“How do you mean?” Jorel, on the other hand, was sorting with purpose; specifically, staving off starvation for another night. When fully extended (as opposed to huddled over a heap of garbage) Jorel stood several heads taller than his admittedly very short companion. He was lean, though; it was as if somebody had tied one end of a regularly-sized peasant to a rock and the other to a horse- and then proceeded to startle the horse.
“Every time somebody comes along and saves the lot of us, they’re always one of them nobles. Rich folk,” Heret picked a particularly shiny bit of rubbage from the heap, briefly holding it aloft, examining, judging, the shine produced, as if to appraise a piece of fine jewelry. Satisfied, she shoved it into her sack, before returning to her previous half-hearted search. Heret was significantly shorter than most people, on account of her halfling blood. Her dark skin and expansive swath of hair would have made her stand out, especially here, in the capital, had it not been for her ragged clothing and unfortunate stench, which was already doing a more than adequate job at that task.
“I wouldn’t say every time. What about that last lot- Raganor and the others? They were- what? Forty percent poor? Raganor was poor, wasn’t he?”
“I don’t think that’s an accurate assessment. Raganor’s king now. They don’t let poor folk be kings. It isn’t proper. ‘Line of kings,’ and whatnot.”
“What about the dwarf? He looked kind of mangy.”
“All dwarves look kind of mangy.”
“What about the halflings?
“Did they look like they’d ever worked a day in their lives? One of them was wearing a petticoat. When’s the last time you saw a poor man wear one of them?”
“That’s a fair point. But I don’t think that, statistically speaking, one fellowship worth of world-savers makes a trend,” Jorel posited, shoving his findings into his own rucksack. Lifting himself to his feet, Jorel threw it over his shoulder, turning to his companion. For a moment- just a moment- he stood with the grace of his forefathers- a heritage otherwise indicated by two pointed ears swallowed whole by a mass of unwashed hair.
“Look at it this way: why haven’t we ever gone on a quest, saved the world- any of that?”
Jorel rubbed at his unshaven beard, taking a moment to consider. “I’d have to say it’s because we’ve got shit to do. And because we would die.” He opened his sack for just a moment, retrieving a small length of string he’d found in a discarded bag. Judging from the look in his eyes, he was formulating an idea.
“Exactly my point! Working men can’t go on a quest. They’ve got to pay rent on their hovel.” She paused, picking moldy bits off of a piece of discarded bread. “Think about the logistics of it. What do you need for a quest?” She shoved the bread into her pack.
Jorel stopped to consider. Additionally, he took a moment to commit to a fruitless attempt at wiping some grime from his face. “Armor, supplies, food. Horses. Swords. A map, maybe?”
“All of those things cost serious coin. And swords! Have you ever used a sword?”
“I have not, no.”
“You ever seen two rich pricks get into a fight and have one of them duels?”
“Sure. Everyone has. For all of their armor, noble folk sure have easily wounded honour.”
“Did they look like they knew what they were doing?”
“A bit, yeah.”
“Why do you imagine that was?”
“If I had to guess, I’d wager that somebody taught them.”
“Exactly. Tutors. Noble pricks have tutors to teach them how to fight. I don’t know how to use a sword, or an axe, or one of them hammers. Because I grew up with thirteen other siblings. Parents didn’t have that kind of coin.”
“I imagine it’s mostly a matter of hitting your enemy until they fall over, with that last one.”
“That’s not the point, Jorel.” Heret had grown progressively more worked up over the course of the conversation, and, at this point, had completely abandoned her search through the refuse pile in order to focus all of her efforts on looking and acting exasperated. “The point is that us low-born common city trash types don’t have the skills or resources to set out on some sort of world-shaking journey. Doesn’t seem fair.”
“Do you wager that a farmer- somebody from out in the country- might be able to pull it off?” Heret mused, before starting to shuffle his way to Jorel’s backside. “Hold still,” he said, pulling back her hair. Taking the length of twine, he wrapped it around her expansive curls, containing it into a sort of ponytail. “There, so folk stop grabbing at it,” he smiles.
Heret felt at her locks, her hand wrapping around the string holding it back. She smiled, turning her head and bending over a nearby puddle to get a look at it. “Been looking for some of that. Thanks.” She paused for a moment, considering. “I don’t think one of them could pull it off, either. I mean, the daily life for one of them is, what?- wake up, eat a potato, go and work your lord’s farm, get eaten by a dragon. End of day.”
Jorel snorted. “You want a lift back to the hovel?”
“You always know just what to say.” She gives a curt nod, readjusting her sack. “If we leave now, we should make it back before our shift at the mill starts.”