Two weeks had passed, I sat in the back room of the Hatchling, numbly eating my lunch. I still could not bring myself to face the truth, I could not bring myself to read all the letters that had piled up in my home.
He had been laid on a stone slab, and draped in a white shroud. The Priest of the Silence had peeled back the shroud and revealed his face to me. I fell to my knees and cried, my husband was gone, Lord Jaris had explained that he had gone to a business meeting, and was found about midday in an alley. His chest had been opened by multiple knife wounds, and his throat had been cut. It was assumed that he had been robbed, due to his appearance, and the part of the city he had been in.
I could not do this again, I had only lost my father less than a year ago, and now my husband too was gone. Milda and Ras had been so kind to me over the last weeks, allowing me to leave work if I need too, keeping me company and making sure that no one mentioned Jon.
“Mrs. Balaur,” I glanced up, a man in a dark overcoat stood in the doorway to the back room. The man was out of place here, his finely pressed cloths, clean shaven face, and a thick leather bag in his hands. He looked like a noble, here in the common market place, something was wrong.
“Sir the storefront is back through the way you came,” My voice cracked, he nodded.
“Yes I know, I am here to speak with you Mrs. Balaur,” He said, taking an unoffered seat at the table across from me. “My name is Alma, I have been sent by your uncle, Master Perish, has asked that I settle some issues with your late father’s estate,” I felt a chill work up my spine, and the heat rise to my cheeks.
“Mr. Alma, I am sorry, but I have only recently lost my husband, can we do this at a later date?” I requested.
“Master Perish, has requested this to be done as soon as possible, this is because of your husband’s death, he no longer feels that you are allowed to have any interest in the company known as Lunar Shipment. He has sent this contract for you to sign,” He slid a leather envelope from his bag and placed it on the table before me.
Angry tears began to fill my eyes as I opened the parcel, the handwriting glared up at me, I could see my uncle’s name scattered across the parchment. He was taunting me in my time of pain, hoping to use my female emotions against me.
“I will not sign away my interest in the company my father started.” I growled, when I was done reading the sheet.
“You misunderstand Mrs. Balaur,” Alma said. “I am not here to ask, if you do not sign this contract, which Mr. Perish has been kind enough to offer you double the current value of your shares. If you do not sign this, it will be taken from you, Mr. Perish is ready to take steps to take the company from you through legal steps, as the only male heir in your family, the company is rightfully his, if you do not sign this you will never see any money.” The hair on my arms stood on end, I could not give up what was mine, but what choice did I have. Alma held out a quill.
I took the quill, and dipped it in the ink he offered. “Why does my uncle care if I still have a controlling interest?” I asked.
“It is not my place to ask,” He replied.
“He doesn’t even have to courage to face me and ask me himself,” I growled, I let out a heavy sigh and put my mark at the base of the contract. “I hope he loses everything,” I said, touching my thumb to the end of the ink trail. I shoved the contract back at Alma and rose to my feet.
“I thank you, and I am sure your uncle will keep a good eye on the company for you.” I glared at him, “Your funds will be transferred into your account later today,” He said. “Do you have anything you wish to pass on to your Uncle?”
“Tell you I hope he dies as alone as I am now,” I growled, I swept from the room, my footfalls echoing down the short hall. I sat behind the counter the rest of the afternoon, taking coins from the bakery’s patrons.
I hated my uncle, I had as long as I could remember, he was ten years older than myself, and I would blame him for many of the problems I had for the rest of my life. The things he had done to me as a child would haunt me all my days, if not for him, my father may have been able to find me a match sooner in life. I had been fortunate that Jon had been willing to take a wife so mistreated early in life. I shivered, as the image of my uncle swept through my mind, that monster had taken the only thing I had left in this life.
“Have a pleasant evening,” Milda said, handing me my days pay, and a cheese pastry.
“Thank you, you as well,” I said. Part of me wanted to go home, and another part wanted to go check my accounts at the bank.
I worked my way through the market square and up the street of gold. I climbed the steps and moved through the marble columns into the bank’s lobby. The electric lights buzzing overhead in their copper fixtures. I stood waiting in line to speak with the clerk behind the gold bars.
“May I help you Mrs. Balaur?” The young man asked, he had a kind face, covered in freckles, and the wisps of a red colored beard to match the red hair on his head.
“I would like to check the totals of my account?” I said.
“Of course,” He said happily, he wrote my name on a small slip of parchment and handed it to a page. The young boy, slipped away through the rows of clerks behind the counter. “Please have a seat someone will come to give you the totals when they have been calculated.”
“Thank you,” I said, I took a seat on a cold marble slab and picked at the bread in my basket.
“Mrs. Balaur?” I looked up, an accountant stood in a doorway at the back of the room. “Please come with me.” I followed the man to an office, he pulled out a seat from his desk and offered it to me. The office was small, cramped, the walls covered with shelves of scrolls and account ledgers, the desk was a solid wood block, stacked high with books piles of quills and ink bottles.
“Is there a problem with my account?” I asked, as I took the seat, and placed my basket on the ground beside me, my hands folded neatly in my lap.
“No not at all Mrs. Balaur, what information would you like,” I smiled happily.
“Great to hear, may I know the totals please,” I waited patiently as the accountant added up the numbers on the ledger in front of him. Watching him do his work took my mind back to Jon, and when I would sit in the den of our home working on my needle work as he sat across from me, working on this account or that account. I fought back the tears, I missed my husband, so kindhearted, why had he been taken from me.
“Here you are,” The accountant handed me a sheet of paper, I smiled at the number, my uncle had paid the sum he had promised me.
“Excellent, may I please make a withdrawal?” I asked. I had several accounts I needed to pay off, since Jon’s funeral, I would soon be deeply in debt if I did not pay off the creditors.
“Do you have a letter from Mr. Perish, with his permission to make a withdrawal?” He asked.
“Excuse me?” I felt the pit open back up in my stomach, what did he mean.
“Mr. Perish is the beneficiary of this account, you need a signed letter from him, allowing you to make withdrawals from this account.”
“What do you mean, my uncle is the owner of this account since when?” I demanded. The accountant tilted his head at me.
“Since your husband’s death,” He said flatly, “Your husband had no brothers, his father is passed, Mr. Perish, is his next of kin,”
“No I was his wife, my uncle had no right to this money, it is mine.” The accountant gave me a smile, his eyes soften.
“Oh dear, Mrs. Balaur, that is not how these things work, you know this, it would only pass to you if there were no men in the family left to inherit, but that is not the case, so if you need this money so badly, please come back with a letter from Mr. Perish, or have Mr. Perish send you the money himself.” I felt the blood rush to my face, this was an outrage, my uncle had taken everything from me.
I stood and grabbed my basket from the ground, I had no more words, I glared at the accountant across from me. The logical part of my mind told me this young man was not the cause of my problems but that was not the part that controlled my actions at that moment.
“This is an outrage,” I screamed, and turned on my heel, I ran from the bank, tears flooding down my cheeks. I ran all the way back to the house, and I through my basket into the staircase, it smashed in half, just as the pumpkins Raz used to make pies in the fall. I threw myself onto my bed and screamed into my pillows. All the money, Jon and I had earned was gone, out of my reach forever, all I had were the coins I had earned this week. I would not be able to pay my debts and I would lose this home if I did not come up with a solution soon.