VI:40 – A Scratch at the Door

Oh you can’t go home again,
because you never truly left,
the roots planted so deep,
as a heart inside your chest.

You are how you began,
so much as how you grew,
and if you think this less,
look to the diamond’s truth.

– The Mouse, The Witch, and the Window, 421 E.R.

A Scratch at the Door

Jovan 3rd, 1 S.R.

♫ “O’ Laeune twas a ghostly watcher,
high ‘bove the rollin’ moor,
an’ two riders there were a ridin’,
come to the mountains’ door.” ♫

Katrisha ignored a bard in the square behind her, but not without a twinge of recognition to the song. She tried to keep her attention on the duel a young woman had arranged against two guardsmen, and a knight. Sadie, it seemed had less qualms about cheating in her fight.

The girl wasn’t even trying to win. Glancing to Leta as she showed off. No, it was far too familiar, to how she had looked to a princess some years before. Katrisha rubbed her eyes. She’d let that go. She tried to focus on the match.

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VI:39 – Bonds as Spoken

What steps a dance in parried thrusts,
twixt keen defenses all restraint lost,
thus entwined in surrendered grace,
relief was all there written on a face,

a soldiers’ wedding twas in the end,
there back to back we did defend,
an’ all was lost in our bitter defeat,
a war carried on, our part complete.

– A Soldiers’ Wedding, circa 150 E.R.

Bonds as Spoken

Rhaeus 42nd, 1 S.R.

“May I sit with you?”

Katrisha looked up from where she had set herself in a courtyard. A gray haired woman in red stood over her. She still only knew her in passing, however much they had come to share a complicated sort of charge.

“I suppose.” She let out a long breath, returning from somewhere, lost deep in thought, or all too far from it. It was fuzzy, where she had been, with her staff far away in her room she was not sure, but not there.

Raewyn sat beside her. A nervous composure allowed a certain youthfulness to win over age, if Katrisha was one to judge.

“Are you afraid I will be angry, that you did not, as you said, ‘follow my lead?’” Katrisha offered, when nothing else was forthcoming.

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VI:38 – Orders of Precedence

By common law she was his wife,
though if so said, he’d married thrice,
those women kept in a proud abode,
though each had grown a little old.

The eldest wed him in a dewy glade,
a youngest’s husband, to war had strayed,
she twixt the two, a pilgrim there stopped,
who found better work in aiding their lot.

Each lady two babes to the man had born,
but for one, who’s eldest’s father was gone,
five worked the fields, the rest in the home,
where it odd, I of all women, felt not alone.

– The Red Texts

Orders of Precedence

Katrisha walked past Mahla and Dahlia, sat side by side at a library table over a book. Dahlia was holding the veiled woman’s hand as she traced with the other carefully along a line she was reading. Katrisha recognized the words, stumbled through as they were. Stopped a moment, and glanced back.

“…in the wife of… your youth… find… purpose. Love her as thyself, as one…” Mahla hesitated. “…spirit, one soul, to guide the flesh to what is worthy.”

“You’ve your eyes closed again,” Dahlia rebuked with a gentle squeeze.

“It’s easier to remember,” Mahla protested with some desperation, and glanced back to the page.

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VI:37 – The Spiral

A spur so strung across a bough,
dangled down in search for hours,
an’ up a trunk was carried neatly,
thread so fine pulled beneath she,

an’ step by step ‘round she went,
with studious plucks hours spent,
there at last the work was done,
just in time for the eve had come,

an’ by the dawn the night had left,
bright jewels tucked in each cleft,
smiled sweet for a love above her,
a trap laid so plain, it was an offer.

– In Her Parlor, 322 E.R.

The Spiral

Areth looked perturbed to a Torta and her kits in the corner, as Ossua led Anik’ka away. There was one last glance by the Temyn to Kiannae as she passed.

“She wasn’t much too happy to see you.” He looked to Kiannae. “Far too happy, to see you. I still do not feel like I got a proper explanation for that near drop to a knee on sight. Passed off with coaching from ‘our’ interpreter, that her wounds ailed her.”

Kiannae glanced to her sister.

“Torta, as she said it, with sarcasm is my understanding. A sort of half y in the o, Etore once implied. ‘Agreement of good,’ perhaps not so much. Too cute by half? Well, the legends are what they are. If you know the story of Lynx, Wolf, Moon… and Yune, they claim the Torta got written out. The ones who actually tricked Lynx and Wolf into fighting each other, and not humanity. Done on behalf of their goddess.”

“Is so,” Ari agreed. “Is too cute.”

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VI:36 – The Best Medicine

That broken may be mended,
that severed by gift so united,

it is a jagged edge twisted,
that the healer cannot repair,
a sickly thing of the abyss,
that all should rightly fear.

Beware the work of mages,
that meant to bring their end,

to kill that more alive by birth,
is no more the ungifted’s friend.

– That no Gift Can Mend, 223 E.R.

The Best Medicine

Katrisha lay in a cot, staring at a log ceiling between her and the upper floor. Particles of dirt hung in her spell, caught from boots tromping around above. They slowly burned to aether, not unconsidered in the design. A bit of elevated filament density. In all probability not needed, but she had some concerns about backlash in her condition. It was also something to stare at.

Areth had offered better accommodation, or private. She’d chosen private, though the room only had a freshly hung tarp for a door. Wren had sat with her a while, checked on her thereafter. Each time she lay there, staring at the ceiling, he returned to other patients when called. Liora had sat with her a while as well, but said nothing. Held her hand a moment, then left. This had turned her eye, but only that.

There was a slight rustle of the canvas door, but at a glance no one was there. Braced as her ribs were, she regretted a half-hearted attempt to sit up, and winced. A slight scratching announced a scramble onto the chair beside her. A quick jump of a small brown lump of fur hit her shoulder face first.

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VI:35 – What Words Suffice

A wolf in rams skin, plays a dangerous game,
that brother mistake him, for lamb just the same,
the spider too careless, in their own web entwined,
a hungry bird may come round swift, there to find.

– The Tangled Scheme, 423 E.R.

What Words Suffice

“You’re going?” asked a woman in white, who had chosen again to adopt heavy veils. Ever more, since she had begun to sell herself.

Kiannae stopped in the hall, and cringed. “I did mean to tell you myself, Mahla.”

“We are to remain?” It was almost childlike, in forlorn desperation.

Kiannae gritted her teeth. “Here is… farther — perhaps — from a war that has half come. All the closer to another though, that may yet. In all other senses perhaps I should ask you all to follow. What you believe, and I… they are not the same things. It is not my place to say. There are risks in every option, and I do not trust my own judgement is not clouded by my feelings on this place.”

“So we may come, if we please?”

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VI:34 – To Be Seen

There is nothing so powerful as to feel seen,
humiliating, and elating, the strangest of things,

you’ve laid me so bare, as you so dearly adored,
when all the world has left me to feel abhorred,

you’ve seen me so very precisely as I am,
loved me, and held me, spoken my truth again,
oh that I could so effortlessly see you as you are,
you hide still my love, have we not come so far?

– Her Beauty by Far, 323 E.R.

To Be Seen

“Were you causing trouble again?” Celia asked, and rubbed Kitren’s head.

“I was just watching,” Kitten protested.

“Which wing?” Celia laughed, kidding to herself, but there was something odd in her daughter’s eyes at the remark. Almost offended, or just confused.

“The main one, the door.”

“Did Andria wake up, and start marching you here, but Aud’y took you off her hands?”

“She says not to call her that.”

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VI:33 – Ripples in the Stream

Like mother like daughter, I hear men in such mocking say,
like father like son, I’ll warn, if he’s none, he will not stay,
takes the same sort, to teach such a man just how to stray,
need only the same temperament, that he follow her, away.

– The Red Sister’s Ploy, 423 E.R.

Ripples in the Stream

Rhaeus 27th, 1 S.R.

“What is the meaning of this?” demanded an irate Claudine, standing over Kiannae’s bed. She tossed the paper she was waving at her down.

Kiannae blinked twice, and pulled the blanket a bit more over her chest.

“Not like you have anything I haven’t seen girlie, a dozen different ways. Try as you might, I’ve seen nothing new in it.”

Kiannae took the letter, and read it. Turned it over, but the back was blank. It was short, cryptic, and signed by a duchess with a familiar enough name.

“I really couldn’t tell you…” Kiannae furrowed her brow.

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VI:32 – A Path in Motion

The fall it seemed with her would never pass,
brief summer days came again that did not last,
an intemperate storm was this long love affair,
passed through seasons with no order or care,

spring some morns greeted her dawning,
come the noon winter set without warning,
in languid summer afternoons we fawned,
weeks in autumn, I would expect to mourn.

– My Summer Storm, 311 E.R.

A Path in Motion

Ossua stood staring out to the west, high atop the cloister tower. There were fortifications on the far hill, a few miles out. Visible in large for where the trees had been cleared to build them.

The courtyards below were filled with small trees, shrubs, flowers and fountains. People nestled between on benches, or passing through. Life carried on, even with the unknown threat on the horizon outside their humble walls.

Katrisha stepped up to the next slot in the parapet, and looked down, and out as well. She could just make out the fresh wards, no more than a few weeks old. Only on the east wall it seemed, though they continued a bit around to the south and north. A work in progress.

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VI:31 – Salvageable Wrecks

There about the pier, were things all once thought lost,
what sea had swallowed up, the tempest out had tossed.

brought there where legs for land, meet the swaying sea,
in a briny froth lain mocking, that cast off so carelessly.

– The Storm Reveals, 138 E.R.

Salvageable Wrecks

“What do you do to them?” a tall Faun demanded, his boughs high, his hair golden.

“I can show you.” A dark skinned, round, and pleasant looking woman stepped deeper into her dark abode. She circled a young woman within. “This one here, she is fresh. A Saou now, untried. Come, to receive her gifts. Ready, for her great purpose to be unfurled.”

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