A Broken Silence

Day 446

The four day stale snow covered the land like a tattered blanket or corpses on a battle plain. Overnight chill froze the horse-trod slush in the roadway and crusted the still white lumps under the shadowed firs. The sun may have risen or it may still be mired in the horizon. Either way, grey clouds had hammered the earth shut in a dim lit coffin.

Back from the empty serf-road Jora squated to see below the branch-line. A small dark-metalled dagger appeared in her hand. If you hadn’t been just hovering over the narrator’s shoulder you’d be dead now. Jora ranged ahead of her three sisters scouting. Sometimes she waited for them to catch up and sometimes she traveled back to them. She waited.

In this weather Jora’s ears picked out voices in the distance with preternatural ease but the clarity cheated distances and timing. Jessa, Jemma, and Jia arrived later than Jora anticipated. Jia clomped down the road because she just didn’t give a shit. She could kick your ass if needed too.

Jora scowled at Jia. The youngest sister gave Jora the finger but hushed her tromping and jumped the ditch to join the other three gathered in the grass and frost.

Jessa, the oldest, gestured for Jora to share her scouting.

Jora shrugged a silent ‘all clear’.

“Then why are we being so fucking quiet here?” asked Jia. Jemma elbowed her. Jia replied with, “Cut that shit.”

“Maybe the gypsies will share their coffee. Right now you need to hush,” Jessa said, “How far to the camp? I’ve been smelling their cookfires for a while now.”

Interrupting Mrs. Xenoworth

I have not visited Mr. Johnathan Goffe is quite some time.  I’d like to see what he’s up to this morning.  Last I recall he was headed to some part of town to get some film for his camera.

Grandma followed a different magic than my sister.  Grandma’s enchantments harnessed a deeper power, but they were fickle and often [unspecific].  Jennetta may stalk the hereditary manse[?] presiding over friend and foe alike while Nonni putters in the Old-old Conservatory, but give me the least of Nonni’s spells over the best of Netti’s—I’ll be happy.  I left the leaves in their packet and returned to the lane under my own direction.

:?camera requires film,: I ask the camera.

:.camera requires film,: it replies.

:?list film shops, sort by proximity, with directions relative to the Book Gate:

:.danforth Road Photography (0.26 miles, 11.5°)
:,[something that sounds like a mini-mall] (0.84 miles, 85.5°)
:,bonar Balfour: Haberdasher & Milliner (2.67 miles, 127.3°):

:?haberdasher: I’m trying to imagine a shop that sells clothing, woman’s hats, and photography supplies. As well as decide if I want to go that far out of my way.

:.public inventory all known stock sizes and custom cutting services:

:?stocking men’s hats also: I could really use a new hat.


:.map it; call in the quickest order to fill; shut-down:

I stop listening before the camera acknowledges my requests. I need to think.

Bonar Balfour’s resides in a narrow alleyway off Bent Street.  Bent is already a subsidiary outlet of the main circle of shops in Surland Wood, so Balfour’s nicely secluded and separate.  Mr. Goffe is glad to have come the extra distance.  Even before he swings the wood and crystal paned door inward he’s thinking this is his new camera shop—providing they actually have what he needs.  The pleasant trinkle of the bell as the  door glides open on well oiled brass hinges and the top edge strikes the clapper confirms his tentative decision.

“Excuse me a moment please Mrs. Xenoworth.  I need to greet the gentleman.”  A younger tinker smiles brightly as further apology for the conflicting requirements of politeness.  Mrs. Xenoworth pats him on the shoulder pushing him in the direction of the door.

“Go.  I’ll be here deciding a bit yet anyway.”  The boy thanks her in a whisper then departs.

“Good afternoon, sir.  I am Ben Balfour.  My father is still preparing your order and will be out front shortly.  Can I offer you a cup of tea while you wait mister…?”  Ben waits for me to fill in my name.  My camera certainly relayed that information when placing the order and it’s unlikely anyone in this town does not know me by appearance.  It’s polite to pretend.  I ignore him as is also polite, instead addressing the older woman.

“Madam, my apologies for the intrusion on your shopping.  I won’t keep Ben long.”  I clasp my hands and make a short bow.

:,arrange for her purchases today: I command Camera.  My predilection for going among the people like a commoner often result in these sorts of disruptions.  Camera runs a routine that negotiates with the shop’s system to pay for Mrs. Xenoworth’s good.  I’m guessing Balfour’s will smooth over that audacity of my presumption by making the offer to her themselves without my appearing to be involved at all.  This will likely result in my order for film being gratis.  Blah blah blah.

Day 306

A Few More Flowers

From way back when.

Kraite stroked the ridge of fur back from the corner of his mouth and twisted the thin braid at the end.  He disliked the style, but the braids appealed to Mallen.  Repeating the action made him feel thoughtful.

He was not thoughtful.  At least not anymore.

The bush in Qwain, especially here at the headwaters of the Drenfennelen river, smelled clean even a bit spicy.  The warming morning air brought with it the earth’s aroma…

The dark green foliage dropped below him in a static sort of fall.  Earlier in the morning light he’d tried to imagine the tops of the trees as sort of river of plants to match the one in water hidden below.  The trick wouldn’t go.  He couldn’t think of them as anything but what they were.  Now he was left to waiting.

Most hunts he wouldn’t get such a prime vantage point.  Normally he’d be half hung in a tree or crouched behind a too-small rock waiting in the rain for armed quarry.  This juicy gig allowed him a relaxed demeanor and he was taking full [measure of the sun and view].

Kraite listened again for the monk’s approach.  The human girl was below the clearing  by a switchback or two.  He pushed a bit of limestone from his perch to mark the moment.  The [stone] dropped out of sight before he heard it chackle across the [ruins and rocks] lining the seasonally dry streambed below.

His perch no longer served as an aqueduct-hadn’t in [a century]…

…when the Chief Administrators in Theeble stopped paying the monks for healing water that didn’t, in fact, heal. The stonework of the arch in which he waited now lined the streambed below (yeah, I know).

Kraite lowered himself into the vines that spilled from the dry waterway. Holding on with one hand he tossed another stone into the rocky path below. The flat stone smacked into the rocks drawing the monk’s attention as she entered the clearing below Kraite. He took that exact moment to drop after it.


I was going to swap to the monk’s POV but then my brother called. Maybe later.

Follow all of Kraite’s adventures using the ‘qwain‘ tag.

Word count: 107
Day 208