When Robert opening his eyes, he saw the four orphans huddled together, waiting for him to wake up. They looked like they were scared to move. Liam and Trudy were just waking up themselves, and were checking their cloaks from the night before to see if they had dried out enough to wear.
"I think they'll be bearable," said Liam softly as Trudy frowned at hers.
The sun was barely up, as Robert shook his blanket out, and folded it, to place in the cubby underneath the stairs. Throwing a couple more pieces of firewood into the fireplace, he checked over the shelves as he headed for the door to unlock it.
"Here's our payment for the food last night," said Liam, setting several coins down on the counter.
Robert saw that they were all silver and gaped at them for a moment. "The bread didn't cost that much!"
"Perhaps not, but I feel as if we intruded on you in the night," explained Liam.
He shook his head as he took one silver and handed the other three back. "I appreciate the offer, but this one coin will be more than enough."
As he took his place behind the counter, and Trudy and Liam stood awkwardly by one of the shelves, obviously trying to build up the courage to ask him about the soup kitchen again, the door suddenly banged open.
"There he is! Get him!" cried the first guy who barged into the store. It was the light-haired adventurer, who had told the story about the farmer, and then got arrested over the pouch of crystals. He charged across the floor, with a murderous glint in his eyes, and a snarl on his face.
The second guy in the door was the dark-haired man who was with him and was also arrested. He had a dagger out, and paused briefly when he spotted the two young adventurers by the shelf, before rushing at them.
Robert fell back, his feet tripping over themselves in his haste to get away from the man, as he pulled out his own dagger and tried to stab him with it. Not having had a chance to use the bathroom yet that morning, because of his unusual guests, Robert ended up peeing himself when the dagger came out.
Liam dodged to the side, as the dagger was stabbed at him, and hit the man's arm at the wrist. The dagger went flying, as he then kicked at the man's knee. The man fell to the ground howling in pain, clutching his knee, and Liam calmly picked up the dagger.
Trudy tackled the light-haired assailant, knocking him to the ground. The dagger went flying, landing next to the wall, and she punched the guy in the throat. He rolled to the side, clutching his neck, and tried to knock her off of him. She ended up kneeing him in the face, and rolled away before he could grab her. She also picked up a dagger.
Moments later, two guards, the same ones as before, rushed into the store.
"What's all the noise about?" cried the same one that Robert remembered from before.
He remained laying on the floor, all to aware of the puddle he lay in, and where the liquid came from.
"These two men just rushed into the store and tried to attack us and the store owner!" exclaimed Trudy, handing the guard the dagger, that she had taken from the guy who was bleeding all over the floor from a broken nose.
"We subdued them, but that one almost stabbed my belly, and that one tried to kill the merchant! I think he may have hit his head when he fell," added Liam, knowing all too well why Robert hadn't climbed to his feet yet. He also handed over the dagger he had taken.
The guards didn't hesitate in hauling the two men out of the store and sitting them into the frigid mud of the street. Then one stood over them, making sure they didn't go anywhere, while the other returned to ask Robert what had happened in his opinion.
He had managed to stand, and was surveying the mess of his shop. He would have to close for a while, to change and clean everything up.
"They were mad at me, I guess, because they got arrested before?" he said as the guard noted the puddle, and thankfully didn't say anything about it.
"Did they say anything, or break anything?" he asked, looking around at the shelves.
It was obvious to everyone that none of the shelves had been bothered, but Robert knew what the guard was doing. If he had claimed they stole anything, or broke anything, then they would be charged with that as well as the attempted murder.
"The light haired one said, 'There he is. Get him.' The other never said a word, other than crying out in pain. Other than bleeding all over my floor, they didn't damage anything," Robert said, choosing not to add anything false. He didn't want to add to their anger at him, for whatever reason they had chosen.
"Well, if you think of anything that you may have forgotten in the stress of the moment, be sure to let me know," said the guard, nodding at him, before turning to leave. "I may need you two to provide statements later, so don't be leaving town anytime soon."
"They won't," spoke up Robert. "I've hired them to work for me."
"Oh? Well then, I guess I'll know where to find them." The guard left without a backwards glance, and helped the other guard all but drag the two away.
"You've hired us?" asked Liam softly, raising an eyebrow.
Robert nodded. "You didn't have to help save my life, and you chose to anyway. The least I can do is repay your kindness. Though I warn you, I don't pay much, and I expect a lot of hard work."
They both looked so surprised and happy, Robert was curious to know what was up. Seeing his suspicious look, they both laughed.
"We were told no normal man would ever hire us, and yet here we are, hired. That was why we decided to become adventurers," explained Trudy.
"With fighting skills like that, you should make really good adventurers," said Robert, locking the door and turning to look at the state of the floor. "I'm going to go change. Could you grab some of those rags in the back room and see if you can wipe up some of that blood before it stains the wood?"
"I'll get right to it," said Liam, jogging towards the back room.
As he headed for the stairs, Robert noticed the four orphan boys, silently sitting by the fireplace still.
"We thought if we weren't in the way, we might be able to stay by the warm a while?" asked the eldest boy softly.
"Don't go anywhere, I want to talk to the four of you," said Robert, deciding he needed to change before he discussed anything more.
Standing before them, a fey moments later, wearing his only other pair of pants, Robert looked at each of the kids carefully. There were three boys and one girl. She had cut her hair short, and was wearing rags just like the boys, so it was hard to tell that she was actually a girl.
"You claim to be orphans, does that mean you have no other family?" he asked, needing to make sure this didn't backfire too bad. His father was already going to have a fit when he found out what he was doing, but Robert decided that he needed to start making a few decisions on his own, if he was going to move forward.
"No, sir, we don't," said the eldest boy again.
"What are your names?"
"I'm Will, this is Jon, Oliver, and Max."
"I need some workers to haul my supplies around town. Are you guys interested in a job?"
Will narrowed his eyes and looked at him suspiciously. "What are you paying?"
"I thought I would start with a warm place for the four of you to sleep at night. Then, so no one bothers you, and actually takes you seriously, I thought I would provide you with some good warm clothes. And maybe throw in a couple of meals a day? I won't be paying you much because I don't have much, but I can do these things."
As he had listed off each of the things, their eyes had gotten wider and wider. Robert felt pity for them, and tried to quell it. He had to think with his head, not his heart, if he was going to stay in business. It wouldn't help anyone if he went out of business trying to help everyone around him.
"What kind of work would you be having us do, exactly?" asked Will.
"I receive goods from my father's other stores, that I can sell here. I need someone to haul those things for me. I don't have the time to do it myself."
"Could we get some shoes?" asked Max, the girl, trying to make her voice rougher so it didn't sound like she was a girl.
"Of course, it wouldn't do me any good to hire you, and then you not be able to work because your feet fall off from the cold. I would even give you a cloak, for when it rains."
All four of them were all but salivating at the idea of food and warmth that was consistent, even if it meant they would have to work out in the elements for it, but they circled up and discussed it amongst themselves. It was obvious that they were a very tight nit bunch. Robert wondered if they were siblings, but couldn't tell under all of the dirt and grime. He figured he would find out soon enough, as they all turned around and gave him a hearty, "Yes!"
So, he's got someone to cook for him, and people to haul stuff for him, that's two things he needs for his new inn, err, I mean store...
More Privileged Chapters
Download the app and become a privileged reader today! Come take a sneak peek at our author's stockpiled chapters!Download
Please switch to the pop-up to complete the payment.
Complete the daily and EXP missions, as well as every week’s reading missions to obtain EXP and coin as rewards.Learn more about the rules
This's an experimental test for reading assistance in case.
We highly recommend you to enjoy the beauty of the original words.