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, November 26, 2012

Aresan Clan pt 73

Onur walked to the front door of Darma’s house, summoned by a loud pounding from outside. When he opened the door he saw a square-jawed soldier with a short beard and closely cropped hair standing next to a small, sensual woman with beautiful features and a tentative smile.

Despite that she looked like such a delicate creature, she had the short hair and toned arms of a soldier, and Alles inferred that it was Alles and Annsi and led them inside.

Annsi wore an elegant blue toga which fitted her well and complemented her beauty, even though the fabric was worn and the colors faded. Attached to a leather belt that hugged her waist, she bore a dagger in a sheath, partly concealed between the folds of her toga. Alles wore the same type of shirt and trousers that he normally wore, though he had apparently treated the event as a special occasions, since his clothes were freshly cleaned, he was freshly bathed, and he’d trimmed his beard and hair. Though he looked hardly any different than the forbidding soldier of the battlefield, he did actually look and smell clean for a change.

They were led into a brightly-lit sitting room, where Darma rose to greet them, kissing them both on the cheeks. She spoke with them at length, while they waited for the food, drinking from a cup as she talked. In the expression of her slow and fluid movements was the effortless grace of a person accustomed to having things placed in her hands when she asked, a person accustomed to being able to command and receive that which she wished for without any more effort necessary than the production of a gesture. At the tips of her fingers was a drinking cup resting on the table, and all she needed to when it was empty was to extend it forth for Onur to understand the command and refill it.

It was not until the food was almost completed that Salles emerged from the kitchen and shared a firm handshake with Alles. He presented his hand to Annsi and then awkwardly tried to hug her.

When the four of them sat down, they were each presented with a plate of meat, bread and cheese, with a cup of a sour, fizzy drink that Alles didn’t recognize. He commented, “This is a great honor Sage Salles. I have never had the esteemed privilege of sharing a meal with a Sage before. It is reputed that your food has miraculous powers of longevity.”

“So they tell us,” Salles commented with a sly smile, “In fact, they tell us that there are three pillars of longevity: activity, nourishment and repose. But I can’t tell you about those because they’re supposed to be secret. And I understand you just returned from a mission yesterday.”

“That is true,” Alles replied, “But I can’t tell you about it either, since it too is a secret.”

“Marvelous!” Salles sarcastically replied with a small laugh, “We have nothing we can talk about.”

“If I might say something,” Darma cut in after a short silence, “directed at Miss Annsi here. I must confess that I find the idea of bringing women along as soldiers so odd. I can’t deny I was at first bothered when Salles told me about his daughter, since, well, you know the reputation that female soldiers have. But, after meeting this woman, I really have to admire her for being willing to surround herself with such hard brutes (no offense General Alles) in the lawless wild. That must take some daring.”

“It’s not daring, I just didn’t really have any other options,” Annsi humble replied.

“Why is that?” Darma asked.

“My mother’s a scullery servant. There weren’t many gentlemen banging down my door to make me a wife. Salles tried to arrange a marriage for me, but without any dowry, few men were interested. The army seemed better than being the wife of some poor laborer or working as an unmarried servant like my mother.”

This drew the two women into a conversation, and Salles took the opportunity to speak separately with Alles and segue into the topic he had brought him to talk about: “We had a very serious incident in the Cloisters just a few days ago. I only just arrived in Lamosa four days ago, shortly after the incident. Our main watermill was sabotaged. It was set on fire in the middle of the night.”

“By whom?” Alles asked, turning himself towards Salles as he lifted some food into his mouth.

“The Fourth Order,” Salles answered, “Some agent of the Fourth Order infiltrated the cloisters and set the fire. We’re extremely vulnerable out there.”

“You need more security,” Alles said as he chewed his food.

“Exactly,” Salles concurred, “But the Premier is stingy about these things and has his designs on trying to take us over by essentially putting troops in the cloisters and making us prisoners in our own home. He is not sympathetic to the Aresan Clan.”

“You should’ve told me sooner. I am always willing to help out my clan. The sages especially, who I have deep respect for. You are the true pinnacles of our clan. I will certainly speak to the Closed Table of this.”

“That would be wonderful,” Salles replied, “You are the probably the one person in the entire Omnia that Anders has to listen to.”

<-- Go to Part 72         Go to Part 74 -->

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

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