After seeking inspiration from the episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer I watched this evening (Storyteller, season 7 episode 16; my favourite), I decided to return to Saturday’s attempt and keep going from there. I had a few ideas about it today and I want to develop it into a complete story. So here’s the next part of it:
My occasional questions throughout the day merited blunt responses or none at all, and I learned little of these brothers but that they weren’t too fond of conversing with strangers, even (if I do say so myself) attractive young ladies. They didn’t even respond to small talk. Now that’s a sign of someone hiding something if every I saw it.
I tried mingling with those who walked just ahead of us, but they’d already formed groups; one woman was busy with her fussing daughter, a little girl of five or six who complained of some discomfort or other. Hungry, perhaps. I wasn’t really listening. So I dropped back again to walk with the silent spear brothers, wondering if perhaps they might be more open about themselves if they thought I was being open about myself.
“I’m from Oakford, on the River Trank,” I told them. Well, I’d been there once or twice. Good place to cross the river if you’re not fond of the traffic the big bridges bring. Nice and out of the way if people are looking for you.
This illicited not a word of response.
“It’s called polite conversation,” I said. “It’s where two or more people exchange information, views and comments in a friendly manner in order to alleviate boredom or build relationships. You laconic gentlemen could at least make an effort.”
I was looking towards them as I walked, or I might not have seen Trin grab Sharf’s wrist and then let go.
“Never been to Oakford,” Trin said.
“You know a lot of big words for a little girl,” Sharf added.
“Oh come now, I’m not that little.” I grinned, then pouted at him. “I’m older than I look. A lot older.” About forty years older, but I was hardly going to reveal that. “I’m twenty.” People who had learned what I was before – how old I really was – hadn’t been too happy about it. Everyone wants a slice of immortality, but nobody liked someone who’s got there already. Jealousy, I suppose. I found something they didn’t. Eternal youth, not just eternal life. Maybe they think there’s a limited supply of immortality. Maybe there is, how would I know?
“You some lord’s run-away daughter, then, to know your big words?”
So Sharf was getting belligerent already. Careful, I reminded myself. There’s having a bit of fun, and there’s taking things too far.
“No, no blue blood in me, unless me ma ain’t telling me something. Travelled with some scribes a way back, taking some big old book from some abbey to that big old castle at Frenden.”
I knew what book it was – a fancy Book of Laws with pictures all in blue and red and gold, and bound in a carved sheet of silver with all pretty jewels in – but from the spear brothers’ silence, I guess they didn’t, or saw my little trap. I’d find other ways to see if they knew more than they were letting on. There was definitely something here.
“Hey, now look at that,” I said a while later as we emerged from the woods and began our descent into a little valley, hugging the steep side of the ridge we’d been walking on so far. The valley lay before us, the river winding through like a golden hair dropped on a green rug. An even thinner line winding its way up to and over the river and up the slope the other side was our road. Little rectangular fields filled the valley bottom and homesteads studded the landscape. Higher up sheep formed clumps in open spaces and beyond them were trees of all colours from deep green through lime and yellow to fire-orange. Beyond them the tips of hills and mountains ringed us. Here the rugged landscape would begin, the ups and downs and more ups of the final stage of the journey to the Temple.
“Pretty,” Trin muttered, I suspect just to appease my desire for conversation.
“Well, did you ever see the like?” I asked. “Like an idyll from a fairy tale. What a place this would be to settle down in. If only I could find a nice strong man to settle down with, right Sharf? One with a sense of humour and good conversational skills.”
I couldn’t comfortably reach Sharf’s shoulder so I patted him on the elbow; it didn’t quite have the desired impact of the correct gesture, but I got a pretty pissed off look from Trin as a reward, so I guess I’d said enough.
Not a great stopping point, I’ll grant you, and I have some more characters to introduce yet. We’ll see as to whether I continue it tomorrow or try something fresh. Either way, I will keep working on this. I like this character I’ve created and the plans I’ve thought up for her.