PLACE // Quite A-Ways East
TIME // Midday
Ernest didn't know how long he had been sitting there in the middle of the field, staring at his spilled sugar, but if he could wager in a guess, it would be with confidence that he would claim that he had been here for the better part of six hours. That in itself wasn't a bad estimate, considering how toasted his backside was. Most merchants would shrug off the mess and cut the losses; after all, there would always be more sugar, more vendors, more customers in the towns ahead. With enough speed and a little less time taken, the money gained probably would be able to cover up for the losses.
If only Ernest's market wasn't so niche
in the first place. He couldn't expect to sell his confections to just anyone, especially when people of his class or below would literally kill to get their hands on the recipe to a treat fit for the wealthy. Then again, he wasn't sure if his customers wouldn't care about his well-being over that of the book he carried. In their eyes, he was probably a mangy old man that would sooner or later get himself killed in a terrible accident, and his book would be irreparably damaged so that the secrets of candy-making would die along with him. So why not send people to hunt the old man down and surgically extract all that information from him before anything worse could happen?
How many times had he thought that thought, only to have nothing come of it?
When the old man opened his eyes, he could feel his sore back sear against the leather of his coat. Thusly came his utterance of the word "chickenshit", and in a mad scramble, the man stripped himself of the cloak and tossed it away. The pile of confectioner's sugar had melted nicely into a puddle of bubbling caramel in the time he spent crying over his mess, and now he had wasted both time and potential money.
Perhaps the next town had something for him. Cheap land, perhaps, or maybe a few kind souls willing to let him borrow their kitchen. Or a river. Ernest could use a river's worth of water right about now, but...
Where exactly was the town?
The man looked 'round and around for any signs, but all he found was grass, trees, and more grass. It didn't help much either that the sun was at high noon. Unless he had a compass...right, compass.
Out came a canteen of thoroughly distilled water (boiled it himself), and out of that poured a good handful of cool, crystalline water onto the caramel. Immediately, the sticky brown pool of sugar hardened into a rich oak color, and thusly it could contain a pool of water. Now Ernest had to be careful here; it wouldn't be long before the water would diffuse the sugar, and he could only put in an object light, pointed, and magnetically inclined to...
Right, the sewing needle.
His breathing picked up into pants as he rifled for the needle in the backpack; if any said this was easier than a haystack, Ernest would be inclined for them to do the same, especially when said backpack is filled with equally shiny utensils and silverware of all kinds. Out came ladles, spoons, and measuring cups, but he couldn't really...
Ernest pulled his hand back as something sharp punched through his finger. Wincing as he did so, the candyman held his hand high up in the sky to find his needle impaling the callous betwixt his thumb and the heel of his hand. With a quick yank, Ernest tugged the needle back out, and dropped the bloody (no, literally) thing into the pool of water.
And thusly, it began to spin, the steel needle did.
Ernest sucked his puncture wound and waited for the business end to point north and...well, if that was North, then he'd just have to head west. The confectioner drew an arrow pointing North before collecting all of his things again, and soon he would be on his merry way to Blackwater.
From the East, most would see a man fitting the title of a Scrapper stumble into Blackwater's dusty streets. Like a shark floating through a school of baitfish, it would seem that the crowds hesitated to get near the man; after all, Scrappers were often the risky bunch that brought not only incredibly valuable wares from the Old World, but also incredibly dangerous diseases that lied within. Oh, but Ernest could do with a bit of buffer space. It would be too easy to rob a poor old man like him blind.