|Series||Fable: The Last Hero by Canes4ever|
|Next||2. The Seer|
|← None||Chapter Chronology||2. The Seer →|
Hard Work is the first chapter in Fable: The Last Hero.
Martin loaded the last crate onto the wagon.
"All set!" he yelled to carriage driver. The man jabbed a pudgy thumb upwards into the air, then whipped his reigns and headed out of town. Martin nodded and turned around, back towards the factory. Sweat slid down his arms and face as he put his hands on hips, resting, and scanned the village. Bastion had grown since the Corrupter had been vanquished five decades before, when most of the populace, which was made of primarily factory workers, had been slain during the destruction of Deepgorge and the surrounding regions by the Corruption. Fortunately, the town had been saved by a Will user on his way to the Spire, and Bastion was allowed to recover. And recover it had. By Martin's time, Bastion was a sizeable town in northern Albion, rivaling that of Brightwall or Bloodstone in terms of population. The settlement was now home to its own tavern, blacksmith, general store, and was even home to a small brothel. Martin, however, didn't concern himself with such affairs. Though only 19 years of age, Martin was considered by many to be one of the best workers in Bastion's factory. Reaver, the owner of the building, as well as the brothel in the city, had acknowledged him as one of the best workers in all of his facilities. Of course, that was followed by a thinly veiled insult towards the rest of his employees. For the average villager, it was easy to see why Martin was such a great worker. Standing a good six inches over most of the townsfolk, Martin was also gifted with both extraordinary speed and intelligence. This not only enabled him to perform many tasks quickly, but also efficiently, tasks that would normally require the strength of two men or more. Still, as Martin surveyed the townspeople shuffling back and forth with their daily lives, he couldn't help but feel something was different about him. His mother, Victoria, never told him anything about his father, other than that he was one-fourth Auroran, which made Martin one-eighth, and was where Martin got his darker skin tone. However, what disturbed Martin was the fact that none of the qualities he exhibited came from his mother. She was short, fragile(by factory standards), and often had to question Martin for everyday solutions to problems. In his mind, this meant that all these qualities he had came from his father, whom he had no idea was. Martin was pondering all these things when the loud, scrathy voice of Dobbins, the factory manager, screamed at him to get back to work.
"Martin!" he shrieked, his throat nearly gone due to years of bellowing. "Get back to work, or I'll flog you for days!" Martin knew Dobbins was serious; however, he also knew that the floggings didn't hurt him due to his enormous strength, which is the reason he often took floggings for other workers who happened to step out of line. Before Martin could respond with a witty remark, the whistle blew for lunchbreak.
"Alright, slackers, you know the drill!" Dobbins shouted. "Fifteen minutes for lunch, and not a second more!" He then marched off into the factory. Simutaneously, Elizabeth, Martin's girlfriend, walked out the building doors. She looked at Dobbins, then turned to Martin inquistively. Martin responded with a shrug of his shoulders and a wide grin, which harbored a soft smile from Elizabeth. The teenagers locked arms and made their way across the complex, finding a suitable spot on the ground and laying out their lunches.
"So," Elizabeth started. "What was that all about?"
"What, Dobbins?" replied Martin. "You know he's always like that, especially with me."
"That's not what I mean. It seemed like something was bothering him. More than usual."
Martin shrugged. "Probably just the hours. Lots of tedious, back-breaking paperwork." He smiled and winked at her. Elizabeth giggled and kissed him on the cheek.
"You always know how to make me laugh."
"Wish your father could say the same."
Elizabeth rolled her eyes. "Don't even worry about Father. He'll come around." Martin hoped she was right. Even though they had been dating for over two years by now, Elizabeth's father, Robert, still treated Martin as the inferior wretch Elizabeth had so often taken to dating. Though Elizabeth would never openly agree, Martin felt that her father disliked him because of his Auroran heritage. Martin would never step out of line when around him, though, remaining courteous and respectful as ever. Which was good, seeing as how Robert was Bastion's only blacksmith.
"I hope so," mumbled Martin, an unhealthy amount of doubt in his voice.
"What was that?" Elizabeth inquired. Before he could respond, the whistle for work sounded, and the couple hurriedly gathered their things and resumed their jobs.
* * *
"Supper's ready!" Martin plopped down in a rickety wooden chair in front of the hearth. "Bowls are in the cupboard." Martin's mother sat down in the chair next to him, a saucer of porridge in her hands. "How was your day?"
"Uneventful." He sighed, staring into the embers of the flames. "Hard work, brief time with Elizabeth, Dobbins on my back."
"I'm sorry." His mother patted her son on the back. "I know you work hard to help us. I wish I could work."
"You shouldn't have to. It's hard enough for you to get out of bed each day, let alone work in a sweltering factory." Martin had a point. Even though she was only in her mid-40s, his mother's body was worn and tired from years working on Bastion's assembly lines in order to provide for a young Martin. When Martin was 16, she had suffered a back injury, forcing Martin to take her role as a worker. Eventually, he was given a permanent job, assembling, loading, and stacking crates to be sent to Reaver Industries' main economic center, Bowerstone Industrial. Martin convinced his mother to stay home and tend to Victoria, Martin's 13-year old younger sister while allowing him to continue to work at the factory. She relented, and that was how it had been for the past three years. "Where's Victoria?"
"Sleep," his mother answered. "It's late, remember?" Martin gazed out the cottage's lone window. Bastion's street lights were lit, and the guard prescence had increased significantly. "She waits for you everyday, but always ends up falling asleep."
"She needs to. She doesn't need to worry about the factory life like the rest of us."
"Yes," said his mother. "But she worries for you."
"As you do, Mother." He smiled at her, pecked her on the forehead, and rose from his seat.
"And where are you going?" she prodded.
"Sleep," was his response as he made his way upstairs to his bed.
"But you haven't eaten your supper!"
"Don't need it." Barely a whisper as he collapsed into his bed from exhaustion, drifting off into a deep, dreamless sleep.