Excerpts of longer work

Kaliah Chapter One Post Four

After a small meal of roasted fowl and bread, with sweet wine to quench her thirst, Kaliah met Sindai Tarzia at the front entrance. The other woman, whose long brown hair was pulled back into a tight knot at the back of her head, handed her a tiny package along with Kaliah’s freshened cloak.

Slipping the package into her waist-pouch, Kaliah bowed courteously and slipped the bar on the front door. The disdain on Tarzia’s face had left her with an unexpected chill, and Kaliah was absurdly grateful of the heat of the midsummer sun. One of the twins reached past her and pulled the door shut, prompting her to jump forward as his arm brushed her back, a heated blush staining her cheeks.

Her face set in an intimidating scowl, she set off, pulling her hood up to shield her skin. It was red enough from embarrassment, she didn’t need to add to it with sunburn. Now that the food had been cleared from the tables which had been stacked along the left Temple wall, the main square of the village was crowded with people jostling about on their various errands. Sometimes, it felt as though she never had a moment of true silence. People seemed to be everywhere!

Sidling close to the buildings lining the lagoon, Fisher’s Row, as the locals pretentiously called it, Kaliah kept to the shadows as much as to ease her passage through the crowds as to keep out of the sun. Finally, after long minutes avoiding, dodging, and accidentally brushing against her fellow villagers- who, whenever she made contact, spat a little to the side and made the sign of the Protection Ward in her direction- she finally made it to the Jeweler’s Court.

From there, finding Master Volster’s establishment was easy. The brightly tiled doorjamb of his shop shone like a beacon as the sun glinted from the various colors and filigree imbedded in the oak. It was by far the most elaborately decorated storefront on the street. Perhaps in the entire Court, though Kaliah had no intention of loitering long enough to make a comparison.

The interior of the building was cool, thanks to the thick stone walls, and brightly lit from reflected sunlight streaming in from windows set high in the walls and glinting off strategically placed mirrors. The clever arrangement offered light with an absence of heat that was much appreciated by shopkeep and customer alike at midsummer.

“Welcome. May I interest you in a choker to adorn your throat? Or perhaps some earrings to frame your undoubtedly lovely face?” The young woman, no doubt Volster’s clerk, spoke from behind a table of jewels, her eyes leaving the display well after the words had left her lips. When she did lift her eyes, they widened as she blanched at the sight of Kaliah’s white hair.

Lifting her chin, Kaliah stared down at the shorter woman with her customary icy reserve. “I am here on Temple business to see Master Volster.” Her voice sounded unnaturally loud in the silent shop, and she winced at the slight echo that came back to her.

“Master Volster is not here presently. Perhaps you’d like a jeweled belt? We have a fine collection of them.” One small hand gestured at the arrangement draped over the table in front of her. “I’m sure we can find something you like.”

Kaliah had a moment’s shock; the girl was one she had known in school before she became Mishrey. They’d never passed a civil word between them, and now the other girl was behaving as though Kaliah was no different than anyone else in the village, as though her visit were not an off-putting event. Even the color had come back to her cheeks and a sparkle positively lit her eyes as she held one belt after another against the fabric of Kaliah’s cloak.

“Master Volster is the only thing that I am looking for at the moment. When will he return,” she asked, frustrated and more confused than she’d like to admit.

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Categories: creative writing, Excerpts of longer work, hobbies, Kaliah, writing | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Kaliah Chapter One Post Three

Kaliah watched as the acolyte disappeared down the corridor that lead to the laundry rooms and the Temple baths. Still sweating from the heat outside, Kaliah took a step toward the bath hall before she could stop herself. Duty warred with desire as she brought herself to a stop. The High Priestess was not such an understanding woman that she would forgive Kaliah’s frolicking in the baths when she should be attending to her duties and waiting for her next errand.

Closing her eyes, she fell into the meditative trance than she had been taught to achieve here at the Temple. Within moments, she felt the anger and hostility draining from her body, leaving her calm and centered once again. Her hands laced lightly together in front of her waist, she made her way quietly down the carpeted hall leading to the Sanctuary. Just beyond it, through a narrow, crooked hall that was once merely a crack in the stone wall, were the High Priest Cassandran’s private quarters.

No one ever went there.

Turning her attention from that hallowed hallway, Kaliah surveyed the Sanctuary with a critical eye. As Mishrey, ultimate responsibility for the Sanctuary was hers, in addition to being the High Priestess’ personal errand runner. The two occupations kept food on her table, clothing on her and her mother, and afforded her a treasured bit of independence.

The Sanctuary was quiet, deserted, though freshly lit incense wafted up toward the ventilation hole in the ceiling in tight little eddies of smoke. All the acolytes and students were at midday Services. No doubt the room would fill in another hour, as the most pious of the residents would come for devotional time before evening Services. Kaliah herself would be home by evening Services; Mishrey’s were not required to attend Services more than once a week.

Plucking wilting petals from the wildflowers on the altar, Kaliah made a mental note to pick some fresh ones when she next found an opportunity.

“I trust that there were no problems with your last delivery, Mishrey.” Though it was not a question, Kaliah knew that Cassandran, High Priestess of Ishlia Temple, was expecting an answer as though it were.

“There were no problems, my Lady. Merely a delay, as I was forced to seek Caffran at his Farm, as he was not at his shop at the appointed hour.” Kaliah kept her manner subservient as she reported, and her eyes trained on the floor. “He bade me to give you this,” she said, withdrawing a small paper-wrapped parcel from the pouch sewn into her wide belt. She presented it in the flat of her palm, lifted above her head as she knelt on the floor in front of the priestess. She’d assumed the position as soon as she’d heard Cassandran’s voice, though she’d never lifted her gaze to confirm the speaker.

She kept herself from flinching, barely, as the soft scrape of the other woman’s nails tickled her palm as the package was taken from her. The first and most important duty of a Mishrey was trustworthiness. She must always demonstrate impeccable trustworthiness. No Mishrey ever knew what they carried to and from the Temple. Kaliah was very careful to never set eyes on even the wrapping of the packages and missives she carried. Her fingers had become very deft in the two years she’d been serving as Mishrey.

There was the sound of crackling paper, then silence. Evidently, the package from Caffran contained a message. Anyone with common sense could deduce that, Kaliah thought with a touch of scorn. Just because she never knew what was in the packages and parcels didn’t mean she didn’t speculate. She was only human, after all.

Just when she thought she’d been forgotten and was about to indulge herself in a little harmless fantasy, Cassandran spoke. “Sindai Tarzia will have a package waiting for you at the door after you’ve eaten. You will take it to the jeweler, Master Volster. After that, the rest of the day is yours. I will not have need of you tomorrow, either, so return the day after.” Cassandran swept away, presumably back to her private quarters and Kaliah slowly rose.

 

Categories: creative writing, Excerpts of longer work, hobbies, Kaliah, writing | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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