Just a quick reminder: this is the last post that will appear on WordPress.com, thanks to their “improvements.” However, the story will be continuing at http://prysmcat.com/moonblood/ and I hope you’ll come join us there! ~~Steph
(chapter continued from previous post)
Catching the sounds of motion, Kaveri looked towards the stairs that led to the second floor, and blinked.
Narcissa, instead of the proper pale-coloured and minimally-ornamented dresses that were meant to be seen only in private, since the more elaborate and bright mantle was the only thing most saw, was now in a dress that was more fitted and draped more closely against her body. More strikingly, it was woven of, Kaveri thought, threads of several shades of vivid blues and greens in at least two different weights, giving it a subtle pattern and texture that shifted as she moved. With it, she was wearing a moderate amount of amber jewellery in silver, and she had her eyes lined black and her lips darkened somehow; her normally confined hair was simply gathered back at the sides but mostly loose. Over one arm she had a mantle of a relatively plain muted blue and grey.
Beside her was, well, Lysandra, obviously, but the transformation from Evander was startling. Dressed to dance, she was wearing vibrant saffron, the full skirt of voluminous folds of lightweight fabric sitting perhaps a bit less low on narrower hips but extra flounces at the sides added a suggestion of width; the snug belly-baring top must have padding that helped create a hint of cleavage, and the very short sleeves were loose. Something had been used to make her face look a trifle paler and more even in tone, with her eyes lined heavily with black and something making the lids glitter and her lips deep red, and her black hair had reddish highlights. The heavy earrings dangling from her lobes, the smaller ones up higher, the elaborate necklace, the serpent bracelets around her upper arms and bangles around her wrists, the chain belt with its fringe of coins hanging from shorter chains of varying length, the anklets Kaveri caught a glimpse of a few times, were all gold—Kaveri would have been willing to bet they were real, not gilt or brass, and that those stones were all precious ones. Interestingly, she had a tattoo, a custom they’d encountered in various places on their travels. In this case, it was a blue-black serpent that nearly encircled her navel, but the head and tail turned outwards at the ends, leaving the very top open—like a vase with her navel inside, Kaveri thought. The whole thing was probably larger than the area covered by her palm.
Even more dramatic, though, was the change in how she moved. While Evander was graceful and fit, Lysandra moved with the poise and fluidity and confidence of a great cat.
Suddenly Kaveri found herself really anticipating seeing Lysandra dance. Read the rest of this entry
Narcissa heaved a sigh and straightened up, setting the quill in its cup and pushing the last of the documents away from her.
“I believe that’s everything that needs to be done today. I hope you like where we’re going this evening.”
“We like anything new,” Mirren said cheerfully. “And this sounds like a fun place.”
“Could one of you remind Evander that it’s time to leave?”
Mirren hopped off her stool and headed for the door to the outer office. With no one else around, there was no need for military-rigid stances, only staying alert.
Narcissa, of course, had her own office on an upper floor of the hospital. An outer room had its own large window, under which Evander had his desk. The inner one was larger, positioned in a corner so it had windows on two sides, and not only held Narcissa’s desk and ample shelf space and potted plants on every surface but considerable extra seating as well. Several stools and chairs were scattered around the space, the latter the common local kind that looked like an hourglass from the front with cushions softening the seat and back. Like the furnishings of Narcissa’s house, there was a distinct theme of plants and earthy colours, from the cushions to the rugs on the marble floors. In one corner was a life-sized painted statue of a woman in her prime, in yellow and green, with a basket cradled in her arms, and inside it were real, not carved, bottles and jars and a mortar and pestle and several bunches of herbs—a personal shrine of sorts, perhaps?
“You’ve had a tiring few days,” Kaveri said sympathetically. “Lirit can give you infinite energy but that doesn’t help much with emotional strain, and you’ve had a lot to deal with. Taking some time to enjoy yourself sounds like a wonderful idea. I know you have other reasons, but I hope you can relax, too.”
“I intend to. It’s a good place for that.”
Evander had conceded, though with some apprehension, to Narcissa’s reasoning, that hiding behind the walls of house and hospital would convey an unwelcome message about fear. This was an established routine, and a change to it would be noticed.
Kaveri, personally, was grateful that she’d never been in a position in which her every move became an example and a statement that overruled her own caution.
Narcissa straightened up her desk, leaving it ready for the next day, and took the most recent handful of documents to the outer office.
“Thank you,” Evander said, accepting them. “On the way out I’ll leave them with Oxylos to deliver.”
Evander’s door always being open, unlike Narcissa’s, Tyrel and Madoc had chosen to establish themselves in the corridor, where they could scrutinize everyone passing by—probably scaring some, Kaveri suspected. On the other hand, word would spread rapidly about the new foreigner bodyguards, and if some people were too nervous to harass Narcissa and Evander, that was helpful in itself. Read the rest of this entry
(chapter continued from previous post)
“Are there any animals sacred to other particularly relevant gods?” Madoc asked. “Ones they’ll probably try to bring in if they have them available?”
“The wolf is sacred to Briseis,” Evander said. “She guards the wilderness but also Enodia’s borders, which ironically enough means she’s a patron of fences and boundaries as well. She’s the personal guardian of the Diamantian line. There’s an old story that she adopted a human child and raised him as her own, and that he’s an ancestor some way back. That could work either for us, by the implication that Briseis is guarding Enodia from threats, or against us, that she’s protecting Diamantians even from other gods who might have justifiable grievances. But to twist to their purposes? Enodia has so many gods, each with their own sacred animals and attributes and teachings, that one can find a god to fit nearly any situation. Of the Twelve and One? The Great Mother has no animal, or all of them. Makarios is the other healer, the one who oversees public sanitation and food safety and surgery and the more technology-based aspects of medicine, but a goose isn’t terribly impressive as an assassin.”
“Which gods are Oreios’ teachings in conflict with?” Tyrel asked.
Somewhere downstairs, the repeated thudding of someone pounding on the sturdy street door echoed dully, with the violent clanging of the normally mellow door chimes barely audible in the intervals.
“Both of our most prominent gods of healing say to offer healing impartially,” Narcissa said, ignoring the noise. “Aithre is the handmaiden of the Great Mother, she was the First Dancer who made the Great Mother laugh with joy and she brought us mead and wine, and she is god of religious ecstasy and prophecy and of things and people that exist on and across boundaries and borders. Her teachings encourage us to embrace the infinite diversity of the world as beautiful. She is the only major god who has a specific sacred role for those who do not fit ordinary categories but there are minor gods who do as well. Scyron, god of justice, civic duty, and contract law, states that everyone must be treated as equals, regardless of wealth or sex or other extraneous detail, and that for any act to be a crime, there must be material harm done. Disapproval by itself is expressly excluded. That’s how the old laws were removed, in fact. I suppose an attack by his mule might be twisted into disapproval of our part in the trials in Orthia.” Read the rest of this entry