posted on Apr, 28 2019 @ 05:27 PM
Well, that didn't work. Double Post!! I guess I should post the next episode then!
List of Characters in Falling
Preview Character List
179 - A Bowl of Shells
“That’s why I have to find them,” he continued quietly. “I need to know if they made it to Lithelwaite. If they didn’t, then it’s up to
“You would still try to go to Lithelwaite, by yourself? Have you ever been there before? Do you even know where you’re going?” demanded
Maerei, incredulous. The pale skin of her brow drew down in consternation.
Joen felt confused.
“Of course I would continue on. Why wouldn’t I?”
“Because your friends are dead. If what you say is true, they didn’t survive, and it’s a miracle you did. Because if you keep serving this
Lord Gaalen, or the Bastion, or the Queen or whoever you’ll end up just like them!”
“Maerei,” Tolaan said, his tone a warning.
But her cheeks were flushed a delicate pink, and her lips wore a pursed frown.
“Tell me I’m wrong, Father! Go on, then! You know what happens. People die in war. You of all people should know that!”
“That’s not fair. And this is neither the place nor the time. You are upsetting our guest, and he is still recovering. Why don’t you go to
the cellar and get some of the cider? I’ll mull it and we can all have a mug. Does that sound good, Master Joen?”
“Please sir, just Joen. Yes, the cider sounds wonderful.”
Maerei shook her fiery mane and stalked off toward the cellar doors.
Tolaan watched her go for moment, then turned to Joen. “It’s just Maerei and I. My wife, my Tisa was killed ten years ago, now. Maerei was just
five. I’ve done my best, but, well, I’m just an old farmer. Raising a girl to womanhood isn’t what I was cut out for. She’s got too much of
me in her, I fear.”
He shook his head wistfully, smiling small and tender.
“Well, you don’t need to hear an old man’s regrets. I’m sorry, please forgive me. It’s so rare we have visitors, I fear I have forgotten
my manners. You are probably tired yet. Here comes Maerei with the cider. I’ll get the spices ready and leave you alone for a bit.”
Joen turned to see Maerei hauling a barrel up out of the cellar doors. She set the barrel down, closed the doors behind her, then easily lifted it up
and brought it to her father. In short order he had it tapped, and the sweet scent of fruit mingled with yeast, the spices Tolaan was grinding, and
the smoke of the fire flooded the small cabin. Joen’s side ached, and blood seemed to pound in his ears. But the soft linen sheets and finely
woven wool blanket were keeping him warm, and despite their harrowing race to shelter, he felt safe, even content. It reminded him of home - his
family home, not his Squire’s apartment in the Bastion.
The casual interaction between Tolaan and Maerei was strange, but refreshing to Joen. The Bastion was a place where rules governed conduct, and Joen
wouldn’t get away with talking back to Lord Captain Braeghe like Maerei had done to her father. Of course, she was a girl, and nearly a woman now
at what Joen guessed was about fifteen Rings. Girls typically seemed to have a bit more leeway than boys did, especially when it came to that kind of
challenge to authority. In a teenage girl, it was seen as asserting her budding independence, something that would serve her well in the adult world.
In a boy, it was willful disobedience, that had to be stamped out lest the boy become a bad seed, a malcontent, a troublemaker destined for the
stocks, or worse. There was a different feeling in this place, with these people. In a way it made Joen quite uncomfortable, but in another it drew
his curiosity. He found himself wanting to know more about these people, these inhabitants of the Maarke Seeress Meron was from.
Maerei chattered at her father endlessly as they prepared the cider and set to tasks around the cabin. Joen began to feel guilty at them working all
around him, and tried at one point to get up and help Maerei crack nut shells. She laughed at him, light and melodious.
“Sit down, squire-boy. You just rest up,” she said, a sparkle in her eyes.
“There must be something I can do, some way I can help.”
She fell silent for a moment, then crossed the room and sat on the bedside.
“You don’t need to pay us, Joen, with coin or labor. We mean that,” she said seriously.
“I believe you. I don’t like being idle,” he said, looking down. “It is not honorable.”
She considered him for a time, then seemed to make up her mind. “Alright, you crack these. I’ll get you a separate bowl for the shells,” she
said, as she had been throwing them directly in the fire.
Soon they were both cracking itsaaconi nuts and trading stories of the dangers of going outside. Maerei had seen much, shepherding her
father’s sheep, minnisc, and mituuraan. She had fought ges’etaaken, and even seen a torpae up close. Still, the
stories he told her of his adventures with Lord Captain Braeghe brought gasps and amazement.
“How did you ever get out of that mess? Sixty of them?” she asked, as he related the details of a time when he, Lord Braeghe, and a small squad
of Braeghe Color were pinned down by gitulaani just outside of the garrison in Besh-Samarr.
“It was Lord Gaalen. He got us up into an old ruin on a hill before the gitulaani reached us and directed us how to fortify the position.
He found three perches for our best archers, got five men to make pikes out of small trees from the far side of the hill, and took four others down to
circle behind. Before he left told us up on the hill to make enough noise to wake a stone, and light six different campfires so it would seem like
there were dozens of us.
“They took the bait and tried to attack the hill while Lord Braeghe and the best swordsmen we had with us picked them off from behind. We didn’t
lose a single soldier, and left thirty-five gitulaani lifeless on that hill. It wasn’t anything unheard of that he did, but Lord Gaalen says
many times the people in command forget the fundamentals and over-think the problem.”
She shook her head. “You really admire him, don’t you?”
Joen grew uncomfortable again. It was hard to put his loyalty to Gaalen Braeghe into words.
“He, well,” he began, then looked into her green eyes. “He helped me once. If not for him I would surely be worse than dead. He saved me, and
taught me. There’s nothing I wouldn’t go through for him, because I owe him a debt.”
She looked seriously at him for a moment. “Debts like that can’t always be repaid, squire-boy. Be careful you don’t become a slave.”
He found her intense eyes hard to look away from as his gut tingled and tightened. Suddenly her face broke into a grin and she launched into another
story about her and a cousin who hid a duae mitaac in her aunt’s bed.
The evening passed uneventfully as they traded more stories, sipped cider splashed with brandy, and slowly drifted off to Tolaan playing a reed flute
softly in the firelight.
edit on 4-28-2019 by PrairieShepherd because: Double post turned into the next episode.