Unfortunately, Old Ham passed away before he could see Glenn get a wife. It was in early spring, and the intense winds of winter had begun to die down. Coming home from a day of slaving at the Zi Jue Residence, Old Ham and Glenn had prepared themselves a good meal with some beef and malt liquor, as a kind of ritual before commencing the house refurbishment for Glenn’s marriage.
The next morning Old Ham didn’t wake up and never did. He had died with a smile on his face, and that smile was still on his face when he was buried by Glenn and some nearby villagers. Perhaps the reason explaining that smile was because his wishes about Glenn had become a reality in his dream or was because he was satisfied with the meal that preceded his death. Glenn buried Old Ham’s pipe with him, too.
In the following months, Glenn was in dismay yet life went on. He became the owner of the thatched house, the old horse, two gold coins and seventeen silver coins. Those were Old Ham’s inheritance and were all that Glenn had.
Glenn actually had another property – the Canine Olfactory Enhancement and Odor Mapping. He would hide it in the same place where he kept the coins. When the day’s work was finished, he would study it in the dim lamplight. To him, the book was a crack to peep into the world of sorcery.
Summer came. On a rather dull day, Glenn had finished off the mountain of rubbish as usual and was purchasing goods on an outskirts market for the nobleman’s banquet at the Zi Jue Residence. After having paid the vendors, Glenn was sitting on the coach and was looking up at the azure sky decorated with the moving clouds.
The vendors and their hired hands would be responsible for loading the stuff which Glenn had ordered. Among them a blond freckle-faced village girl was mounting the goods onto his wagon, as efficiently as a boy around her age could. She snuck glances at Glenn several times and her heart was racing. She had a crush on Glenn a year ago, and her affection to him had been growing by the day ever since. She was actually the girl whom Old Ham had wanted Glenn to marry. Although Glenn was not opposed to the arrangement, he had no feelings for the timid and hard-working girl who was, at most, a little sister to him in his heart.
Now that Old Ham had gone, Glenn had never offered to see the girl once. Their meetings were only the brief periods of time when Glenn was purchasing the luxuries on the market where she worked.
At the time she knew that Glenn was about to leave as the goods had been nearly finished loading. She was eager to have a few words with him, and she could not restrain herself anymore:
“Glenn, I saw a sorcerer this morning. Can you believe it? He passed by here and asked for the way to Bi Seer City. The crowd of people here was so startled and agitated to see a sorcerer in person, and it was the first time I’ve ever seen one, too!” The girl assumed a fake smile and watched the nice-looking Glenn timidly.
“A sorcerer?” The word ‘sorcerer’ roused the bored Glenn up in a surprise. “Are you sure?”
“Positive. Loads of people saw him.” The girl nodded, as happily as a lark.
“How does he look?” Glenn pressed her with another question.
“He wore a loose gown, like a cloak, only without the hood. I could barely see his face, because it was misted up by something. And he held a frog in his hand, a frog with red eyes. Oh, right, he was talking with Yi Ma,” capturing Glenn’s attention and his yearning for more details, the girl told him everything she knew.
“Thanks. It is very kind of you to share this!” Glenn was excited on hearing the news. He had gotten the book for half a year and this was the first information that he’d obtained about a sorcerer.
Glenn then drove the coach to Yi Ma’s. Yi Ma was a nobody, and she was just the one whom the sorcerer had talked to. She was in her 20’s and was a mother of two children. She was wearing an apron, which was tied around her beefy waist. Her husband, Picasso, was a hunter. He had sinewy muscles, and his face had a scar left by the scratch of a wild pig. Seeing that Glenn was at the door, Picasso went to answer it, and the two little boys of theirs were staring at Glenn curiously.
“Bi Seer City. He went to Bi Seer City.” Glenn confirmed the rumor.
Glenn then rode the horse toward Bi Seer City as fast as the horse would allow, and he feared that it might stumble.
Arriving at the Zi Jue Residence, he took notice of the nasty butler and four strong knights behind him at the front entrance. They were facing a mob.
The old butler was shouting at a dozen of village men:
“Your farmlands were bestowed by Lord Zi Jue. If he levies a tax, then you pay the tax. If he raises the tax, then you also pay it. You want to rebel against the Lord?”
Glenn was kept waiting and turned anxious as the chaos at the entrance had been blocking his way to unload the stuff from the wagon, and the village men had shown no intention of leaving.
“You scummy lowlifes!” The butler continued. “Drive them away!”
The butler shouted the order of expulsion to the four knights. The crowd of protesters was then dispersed after receiving a good beating and kicking from the knights.
Protests over the tax issue broke out every year, yet they would be always subdued in violent ways.
The butler afterwards turned about and trod into the yard.
Knowing that everything was under control, Glenn spurred the horse and crossed the entrance.
“Stop!” the butler howled, “Why are you running so late? You wanna pack and go?”
Glenn sulked. One could tell it from his twitching mouth. He cursed the old butler in his mind:
‘You’ve looted two silver coins out of me this month. I have to work here half a month to get that much money. And you still want more?’
Glenn was not like Old Ham. He was young and he couldn’t control his anger.
“I got delayed by the chaos at the entrance. Besides, I came here on time.”
“You little bastard! How dare you talk with me like that? You are such a waste of his Lord’s nurturing. Get lost now and never come back!” The butler bristled and his face turned livid.
Glenn left the residence and he cursed the butler to burn in hell.
The butler followed Glenn out and yelled at the knights:
“Beat that brat to death if he ever comes back or you will never be allowed back!”
Glenn suddenly recalled his real business. He then set his rage aside and went to tie his coach to an elm tree nearby and ran towards a blacksmith shop. At the door of the shop, he cried through the glass window to an apprentice in the shop: “Brother Six.”
Glenn had neither brothers nor other relatives. Glenn was in a small group which was made up of ten beggars. They occupied the begging trade in Bi Seer City. Brother Six was a member of the group, too, and Six referred to the ranking in the group based on seniority. The group broke when Glenn chose to go away with Old Ham.
Brother Six ended up as an apprentice in a blacksmith shop and Brother Two labored in the countryside. As for the others, no words had been ever heard from them over the years.
“Glenn, what brings you here? Are you doing okay?” the apprentice said in a surprise as he opened the door. Having engaged in iron-forging, Brother Six, who was tall in stature, had grown into a large man, and as he walked towards Glenn, he carried with him a foul odor produced from sweat.
“Brother Six. You know things and there is a rumor that a sorcerer is in town. Have you heard anything about this?”
“How did you know it? It is true, though. A sorcerer is here to search for candidates who have a potential for learning sorcery. But it costs a gold coin to take the test.” Brother Six shrugged, “The owner of this shop had brought his son to the test and they failed of course, and he has been bemoaning his lost gold coin for like ever.”
“Where is the sorcerer?” Glenn inquired.
“You wanna go meet him? A gold coin is a lot of money.” Brother Six’s face fell.
Glenn balked at the idea for a moment. The consumption of one gold coin would be a great impact on him since he only had two of them.
But Glenn knew that this might be the best chance for a better life, So, he nodded resolutely towards Brother Six.
Brother Six gaped at this shocking answer. As he recovered from the shock, he replied. “The sorcerer is at the governor’s house, and for your information, the governor’s daughter has been the only one who qualified yet.”
In great exultation, Glenn dashed to his thatched house to fetch some coins for the qualification test. He headed straight to the corner of his room after entry to his house and dragged out a box from under his bed. In the box were all the coins that he had saved up. He counted out 100 silver coins, which equaled one gold coin, and put them into a stringed linen bag. He paused for a second and decided to take the Canine Olfactory Enhancement and Odor Mapping.
‘I am going to be a sorcerer,’ he thought.
He locked up the box of coins and set off toward the governor’s house. The governor was a marquis by rank, and marquis was the highest title in the city. Thus, he was the most powerful person in the city. The day was longer than the night since it was summer, so when Glenn finally arrived at the governor’s house, it was not yet dark.
The residence was under tight security. There were at least eight knights who were guarding at the main entrance. A large crowd of people were streaming in and out, and most of the people present were rich businessmen or high-birth noblemen who had taken their sons and daughters there.
Among the ones who were coming out, all of them seemed rather disappointed.
Glenn speculated that they must have failed the test. Having no time to consider further, Glenn elbowed his way forward, and as he was trying to get through the entrance, he was stopped by a coarse voice.
“Wait! One gold coin for the test fee!” A boy around his age was roaring at him.
Glenn pulled out the bag of coins and handed it to him. The boy snatched it and flung it into a big wood box behind him. But he didn’t count the coins.
“Judging from the manner he speaks and the clothes he wears, he must be from a village family. God knows why he has such a desirable job and where he has picked up that pride.”
Glenn snorted in contempt and followed the others into the residence.