Out of the Faold (Whilst Old Legends Fade Synchronicles)

333

 

Out
of the Faold
By Laura Abudo
Text copyright © 2012 Laura Abudo
All Rights Reserved
Part 1

 

Chapter 1

 

The Girls

 

Krisa

The sensation is so brief you barely register the thought; the whisper of a step behind you
on the cobbled street
, an elusive flit at the edge of your sight, a shadow or a hint of light where a moment before it hadn’t been. You sense you are not completely alone or thinking clearly. But then a dog barks, someone calls your name or any of the other daily distractions of life and you forget about it. That is what she counts
on, what makes her forgettable.

The creak of the door was the o
nly announcement she’d arrived.

“Child?” called a man’s voice from
the only other room in their loft.

“Yes, Papa.”

“Come.”

It was dim in their sitting room but she was able to make out the tray on the table. From a pocket inside her cloak she pulled fresh warm sweet bread
, a few tiny apples and a waxed-
cloth wrapped slab of smoked meat. She brushed
any flecks of dust or dirt off the
bread, placing their meal on the tray. Her foot nudged the door to the other room
. The man inside sat at a desk covered in papers, jars of ink with two lanterns lighting the small, cramped space. A stool was pulled closer so she could place the tray next to him.

“Ah, Mrs. Tinn’s smoked hog?”

“Yes, Papa.”

“Good job,” he smiled, tearing the bread in half, one portion for
him
and one for her. “It is still warm!”

“Fresh within the hour.”

He smiled and nodded, taking a bite of the bread and gave her a look of pure satisfaction. He scratched more words onto the parchment he was working on before taking another bite, making sure to lean over the floor to prevent crumbs
from getting stuck in the ink.

“Any news?” he asked raising an eye in her direction as he finished
scripting
a word.
Her daily excursions provided entertainment and insight into the workings of their
city
. She was particularly talented at seeing a single person or action and drawing conclusions about its connection with the rest of the world.
Brynntown
was a medium sized city, large enough for a port
and a stronghold keep where the Duke resided.
It fashioned c
obblestone streets, wooden slat buildings
, roads that were wide enough for two carts to pass.
The central market square was one of Krisa’s favourite places to haunt, watching hundreds of
people as they led their lives.

“Mrs. Fisch caught Mr. Fisch again,” she said to his nod and wink. “Mr. Siln had t
wo whole carts of seed brought in
. I saw him talking to Mr. Peffin and they shook a deal. You know their lands border?”

“Ah yes, maybe he’s going to grow on his land?”

“Well Mr. Peffin lost his son last fall. He has just girls now. And they are small.”

“He can’t tend his whole farm. Fisch will grow there and split profits you think?”

She nodded.
She stayed silent until h
e urged her for more.

“Miss Teller did her shopping at the market today instead of tomorrow. The guard changed at the keep two hours early and a new set was brought in three hours later so they are doubled up. It isn’t the fourteenth but the stables at the keep were
cleaned
and they opened up an entire row.
No flags were raised.
The Brothers were tidying up around the sanctuary and prepared horses but no one left. A Sister came out to inspect the yards.
The innkeeper had a visit from the keep
’s
master launderer with no exchange. Tucker sent boys
out the road to the east.

“Interesting,” he said, laying down his quill briefly to look at her while he took a bite of smoked meat.
He frowned in thought but quickly realized he’d done so and smiled at her. She saw everything. She knew everything.

Mr. Sunn had long ago attempted to learn her talent for reading the events of the peo
ple around them, so his mind
clicked through all the tidbits she’d just shared trying to pull them together.

It was not unusual for the guard to change their routine. It was only good practical sense for security to be unpredictable. However they’d doubled the size of the guard, which meant they exp
ected visitors, those who needed eighteen stables for horses
and
likely
official enough to stay at the keep rather than the inn.
The innkeeper’s rooms were not needed by the keep, hence no order or exchange by the launderer.
No flags raised meant it was not political
company but
military. And Tucker knew they were coming so sent his merchants and rear-kissers to the east to grasp a few coins before they
arrived. He probably sent several
whores and dice rollers too.

That wasn’t what concerned him. It was
the mention of
Miss Teller and the Brothers that worried him. The Brothers held the
Sanctuary
in the center of the city, a plain box-like
set of buildings
of stone bricks painted matte grey
surrounded by a high wall, where the devout came to seek the company of the gods in the gardens within.
They were a righteous cult, kind, charitable, welcoming to all, especially the downtrodden or morally dysfunctional. Perhaps it was a collective goal to salvage the souls of those who were least likely deserving. He wasn’t completely well-versed in their teachings, having avoided them from the time ten years ago when a Sister poked a boney finger into the middle of Krisa’s forehead. Just four days old, the umbilicus blackening but still hadn’t dropped, he remembered.
They were at her Blessing at the
Sanctuary
.
Suckling. Wrinkly, paper thin newborn skin, closed eyes against her mother’s breast and this Sister came up to them and poked her in the forehead, hard enough to break the seal on the nipple and cause her to wail.
She had chuckled and sauntered off. His wife was so enraged that she walked out on the Blessing
and they never returned.

The Brothers were often seen out in the city. The Sisters were not. They stayed inside the wall, cloistered away from the men, from everyone, from life. No wonder, he
mused, that Sister was insane.

Miss Teller was a housekeeper at the estate of Lord Strenn. He managed
the family
farms surrounding the
city for his
older brother
, the Duke, who resided in the Keep. He got a healthy cut of the profits for his efforts, a beautiful piece of land and title to show off. His children had private tutors and were rarely seen in the city. Miss Teller always did her shopping at the market on Tuesday. She had not strayed from that routine in two years. The shopkeepers and produce vendors brought out their best wares on Tuesday expecting her. So when she’d arrived today instead he was sure it caused a flurry of ac
tivity and rumor in the market.

“What are they saying about Miss Teller?”

“No one knows.”

“And the Brothers? And the Sister out of cloister?”

She studied her hands. She was being reluctant and he knew it. Rising alarm filled him and his toes began to tingle, a strange sensation but with his increased rate of breathin
g he felt a sudden urge to run.

“Tell me.”

“I went into the gardens,” she admitted. “I was curious.”

He nodded. Curiosity was encouraged in this household. He knew she wouldn’t have gone through the front door, greeted by the Brothers and ushered into the
Sanctuary
to commune with the gods. She would have found a way over the wall, stealthed to a hidden position and waited and watched. He was often impressed by her patience and exhausting ability to wait and watch. She watched everything. She saw everything. She saw clearly patterns of human behavior
in a city where normal folks saw
only chaos.

“The Sisters have come out of cloister. They are preparing for visitors too. A Brother is being sent to Lord Stren
n to fetch Glory at noon. Another was
mentioned.”

So this was it. The girls were being gathered.
Glory was Lord Strenn’s daughter of Krisa’s age. She was probably poked by a Sister as well. There were others. They didn’t know the others.
“You?” he asked.

Sh
e nodded, her face turned down.

“What do you want to do?” he asked, more to himself than to her. He stood, paced the three steps he could take between his desk and the be
d.

“I can hide.”

“You can,” he agreed. “But I can’t.”

“Will they hurt you like they did Mama?” she asked with more emotion than he’d heard in her young voice in a long time.

“We don’t know they…” but he stopped when she gave him that look that told him she knew exactly what had happened and it was no
use hiding it from her anymore.

His wife had passed after sudden illness when Krisa was still an infant. She’d been to visit the Brothers
at their urging, trying to make peace with her. She’d always been a devotee and they were saddened not to see her anymore. She brought to them the anger she felt at how her newborn was treated within their walls and exp
lained they would not return. T
he Brothers shared that Krisa was selected in her infancy to become a Sister one day, to live with them and study. At first his wife had been honored and felt blessed, then worried then fearful for the cloistered life her daughte
r would lead. She refused them.

Days later, in the pit of grief over his wife’s passing, he had agreed, reluctantly, that it was her wish to have her daughter raised a devotee and eventually become a Sister. He was confused and heartbroken.
They never returned to the
Sanctuary
, she did not study with them, but the day was coming, possibly this day, that they would come t
o fetch her for the Sisterhood.

They both understood that if he hid her or ran with her or didn’t permit her to go with them, he was at risk. She wouldn’t
let them hurt him, he knew
, so she would go with them
. He was supposed to protect her. He was her father. And he couldn’t. It tore at him.

“It is okay,” she told him simply. “We knew it would happen. We are prepared.”

He was always amazed at how old she sounded, how secure in her decisions, how fearless. Even now, on the brink of leaving her home and f
ather behind, she was fearless.

“When I am older I will be back,” she told him with a knowing look. She would escape, she would return, they had talked about it. She was prepared. They would go off to another city together where he could work for another nobleman as a
scribe
.

“I know you will, Krisa,” he told her with a hug. “I’m so sorry.”

“I’ll come see you often,” she told him with a smile. “That wall isn’t so high.”

He laughed. And he knew she was
right. He would see her often.

 

Glory

Glory giggled as her nanny tickled her with tears in her eyes.
The plain
yellow
robes
the Sanctuary had delivered to her w
ere
not very flattering but she was excited. Out of the four Strenn daughters she was chosen to be a Sister! The nanny placed a warm wool sweater on top of the chest they’d packed that morning. Inside she had
three
formal dresses, dozens of undergarments, everyday dresses, leggings for warmth, shoes, boots, linens, pillows, hats, the list went on. Nanny was unsure of laundry protocol at the Sanctuary so felt it safe to pack too much. Anything that wasn’t needed c
ould be returned to the estate.

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