of vegetables.
“Are you the owner of this property?” the head soldier asked.
“Yes, sir,” Wyn said proudly, showing his yellowed teeth. A gold crown sparked in the sun. “And my father before me and his before that.” He nodded to a few markers at the far end of the enclosure. “This here’s our land. It’ll be my son’s, if you ain’t come to say he’s dead.”
“This land is now property of the Thyrian government. You have until nightfall to move out.”
Wyn swayed and clutched the weathered handle of his hoe. “This here’s my land,” he said weakly. “I lived here all my life.”
“I’d suggest contacting your son. I’m sure he’ll help you find somewhere new to settle.” The soldiers stared at him expectantly. The two at his shoulders gazed around, bored.
“My wife–she died last year. She’s over there,” he pointed a trembling hand at the small cemetery, “waiting for me. I laid her there myself, promised her I’d come soon. I can’t leave. I can’t.”
Wyn’s knees gave out and he slid to the ground, where he sat in the dirt.
One of the other soldiers walked over to the well and peered into it. “It’s barely big enough to spit in.”
“It’s mine,” Wyn said. “It’s all I have, a square of life green beneath the sun. Why do you need it? Ain’t you got riches and wells the size of mountains? This is my land.”
“You will leave, or we will force you to leave.”
“My son,” Wyn said desperately. “He’s got an office in Thyrion. He’s got money. He’ll pay you. Give me a few days. We’ll work this out.”
The head soldier sighed. “Remove him.”
Wyn tried to stand. “No, no! You can’t! I won’t let you.” He grabbed the hoe and started swinging.
Three weeks later, Bulon arrived in a military vehicle. It was bulky and uncomfortable but it was the only vehicle with a large enough battery to make it out to this Elthor-forsaken patch of land. It took only a moment to survey the property his men had acquired for him. Except for the fence, nothing remained except a black scar of ash.
“He didn’t say anything?” Bulon asked his escort.
“He just claimed the land was his.”
“Yeah, well his son wagered this trash heap in a card game and I won. Said there was gold buried here. He certainly had more money than a middling bureaucrat should.”
Bulon walked to the well and felt the power emanating from it. With delicacy he gathered in the magic and sent it out, into the ground, feeling out the resonance he desired. He closed his eyes, as if listening to a high-pitched frequency. He knew well the tremor of gold and silver, aluminum and tin, iron and copper. They sang to him in invisible voices, calling to him, and he gathered them together into safe places.
In widening circles he sent the searching waves of magic beneath the small plot. He reached out beyond the fence, straining to hear the whisper of riches.
He opened his eyes. “There’s nothing here. This place is worthless.” He took a deep, calming breath. “There is a small piece of gold, over by that mound there. Dig it up and retrieve it.”
Bulon returned to the vehicle, seated himself in the shade, and patiently awaited his crown.