Happy Saturday and welcome to the Dog’s serialization of the novel Dark Soul. Sorry this is so late this week, the network at the Dog House was down. This is a work in progress, so if you have any thoughts or suggestions, don’t be shy about offering them up.
If you have just started reading this, you can find the previous chapters at the following links:
This serialization is only available here at Docudharma!
Brother Carlinus woke to find golden sunlight streaming through the window of his room. He stretched his toes and then relaxed into the wonderful comfort of the featherbed. After waiting a few minutes to see if he could return to sleep, he threw off the down comforter and rose to meet the day.
As he came down the hall from his bedroom, he found the Shadow standing in the doorway of the house. He had his horrible sword drawn and was facing the court yard as if a battalion of troops were ready to rush the building.
“Good Morning,” called Brother Carlinus in a falsely cheerful voice.
“Good Morning to you Carlinus,” said the Shadow in a gravely voice
“So, can I assume that no one came to kill us in the night?”
“So far,” replied the Shadow
“Well, you will be able to see them coming now, so, could you put that sword away?” Brother Carlinus asked with a shudder.
“The Sorrow really bothers you, doesn’t it?” asked the Shadow holding it up between them.
“Yes,” said Brother Carlinus, stepping back a little.
“Good,” said the Shadow with a smile as he sheathed his sword, “At least some things do not change,”
Brother Carlinus was so happy that the Sorrow was no longer drawn that he let the comment go by. There was something horrible about that sword, whenever it was out he felt as though greasy fingers were shifting through his mind. Worse the longer that he was exposed to it, the clearer the sensation became, so after traveling with the Shadow so long, Brother Carlinus had a complete dread of that weapon.
In his life Brother Carlinus had found that food would often improve his mood, and so he resorted to that comfort without thought or hesitation.
“I thought that I would make us some food,” said Brother Carlinus in a shaky voice, “if you would wake Tyrone, I will have it ready shortly.”
The Shadow considered for a moment, balancing the desire to torment the little priest more against the grumbling of his stomach. For once, food out weighed emotional satisfaction. “Aye, that will work,” said the Shadow, “I think that Ty left the basket in the room with the fire pit, and there is still some venison left too.” Brother Carlinus did not reply, but nodded his acknowledgement.
The Shadow smiled and rubbed his eyes, trying to bring himself to full consciousness after long hours spent in his watch-trance. He climbed the stair to the second level and then followed the sounds of quite snoring to the room where Tyrone was sleeping.
The Shadow smiled to see his friend fast asleep, but with his sword unsheathed and within easy reach. As he stood there, he noticed that Tyrone had stopped snoring. Knowing the younger man he said, “You can quit trying to see out of the bottom of your eyelids, I know you’re awake,”
“It never hurts to practice,” said Tyrone, opening one eye, and rubbing the stubble on his chin. “So, no one came for us last night, eh?”
“No, but that only means they have not made up their minds on us, yet.”
“So gloomy, so early in the day,” said Tyrone swinging his feet to the floor and stretching like some great hound, “You should try to be more like me, even tempered and kind to man and beast alike,”
“My day began in the middle of the night, and it has not lent itself to sentiments best left to ten year old girls.”
“Oh, you are in a mood, aren’t you? Are you disappointed that you did not have to fight off half a thousand screaming Celesta?”
“No, not really; I can wait, if I have to, but it does not mean that I like it or am very patient during,”
“True, you have never had an excess of patience, but here is yet another opportunity for you to work on it. ” This earned Tyrone a sneer and a low growl.
“Well, Mary Sunshine, Carli is hard at work on some food, so unless you want to fast today, I would suggest we go down stairs,” said the Shadow and turned to leave without waiting for Tyrone. He was followed by both the man and his laughter.
They came into the draped room to find Brother Carlinus frying pieces of bread in deer fat. There was also cold cooked venison and fresh apples from the tree outside. The three men tore into the food with gusto, though Tyrone lamented that the lack of beer kept it from being completely perfect.
After breakfast the men were once again at loose ends, having nothing to do but wait. Brother Carlinus offered to say a mass of thanks giving, which brought the predictable response from the Shadow. Tyrone, unwilling to listen to another of their arguments voiced the plan of finding what all of the levers did in the house and left the other two to their squabbling.
He wondered the house for a while, seeing amazing engineering and art. In one room he found the windows were covered with a screen of hammered copper. A scene of birds taking flight had been cut into the screen, so that as the changing light from outside hit it, the wings of the birds seemed to move.
As wondrous as the things were, they did not hold his attention. When a man is waiting for his fate to be decided by others, treasure and marvels of craft tend to be less than enthralling. At last Tyrone found himself outside in the court yard, where the Shadow sat under the shade of one of the trees. With a sigh, Tyrone plunked down next to his friend.
“Not so chipper anymore?” asked the Shadow with one eyebrow cocked.
“Aye, you win. Waiting is only slightly preferable to dying,”
The Shadow merely snorted and went back to watching the street before their house. Tyrone sat with him, looking around occasionally, but mostly he was bored. For fun Tyrone tried to imagine what would be going on this time of day, back in Ireland. It was a poor choice; this thought lead him straight to his home keep, and the fact that now his step-mother completely ruled the home he had grown up in.
If wonders can not hold your attention, it is known fact that gloomy thoughts can. Caught in a cage of his own making, Tyrone’s mood went from bored to miserable. Just as he reached his lowest point, he looked up to see Krenchi walking down the alley toward them. For a remedy to melancholy, a friendly female face ranks very high on the list. Tyrone felt a warm smile crease his face without any conscious effort.
He recognized the clothes that she wore, before her face. She was clothed in a tunic and pants like Astiabo, but where he had only one sash crossing his chest Krenchi had two. The tunic was dyed a deep burgundy and the sashes that crossed over her chest faded from midnight blue at the shoulders to the palest lavender at the ends that hung down beside her legs. Her hips swayed side to side in a rolling gate that completely captured Tyrone’s attention. She wore pants instead of a skirt and they were dyed the same burgundy color as her top.
Realizing he was staring at her hips, Tyrone wrenched his gaze up to her face. One look at her face let him know that she had caught him staring. But where other women might have shown a scowl or a frown, Krenchi’s face was graced with a mocking smile. It said, without a word, ‘Are you seeing some thing that you like?’ Tyrone flushed red and thought to himself, Damn two days in this city and I am like a sputtering virgin!
The Shadow rescued him form his thoughts with a question.
“Ty, is this someone we know?”
“Uh, yes, I think that this is the woman that brought us the basket last night,”
“You think this is the woman? You must be losing your sight, Tyrone. Be sure that if I had seen her before I would remember her,” the Shadow said in his teasing tone. Tyrone decided that this situation called for retreat, rather than battle and got up to walk to meet Krenchi at the gate. Unfortunately, the Shadow decided to come with him.
“Hail, Son of the Costello,” said Krenchi as she arrived.
“Hail, Daughter of the Zhetkho,” replied Tyrone, rising to the challenge. To his chagrin this earned him a laugh.
“Courteous, but still wrong, Costello, but you cannot be the son or daughter of a sept, only a clan,” Krenchi said behind sparkling eyes.
Taking a deep breath Tyrone said, “Hail, Daughter of Stafovsian,”
“Much better,” chimed in the Shadow.
Krenchi turned to the Shadow and with a slightly less friendly tone said, “Hail, Shadow Son of … None?”
“Aye, son of none suits me just fine and Hail to you Daughter of the Celesta. Do you have a given name?”
“I am Krenchi of the Zhetkho,” she said as she opened the gate and walked through.
“I hear that we have you to thank for the fresh bread and wine last night. It was a wonderful change from the trail food we had been living on,”
“I am glad that you enjoyed it. It was lucky that we had extra on hand in the bakery. I had overestimated how many would eat in the City when we set out to bake yesterday morning,”
“Well, our thanks to you in any case,” said the Shadow, with a small smile, “come sit with us a while under the trees and tell us why you have come. ” Gesturing for her to go first Krenchi and the Shadow walked over to the benches under the trees.
Tyrone did not like how this was going at all. He was not one to fight over women, but there was something special about Krenchi that seemed to rob him of all his smooth charm. Let the Shadow find his own women, he thought as he followed the two of them. The Shadow had said something that he could not hear, but it made Krenchi laugh that low musical laugh of hers.
With a shock Tyrone realized that he would conquer kingdoms or slay dragons for that laugh. Get a hold of yourself, boy, he thought. As there where no dragons in the vicinity, he picked an apple from one of the trees and walked over to the bench where the other two sat.
He pulled out the knife that Astiabo had given him and sliced a piece of the apple and ate it. “Would you care for a slice, Krenchi?” he asked as casually as he could.
“I would, and thanks to you,” she said with her sensuous lips curling up to reveal large white teeth.
Tyrone cut a piece and handed it to the girl. Turning to the Shadow he said, “And you?”
The Shadow knew that a challenge had been issued with that two word sentence and always being willing to play said, “Aye, and thanks. Though I would really prefer one of those pears,” and pointed to the pear tree across the yard.
“You will have to get that for yourself, then,” said Tyrone with just the hint of hardness in his voice.
“Oh, I think I’ll stick with apples. I just thought that if you were in such a mood to serve that you might fetch me one,” his eyes glittering with the joy of tormenting someone. Tyrone did not rise to the bait; instead he cut the Shadow a small slice of the apple and handed it to him.
“And how is it that you have come to have one of our knives?” asked Krenchi
“Oh, I was fool enough to shoot against Astiabo. I did not know the power of your bows, and made a bad bet.”
“But if you lost, why do you have the knife?” she asked
“Well, you know Astiabo? He bet me for one of my steel knives, and being the honorable soul that he is, did not want me to be with out a knife,”
“Hm, that sounds like Astiabo. He is very concerned about balance. What is steel?”
“It is metal that we make weapons and tools out of. It’s a is an alloy, like bronze,”
“Well, the Vernita will be very interested in that. Does your clan have the knowledge of the making of this steel?” Krenchi asked using the English word.
Tyrone shook his head and glanced at the Shadow, to see if he knew.
“I have some knowledge of smithing, but the making of steel is a closely held secret. I am surprised that you do not have it yourself. Is there no iron in this valley?”
Krenchi shook her head and said, “I do not know this word iron. I am not of the Vernita, in any case. But they might know it the in ore form or the Brachare, they would mine the ore.”
“I hope we have a chance to talk to them about it, “said the Shadow, ready to turn this conversation to a direction that he was more interested in, “On that subject, do you know how things go in the Council? Have they come to a decision yet?”
“Pah! Those talkers, as if they could agree that the sun rises in the East without a day of argument. I doubt that you will have your fate decided in less than three days. ” She leaned forward and in a lower voice that implied that she was sharing closely held gossip said, “My Methodenon tells me that your appearance has made for strange allies in this council session. The Sczench and Stafovsian are strong in favor of your welcome, but the Saltori of the Chositha is forcefully against and will not come to consensus,”
“Will it be decided by a poll?” asked the Shadow
This earned him one of Krenchi’s incredible laughs, “By the god, no! That is what makes the whole thing so chaffing, the Questoria will make the final decision, of course. But it is a wise leader that let her people talk themselves to exhaustion before she forces her will on them. That way there is too little fight left in them to contest with her. Or at least that is how it seems Skoltrella runs her Council.”
“So that gives you plenty of time to stay here and talk with us,” said the Shadow suavely.
“Ho, you would dishonor me by implying that I have nothing better to do than sit here and flirt with two men that have not even been welcomed into the city? Watch yourself, Dark One. I am a Telethan of the Stafovsian and you are near to challenge.” In one moment the women before them changed from light hearted flirt to something hard and dangerous. Her blue eyes burned with a fierce fire and the set of her shoulders gave ample support to the words that she spoke.
Tyrone seeing the change was lifted to a new level of desire for her. Here was a women that could not only share his bed, but also share the field of battle. He his adolescent tongue-tiedness evaporated and he said, “Krenchi, your pardon. The Shadow meant no disrespect. It is just we are stuck here with only ourselves to talk to, while others decided our fate. Then along comes someone that offers us a distraction, and happens to be a strong and lovely woman, and well, a man’s mind cannot hold too many things at once, so you would understand how we might forget that you have your own honor and position. So again, I beg your pardon, if we have put a smudge on your honor.”
As Tyrone spoke the set of Krenchi’s shoulders loosened and the fire in her gaze returned to the mischievous of before, though not completely at the level of ease that it had been. “Does this go for you, Shadowed One?” she asked.
“It does, completely,” said the Shadow.
“I can see now why you brought him,” she said pointing her thumb over her shoulder at Tyrone, “His tongue is as smooth and slick as stones in the river,” Krenchi turned to consider Tyrone, and said, “But I think that it is the fact that he speaks from his heart, without letting his mind get too much in the way that makes him so sincere,” she finished with a winning smile.
Tyrone’s chest tightened as he stood in the warmth of that smile, but his moment was diminished by the words that she had spoken, if not the tone. “I am not sure; Have I just been insulted?” he asked the Shadow.
“How can you be insulted by the truth?” the Shadow replied, laughing. “Our friend here has the measure of you, Ty, of that there can be no doubt.” Krenchi joined the Shadows laughter, and Tyrone was left standing there, not knowing whether to join or protest.
He was saved from his dilemma by the voice of Astiabo from over his shoulder,” What are we laughing at?”
“Astiabo! Hail mighty hunter of the wild,” said Krenchi
“Hail, Krenchi, conqueror of the bread,” said Astiabo in the same teasing tone, “And Hail Shadow and Tyrone,”
“Hail, Astiabo,” said Tyrone, “Have you come to rescue me from the taunts of these two?”
“I am not sure that you would need such a poor ally as I. Krenchi is known for her sharp tongue amongst all of the septs and clans and from our travels I know that the Shadow is not one to let an inconsistency or personal fault go by without comment. Against such as they, what help could I be?” he said with a grin in his beard.
“Oh ho!” laughed Tyrone, “I was right! You are just the one I need on my side. Come; let them both have another helping,”
“I would be more than happy to, Tyrone, but I did not come to play at words with your and the Telethan here. The council has come to a decision and they have sent me to bring you,” This swept the light mood away like a wind blowing leaves down a street. Even Krenchi became sober and serious.
“Do you know what they have decided?” asked the Shadow
“It is not my tale to tell, my friend, “said Astiabo.
Tyrone looked from Astiabo to Krenchi to see if she could read the man better than they. Her face was closed too, but there was still a twinkle in her eyes. “I thought that you said they would not decide to day?”
She shrugged and said, “Perhaps I overestimated our Quetoria’s patients,”
“Well, there is a rare sight,” said Astiabo, “Our Krenchi admitting that she might be wrong,”
“How untrue! I admit when I am wrong; it is just such a rare occurrence that you have not been there,” she said indignantly.
“That is what someone with guilt in their heart might say,” replied Astiabo
“Me, guilty? Never! I fully intend to do everything that I do, and if I have done it, why not be proud of it?”
“Well, as a daughter of the Stafovsian I would expect nothing less,” said Astiabo blandly. Krenchi stood and rubbed her hands together as if she were washing them.
“I will keep you from the Council no more, Tyrone, “and then walked out of the court yard as if the men were beneath her notice. They watched her go with waggish smiles on all of there faces.
“I would not have guessed that you could best such a formidable opponent,” said the Shadow.
“Ah, well, I have known Krenchi all our lives. I know exactly where her goat is, and so it is easy to go and get it when I want. You have a strong sense of that and not just with the people that you have known, Shadow,”
“Where her goat is?” asked Tyrone
“Aye, what would be more frustrating than going and looking for a goat that is not there? So, if I go and get someone’s goat, then I have gotten the best of them. Do you not have a similar phrase?”
“In Ireland we say that someone has gotten up our nose. It is much the same thing”
Astiabo nodded in agreement, and said, “So, now that we have cleared that up, we should be getting to the Council. Where is Brother Carlinus?” They all went into the house to find the priest.
It took a few minutes to find him, as he had finally decided to explore the upper stories of the house. When they where all together they headed out of the court yard. The Shadow asked if they should bring their horses, in a mildly sly way of trying to find out the outcome. Astiabo told him that they would be able to pick them up, if they needed to after seeing the council. This left the Shadow knowing just as much as he had before asking the question. It was not a position that he enjoyed, but by exercising a little patient he would have his answer shortly.
There were no crowds lining the street to the Council chamber, but that did not mean that they passed without scrutiny. Here and there along the street, groups of three or four people could be seen to be watching them as they passed. Again, they watched with a look that was neither welcoming nor threatening, which of course made it all the more unnerving. Each of the travelers took this in a style that matched their personality. Brother Carlinus walked as though the watchers were offering him respect and adoration, Tyrone looked around with an open expression as though there might be new friends here though he was ready for anything, and the Shadow watched and evaluated the possible avenues of attack through slightly narrowed eyes.
They came into the plaza before the Council chamber and there they found the first crowd that they had seen that day. There seemed to be distinct groups, but Tyrone could not have said why he thought that. As they approached the entrance they saw the powerfully built Trasbello standing to one side, his arms crossed and a stern frown on his face.
“Did you have to fetch them from beyond the mountains again, Astiabo?”
“We are here with all deliberate speed, Saltori” he said in a level voice that implied he did not appreciate the complaint. “I was given till the height of noon to return, and as you can see we are here before the Sun has reached that place,”
“The Celesti of my clan would be able to go the House of Summer and back in much less time,” grumbled the older man.
“Then it is lucky for me that I am not one of your clan,” said Astiabo as he walked past and into the council chamber. Trasbello turned and followed them in falling into step with Tyrone, who was bringing up the rear.
“So, what did you think of our House of Summer, traveler?”
“I was quite impressed the way that it was built. The fire hall is strange and wonderful,”
“You do not have such places in your land?”
“No, but if I have anything to say about it, there will be after I get back,” Tyrone said with a winning smile. He had expected Trasbello to warm with the mild flattery but instead the big mans expression darkened further. With a brusque nod he increased his stride and entered the council chamber ahead of the party. He marched to his seat in the semi-circle of benches and sat, crossing his arms over his large chest.
The Questoria stood where she had the day before, though her bearing was straight and strong as it had been, there was weariness in her eyes that let them know she had indeed been arguing the night away with her council.
“Hail, Outland Travelers,” she said as they arrived. The three men bowed in unison, and Tyrone said, “Hail, Questoria of the Celesta, Hail Council of the Saltori”
“You have presented us with quite a problem, which we have tried to resolve, ” she began without preamble, “Father Delatora was a wonder when he came to our lands four generations ago. He was the first contact that we had with the world beyond our mountains since we had come to live here. When he found our City of Rushing Water, he was a foot sore, ragged and hungry, or so the knowledge of the Sczench tells us.
The council of that time found that he was no threat to our hiding place, and the fact that he was in the service of the god, helped as well. Our knowledge of him says that he had no interest in the buildings on the land, nor the people that lived there. He said that he wanted only to know and draw the shape of the land that the god had made. He was Oltaka, one of the holy mad men that our oldest knowledge speaks of.
In our far past, when we still spoke with the god, such men would be taken with an all consuming mission, they would leave their clan and sept and do nothing else but the god’s will all the days of their lives. Such a man was Delatora.
It was the will of the council that he be allowed to map our valley, stay in the City for what time he would, and then be allowed to leave. The danger that he would tell our enemies of our existence, was judged small. So it comes to this council that there is a precedent to allow visitors to our city.
Now you come, but you are far different from Delatora. Two of you are warriors, of septs and people not in our knowledge. The other a Sczench of the god, and one of Delatora’s order. You do not come to map the land; no you are here to find us.
There has been much discussion of whether you might be the descendants of the slaves that slew our people and drove us from our homes. You, the Shadowed one, your looks and color are very similar to theirs, but we have decided that you are not their scouts, nor the child of their line. Such as they would never have forgiven the taint of honor that young Traviso placed on them by taunting your horse. Astiabo has told us that you held yourself satisfied with the laughter of the crowed, this is not the act of one that would destroy us for the sins of the past.
But still this left us with a problem. It is clear that you would talk of your adventures in the wild. In traveling with Astiabo you told him much, with little regard for how it might affect the people and places you spoke of. We have survived here in the City by not being known, to friend or enemy for more than a thousand summers. What would happen to us if all the world knew of our City?” though it was a rhetorical question, Brother Carlinus started to answer. The Questoria held up her hand in an imperious gesture, which silenced Brother Carlinus before a single word could be uttered.
“No doubt you would say that it would be a benefit, that trade with other places would allow the Celesta to take it’s place among the rest of the world. Perhaps this is even true, but how are we to know? Once a secret like this is out, there is no putting it back. Should we risk our way of life or the city that we have built on a chance?
No, we can not take such a risk without more knowledge. As Tyrone pointed out, we must find what you and your world are like, before such a decision is made. And so we come to the decision of the council.
We would have you stay here, in the City of Rushing Water for a full cycle of the seasons. Each of you will be trained in the ways of one of our clans, learning some of the knowledge of each sept. As you do that, we will learn of you. What kind of men you are, the skills and knowledge of your septs, the ways of your lands.
At the end of that time we will know better how we may trust you, and you will perhaps, know enough of us to want to protect our City and way of life. So now I ask you as Questoria of the Celesta, will you stay and learn the ways of our septs?”
The Shadow did not give Brother Carlinus a chance to speak but quickly said, “Before we answer, a question, if you will,” When the Questoria nodded her head, he continued, “What if we decided that staying for a year is not what we want? What will happen then?”
The Questoria raised herself to her full height, brought the point of her chin up in a regal pose that allowed her to meet the Shadow’s eyes while looking down her large straight nose, “You can not be allowed to leave the City as you are now. I thought that this was clear. We will not be hostage to the whims of will of men that we know not.
“Then why ask? We are your prisoners, you my make us do as you will.”
“We cannot make you learn our ways, you might go through the motions, but a prisoner is not a willing participant. We wish to learn from you as well, how could that be done without your consent?”
“So if we refuse, you will just lock us up?” asked Tyrone
“No. Your have given honor and friendship to Astiabo and Traviso, and they have returned it. We would not deprive you of your honor by imprisoning you. If you will not agree to the conditions of the council, you will have to be killed. There is no other honorable and safe alternative.”
The Questoria pronounced this sentence so matter of factly that Brother Carlinus nearly missed it. He stood there gaping as the gravity of the situation came to him. But as his fear crested it started to dissipate, after all he wanted to stay here, and given a year he was sure that the Celesta would be converted to the ways of the Lord. Clearing his throat he said, “I can’t speak for my companions, but I would be more than happy to stay here in your City, if you will allow,”
The Shadow frowned at having his hand forced by the little priest, but there really was no alternative at this time. The passes through the Black Tooth’s would soon be frozen and blocked off, and staying here in a city with plenty of food and people was much, much better than certain death. Still he was not one to just acquiesce even when the odds where very long against him.
“And in a cycle of the seasons, what then? Will we be told that we must stay, or die then? I would rather know now if your intent is to keep us here till we die one way or the other. It may be that I would choose to die standing on my feet, than as an old man in a sick bed.”
The Questoria gave the Shadow another long stare, as if weighing the amount of trouble he could be with her eyes. “You are the spelon one aren’t you? I advise you not to push where you are at such a disadvantage. Having said that, I will give you my assurance, Shadow; if after a cycle of living and working with us, you wish to leave, then leave you will. No Celesta will lift a hand to stop you.”
“Under those conditions, I most gladly except your offer of a years welcome in the City of Rushing Water,” the Shadow said with a sarcastic smile and a sincere bow. The Questoria gave an annoyed sniff to show that she had received the tone of the Shadows acceptance and then turned her hard brown eyes to Tyrone.
“That is two of three. What is your decision Tyrone Costello?”
Tyrone put his best, most charming smile on and said, “Hm, let me see, a year to explorer the City of Rushing Water, or being put to death. I just don’t know.” When he saw that his little act was winning no points with the Council in general and the Questoria in particular, he toned down his smile and said, “I would be honored if you want to learn my poor skills an’ have me learn your wondrous ones” This was exactly the tone to take with Questoria, and she gave him a wintery smile that those who stood in the chamber and knew their leader recognized as high praise indeed.
“Then it is settled. For the next twelve moons you will be as young Celesta, though where their only duty is to learn the knowledge of their septs, you will be tasked with teaching as well. The Saltori have spoken for you each of will be fostered to a different clan. You, Tyrone Sly Tongue, have been spoken for by both Astiabo and Hadronat the Saltori Andon of my own Garshon. They feel that you would do well with the septs of the animals and fields. Your knowledge of horses is one that they covet for our clan.” This brought a lop-sided grin to Tyrone’s face and he acknowledged the assignment and nickname with a low bow from the waist to the council, and a wink to Astiabo, who did his best to ignore the impropriety.
“Shadow, Night Eyes, you have been spoken for by Trasbello and the Chositha. He is a man of dark moods and strong words, as you are. It is hoped that you will not come to blows too often,”
“I will learn as much as I can, without being too much of a trouble, Questoria” said the Shadow, with a bow from the neck only.
“Some how I doubt that,” she muttered in a voice that all could hear clearly.
“Brother Carlinus, Servant of the god, you present something of a problem. The usual path for those of the Sczench is to be in a clan and then train for their position from there. But the Saltori of the Sczench has been most persuasive that you should be assigned to them directly, as they would be the ones best suited to learn the new lore of the god. So you will be given to Getovan and share with the Sczench of all the clan in conclave”
“In the Lord’s Name, I humbly accept your position with the Sczench. May God bless and keep this council and continue to lead them to wisdom,” said Brother Carlinus. He then made a large sign of the cross to spread the blessing to the entire assembly. Tyrone was standing next to the Shadow and facing the Council, so he did not see him roll his eyes, but he did see the troubled looks that darkened both Trasbello’s and Emorato’s faces , the Saltori of the Stafovsian.
“Now, finally, we can say, welcome Celesti noy to the City of Rushing Water. Listen to your clan mates, learn and grow so you may become Celesti doci and bring honor and glory to your sept, clan and people,” said the Questoria raising her hands palms outward and letting the sweeping bells of her sleeves fall to her shoulders. Dropping her hands she said less grandly, “The business of the Council is concluded, go now, all to their septs,” she then turned and walked away without a word or glance at any in the hall.
It left Tyrone with a slightly cold feeling as if she were not happy with the situation or it’s outcome. He did not think that she had wanted them to choose to die rather than stay the year, but he did feel that she would have been happier to have never seen them at all. He put it out of his mind as Astiabo brought Hadronat over to him.
“Hail, Hadronat, Saltori of the Garshon, and my new boss,”
“No, Sly Tongue, not Saltori, Saltori Andon. Skoltrella is Saltori of the Garshon, but she cannot manage the daily matters that a Saltori deals in and be the Questoria, so I am Andon, or second Saltori. There ever only one Andon, at a time so you would address me as Andon, and there will be no confusion,”
“Hail, Hadronat, Andon,” said a very slightly abashed Tyrone.
“Hail Celesti noy, also called Sly Tongue,”
“Why did she and you call me that? Not that I mind a nickname, but up until now everyone used my name and family name,”
“It part of being noy or in apprentice. You have no family, yet. When our young begin their training they are given a different name, to let them know that they are expected to change and earn their sept and clan name. We have all been given such names at our Welcome. You’ll get used to it.”
“Well, a man could do worse than ‘Sly Tongue’, hell it might give the ladies ideas,” said Tyrone, earning a laugh from his new clan mates.