One Evening at Darkenhold

Re: One Evening at Darkenhold

Postby Niabh » Mon Dec 30, 2019 4:13 pm

Her hand slipped off the back of the chair. She turned slowly as he clarified, her back toward her host, eyes climbing up to the distant top shelves as she tried to grasp the scale. He could hardly help but notice her hesitation, but she wished for but a moment to explain to herself what the sight of all those books meant. That they had been here all this while, secretly scribbling in their giant books, hiding them away. That they might know things she did not—hundreds of thousands of books’ worth of things, in every language, more than one could read in a lifetime.

Disquiet was the trigger that broke her hesitation. One could be many things—engaged, delighted, passionate, indifferent—but to be disquieted by anything mortal-made was not done. Not publicly, anyway. Disquieted meant they had gotten under your skin, but there was nothing like an absolute to get her feet firmly under her once more. A brow cocked up, skeptical, challenging: whose lifetime?

“I was just about to ask if Glenn had seen all this. I might have guessed he had a hand in it.” The words were airy but the tone faintly flat, hollow. She made a second attempt that came out more confident, though her gaze still roamed elsewhere: “It would seem your folks have been writing things down for much longer than mine. I didn’t guess you’d been doing quite this much of it, though.”

At last she revolved back to face Sylvius, managing an assured if not outright mischievous smile. “No Library of Ladies, I take it?”

As Sylvius had laid aside his hat, the woman politely shed her cloak, then stood with it draped over one arm as she hunted for a place to put it that was not over the back of a chair or across the face of that beautiful table. Underneath she wore a draped crimson gown held aloft by two round gold buckles at each shoulder, belted with a wide braided girdle of gold, violet, and scarlet, its heavy hem long enough to graze the floor (hadn’t she been wearing boots before?). A second gold bangle was clamped above the elbow of her shapely brown arm, and a golden ribbon spiraled through the smooth coil of hair that lay over her shoulder (but which had been loose in the kitchen, that fact was established; Maurina had reached for it, and it had been loose). As queens went, the garb was several centuries—if not millennia—out of fashion. Beautiful but barbaric simplicity.

“The trouble is I know not how anything is done in Myrken. I have no idea how you function.” Her hands orbited one another as though struggling to card words out of the very air. “By my understanding, you don’t. You keep your king way off on the other side of the world—” One hand spun off from the other’s orbit to grope midair in the vague direction of Razasan, countless leagues away, as if she could take it down from the shelves and show him. “—how does he even know you’re here? How are you meant to make plaint to him? Who sits at trial? How do you decide who gets to live anywhere? Do you know you have people who aren’t living anywhere?

Now that she had warmed up to asking, it seemed as if she had no intention of ever stopping; she had started off earnest, grown baffled, and was distantly building up to being outraged, though she had a vague notion that she ought to stop before she got there. “There are houses but people aren’t allowed to live in them. The houses sit idle and collapse while there are people sleeping in the streets. In this weather! You have dozens of farmers growing fields and fields of crops but still there are people going hungry. There are children stealing to feed themselves because no one is looking after them and then when they’re caught everyone just acts as if they’re bad children, as if anyone wouldn’t steal when they’re starving, and none of it seems to concern anyone, they all act as if it just…happens. But it doesn’t just happen; you let it happen.”

Her throat flashed as she paused for breath. It was the right moment, too; as soon as the word children left her lips, a red spark snapped across the back of her eyes and a cold tingle burned along her nerves. The balance teetered on the tipping point of anger. By a great force of will, she was just able to grab it with both hands and haul it back toward reason.

“So…resources, I suppose would be my main question. Resources you have aplenty so it doesn’t make sense that you can’t even feed everyone. Also I haven’t decided how taxes work. Mostly I just know they’re there, but I don’t know what they’re for.
Anything can be magic if you're gullible enough.
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