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, October 1, 2012

Aresan Clan pt 41

Progress on the reconstruction of the mill was moving along at an excellent pace. When Eloh had opened the waterways earlier in the day, sending a flood of water to the dormant wheel, its motion recommenced for the first time in two days. Eloh soon after put it to work, loading grain to grind beneath the heavy millstone. Repair was yet to be completed, since the walls and the floor of the structure still had to be repaired and considerable cleanup remained, but Eloh was able to reduce the work detail, putting much of the cloisters back to their regular assignments. And he made sure that his three suspects — Arrs, Sanda and Jule — were among those busy with work on the mill in order to keep them away from their rooms.

He visited Arrs’ room first. When he opened the door he was presented with a room of spare possessions. The hay-stuffed mattress, raised just above the floor by a small bed frame was covered only by the simple sheets the cloisters provided him. Beside the bed a canvas bag contained a few changes of clothes and intermixed between them were some tools of his farrier craft: some hammers, nails and horseshoes and sundry tools that Eloh didn’t recognize. Several candles lay across the low desk in the room, none of which had apparently been used. This itself seemed unusual, but it didn’t signify anything of importance. Otherwise, nothing suspicious was visible. He appeared to be a man of limited means and limited possessions. If he had set the mill on fire, there was no evidence to indicate so in his room.

Eloh visited Sanda’s room next. It was both more colorful and more aromatic than the previous. She had adorned her bed with brightly colored sheets, and draped fabric over her window. She had several pieces of jewelry which littered her desk and two framed portraits that hung on her wall, one of herself as a much younger woman, and one of a young male Eloh didn’t recognize. Unlike Arrs’, her room showed a wealth of possessions. She had a great many pieces of clothing, rich in color and expensive dyes. Since it was unlikely that a wealthy woman would decide to be a resident at the cloisters, she apparently used to be an affluent woman, or, perhaps, had been the beneficiary of a voluminous largess.

Buried deep within her bag, inside her clothes, Eloh found a small leather sack containing a green moss soaked in fermented berries, which he recognized as a soldier’s sponge. Next to it was a container of rouge made from concentrated beet juice, used to redden the cheeks and lips, and an eye shadow made from black charcoal. But none of what he found seemed at all suspicious.

In the third room he also failed to find anything that might further his investigation, but he did find something curious. Jule’s room looked the part of a weaver, decorated with a beautiful carpet on the floor and a great, woolen bedspread over the bed. A few of the smaller tools of his craft littered the room, such as threads, combs and shuttles. But when Eloh looked under the bed, he saw, concealed behind a bag, a cache of books, pushed against the wall in several short stacks. This was a very strange thing to find. Not only would it be surprising to meet a weaver who was literate, but also the cost of these books must have equaled the total earnings of an average weaver over several years. This was the library of a wealthy man. Eloh moved the bed aside, and picked up one book, a bound folio which appeared to be a medical text filled with illustrations of many plants and anatomical figures and annotation in the Omnian language. Looking at the handwritten lines, Eloh wondered how a weaver could afford a work that must have taken many full days worth of highly skilled labor to transcribe and illustrate. Even more surprising he noticed that the books were not all written in Omnian. Most were in the Omnian tongue, but others were apparently in the so-called “Fire Tongue,” the high dialect of the Fourth Order, and even a few appeared to be in the Onutian language.

The only possible explanation that came to Eloh’s mind was that these books were stolen, or that Jule had been seriously misrepresenting himself.

<-- Go to Part 40         Go to Part 42 -->

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

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