Some authors of Fantasy novels have a knack of dropping the reader, slam-bam-wham into the middle of the action and building up the world as the reader is sped along through all sorts of wonderful mayhem.
Now if I try that I get so wrapped up in all the fun that the plot and continuity tend to go flying out the window with the next deservingly slaughtered villain. So, I opt for the slow-burn build-up, gives me a chance to get familiar with the place and the folk! Thus the next two episodes have us getting to know a bit more about the way Karlyn & Meradat work and some theological discussion…
A custodian upon the road leading a horse carrying someone who was draped, gagged and bound was not a sigh an ordinary person would care to see, but by the same token they would have not been surprised. This ominous reminder of the sterner arm of The Ecclesiastes made travel easier as folk would naturally try and distance themselves from the apprehended wretch.
This wretch loudly snoring did take something away from the grimness, and Meradat was glad the road was a lonely one. Maybe rumours had spread quickly and of course no one wanted to meet a custodian; for most custodians maintained true innocence would only be found in the very, very young. He glanced back at the girl; he had not encountered anyone before who would consider their present circumstance as conducive to a sound sleep. Currently he did not think her insane, but his opinion was divided; she may have been born an incorrigible mischief or there again she could be one who was aggrieved with the world and was set to vex it as a matter of principal. As for her claim to be able to scent out transgressors through the Stommigheid this was still to be fully proven. He had hoped the exercise in discomfort would lower her guard and reveal some sort of truth; her snoring was lowering his expectations.
They turned a bend in the road; a farmer leading a horse and cart looked up in surprise, then trepidation, and made to hurry by. The horse bred for labour and not adventure was not disposed to, resulting in the poor fellow mumbling a mixture prayers and pious greetings to Meradat, much familiar with the pattern. All might have gone reasonably well save that as the man drew alongside the girl, her head suddenly jerked up. Sighting another hapless victim, she began with an unhinged leering then assailing him with muffled dire warnings and accusations
“Heretic!” swiftly boomed Meradat by way of an explanation.
The farmer gabbled something but since Karlyn had upset the horse by her sudden actions, he had other problems.
To avoid any further ill-matched interludes Meradat set his small train into a canter off of the road and into the nearest copse. As soon as they had stopped Karlyn wriggled and slithered off of the horse, and despite being bound hands and feet managed to land to a crouch. Once seated she proceeded to bite at the gag, tearing parts into her mouth and subsequently spitting them out. Upon reducing the gag to rags she set her teeth to the hand ropes.
“That will not be necessary,” Meradat said, hoping to inform her of his displeasure at such excess. However, he noted she had managed by feral glee to free her hands and so able to be attending to the leg restraints. She was obviously quite adept at such manoeuvres. Then judging by her grin, and springing to her feet with an accentuated arm stretching yawn it appeared she’d seen the whole business as another sort of jolly game.
“Ooooh I am stiff!” surrendering that much to normality she peered down the direction from which they had come, and called back in the direction of the vanished farmer “Sorry I scared you little horsey!” This courtesy applied she commenced to bounce up and down on her feet explaining she needed to get them mobile again.
Her series of peripatetic, agile and perverse displays left him wondering if she had had some training, or whether this was another of the apparent natural gift. If the former was the case, then maybe there could be some foundation to ClnMyla’s concerns over some sort of plot to discredit. At least he would know how to handle the business. If the latter were so, there were many questions. Most of which may never be answered.
“Can I be a Gervalon all the time?” she asked over a very functional and cold supper of bread and diluted wine, and not seeming to worry too much that he would not allow any fire for secrecy’s sake.
“No. They are serious and intense about their obstinate and heretical beliefs. They are not given to pulling faces or making odd noises. The guise would not bear examination,”
“Pity. It’s fun to scare people,” She pondered “So can I be an apprentice Custodian?” not appearing to be unsettled by Meradat scornful disapproval she continued “I could say I was learning to torture people,”
“There are no apprentices! The post is supposed to be obtained after many years of trustworthy and diligent service as a translator, seen to be willing to face danger in the Lord God’s name,”
“Well don’t you have assistants to do horrible things to hairy-tiks?”
“Her-ra-tics! And having assistants of such employ is not relevant or conducive to this commission. As I explained before we left that wretched town, it is hoped you are tasked by the Lord God to use your abilities to seek out this miscreant of the Jordisk,”
Karlyn examined the remains of the chunk of bread giving the appearance of thus seeking a certain insight into the nature of things.
“Why can’t the Lord God, do it himself? He’s got all sorts of powers. Stands to reason he could-“
“It is not for us to question!” Meradat intoned with a practiced ease of many years of responding to the heretical, ill-informed or down right ridiculous. However, she might have to be placed under a new category.
Karlyn responded with a shrug and an accompanying face.
“Suits me. Don’t see why he should have all the fun anyhow,”
“It is not fun Karlyn Nahtinee! Our world, The Lord God’s Jewel, is bastion against realms of malice, whose wretched inhabitants are but slaves to the natures of those realms. We must ever guard against the subtle tydes and atmospheres which seep in due to the vanities of the Jordisk and the machinations of those dabblers in blasphemies. All can be prey unless vigilant,”
“If it being so, shouldn’t I be smelling all sorts of things all sorts of times?”
Meradat detected some degree of scepticism in her question.
“I said they were subtle and they do seep,”
“Sometimes I smell nice things. Those tides-“
“Tydes- there is a difference!”
“ TY- dez! I think they may waft along and sometimes bring good folk together. Not much, but sometimes,”
Having thus said her outrage she rose, brushing off crumbs and rural detritus, sniffing the air as she did, eyes growing wide, then as she turned slowly from, one direction to another, her attention set on some far distance.
“S’far away, but it’s there. Definitely there. S’ a smell of clean oil on a sharp blade,” she moved away, soft footed towards the tree setting one foot and both hands on the trunk “You do what you got to do Custodian, then get some sleep. I’ll be awake, up here,” she began to clamber “Talking to the shiny stars and waiting for whatever the breezes bring me,”
He correctly concluded there was little to be gained in trying to have a theological or even liturgical discussion with someone who was at the top of a tall tree.