Posted by: Phil Anderson | July 26, 2015

Tales of Theran #2 – Part Two

Here’s the second part of another “Tales of Theran” short story. You can (and should) read part one here and you can also read Forbidden, the first story in the series.

Remember that I still haven’t settled on a title for this one, so feel free to offer suggestions in the comments section.

Enjoy, and let me know what you think.

The window closed, there was a scraping noise, and the door swung open. Two identical young boys stood in the doorway, eyeing their guest suspiciously. The girl introduced them.

“These are my brothers, Bovin and Bett.”

“Who are you and where are you from?” one asked.

The guest didn’t answer, but stared back, trying to figure out the source of their impertinence. The brick-maker broke the awkward silence.

“Bovin, there’s a horse outside. Tie her up under the shelter.”

“Yes, papa.”

One of the boys left through the door they had entered while the other remained and continued to stare intently, like a wary wild creature eyeing a potential predator.

The traveler ignored him and moved toward the large, brick fireplace to warm himself and dry his clothes. The hearth was wide enough to also accommodate the girl as she boiled a pot of water for soup. The room was warm and cozy, with walls of whitewashed plaster accented with flickering shadows and shelves holding clay pots and stacks of dishes. Adobe brick showed through in places. It was not a rectangular chamber, but oddly shaped with doors going every direction.

“Father,” the girl remonstrated, “take care of those buckets and wash for dinner.”

 

Marin carried the clay into the workshop and dumped it into a vat. He left the door ajar so he could keep one eye on their guest as he rinsed the mud from his hands and forearms.

“The boys have their guard up, and now you’re spying. We are a suspicious family, aren’t we?”

He smiled at the gentle taunt, but countered. “I can’t be too careful, Tara. You know the neighbors.”

“Not everyone is like Edew and Azome.”

“I know that, but I need to make sure.”

“Just don’t unthinkingly assume the worst.”

Marin dried his hands on a cloth near the washtub and went back into the main hall.

 

The soup was terrible. Salty, bitter water with chunks of hard, tasteless vegetables floating in it. But the bowls it was served in were beautiful. Chalky white porcelain, fine and smooth except for some ethereal etching around the lip. The spoons too were glazed ceramic and felt delicate, but withstood vigorous use by the twins.

He looked around the room again, this time giving special attention to the rows of shelves filled with pots and urns and bowls and dishes of every shape and size and artistic design. “Are these your workmanship?” he asked his host.

Marin laughed and shook his head. “I make bricks,” he replied. “My wife was the potter, and now Kotta.” He pointed out some of the best items and his daughter explained a little of her technique.

“These are beautiful pieces. You could come to the capital and do quite well selling them to the nobility.”

“But the clay we need is here,” Kotta explained.

“That’s why my wife Tara and I first came to this barren land,” Marin added. “Trading caravans used to come through on occasion, and we’ve done business with them, but lately they are few and far between. It’s too dangerous these days.”

“You mean those ruffians I met,” he said with a scowl. “What were their names? Azome and Edew?”

“And others,” Marin nodded. “There are no civil authorities here. It’s a lawless territory. Everyone does as he sees fit.”

“Are there no other good, decent people living here?”

“None that I’ve met,” Marin replied with a shrug.

The traveler frowned and shook his head. “The king has no idea what goes on outside his own palace, nor does he care.” He looked down and stirred the dregs of his soup thoughtfully.

The conversation and the meal seemed to be over. Kotta and the twins cleared away the dishes while their father gave his guest a tour of the house. It was a sprawling estate enclosed and compressed into one haphazard bulding. Marin’s wife had named it Abrato, and he couldn’t remember why.

The brick-maker explained the desultory and indescriminate layout by describing how he had gradually added on and combined outlying buildings as his family and their needs grew, and as the neighborhood deteriorated.

Abrato’s oldest part was the pottery worshop which adjoined the main hall, sharing the back side of the fireplace. There was a large brick kiln, vats and troughs of clay and argil, tables including one with a rotating wheel, and shelves holding even more crockery and earthenware. This room had originally been Marin and Tara’s honeymoon cottage, but her work had taken over, and Marin had added on more space for a bedroom. Then, when Kotta was born, another room was added, and another and another.

The house abutted the rushing stream that ran through the valley, and there was a porch for gathering fresh water and a weir to catch fish. Downstream from that was an enclosed space with an ingenious lavatory system.

Beyond the twins’ room but still connected to the house by a walled and covered walkway sat an enclosed garden. It was small with a variety of sickly and struggling vegetables. The courtyard was open to the sky, and they could see that the rain was letting up, the clouds were breaking, and stars were starting to appear. Although the storm was over, Marin insisted on hosting his guest for the night.

Kotta set up a pallet in the main hall near the fireplace and one of the twins provided a blanket. When they were sure his needs had been provided for, the family went to bed, but the traveler stayed awake thinking for a long time.

The next morning dawned bright and clear. The overcast clouds had dispersed, leaving only wisps and puffs. The air was a little colder and the ground was muddy, but the traveler was ready to continue on his way.

Bovin and Bett brought the horse around and Kotta provided a few small jars and bottles of food and water for the journey. Marin bade farewell to his guest, who mounted his horse and then looked back at the brick-maker with a spark of ambition in his eye. “I promise that someday judgment and justice will come to this district. Prepare and protect yourself. Warn your neighbors if you think that will do any good. Fortify your home and provide shelter for whomever you deem worthy; everyone else will be destroyed. I don’t know how long it will take, but be ready.” He mounted his horse and soon disappeared over the ridge leaving Marin to contemplate his words.

To be continued

Advertisements

Responses

  1. […] To be continued. […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: