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original fiction: Tin Man [13/16] - Diary of a Necromancer
Excuse me, I'm making perfect sense, you're just not keeping up
original fiction: Tin Man [13/16]

Chapter Eleven

The storm swept over us late in the afternoon, and succeeding days brought all its friends along behind it. I had begun to think that the sun had forsaken us for good before the damp skies grudgingly cleared for a brief intermission between the fronts. "They certainly do believe in their weather around here," Liane remarked, taking advantage of the respite to wring out her hair.

"It's good for the crops, I suppose," I said. To either side of the road a carpet of orderly green tufts sucked greedily at the wet soil, dreaming of raising dinner-plate flowerheads to the bright summer sun. "I'm beginning to feel a little overwatered, myself. What did that baker you were chatting up say about towns up ahead?"

"Nothing of note," she said, pinning her braids back up. "We'll have to go back to hoping for barns. I've never actually been out this way, myself," she confessed. "Priara's about as far east as our contracts ever usually ran. I would guess that this is more farm-country than ranching, but..."

"We'll manage," I said. The fields certainly suggested nearby human occupation, although the roll of the landscape obscured any details of roads or houses in its folds. "Although if it doesn't stop raining soon, I think the golem's going to serve notice." Its posture had been of a noticeably sulky character ever since it had gotten rebuked for dripping muddy water all through a well-carpeted parlor the previous evening.

"We need to remember to get him some sort of a rain-cape." Liane patted the golem on the shoulder fondly.

We squelched onwards along the muddy byway, helping the golem over the worst of the ruts, and as we were passing a fenced-in pasture occupied by a scattering of goats Liane turned her ankle, or said she had, although I almost suspected it of being a pretext to get off her feet for a while. We settled ourselves in the suspiciously convenient hay-shelter, a ground-blanket spread over a mattress of spilled hay so that she could sit with her boots off without having to pick chaff from her socks for the next few miles. It was a cozy refuge, the moreso when she left off rubbing at her ankle and leaned back against me, suffering me to clasp my arms around her in altogether too familiar a way while she laid her head on my shoulder. "One could almost begin to entertain rather unprofessional thoughts," she murmured.

Considering that my eyes had strayed down into the shadowy vale inside her shirt that I kept catching glimpses of as she breathed, I thought this remark likely evidence that she'd sensed quite plainly the tenor of my thoughts; "If you think you can walk now, we had better go," I said. "We have to find somewhere we can spend the night before that next storm catches us."

"Bother the storm," she said, but she sat upright and pulled her boots back on. The goats were sizing us up curiously from the other side of the fence that kept them from getting into the stockpiled hay, perhaps wondering why we weren't refilling the manger on their side of the grates. They looked like a dairy herd, plump and immaculate and far too spoiled to trouble themselves with grazing when any twoleggeds were convenient to mooch from.

The golem clomped round from where it had been keeping a wary view of the shelter's blind side, or perhaps attempting to give us a little privacy, I wasn't certain anymore; the goats took one look at it and fled in bleating confusion. "Well, if he does decide to start looking around for a new job, I guess that lets out goatherd," I said. Liane snickered.

"And any number of potentially fulfilling careers in a rural setting, I'd imagine," she said, taking her pack and slipping the straps onto her shoulders. "Although the bits that involve flinging hay about for hours on end would play to his strengths... Um, you've got," she made a curious gesture towards her face, and then when I regarded her blankly she licked her thumb and brushed something from the side of my nose; "Dirt."

Feeling my cheeks heating up, I turned away and looked to the stormy horizon; "What do you think, does that look like another hour? Two?"

The mercenary grimaced, assessing the wind, and pronounced, "We can get over the ridge at least. These goats have to belong to somebody, maybe we'll be lucky and the farmhold's down in the next dip -- let's go have a look, shall we?"

Dividing my attention between my footing and the stormfront creeping up behind us, I missed that we were cresting the ridge until I heard Liane let out a satisfied-sounding breath; eyes finally wrenched away from the path by the sound, I looked out and over the gentle valley, and saw not a cluster of farmbuildings but a round brick barn after the Seventrails style, apparently doorless and sitting incongruously alone in the middle of a hay-meadow. "Well," I said, quite surprised at the sight.

"I say we call that 'shelter'," Liane said, putting a leg over the fence. "Doors or not. If we can get up into the hayloft..."

I followed her over the fence and across the field, nervous eyes trying to pick out details through the fading light that would satisfy my curiosity as to whether the barn was authentic Seventrails construction or simply in the manner of. The brickwork was certainly in keeping, contrasting around the rim of the roof in decent mimicry of a tent's woven tension-ring, but the roofline was more domed than I would have been expecting. Nothing to say it hadn't been re-roofed by later tenants, though --

We picked our way in through an astonishing array of wagons and plows and other assorted implements of sedentary farming and had a look around at this proposed campsite for the night. The barn's interior wasn't quite to Seventrails plan, or not anymore, the central feedbin missing and the inclement-weather quarters for the family converted to a block of horse-stalls. The hay-hole in the ceiling was right, though. Just right.

"So is there a ladder, or are we expected to jump?" Liane squinted up through the hole at the block-and-tackle mounted in the rafters, ropes completely out of our reach. "It's certainly defensible, but --"

"I'd rather not." She turned to look at me, eyebrows at full draw. "Go up there, I mean. I'd rather not."

"But --" And she looked at me closer, and I realized that I was vibrating and couldn't stop. "All right, not the hayloft, whatever. What, what's the matter?"

silence, once the frightened voices had faded into the distance, and at last Rennahan calling below, "Robling? Ro? Are you still in here? We've caught most of them, you can come down now--"

"Just --" My teeth were actually chattering; I forced myself to take a deeper breath. "Never mind. If you think it's best --"

"Not with you looking like that I don't," she said. "I guess a stall will do. Sit, I'll do it," she said when I moved to help her with the bedrolls. "You look awful."

"I've had some bad luck with haylofts," I said.

"Must have been," she said, spreading her ground-blanket out in the stall with the old hearth in the back wall. "You... feel like talking about it?"

I thought about this, watching her arranging matters with practiced efficiency, and when she had gotten most of a nest put together, I said, "No."

She shrugged, pulling the stall door to, and indicated that I ought to settle myself, kicking her own boots off and setting them neatly beside the hearth. I raised my eyebrows, noting how she'd merged our bedding, but she held firm; "You look awful," she repeated, turning back her quilt. "And you wake up screaming sometimes on a good night."

"I do?" I glanced at the helmet looming above the half-door and then wondered why I felt so put out that the golem hadn't ever mentioned this.

"I thought you knew," she said, sounding as if she wasn't entirely surprised to find out that I hadn't. "I guess you don't really come awake. Come on," she insisted, thumping the space beside herself in the bed stubbornly, and reluctantly I began to prise off my boots.

Once I had crawled in under the quilt beside her, Liane settled herself against my back with her arms thrown snugly around my shoulders. "I really wake up screaming?" I asked, trying to let myself relax into her friendly embrace.

"Not so much lately," she said into my hair. "I've known mercs who had to retire because they couldn't get through the nights anymore. But you seem to be..." She paused, long enough that I began to wonder if she had dozed off, and then finished, "Healing. Scarred, but not broken. Which is about all one can really ask, I guess."

"Scars can be their own problem," I said. Her shoulders wrinkled around me in a laugh.

"You are such a pessimist," she said. "Go to sleep."

"I..." But I felt her settling down into drowsy limpness herself, a firm believer in her own advice, and I decided to give it a try, screwing my eyes shut against the gloom and pretending this was just another night on the road, the choice of venue irrelevant. From across the meadow I could hear whistled spells calling farm animals in for the night. The smell of the impending storm had crept up to the barn by now, sharp and wet, and before I had quite managed to calm myself into any state where I could hope to nod off the first rumblings of the arriving deluge came cresting up over the ridge, driving a front of colder air. I pulled the blankets closer against the seeping chill, and, finally, Liane's breathing in one ear and the patter of rain in the other, let myself be lulled to sleep --

The hanging sign with my parents' names entwined in the shape of their brand, a line of handprints outlined in whitewash at the bottom edge: nine right hands of nine strong sons -- I'm tall enough, now, just turned sixteen, to reach up and splay my fingers over the seventh print. "You're sure you want to do this," Baran says, snow-rooted brows arching over stormcloud eyes. "What about --"

"Packed off to Steeldance," I cut him off curtly before he can utter the name, the name I don't want to hear. Never want to hear again --

They're here in the barn doorway looking at me, "Well met, m'lords Tremare," Mama says, formal with nerves and looking as if she's wondering whether they really sent me, an apprentice led by an apprentice. Baran pushes me forward, am I just standing here staring --?

"Well met, Ma'am. Has there been a loss to this household since last year's Darkening Day?"

"Two, m'lord. My son and my -- Ro, sweetheart, are you sure you want to do this?"

"Mama!" Maloren's tittering. Railan elbows him and he subsides, just barely quickly enough for Mama's temper. "Yes, Mama. I asked to come."

"All right, then..." Mama's eyes say it's not all right. "Two, m'lord, my son and my husband. We... we would ask to speak with them again."

I'm not sure what's next, with two, knife in hand and mind gone blank; Mama's looking at me like I'm about to take the blade to her own flesh. (But I am, aren't I, the heart she carried under her heart while the moon turned his face ten times --) "Which, um, who would you rather I Call first?" I falter, not quite the right words but Mama's still looking at me --

Blue eyes finally blink, and Mama says, not at all her own strong voice: "I want to talk to my baby."

This is the part I know how to do, know too well already; sharp edge red across my fingers and the springing magic, hand to the earth as I Call for my ghost, Call Mama's baby, Call to the brother my own fault has taken from her. And the shadow forms in the light of the lantern above the door, feet, hands, face, eyes --

blue eyes, blue as the lanternflame --

I started awake in the chill, heart drumming louder than the rain on the roof and certain that I must, this time, have woken myself screaming just as Liane said. But she lay quiet and content under my arm, ribs rising and falling with doubtlessly innocuous dreams, oblivious to the faint red light rising from the golem beyond the half-door --

I scrambled up out of the bedding as the significance of the aura burned through the fog of sleep and set my nerves jangling. Hearing more than seeing Liane stirring to alertness, I fumbled for my boots, stamping my way into them with my eyes still riveted to the glowing helmet above the door. The golem had been rooted at the mouth of the stall, prepared to defend us as we slept if need be, but now that it perceived I was aware of its alarm it came active, pacing out to the gaping doorway as I found my bow and came out to join it. Whatever it had scented was a long ways off, fragments of sound reaching my ears through the downpour. "Why do you have to attract every Thing for miles around --"

The golem half-turned towards me and made a violently annoyed gesture. Surprised beyond words, I took a step backwards and stumbled as I caught my heel on a roughness in the floor. When I looked up again the red blur that was the golem twinkled outside in the wetness, charging to the fray.

"Did he just shush you?" Liane said, coming up beside me. "What's out there?"

I didn't have an answer to either question, the reflected sting of the rain upon the golem's skin scattering my own thoughts into damp red shards. I reached back to draw an arrow from my quiver as the golem set its feet wide in the mud, bracing to meet the lunge of its foe --

Foes: the rubies of a dozen eyes darting like angry fireflies, with here and there a duller flash as the golem's red light caught on an angle of tooth or claw. Maddened by the scent of magic, the pack had abandoned all attempt at subtlety in its hunt, tumbling up to the golem in a gnashing heedless frenzy. The golem swatted the first Thing aside with contemptuous ease, only to find two more behind and snapping at its calves in the very next instant.

"It's coming down too hard," Liane said, and it took me some thinking to work out that she meant she could provide little support to the golem's efforts in this torrent. "Can you get him up here closer?"

I cupped my hands around my mouth: "Golem!" But it was too embroiled in the pack, determined jaws now dragging at its forearms, its ankles, its mailskirt --

And just like that, the red glow vanished, smothered under a blanket of snarling fur as the golem went down under the combined assault. I gasped at the sensation of phantom teeth clamping around my limbs as the Things set to work trying to crack into the golem's metal shell to get at the meat they assumed would be inside, eerie presentiment of what would happen once they realized where the true feast stood and abandoned the empty lure. "Robling?" I heard Liane say apprehensively.

"We should have gone into the hayloft," I said, wondering if it would have ultimately made that much difference if we had, or if these Things would simply have taken the barn apart brick by brick to get us down. I could feel a serrated fang working its way into the seam between two sections of the golem's left vambrace, intent on ripping the plates apart as if it were no more difficult than opening up a lobster.

Liane drew back and fired an arrow out into the wet night, only to have the wind and the rain smack it from the air before it had had the chance to fly halfway to her target. She swore and threw down her bow to reach for her throwing-knives. "I knew I should have had you teach me that guided-arrow trick," she said.

Teeth that were seeming less and less imaginary by the moment scored across my left ankle. Fingers trembling, I took up the forgotten arrow in my hand, drawing the razor-sharp edge of the broadhead across my left thumb before fitting the arrow to the string. You want magic? Well, come and get it --

I made up a Word, then and there, a compound of death and hate and hunger that in the rational light of day I'd never have expected to work or dared to say if I had, and said it to the arrow on the string, feeling the sudden leaping eagerness of the tool in my hands becoming aware of its purpose. The nearest Thing paused in its depredations and turned its head away from the golem, sniffing the air, as I raised my bow, arrowhead burning a lurid crimson in the soggy dimness. And it leapt --

I loosed the arrow and it took the bounding Thing full in the chest, smears of red trailing bright in the air as the lupine face looked shocked and annoyed and finally caught up to the fact of its death, forelegs touching the ground and crumpling. One by one the other Things' heads snapped up and around to face their fallen comrade. Scent of meat and magic together far too delightful to resist, they flowed across the ground to this new bait, burying their muzzles into the poisoned flesh greedily.

In a noisy sparkling flash I could see right through the back of my head the Thing's corpse disarticulated itself and all the Things feeding from it. I had just enough wit left to push Liane down beneath me in a protective huddle in the mud as gobbets of flaming gore went splattering across an impressive area of the meadow, steaming down into the soggy grass.

"Ow," Liane said after what seemed like several hours. I opened my eyes and found myself staring into hers at a very near distance. Suddenly quite at a loss as to what came next, as it slowly sank in that the immediate danger appeared to be past and the shivers of reaction set in, I could only look into her eyes and wonder at the mob of truly inappropriate thoughts chattering away at the margins of my mind, until at last she said, "Well, either ravish me or let's get out of the mud."

"I would never," I said. She disentangled herself and bent to give me a hand up.

"Can't tell me you weren't thinking about it," she said, picking up her bow and bracing one end against her instep to unstring it. "If 'thinking' is really the word. Where's the golem?"

The golem, much to my surprise, had taken itself over to the pump and was making efforts to clean itself, slopping water from the bucket over its muddy limbs. "All right, maybe he's a little smarter than a dog," I admitted, thinking of various dogs of my acquaintance and finding them rather wanting in this respect. The helmet glanced back over a metal shoulder for a brief disapproving instant and then returned to its rude wash. When it had evidently done all it thought it could do for itself under the circumstances, it poured the remainder of the water over its head and shook itself, leafy crest jangling like a cord of sleighbells.

"I think we had probably better move on," Liane said, winding her ruined bowstring up into a ball and shoving it into her pocket. "Lady only knows what else might be out here. And I'm not up for another fight tonight."

We broke up our camp in silence, fumbling in the dimness, and felt our way across the field back to the road, slipping and sliding in the muck. The rind of moon was peering out from behind a cloud by now, rain fading away to a mere penetrating damp. The mist-haloed sliver gave just enough light to cast an obscuring dazzle across the layers of fog around us; it was a relief, nearly an hour later, when the moon finally set, and farther down the road we were able to see the flickering lantern lights of an inhabited croft, farmers already stirring to tend to the early needs of their dairy stock.

"We had better stop there and see if they'll let us clean up, if not get a few more hours' sleep," Liane suggested. We picked up our steps, though my feet wanted to drag, and soon my merc had talked our way into a bedroom the family's oldest daughter had been making over as a nursery in preparation for the beginning of her own new family. The room had a bed in it even, a narrow bed but adequate for two for some few hours, left over from another daughter who had recently gone off to more formal study with Frozenlights than was available piecemeal in this area.

"Close quarters, but we've seen worse, eh?" Liane chuckled, plumping pillows with the farmwife. I tried my best to return a circumspectly bland face for the speculatively cocked eyebrow the woman gave me as she bade us good night and retreated from the room.

Miraculously, some of the spare clothes in my bags were still reasonably dry. I changed into my least-objectionable shirt and slipped between the blankets with my face to the wall, leaving Liane to put out the lantern. Outside the window the world was already beginning to silver with dawn. "I think we've earned ourselves one late start," she said as she joined me in the bed, yawning.

"It can't be too late," I said, the thought of delay pricking me with now-familiar needles of uneasiness. The bed squeaked as she settled herself, her back to mine.

And then, "Sweet Lady, you're like ice," she said as she brushed my bare feet. "And your hair's wet. Here --" And she rolled herself over and snuggled against my back before I could think to protest, scooping my hair up and out of the way of her face and draping it over the pillow, and then slipped hands that were still suspiciously chilly themselves up and under my shirt to warm them on my bare skin. "Can't have you keeping us both awake shivering," she said, and while I was still trying to think of a way to react to this sudden state of affairs I heard her breathing slowing into a steady rhythm.

So much for the sleep. The arms attached to the hands were decorously clothed, at least, but I could feel her naked knees nested into the angles of mine, and the softness of her small warm breasts at my back stirred decidedly unrestful thoughts. Of all nights... But, weary past even bodily distractions, I did fall sound asleep, and slept deeply and untroubled for the first time in what seemed like years.

Some hours later, I roused unwillingly to wakefulness at the sensation of bare skin shifting against my own. Bare...? something wrong about that... I lay perfectly still for a moment with my eyes still closed, feverishly attempting to inventory the situation before I had to awaken fully and face up to it: my weight on my left side, cuddled snugly stomach-to-hip with Liane, correction, shirt rucked up around my shoulders and cuddled bare stomach to partly bare hip with Liane, my disgraceful body taking it upon itself to put a certain leading question to the both of us... and, further mortifying provocation, her hand at the small of my back tucked casually under the waistband of my unders, and in return my hand fitted perfect to her naked breast beneath her rumpled shirt.

And she... is... not... asleep.

"Um... I thought it was only mercs on a bad drunk you were supposed to wake up like this," I said when it appeared to have become obvious that neither one of us was really asleep and neither one of us could think of anything better to say to the other.

"I was about to ask you the same thing," she said, sounding tired and cross but not quite of a mind to make a genuine fuss over it. She pulled herself up into a sitting position, and I finally dared to open my eyes. She didn't look angry; if anything she looked resigned and even a little disappointed. "Are you feeling rested enough to go on, or do we dare trust each other in this bed for another hour or two?"

"We haven't the time to spare, I don't think," I said, pulling my shirt back down over my ribs and sitting up beside her. One of my braids had come undone, pale hair falling across my right eye in a wayward tangle that would take half an hour to sort out. It made me feel even more half-dressed before her than actually being half-dressed. By the shafts of light falling across the floorboards I guessed it an hour to one or other side of noon, not sure which direction the window faced. "I wish I could say how I know that. It's not anything I can see when I try to look straight at it, I just... I just have this sense that something is about to happen that I won't much like. I don't know if maybe that means Sorson's already at Pridening Working something that's a little too faint to really hear from here. If he went straight there by horse he could have been insinuating himself for a month by now."

"I don't want to think about what that look on your face says he could have gotten up to in a whole month," she said, with a shiver, and slid out from under the covers. After another few moments of stretching kinked-up muscles, she padded across the room in her bare feet to dig around in her bags for the rest of her clothes. "And... um... I know how men are in the mornings but you might want to take a few minutes before you come out to breakfast," she added all in a rush, red-eared and not looking at me, and stalked out, leaving me to stare after her in hopeless humiliation.

"All right for you," I said to the golem, who appeared to be sniggering silently, and got up to shave. "Some of us have more to worry about than having spiders laying eggs in our empty heads." I pulled off my shirt and tried not to dwell on the reflection in the mirror above the washbasin. Although I couldn't help but give it some consideration: ermine trim and silver scar aside, there was unaccustomed muscle beneath the pale skin, and I caught myself wondering if perhaps the Seventrails women had had some justification beyond bored speculation in considering my merits.

Breakfast was awkward. We sat stiffly at the farmhouse's kitchen table, trying to give more attention to the wandering conversation of the farmwife than to each other. "Wolves, you say?" the woman kept asking.

"They might have been feral dogs," I eventually conceded. "It was dark." What practical difference it made, I couldn't really see, but the farmwife nodded as if in recognition, and never did elaborate as to why. Eventually she finished the washing-up and left us to deal with each other without her dubious help.

"We should probably get moving," I said, staring down into my empty bowl. Liane sighed, deep and weary.

"This is getting too close to being over," she said. "I've gotten used to being on the road with you. Does that make me sound like I'm losing my sense of professional detachment about our assignment?"

"No," I said, "not entirely, maybe a little, but... I don't know. I guess... I don't want this to be over either." I bowed my head, afraid to meet her eyes, and felt her arm creeping around my waist.

"Maybe after all this is over we can go on the road just for the lark of it, to Jareza or somewhere," she said. "I bet you'd like Jareza."

"I'd like to find out," I ventured. She gave my waist a squeeze and then stood up.

"Well, the sooner we get the business part of this out of the way, the sooner we can be free to work out what happens next," she said. "The day's half-over already." She stepped over the bench and went to put our bowls into the washbasin. "And, really, you, um...? It happens, I can hardly fault you for it." She was blushing, and wouldn't quite meet my eyes.

"The Goddess has a dreadful sense of humor," I said bleakly.

"I'd only worry if it never happened, really," she said, with a coy glance through her lashes. "Gets a girl thinking she's ugly or something."

"Well," I said, pretending to appraise her, "you're too short, you've got no bottom and hardly any bust and muscles like a warhorse... but it's not what's on the outside that matters, I'm told."

"You probably haven't even noticed what color my eyes are," she laughed.

"The color of the leaves of Tremare's great oak in autumn," I blurted instantly, and then realizing what this sounded like trailed along mumbling, "Or, 'brown', anyway. I think. Yeah, I guess they're brown."

Liane was staring at me. "Observant sort, aren't you," she finally said.

"I've always been good at colors," I said. Oh, you're giving yourself away right here, aren't you. She was still staring.

"Look, this isn't easy for me either," she said, and leaving me to wonder what she meant by that she wheeled from the kitchen and went to fetch our packs. By the time she came back with them and the golem she was all casual travelling-face and efficiency. "Hey, they said that if we help them load up a wagon on our way out we can have all the cheese we care to take, do you think we have at least that much time? Because we could really do with the extra rations. And the golem can help if it doesn't mean going in the goatshed --"

I looked at the golem, who had turned to Liane with the closest thing to an expression of horror that the blank visor could project, and burst out laughing despite myself. "Or if it does, we could set him to churning some butter while we work," I agreed, and the horrified look snapped to me. "Might do him some good to learn a trade..." The golem was quivering. Abruptly it turned and pushed open the side door, clomping through into the room beyond exactly as if it felt the need to have some peace from us for a few moments. Liane turned to watch the door close behind it, a bemused look in her eyes. "Well," I said.

"Now if he starts muttering and punching walls out there, I'll get very worried," she said.

"We had probably better go see what's got into him." I opened the door cautiously and found that it led into an enclosed porch, with no golem in it. The room looked to have been the Frozenlight-bound daughter's workroom, walls covered with shimmering canvases of goats and hedgerows and haystacks and bowl after bowl of lurid apples barely recognizable as bright Sunpippins or pink-cheeked Tickle-My-Knickers; I had to peer closely at one painting in particular before I realized that the aberrant blue blobs were meant to be plums instead.

Liane paused at the outside door, examining a large trowel-rutted study of flowering pumpkin vines. "I could see your hair having been that color."

I felt myself blushing as pink as the apples. "That paint looks poisonous," I mumbled.

"She's certainly used enough of it." Liane pulled open the door and stepped down into the muddy yard. The golem was standing at the gate to the goat-pasture. "Look, we didn't mean it, all right?"

The metal shoulders sagged, but the golem made no further moves to desert our company as Liane tromped us across the farmhold until she found the parties who had made her the offer organizing a removal of cheeses from a cellar into a waiting wagon. I discovered why they had asked us to help as soon as I ducked under the lintel; some of the cheeses were slung from rafter-pegs that everyone else but me needed a stepstool to reach. I bore this abuse of my heritage with as much grace as I could muster, passing the fat yellow blobs down to the waiting golem as they were remarked to me, but still I couldn't help but feel as if precious time were being eaten away, my nervous suspicion driving me on faster and faster until even the golem became annoyed at my pace and walked out without waiting for the one last cheese from the rafter. When I chased the golem outside I found that the farmers were scrambling to sort out a pile of random cheeses that it had tossed haphazardly onto the load in trying to keep up with my frantic pace. "We weren't in that much of a hurry," one said when he saw me.

"We really have to be going," Liane said, taking me by the elbow. "About the, um...?"

Still eyeing me and the golem warily, the farmers helped Liane to pick out an assortment of keeping-cheeses for the road ahead and a small soft round for our supper. "You take care out there, now," the one who appeared to be in charge of the cheese inventories said as the mercenary finished up juggling the last of her treasures into my pack. "This sort of wet always riles out the Things a terrible sight."

"We'd noticed," I said. Her lips twitching with a barely stifled grin, Liane buckled up the final binding and handed my pack to me. I slipped into the shoulder-straps and we lurched on out of the cellar at last, braced by the farmers' directions for the blur of small towns ahead. And plunged into, yet again, a waiting murk of gathering drizzle...


6 responses | moved to respond?
owensheart From: owensheart Date: June 7th, 2010 06:42 pm (UTC) (permalink this entry)
when she left off rubbing at her ankle and leaned back against me, suffering me to clasp my arms around her in altogether too familiar a way while she laid her head on my shoulder. "One could almost begin to entertain rather unprofessional thoughts," she murmured.

Considering that my eyes had strayed down into the shadowy vale inside her shirt that I kept catching glimpses of as she breathed, I thought this remark likely evidence that she'd sensed quite plainly the tenor of my thoughts;

HEE BUSTED! Oh I loved this bit.

Great chappie.
robling_t From: robling_t Date: June 7th, 2010 07:04 pm (UTC) (permalink this entry)
...For some reason I am suddenly picturing him in a sort of Geek!Owen panic here... :)
owensheart From: owensheart Date: June 8th, 2010 08:30 am (UTC) (permalink this entry)
YES, Oh yes definitely a Geek Owen panic heh heh
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 10th, 2010 03:29 am (UTC) (permalink this entry)


>> "No," I said, "not entirely, maybe a little, but... I don't know. I guess... I don't want this to be over either." <<

I can't blame them -- neither do I!
robling_t From: robling_t Date: June 15th, 2010 08:26 am (UTC) (permalink this entry)

Re: Well...

Alas, it's getting very near the end...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 15th, 2010 11:44 pm (UTC) (permalink this entry)

Re: Well...

*wist* So you've said. But I hope to read more about these characters, or at least, something more from you.
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