Lake of Rennoth


Dear Mr. Lauren

Your father, William Lauren, has been declared dead after a month long disappearance by the town of Rennoth. On behalf of everyone, I offer my condolences. 

As your father left no will or last testimony, it is customary that all of his estate and belongings unclaimed by next of kin are to be transferred into the possession of the town of Rennoth. If you wish to lay a claim upon your father’s estate, please report to the mayor’s office before the end of this month with all the necessary papers. 

Of note, your father’s estate includes

~Two story house with four rooms and all it contains.

~Open wagon in good condition save for a broken front wheel.

~Ten foot rowboat, painted red, known to take on water. In poor condition.

I bid you good day,
John Brúin, Mayor of Rennoth

Ike folded the and returned it once again to the pocket of his coat. The paper had become soft and worn in the time between its arrival in London and now. The carriage rocked slowly back and forth as it glided through the dense forest. The driver hadn’t spoken a word since leaving Lairg, and even the horses had become quieter – yet still they climbed. For the past hour, the forest path had carried them upwards, slowly but surely. Ike wondered about his destination, but felt none of the usual excitement when travelling. He suspected it had something to do with death and the way it made most people feel. It was the same when his mother passed a few years back. Though she had been sick for a long time, it seemed that visiting her became harder and harder for him. When she finally drew her last breath, Ike had felt intense sadness, but also a degree of relief. Death had clouded his days for a long time, but now he could be done with it for a time – that is, until the letter arrived of course.

His father had been an enigmatic figure all his life. Ike’s mother never spoke much of him, though she never remarried either. All he knew was that his mother had left his father’s hometown in the middle of the night, dragging Ike behind her. She said he was eight at the time, which made it all the stranger that Ike could not remember a single thing from before that time. His earliest memory was riding in a carriage with his mother, but even of that he wasn’t sure, as the memory had seemed to fade for every year that passed since. The carriage shook as one of the wheels went over a large rock. Ike pulled the letter from his pocket once more and studied the elegant penmanship of the, he suspected, esteemed mayor. Reading it again, he had a suspicion that the mayor didn’t want him to come. End of the month was scant enough time to make the trip and certainly not enough time for a response to arrive, so the post office had made it clear. Rennoth was only accessible by a combination of horse and feet, resulting in the town only receiving letters once every two months. Living in London afforded a person many modern conveniences, one being letters only taking a few days to arrive. 

Ike had lapsed into thoughts about his father when the carriage stopped. He stuck his head out the window to look up at the driver, who was staring straight ahead. The driver spoke before Ike could ask.

     “This is as far I can take ye, sir.” he said.
Ike peered up at the road ahead and saw that it was clear. A few feet ahead stood a red post with the symbol of the post office engraved. A sack hung from a hook jutting out of the side of the post, the letters O U T were painted on its side. It looked empty.
     “The road looks fine to me, driver.” Ike said. “Can’t you take me further? I’ll pay for the extra miles of course.”
The driver shook his head and spat in between the two horses rigged up front.
     “I cannot go further, lest the ride back will be in the dark.” he turned to look down at Ike. “I will not risk stranding or a broken wheel for a few coppers, sir.”
Ike sat back down to hide his irritated sigh from the driver. He had paid more than handsomely for the ride so far, but it had been his understanding that he would have to walk. He sprung the door open and climbed out with his satchel slung over his shoulder. It contained all the necessary papers to claim his father’s estate, plus some spare clothes as he suspected he would have to spend the night – At this moment it seemed clear that he would. Walking around the carriage, he reached into his pocket and pulled out his coin purse. The driver’s rough hand closed around the coins placed within and he pocketed them without counting.
     “Return to this place in three days time and you will receive the same pay plus a generous tip.” Ike tried a smile in the fading light. “I don’t suspect this business will take more than a day or two.”
The driver did not smile back. One of the horses was fidgeting nervously.
     “Most people I bring ‘ere don’t return. Most end up staying.” The driver said “Pay me now and I will do as you ask.”
Ike could feel his smile becoming more coy, but he tried to keep a straight face. Conmen weren’t exclusive to London, it seemed.
    “Is the town that enchanting?” Ike said “I’m afraid I will have to resist temptation as I have business in London I have no intention of leaving behind.”
The driver’s brow furrowed. He said nothing.
    “I will pay you a third of the wage now, and the rest when we meet again, how say you?” he continued. He tried to sound jovial, but knew that if the driver refused that he would have to walk countless miles through the forest, and Ike did not like that thought very much.
The driver worked his jaw a bit, before nodding. Ike smiled and handed over the coins.
    “I’ve thrown in half your tip as well, for accommodating me.” He said with a bow.
There was no response from the driver as he shook the reins and pulled the carriage around. Ike had to scurry out of the way to avoid being hit. He turned to look at the driver, but his back was already turned and the horses were trotting along at a much brisker pace, Ike noted. Cheery fellow, he thought and shook his head. The satchel was more fashionable than practical, and he suspected that his shoulder would be quite sore before he reached town. He stopped at the mail post and peered into the sack. As he had thought, it was empty. He wondered for a moment if the courier had been as surprised as he about the letter, before starting up the path ahead. The path only ascended upwards a few minutes before he found himself looking out over a deep valley. Mountains towered all along the edge, shielding the area from the last rays of evening sun. At the very bottom he saw shimmers of light and a great dark lake, which he took to be those of Rennoth itself. He suspected the walk would take at least two hours. He adjusted the shoulder strap before starting down the winding path before him. In the twilight, he imagined walking on the back of a giant snake.


The streets were mostly hard-trodden dirt, except for what appeared to be the town square, which was cobble. Ike’s steps were heavy and his feet sore as he approached the well situated in the middle of the open square. The shoulder strap felt as if it had dug itself more than a few inches into his shoulder at this point, and he was eager to put it down. As he leaned the small of his back against the well, he let the satchel hit the ground with a thud. As he had approached the valley on the path above, he had witnessed the few shimmers of light go out one by one, until almost none remained. It would seem people turn in early in Rennoth, he thought. One of the few remaining lights were hanging right above him, shining down on the well like a spot at the theater. Ike turned to look down into the well, but the light only went so far. He felt uneasy looking down the black hole at the bottom, but fascinated at the same time. He poked his head down the well to listen, and felt he could hear a faint sound of waves.
     “Who are you, lurking our streets at night?” A voice said behind him.
Ike spun around startled and almost lost his balance. His hands clamped desperately down on the rim of the well to steady himself and he barely avoided a plunge backwards into the darkness. The man that had snuck up on him made no move to help.
     “I- You startled me, sir.” he began “I am Ike Lauren, I came because my father William Lauren passed away – To take care of his estate.”
The man did not move or react in the slightest. He was standing just on the edge of the light cast by the lantern above, and Ike noticed he was wearing a raincoat and overalls. Shadows cast by his hood shrouded his face well.
     “There are no Laurens here. All gone.” He said. His voice was raspy, as if he had caught a cold.
Ike started to regain his composure. His time in London had exposed him to many types of characters, and a vaguely threatening workman was nothing new. 
     “Yes, so it would seem. At least until now, that is.” Ike tried a winning smile to show confidence. “My business is with the mayor, John Brúin.”
The man seemed to react to the name slightly. He lifted his chin enough to allow some of the light to cast on his face. A rough patchwork of stubble did little to hide what appeared to be scars. Ike was pleased that the name provoked a reaction.
      “The mayor, eh. He’s not up at this hour. Only thing good at this hour is fishin’.” the stranger said “You’d do better to come back when the sun’s up.”
Ike picked up his satchel and nodded. He reached into his pocket for his purse and pulled it out.
      “That sounds sensible, sir. Is there any place around here I could seek lodging? I am happy to pay of course.” Ike jingled the purse to confirm what he said.
      “No lodgings. We don’t get many interlopers such as yerself and all who live here have no need of lodgings other than their own.” The man had backed up until the light only barely touched the tip of his boot. “You’ll have to wait till morning.”
Before Ike could say anything the man was gone, leaving only the fading sound of boots on cobble. The satchel was gnawing at his shoulder once again. He absently switched the strap to his other shoulder while wondering what to do. He looked up at the clouds crowding the moon. Must be another five or six hours before sunrise, he thought. He could hardly spend the time out here. With nowhere to go he started wandering the streets of Rennoth. The windows he passed were all cold and lifeless, where all the houses looked the same. His eyes adjusted to the dark quickly and as he walked on his sore feet he thought about warm beds, hot tea and a woman he had seen for a while back home. Their time together was short, but pleasant nonetheless, and that was what he chose to remember.


    “Who the bloody hell are you?”
Ike was pulled roughly from his sleep and looked around confused. His left ribs hurt. Standing over him was an old woman holding a broom like a spear.
    “Sorry, I- I must have fallen asleep.” He managed to say before the woman jabbed his ribs again. There was a surprising amount of power behind the thrust, given the woman’s age. 
    “I don’t care, leave at once!” She leant in closer and spoke through her teeth. “This library is for the people of Rennoth and their eyes only, interloper!”
Ike got to his feet as quickly as he could and held up his satchel to shield himself from further attacks. He circled around the lady without taking his eyes off the tip of the broom wavering back and forth.
    “So sorry, madam. I meant no offense.” He said whilst fumbling for the door handle behind his back. “I must have forgotten the time, is all.”
The lady charged a step forward and Ike barely managed to get the satchel in between his face and the broom. He turned and ran through the door out into the street. The sun had barely come up over the mountains surrounding the valley, but the blue sky was a welcome sight.
Last night he had wandered the streets for hours, trying to get a sense of the village. He had discovered a blacksmith, a single grocer and a library. He had done all he could to avoid the piers, as he suspected more surly fishermen could very well be lurking around in the shadows.
Exhaustion had finally driven him to try the doors at the library, where he was surprised to find them unlocked. The library wasn’t very big, but it had a table, chairs and a candle he could light. The few books he saw were about lakes, historical fishing techniques and other similar topics only relevant to the people of this particular village. The last thing remembered, before being cruelly awoken, was reading a compendium of local fauna through the ages.
    Nasty old hag, he thought to himself as he patted the bruise on his side. It was often joked about in the greater cities, that rural folk were protective of their communities, but he had never imagined it would be as bad as this.

The streets were almost entirely empty. The few people that did pass him only stared briefly before hurrying on. Ike but his hands against the small of his back and stretched until his spine gave a few satisfying cracks. The library had only afforded him three or four hours a sleep, he’d wager. The satchel was once again hanging from his sore shoulder and he began walking the streets in search of the mayor’s office. His nightly search had brought him to what appeared to be some sort of courthouse, but it could have been a church for all he knew. The buildings were so similar that it was hard to tell them apart, especially in the sparse light the moon had provided. In the light of morning, it was a bit easier. He soon found himself standing outside what he confidently believed was the townhall and tried the door. It was locked and using the doorhammer gave no response. The windows were a little high off the ground, making it hard to look in from the outside. Standing on his toes he could barely peek in and saw several pews all facing a podium. Behind the podium was a strange statue he couldn’t quite make out, but there was something unsettling about its shape.

    “Is our hall of particular interest to you, sir?” A low, smooth voice spoke. Ike felt it coming from right behind his ear and he spun around, clutching his satchel.
Standing close to him was a short man dressed in a pine-green suit, checkered with faded yellow lines. His hair was thin but well kept and his face cleanly shaven. A strong smell of peppermint hung in the air around him. He smiled politely in a way that didn’t quite reach the eyes.
    “Miss Talon tells me you spent a night in our library. Did you find our humble collection of knowledge to your liking?” he said. Ike wondered if he was being made fun of.
    “Yes, I must have dozed off. The driver would not take me closer to town so I arrived rather late in the evening.” The mayor was standing so close that Ike could count his eyelashes. “A local gentleman told me you don’t get many visitors and that I would have to wait till morning, if I wanted to see the mayor.”
He moved against the wall of the hall so that he could get a bit of space between him and the short man. His non-smiling eyes followed Ike as he moved, but the man did not follow. With more space between them, Ike could relax a little.
    “My name is Ike Lauren, I’ve come about my father, William. His estate is to become part of Rennoth lest I claim it.” Ike pulled the letter from his coat and showed the signature as the bottom. “I’m looking for your mayor, John Brúin. Could you direct me to his office, sir?”
The man smiled as he looked at the signature and back at Ike. He gave a short bow, stretching his left arm out and placing his right hand on his chest.
    “I can indeed, young master Lauren. For the mayor’s office is mine own and I am the very same John Brúin you seek.” He looked up as he said his name and flashed a toothy smile. “I am pleased the letter arrived, but I am afraid it was not timely. You see, I sent the letter two months ago.”
Ike felt his stomach drop. He had spent a night in the library and traveled hundreds of miles for nothing.
    “I see. So I suppose the estate has long since become part of Rennoth then?” Ike was still holding out the letter in front of him.
The mayor smiled still and rubbed his chin whilst looking up at the sky. He pretended to think with his brow furrowed before snapping his fingers and returning his gaze to Ike.
    “Per the lawyers agreement, yes, it would seem that this is the case.” he leaned in closer as if to whisper a secret. “But, it just so happens that I am also the town’s lawyer.”
The mayor laughed and slapped Ike’s shoulder with force. Ike stumbled a little but stayed on his feet.
     “Come along, my office is this way” the mayor gestured for Ike to follow him “I believe we can sort this out between us. We are the only remaining parties involved, after all.”


The mayor had led him to a small building, exactly like all the others, except for a tiny wooden sign posted next to the door that read “Mayor’s office”. No wonder I couldn’t find the place last night, Ike thought as he ducked through the doorway. The office itself was decorated with various ancient fishing equipment, neatly hung on the walls. The smell of peppermint was harsh and made Ike’s nostrils burn slightly. The mayor sat down on his side of the desk and gestured for Ike to sit across from him in a simple wooden chair and so he did.
    “Now, let me just find the papers and we can get down to business.” The mayor said with a smile.
He pulled out a drawer next to him and riffled through papers for a few seconds. He mouthed a silent ‘aah’ as he pulled a file with the name Lauren written on it in elegant cursive.
    “Here we are. Let’s have a look, shall we?” He opened the file and pulled the first sheet. “These are the papers declaring Bill’s estate as property of Rennoth. We will have these undone of course, now that you are here.”
Ike smiled and politely accepted the piece of paper. He looked it over and saw more of the mayor’s writing. Guess the wonders of typewriters hadn’t reached Rennoth just yet, he thought, or maybe they prefer it this way.
    “That may not be necessary Mr. Brúin.” he said and handed the paper back. “You see, I see no reason  for me to needlessly own a house here that could be of use to someone else. My home is in London and I expect to return there within a few days.”
The mayor raised his eyebrows and folded his hands under his chin.
    “You’ve come to lay the past to rest, then. I understand.” He closed his eyes. “Sometimes families fall apart before they form. It was terrible what passed between your mother and father, they were quite happy in their union.”
Ike leaned forward. This was exactly why he had come.
    “What passed between them, if you don’t mind me asking?” His mother had kept her silence about William Lauren ever since he could remember.
The mayor shrugged as he put the file back in his desk.
    “Who’s to say? I knew Bill as well as anybody ‘round here, but no amount of ale or friendship could open his mouth about what happened between them.” He paused just as he was about to close the drawer and looked at Ike. “You were just a wee lad when your mother left Rennoth, weren’t you? I don’t suppose you remember much about your father or Rennoth for that matter.”
He held out the file to Ike and gestured for him to take it. He seemed to be studying Ike’s face closely.
    “This will give you an idea of the man, not his dreams or how much sugar was in his tea, but his business and occupation no doubt.” He wiggled the file at Ike, urging him to take it. “He was the law ‘round these parts. Rennoth’s only constable – and a damned fine one at that.”
Ike took the file sheepishly. He considered reading it then and there, but the peppermint was giving him a headache; or perhaps the poor hours of sleep were, he thought. He placed it into his satchel next to the other papers he carried and was reminded of something.
    “If you don’t mind me asking, Mr. Brúin, my father’s disappearance..”
    “Ah – Yes, of course.” The Mayor looked grief stricken all of a sudden. “I’m afraid the official answer to that question is unsatisfactory. Your father simply left his house in the middle of the night and never came back. We searched the woods and surrounding country to no avail.”
Ike nodded and studied the mayor’s face.
    “What would be the unofficial answer then?”
The mayor leant back and rubbed the side of his face.
    “Bill hadn’t been well for a time. He never complained, but I suspect some sickness was in him. A man like that, alone and ailing…” The mayor leant forward again and looked stared at Ike intently. “To be honest, lad, I believe he found some place out there that suited him and went out on his own terms.”
Ike stood there without saying a word for a time. The floorboards creaked beneath his feet.
    “I see. Would it be possible for me to see the house?” Ike said. “Perhaps it could lend me some insight into who my father was.” 
The mayor held out his hand and dangled a key from it. Ike did not see where it came from, but the mayor must have predicted his request.
    “As far as the town of Rennoth is concerned, it is your house – at least for now.” He waited for Ike to hold out his hand before dropping the key into its palm. “Everything remains untouched, save for a few vegetables that were beginning to sprout; those we found a new home. I suspect you wouldn’t mind sleeping there instead of the library – if not for the sake of Miss Talon.”
Ike nodded and smiled. He closed his hand around the large brass key and enjoyed the weight of it. He stood up and gathered his things.
    “Where would I find this house, if I may ask? I seem to be having some trouble finding my way here in your village.” Ike tried a smile to indicate he was being lighthearted about his night spent wandering.
    “Of course, Ike. Return to the square and walk the street leading away from the lake. You will find the house standing apart from the others with a red plaque on the door with your father’s name on it.” He tapped his finger on the desk twice. “And don’t let anyone hear you call Rennoth a village. Town of Rennoth is how we say it and I’d hate for anyone to treat you any worse than they already have no doubt.”
Ike nodded and gave a short bow before turning to leave. The air had become heavy in the small office and the open door let a rush of much needed fresh air inside. Through the peppermint he could smell a faint odour of fish carried along by what had to be the breeze.
    “Ike.” He stopped in the doorway and turned to look at the mayor who had a strange look upon his face.
    “Standing there, by god, you are the spitting image of your father.”
Ike nodded and closed the door behind him as he walked out into the street. That was the first time in his life someone had said that to him and he was unsure whether it was a good thing or not.



Though the mayor’s directions were vague, they proved adequate and Ike stood before the lonely house as described. A small plaque next to the door read: Constable William Lauren. Ike noticed two empty screw holes beneath the plaque and guessed a longer one had been placed there once upon a time. Perhaps carrying the name of his mother and himself also. He tried the key in the door and it turned with relative ease. The door opened inwards to a thick veil of darkness. A smell of worm eaten wood and stale air bellowed out into his face, but it was not as unpleasant as he had feared. He poked his head inside and tried to make out the surroundings. He spotted a shape a few feet from the door that he thought was a lamp and walked towards it, only to immediately crash his shin into something on the ground. The object rattled loudly and Ike knew right away what he had struck. Rubbing his shin he carefully moved around the object and walked with his hand outstretched until it touched the curved shape of a lamp. He patted the table it was placed on until his hands found a matchbox. Silver lining, he thought.
The lamp sent out a lazy glow of light that illuminated the entry hall. He turned back towards the door and saw the box of empty bottles he had tripped over. The labels all said Rennoth Distillery. He closed the front door to shut out the daylight, which seemed to make the small lamp shine a little brighter. He looked around the small hall, seeing a door on his right and a staircase on his left that went to the second floor. The door on the right had no lock and opened into a modest kitchen. The floor was tiled, but many tiles were cracked or missing, revealing the stone paste used to lay them in the first place. There was another door to go through and it led to a living room with a dusty bookshelf and a single lounge chair. He had noticed heavy shutters covering the windows in both rooms, but each of them bore a keyhole and would not open. Ike tried to key from the front door, but it was too large to fit. He paced the kitchen and living room a few times but found nothing that could help him open them, so he returned to the hall and went upstairs.
Two doors led to two rooms, a sodden bedroom and study. He tried to sit on the bed and felt his spirits drop a bit; it was hard packed with straw or similar and he felt no desire to sleep on it, in spite of the night’s lack of the same. He went into the study and sat behind the desk. The space was well maintained and seemed almost like an office with a large upholstered chair in the corner. A small bookcase stood beside it, filled with dusty literature. Perhaps this was where the locals could find him, Ike thought, whenever an argument about price and fish went too far. On the desk stood a photo of a family. A tall man had his arm around a woman holding a sickly infant. They looked quite bleak, but it was the style at the time he supposed. He recognized the woman as his mother and studied the face of the man closely. He could see the resemblance, but ‘spitting image’ was a bit generous. He placed it back and walked the office studying the other photographs hanging on the walls. Most were of his mother and father and not a single one of himself. It wasn’t unheard of that children could sometimes spoil a marriage, though it wasn’t oft discussed. Ike had put on a face like he was pondering this and nodded. Even though he never knew the man, the thought of Ike being unwanted gave him the sensation of his heart being squeezed. The office did not have much else to offer, so he opened a few drawers to check for keys but found nothing. He approached a large cabinet in the corner of the room that could almost fit a man and looked inside. He spotted a jar in the very back of the bottom shelf and something tingled in his mind. He reached into it and could feel various coins against his fingertips before he grazed something else. The key he pulled from the jar fit perfectly into the shutter, that let out a heavy clunk as he turned it. Light flowed into the office and he felt relief as the darkness was finally forced back. He did the same in the bedroom and almost rushed downstairs to the remaining rooms. Dust particles shimmered slightly in the sunlight and everything appeared dirtier than before. The lamp was returned to the hallway and he opened his satchel to pull out the file on his father. In the study he whacked the upholstery a few times before sitting down in the large chair. Despite his efforts a cloud of dust shot up around him, but his mind was already elsewhere. The light that now flowed into the small room was perfect to read by and Ike began to delve into the enigma that was his father.
The folder contained a few pages, each handwritten and adorned with stamps marking them as official. The oldest was dated back around fifty years and declared that William Lauren had been born in the home of Augusta Lauren and Cliff Lauren with no issue. The latest declared his death, following a month long disappearance. Just as the mayor had predicted, the papers gave only little insight into Ike’s father, but it certainly was interesting to him. The papers told of a man who had served as constable from his early twenties to his death. Not a single arrest on record, but a fair deal of dealing with the public. Ike wondered if they even had a jail here or if the troublemakers were simply put to work for a few days. All he could remember were the busy streets of London, bustling with life and all manner of characters. When reading these dry reports from a small-town constable, he was quite charmed. One of the pages was written in a different hand than the others, a messier one. Ike read it with some difficulty:

On this night my son was born. My wife, Carla Lauren, gave birth with much difficulty, but both her and the child are now safe. As the father and official witness, I declare my born son, Ikarus Lauren, as a citizen of Rennoth forevermore. 

~William Lauren.

The document bore two signatures, one of Ike’s father and one of the mayor. The date written matched almost exactly Ike’s birthday. He read his own name again and was amazed. His mother had called him Ike always and all papers he carried or knew bore the same name. He took the paper and placed it with the other important documents in his satchel. If an issue ever came up about his name it would be a hassle, so he supposed it would be wise if he carried the only document able to challenge that. He thumbed the other papers but found them less enticing than before. A low moan from his midriff let him know that he had other more pressing matters to attend, so he packed up the folder and left it on the table. He would have to go to the market and find something to eat before it was too late; there was no telling when people called it a day in this strange valley.