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Kale trudged through the mud. The spring rains had lessened but the road and field where the tent was pitched were still soaked. His partner, Talia greeted him as he approached. "How did it go?" She asked with anticipation, their new home was in reach.   "I got a ticket. They will be holding the lottery momentarily. Wake Val. We have to be there to claim our spot if they pull our names." Kale started collecting their meager supplies, pots, and gear. It fit into two packs that Talia and him wore. Talia held their son, Val, while Kale packed. In ten minutes they were walking on the road to the south gate of Etonia.   This whole field was supposed to get new housing construction as soon as the rains stopped. However, a lottery was being held now for houses that had become available inside the wall. Kale had stood in line overnight to get their names in the lottery. As they hurried through the mud, Talia looked at Kale "You have done well, no matter the outcome."   Other families were starting to gather by the gate as well. Two years ago the city had made a large expansion, building nearly 50 houses and taking in as many as they could. People believed that there would be a better life around the corner. Still, to get it now, immediately, to finally have a safe home, that would be a blessing few would pass up.   Everyone in the city was assigned a job. Kale would be working for the mining guild. An accident at the mine had resulted in the loss of many people but he could get his family a fresh start even with the risks. The mine was closed for now so he would mostly be helping refine ore and help get it to the docks. He had convinced Talia to try their luck at the lottery because he wouldn't be shipped off to the mine right away. It was important to get a safe place for Val but Talia had the final say.   The sun was just barely peaking over the forest on the horizon. Kale hugged his family as they waited. Three names were called. None were Kale. The fourth rang out, "Kale Rend, Talia and Val." They pushed through the crowd. The man at the gate gave them a key, a map to their house and instructions on where he should go for his first day at work. The family entered the city gate, not a visitors to the market or refugees getting support from the church but as residents. They turned left, went one block, then turned right. A long street of houses stretched in front of them. They were 102. They followed the markings further down the street.   A man came out his front door carrying a tool box and some rope. He was on his way to work at the docks. He looked at the family and smiled. "What number you heading to?" The man asked.   "We got 102." Kale said.   "Oh, you are just two doors down." Basrin pointed them to the house, walking that way with them and toward the docks.   "Looks like we will be neighbors. I'm Kale and this is Talia and Val." Basrin Rend stopped and looked intensely at Kale. "Kale!" Basrin let out a satisfied chuckle and reached out for a hug "It's Basrin. It's been 5-6 years? You have grown!"   Talia reached out to him as well "Basrin, the forest has blessed us, connecting family again. We are home."



Cover image: Muddy Lane by pixabay.com\stux

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