Open What All the World Is Made Of
A new village. A fresh start.

Not that the Reverend Frederick Grain needed a fresh start. He's never been in much trouble before in his life, at least none that he's caused. No, it's a fresh start, because it's the first step towards the rest of his life.

It's quite funny, really, that a sleepy little parish like the one he finds himself in is called "Madsmoor," but Freddie likes the irony. The village proper has a sizeable market, but it's no busier than any other Freddie has visited. In fact, he's quite sure the village near his father's manor was larger than this. He strolls from stall to stall, dressed in his black clerical waistcoat with frock coat over top, his white collar turned backwards to indicate his profession. This is where the people congregate, where they live their daily lives. Here he can find those who most need the word of God. His first goal is to make himself known to the villagers of Madsmoor, so they know who they can reach out to when they need assistance. It's his duty.

He stops to purchase an apple from a vendor's stall, all smiles, then continues on his way with an eye out for anyone who might need his help.
A handful of youths barreled through the marketplace, engaged in a rowdy sort of game that entailed hurling dirt clods at one another and diving behind random objects to avoid being pelted.  The battle had begun a few streets down, in a more secluded alley, but, as the game grew, the horde of children had migrated.  Noah had joined the pack midway through, now completely distracted from the task he had been set out to complete.

Dreary late autumn rains and cold temperatures had created rather large clumps of soil that were far too tempting to not be thrown, so he had been drawn in without much convincing.  At the present, the small lad dashed down in front of a line of stalls, two other children close at his heels.  He hardly seemed to be paying much attention to where he was actually going, and he giggled all the while.

When he finally tuned into his surroundings, Noah found himself skidding to a halt to avoid bumping into the deacon.  However, one of the children had already taken aim, and a dirt clod hurtled toward poor Freddie, possibly on a collision course with his back.  His pursuers scattered once they realized they had missed their target, leaving Noah skidding about in a graceless display and staring dumbfounded at the man.
The sound of children playing always served to lift Frederick's spirits, and this time was no exception, even as he realized they were trying to play at his expense. As the other boys left Noah behind, he turned to face him with the same smile on his face.

"Hello there, young man. What would your name be?" From the looks of him, he was certainly the kind of child Frederick intended to focus on. He stayed standing tall, instead of crouching to his level, but regarded him with interest and respect. With less fortunate children, those without the proper nutrition, it was always difficult to tell how old they were. Frederick didn't dare wager a guess.

He tossed the apple he'd just bought from one hand to the other, finding a steady beat. One of the fellows he'd known at Oxford had been an expert juggler, and while Freddie had been eager to learn, he'd never quite gotten the hang of it. He still enjoyed the feeling of the apple as it hit the palm of his hand, reminding him of those fine times just recently left behind.
Noah's instinct was first to blurt out, "It wasn't us!"  He apparently wanted to make it clear that he hadn't been the one to hit Freddie with the dirt clod.  He then seemed to fumble about with his words and produced a random assortment of sounds until he settled with.  "They was tryin' t' get us, not ye."  Even though the small boy had been thrown under the bus, he still felt the need to make excuses for his playmates.

When the deacon's words finally reached his flustered brain, the boy sputtered out, "'Ello."  He had yet to supply his name, perhaps not trusting the stranger not to use it against him.  Instead, he shot back the same question, "'Oo be ye?"

The boy eyed the apple in the man's hand, trying to determine if Frederick was just playing with it, or if he intended to toss at his head in revenge.  At least, that's what his wild imagination begged him to believe.  With a bit of a squint, he observed the man's attire, realizing he was a religious sort.  He scrunched the bottom of his shirt awkwardly.
Frederick laughed. "I'm Reverend Grain. Now, perhaps you'd like to tell me who you are." Following the urchin's gaze to the apple, he offered it to him with eyebrows raised. "You're quite a good friend, it seems. Your chums left you all alone to face my wrath, did they? Well, you can have this for your troubles. Are they schoolmates of yours?"

The village of Madsmoor had a schoolhouse, or so he'd been told, but there was no telling how many of the children around those parts were able to attend. He didn't even know if the boy was literate. Still, if there was one thing Frederick needed to find out, it was how the less fortunate were living, and how many they numbered. A boy like this would be a fine asset in figuring it all out, and he might get to aid him in some way for his assistance.
The child fidgeted about awkwardly, never sure exactly how he was supposed to behave around religious sorts.  He settled with a forced sort of grin, and he clumsily recited, trying to use what little manners he had, "Erm, nice t' meet ye, Rev'rind."  After he'd finished, he returned to his usual, casual slouch and jabbed a filthy thumb at his own chest, "'M Noah."  Perhaps, if Frederick proved to be the kindhearted sort, the urchin would supply his last name, one day.

Noah reached out and accepted the apple without even a second though, "Ta!"'  He shined the fruit by spitting upon it and drying it with his dirt smeared shirt.  Satisfied that it was cleaned with more germs than had been on it to begin with, he awkwardly chomped into the apple using the side of his mouth that possessed more adult teeth. 

In response to Freddie's comment about him being a good friend, the boy offered up a noncommittal shrug.  There was a silent agreement among many of the lower class children that if someone took the blame, that someone else may do the same for them one day.  When school was mentioned, however, he kept himself from pulling a face and replied with a simple, "Aye, schoolmates."  He lied, since it was much easier to say he attended school than to explain why he didn't. 

The kid then scrunched up his eyes and watched Frederick for a moment, trying to determine if he recognized him from his very few visits to St. Joan's, but he drew a blank.  He knew so little about religion aside from people telling him he was a sinner who'd end up in Hell that he didn't make the connection that a Reverend wasn't a part of a Catholic church.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Noah." He chuckles. "Now, there's a fine name. Noah and his sons gave rise to all of humanity after the flood. He was a wise man. Perhaps you'll grow up to be wise, too, eh?" Frederick approaches the boy and puts a hand on his shoulder in guidance.

"I've not been to this market before, but you seem to know it well. Would you mind giving me a tour? We can discuss some things about the town, and your schoolmates, too." If the boy is lying, Frederick doesn't know that he can blame him. There's no shortage of people who would do harm to such an unfortunate creature as this boy. "Can you read, Noah?"
At first, Noah just blinked in confusion, trying to dredge out what exactly Freddie meant.  "Oh, y'mean t' animal man?"  He scuffed the toe of his boot on the ground, not quite sure how to answer.  "Maybe?"  He wasn't quite sure what it meant to be wise, so his answer was honest.

When Frederick put a hand on his shoulder, the boy quickly scuttled sideways like a crab.  He tried to play it off like he had been scurrying over to snatch up a stray leaf on the ground.  "Aye, I could tell ye all 'bout everythin'."  He straightened up, trying to appear as if he were incredibly important.  The man's question about reading had him nodding, "Aye." 

He pointed off toward many of the stall, "This be where most o' 'um sell things.  There's usually more, but it's garn t'be winter soon."  He gestured off toward the baker's stall.  "T' baps is good."  Shrugging his shoulders, he shuffled about pointing out various places and shops.  "Wha' ye want t' know 'bout t' village?"

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