Tamar’s son watched as his father was snatched away into the Void. The life of a Collector was not without risks and, in the end, bad decisions or bad luck claimed all but a handful. Halpen knew this lesson all too well.
In this his third year as an apprentice, the boy knew enough to retreat to a safe distance and wait. He waited, calming his breathing and banishing the hot salt-sting of tears from his eyes, before focusing all of his attention on the Void. its thick, grayish vapors swirling and eddied about much like a diaphanous grey curtain swept about by the touch of an unseen wind. While, in this instance, there was no wind of any sort, there was a discernible, albeit complex, pattern to the ebb and flow of the mists.
After several minutes of careful observation of this pattern, the lad turned his attention from the Void itself and concentrated instead on the collectibles scattered about in its wake. Those the Void took were gone beyond the ken of any to say where they might be. None could say what purpose was served in their being taken, but whatever agency was responsible for their disappearance plainly had no use for their possessions.
Void Collectors made a profitable, albeit dangerous, living reclaiming those items left when a hapless soul was taken. Halpen Tamarson’s sharp eyes caught sight, first, of his father’s collection bag and then of everything else his father had worn or carried that day. He appraised each piece with a practiced look, deciding his father’s boots and jacket were too worn to merit retrieval while his trousers were practically new. The belt knife was still serviceable as well as the flint and steel. His gaze rested last on the thick disk of polished bronze inset with the Collectors’ crest. That, beyond question, must be brought back home. It was an heirloom denoting seven generations of heritage in the Collectors’ Guild.
When his father’s meager leavings were securely stowed in his bag, Halpen left the clearing with nary a look back. He made camp in the comforting limbs of a stout oak, indulging himself in an extra share of meat, honeyed way bread and brackish spring water. At least on this trip, there would be no shortage of provisions with only one to consume them rather than two.
As he nibbled, he studied Tamar’s logbook, noting they were not expected back to the village for another four cycles. Knowing his father would be every bit as dead and gone then as he was today, the boy saw no need to return home until his bag was adequately filled. He could think of no more fitting tribute to Tamar. Before drifting into peaceful slumber, the boy remembered to end his day reading from the Book of The Collector. How fitting the passage to which it opened: What the Void giveth, the Collector must take away. So has it always been and so must it always be.
the Void. The life of a Collector was not without risks and, in the end, bad decisions or bad luck claimed all but a handf
This story was written for the weekly Finish That Thought flash fiction challenge prompt: [His] son watched as [he] was snatched away.