The Aresan Clan is published four times a week (Tue, Wed, Fri, Sun). You can see what's been written so far collected here. All posts will be posted under the Aresan Clan label. For summaries of the events so far, visit here. See my previous serial Vampire Wares collected here.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Aresan Clan pt 9

Alles continued his story: “Elisa died, on a small campaign against the Onutians. I was near the rear and saw her carrying two injured men, one for each shoulder, from the van. The blood from her fatal wound was visible on her side, dripping down beneath her armor. I should have let her go back out and let her bleed to death on that battlefield, fighting, but I was a coward. I wanted her there with me. She even struggled against me to let her go back out and fight, and there I was holding her back, trying to get one of the Heavy Hands to heal her.” Even as he spoke these things, his voice was flat and emotionless, but he abruptly stopped as if he’d revealed too much about himself in saying these words.

He then added: “You are not like her. You shouldn’t be on these military missions. I only brought you along because I thought you might be good at taking care of the child. You’re soft; your breasts are plump; your voice is sweet. She was not such a beautiful temptation to the men as you are. They admired her and wanted to fight beside her. The men desire you and want to lie beside you.”

He again broke off. He looked at her and said, “That is enough for tonight. Go to sleep.” And then he turned onto his side and began to sleep, while Annsi lay beside him and watched his bare chest grow with each long, sleeping breath.

Salles carefully annotated an illustration by the light of an oil lamp on which a small flame burned on a grass wick. He wrote out a long description, which occupied nearly half of the large parchment that he worked upon, and he hunched himself over not only to closely watch his careful lettering, but also to hide the light of his lamp. It was generally considered neglectful for a Sage to be up so late and wasting his oil to catch up on work he should have completed during the day. So he crouched over the lamp to prevent its light from being seen under the door to his room by any of the elders potentially passing through the hall. He had been falling behind on this project for some time—he’d made sluggish effort mastering his papermaking skills and his handwriting had always been slow and labored, both due to his obsession with details and his unsteady hand. No effort on his part could improve his facility and productivity at calligraphy. To make up for his poor handwriting, he’d diligently perfected the picture, delicately applying the red strokes with his small brush, made from a carved twig and a clump of his own hair.

The picture itself was a scene from Omnia mythology: the story of the fall of the Five Cities. In the scene depicted lay the white stag, slain on the ground with an arrow through its neck, the stag in which the devil Ser-thoth had decided to hide in order to infect one of the Royals. The senior Royal, William Sirr, was taking the first bite of the heart of the freshly felled prey, which would infect him with Ser-thoth and ultimately lead to the downfall of the Five Cities. Beside William Sirr was another Royal, Richard Bale, as well as the servant who slew the animal, both of whom would subsequently follow him with an honorary bite of the freshly killed animal and be infected. All of this and more, Salles endeavored to explain in his text with the straightforward succinctness his teacher’s valued. He’d never been good at straightforward succinctness either. It was long, ornate writing that suited his tastes, filled with beautiful, long sentences and extravagant metaphors.

The common reprimand was of course that the paint was not to be wasted on something that could as be easily said in half the words—the process of mixing the mineral, oil, and beeswax paint that they recorded these stories with was time-consuming to produce and there were better applications of a Sage’s time. Time to a sage was always in short supply and wastefulness was anathema to their ethic.

He wrote out another careful succession of a letters until a sound from the hallway made him hunch all that much closer to his painting sheet to hide the light. Steps passed by his room and he kept still to avoid notice. They passed and his lettering continued.

Only afterwards did he notice a glow from outside. He could see an orange and yellow light reflected on the trees visible through his window. It was an uncommonly bight light to be seen at night. Salles stood up, knowing he’d have to investigate.

<-- Go to Part 8         Go to Part 10 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

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