Acquaintances

Acquaintances

Postby Glenn » Wed Jan 01, 2020 2:11 pm

Gloria Wynsee,

My name is Mary Ford. You do not know me well but you do know me. I do not know you well but I do know you. When you came into the Inquisitory the first time, I was there. When things went bad, I wasn't. I saw what happened to others and a Myrkener knows when to keep her head down. A Myrkener doesn't feel shame about that either. I try not to. I don't always succeed, but I'm still me to fail.

You just got back. I just got back as well. I spent the last few years travelling doing unimportant errands for a demanding patron. Why? I got to travel. No one in my family went anywhere. No one I knew went anywhere. I went places. Distance was freedom. Having returned and wanting to be here, I miss it. I would like to discuss other options with you. We all need to eat and maybe you and I, together, could come up with a better way to do so.

Will you meet with me?

Mary Ford
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Re: Acquaintances

Postby Rance » Thu Jan 02, 2020 5:57 pm

Mna. Ford,

Of course I know you. Of all my faults among them is not so frail a memory that it should omit you. I am more than pleased to be in reseit of your letter and wish to welcome you warmly back to this, our shared home. A thing which we have made our own, whether or not we are of it, or we are of lands beyond.

Firstly you ought feel proud of yourself for avoiding the conflicts, as this ensured your safety and I am sure the safety of others. What it guaranteed was that you could return now to Myrken Wood to contribute your best in times of regrowth and reg rejuvinasion. My hope is that in your travel you found solace, peace, and an education beyond that which our town may offer. Was your patron kind to you? Those of us who regularly find ourselves thriving and existing in the shadows of greaters may sometimes also be treated poorly for it. I should look very forward to hearing about your journey. Though I have traveled I find that I have been forced to do so out of necessity and thus would like to live vie vy vicariously through others.

And do you fare well? Does Maxwell fare well? In my time back at the Inquisitory I have not seen him, and should like to know if he is safe.

So then let us meet, Mary. Shall you prefer the Inquisitory or a less stringent location? Where you prefer I shall come, or you may come to me. Let us talk of this freedom.

And of course of eating.

With warmth,

Mna. Gloria Wynsee
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Re: Acquaintances

Postby Glenn » Sat Jan 04, 2020 3:56 am

Gloria,

Thank you for responding so quickly and so nic gratiously. Good sense is not bravery and I showed the first and I did not show not the second. I want to look forward than back, though. That is why I wrote to you. Same with my patron. Some of out of professional ism. Mainly, I want to move on. I can't move on or even move back without a new solution. Maybe we can come up with one. I'm curious to hear about yours. There are few options for people like us. If I'm stuck with the one I have, then I'm stuck, but wouldn't it be better to be the one to choose?

That's getting ahead of things. I'm just glad you wrote back. And so soon. I thought about reaching out to Genny as well, but I just didn't know her even as well, and she is "civic-minded" in a way that doesn't feel realistic. I'm not brave. Not like her and not like you. We'll talk in person though. Thank you. Anywhere but the Inquisitory if you please.

I have seen Maxwell sense coming back. I did not write to him while away. It's okay to talk to him but not good to write to him. I can't really explain it but you're welcome to try and see for yourself. He was braver too. He can't go home. He doesn't have any trouble though because of the reason why you and I might. I'm sorry. It's hard sometimes. He's not living in the woods anymore. I should be glad for that. He is my friend. We went through a lot. It's hard to see him that way.

I learned a lot. I saw things I couldn't imagine. When you see me, my hair will be lighter so you might not recognise me. Can we just meet at the Dagger? Some people avoid the Dagger.

Mary
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Re: Acquaintances

Postby Rance » Sat Jan 04, 2020 7:48 am

A time was returned. And a date. A simple and subtle letter. One that understood that to speak, in this case, was a far more profitable option.

Theirs was a meeting in the morning — or perhaps, to some, late at night — for the Crawl Moon had neither fallen entirely and the Glass Sun had not yet awakened from behind the mountains. "Some business. I'll return before long. Sleep; I'll return with something to break your fast," was all she said to a half-woken Genny, before she drew upon her scarf, affixed her bonnet, and tucked her chin down into the collar of her cloak.

In the night, a soft whisper of snow had fallen. Enough to wet the boots but not enough to freeze the ankles. She walked by way of lantern-light to the Broken Dagger. Her shadow reached the bowing stairs before she did. Silent as sin, the whole world slept. The glow of Myrkentown in the distance reminded her of a cooling hearth, visible only so much through the bony fingers of bare trees and swaying branches. She chewed upon a dried leaf of mint before she spat it into her hand, ground it to damp clumps, and wiped the soot and sweat off her palm with the remains. Mary Ford's letter had been curious, like a child's toe touched into unfamiliar water. As Gloria Wynsee sat upon the unlit porch, she occasionally squeezed the charm resting across her collarbone: a rusted nail tied to a ribbon, cooled nearly to ice.

From a bottle shaped like a fish, she occasionally took a drink of warmed beer. Then she chewed upon a knot of smoking-root. These were vices of boredom as she watched the horizon, where the pathway from Myrkentown to the Broken Dagger disappeared into the overgrown forest.

A touch to her ankle. To the assurance there. Liam slept. But he slept lightly. And the letter, it weighed like lead on her.
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Re: Acquaintances

Postby Glenn » Sun Jan 05, 2020 7:15 am

There had been no dust on the first letter, but then the first letter had been the more professional one. Familiarity led to more familiarity and more gaffes. The second letter had remnants of it, and the third, a quick and simple agreement on logistics, just a bit more. The woman, however, was covered in it. That would stand out third, however. Her frame stood out first, lean, skinny even, a traveler with limited means, enough to travel but not enough for excess. Next would be her hair, a dull red battling with a vibrant grey. The grey was winning but more due to the simple contrast than any numerical advantage. Then would come the dust, which seemed to emanate from the hair and sprinkle down to the rest of her. There were no frills or ornamentation upon these clothes. They were simple, rugged, functional, hardly proper for a business meeting. There was only the remnants of the road upon her to decorate.

What would follow was her youth, a lack of lines upon her face, save for a few of worry that crowded her eyes, a youth that contrasted hard with the hair. Then was the tight smile, an eagerness, a gladness to be there, but one that would only go so far. Or maybe she just stubbed her toe on the walk and trying to put a good face upon it. No letter could reveal that truth, and Gloria would have to wait for her to walk the last few steps.

She waved a greeting, one full of that awkward timing of two people who spot one another too far away for anything but shouts. Then, many long seconds later, she called out, a bit too loudly, but needing to do something, anything to break the silence. "Thanks for meeting me!" After that, if Gloria didn't come down to meet her, it'd just be another long fifteen seconds or so for her to reach the steps.
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Re: Acquaintances

Postby Rance » Sun Jan 05, 2020 8:16 am

Though Gloria Wynsee did not always demonstrate it, she understood propriety and etiquette. She'd studied hard in the jerethedral to do as expected: to take a knee before this Sister, to bend at the waist for that one, to avert her eyes and bite her knuckles when the stahl deigned to visit, to kiss the prayerful elbows of the Veterans in the birthing pens. Of course, all of it was a matter of survival: rubberwood to the back of the thighs or the nape of the neck ensured that only fools made the same mistake twice. While she'd always been more fury and spit and shit than softness and grace, she adopted unspoken discourse without thought.

She could be good. Here, she sought to be that. Mary Ford expected it; Mary Ford reached out to her. Mary Ford, all gray-and-red and quiet charm and long skirts, an otherwise invisible woman in a world where visibility was both a challenge and a target.

So Gloria stood from the bench, half-arm across her belly, the other reaching toward Mary in gentle greeting. She stepped down one step, then the other, and her boots crunched on snow and stone. It was a blessing that Gloria'd some history with a needle: few tailors or dress-makers could have accommodated her sheer size, both breadth and height, by nature. As such, these were her oldest clothes, and even they seemed small on her. A patchwork skirt snapped around her knees, and the moth-eaten cloak hid the wrinkles of her blouse. She'd rolled the necks of her stockings down over the cuffs of her boots in some testimony to rebellion, and as such, a ribbon of her dark legs was visible between boot-top and skirt-bottom.

Business could be conducted in commoner garb, after all.

"Mary," she greeted, and when the woman came near, she'd seek out her hand. To take it, squeeze it, and burn it with the warmth of greeting. "You'll wake the drunks if you're not careful." She smiled. It was missing more teeth than before. "I'm more than happy to see you. I hope you forgive the hour; it seemed best—" for your comfort and ease "—to start the day in good company and conversation. I hate anticipating meetings; I'd quite rather start the day with them."

Barely constrained by her crumpled bonnet, coils of black hair whacked across her cheek as she turned to lead the way to the Dagger. But she'd taken only a few steps before she stopped to ask—

"Are these matters of which you want to speak better suited for outside, or inside?"
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Re: Acquaintances

Postby Glenn » Tue Jan 07, 2020 10:22 am

Mary Ford had her own sort of propriety and etiquette. It had nothing to do with a jerethedral and everything to do with her ma's apron strings. You didn't need to learn formal rules to see what your own two eyes showed you. If your husband acted a certain way, you acted a certain way. If your husband's ma did this or that, you responded quickly and dutifully. Same for the priest. Dinner was to be laboriously suffered over and on time. Her pa wasn't a cruel man but he was a man in a cruel world. He didn't hit her ma because he didn't need to. Life had done that, six or seven generations back.

She was good. It was as simple as that. What she could be, sometimes, rare times, but less rare as things went on or else she wouldn't be here at all, was something else.

Gloria squeezed her hand (it was cold, because it was cold outside, as simple as that), and Mary gave her a hearty shake. That felt good. Business. Women's business didn't have handshakes like that, but business with a big B did, and that's why they were there.

Mary returned the smile, not at all put off by the missing teeth. She did not have any particularly clever lines about the drunks and waking them. She may have wanted to impress, but she had spent long enough around Maxwell to know the danger of trying too hard.

"We can go inside," she noted with a nod of her head and a tinge of conviction in her voice. "I don't think anyone will be all that interesting in what we have to say. It's no big secret anyway, just a few ideas and the hope to come up with some more." The conviction had lasted a scant four words, but she still had pushed her way through the doorframe anyway. Starting was always the hardest part in anything and yet, here she was.
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Re: Acquaintances

Postby Rance » Wed Jan 08, 2020 1:29 am

Inside, then.

A place that always smelled, to Gloria, of the iron of blood and sour beer. The inside of the Broken Dagger was dark, save for the thrumming, orange heartbeat inside one of the hearths and two tired candles petering out on the corners of the bar. She shook off the dusting of snow from her cloak-shoulders, inclined her head toward Mary in a silent thank you, and wended her way toward the hearth.

Here, she suffered no nostalgia. Though she had not been within these walls in four years, she reminded herself, They are only walls, for walls possessed neither feeling nor memory. Those were uniquely human weaknesses. Using her skirt as a potholder, she swung out the iron arm from the fireplace, whereupon hung an iron vessel full of congealed stew and half-burned tubers. The leftovers of the day. She scooped a small bit out on the hook of her tiniest finger, tasted it, found it lacking. So she stood with one foot on the hearth, considering the unwashed pot, as if staring into it might change the taste of the offering. "I am interested, Menna Ford. I'm held hostage by a love for this place; it offered me home and solace when I was a littler woman. Sometimes thinking of it, I find myself needing to scrub my hands, but it's — it's fine to care. It's good to care."

She smiled. At the soup. At some distant thing of which she did not speak. A smear of soot on her skirt-front would stay there forever, commemorating this conversation.

Her eyes, when she glanced up at Mary, looked like tired, unpolished stones underneath the lip of her bonnet.

"But before the business: you're well, aren't you?"
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Re: Acquaintances

Postby Glenn » Fri Jan 10, 2020 1:31 am

Trauma came in many forms. Its weight could be carried in many ways. Mary Ford had not known the same quantity of trauma in this specific geographic location as many of the tavern's more frequent guests. During her more independent years in Myrken, It had not been her habit or her desire to spend her evenings in this or any other such establishment. To say that was not at all out of ingrained prudeness would be too kind (or unkind, depending on one's point of view), but it was just not the sort of thing that interested her. Friendly as she was when she could be, she had found crowds to be overwhelming. It was easier now. Regardless, her traumas in the Dagger were quite few.

Few, yes, but of the highest of quality. Immediately, upon entering, her eyes traveled in the direction of the obscured hatch that led down to the building's cellar. A shiver ran down her spine, despite the shift in temperature from outside to in. It meant that she accompanied immediately Gloria to the fireplace. "Of this place, I find," she swallowed, eyes having forced themselves straight to the safety and intensity of the fire. "that everyone has great fears and small fears. If we can defeat the small ones, then the big ones maybe become easier?"

So it was soup for Gloria and fire for Mary; did that say something about them? In the end, it hardly mattered, for they ended up with each other once more. "Well. Well." She rolled that word over her tongue and thought about it. Occasionally, she could be impulsive, even overexcited, with ideas as they struck her, but introspection always took some time and effort. It was not a native Myrken skill. "Well," she transitioned, "I'm not sure if I'd be here with you now if I was entirely happy, but things like happiness and am-bit-ion," she smoothed out the word as if it was in a foreign language, "those are things you have to work for and work at, right?

"The last few years have been very exciting, very exciting, Gloria. They have. I've seen," and here, her voice started to creep away, creating a distance between the two of them, between Mary and the room where they sat, "amazing things, amazing things, really, things out of books, and I've been all over, and I've met the nicest and the cruelest and the strangest people, I really have."

Everything came back into focus as she met Gloria's eyes, and this specific here and now, once again. "but I think I'm ready to be home again."
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Re: Acquaintances

Postby Rance » Fri Jan 10, 2020 6:02 am

"I can only hope you are correct — about fears. And yet, I find the smaller ones to be more resilient and more invasive. Big fears I can topple, but it's the small ones that sneak into my mind without my knowing. Sometimes they find me alone," she said, "or other times in my bed, or during the darker hours. Great fears, they bruise. The tiny ones—"

She swung the kettle back over the coals, retreated from the hearth, and returned to her warmed beer. She sat upon one of the battered armchairs before the fire, letting the bottle swing between her knees.

"The tiny ones, they hollow, and by the time they reveal themselves, they've stolen away your confidence and turned you into dust."

Mary's frenetic energy rolled off her like waves. She might as well have been just a tightened fist or a jittering knee. Or perhaps a handful of hot stars. Her tongue rattled off its stiff pleasantries, most of which Gloria — forgive her — altogether ignored. But Mary sprang back and forth like a rubberwood filament: snapping there and here, so close they might as well have shared the same breath, and far enough away that the woman's face could have been but a distant planet winking in the sky. "Happy is hard. And yet you're home, now, aren't you? For what you lack in happiness, perhaps you may find fulfilled with familiarity. A home needs you as — as much as you need it."

She set down her yellowed fish-shaped bottle, then reached across the space between her and Mary with her hand. This was how you anchored a soul, she believed: touch it, be near to it, and perhaps the wildness will unravel it and you'll find the softness before long...

The fire would suffice. The other chair, she hoped, would as well. Her eyes, captured by Mary's, did not look away.

"Come sit. I want to hear about — about the strange people, and the nice ones. And all the other things, too. Whatever's stirring in you, if — if you want to share it."

Smile, Gloria. Some people need smiles. People and stitches. And she might as well be coming apart...

"I would do my very best," Gloria Wynsee ventured, "not to let anything hurt you here, Menna Mary."
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Re: Acquaintances

Postby Glenn » Tue Jan 14, 2020 1:59 am

"It's not protection I'm looking for," she said that quickly, even as she sat, agreed to sit. On the road, sitting was a relief. She walked as much as she rode, for she rode only when there were people travelling in the direction she traveled, safe people, and given some of the places she'd been sent, that was not always a sure thing. Now though, here and back and stationary, more often than not, there was rarely any relief to be found.

Sitting was a loss of options. When sitting, you couldn't pace; you could barely fumble. As Gloria ignored her pleasantries, she, too, was lost in her own head, in the fire and in the idea of company as opposed to the reality of it. She thought of Maxwell and how he changed after Catch's touch, how he was constantly fumbling because there was too much, because there was always too much. For her, it was because there was too little.

She looked to Gloria again as she sat, looked at her as if she was a monolith, even that smile seemingly carved out of stone. "I was sent out to learn things, not even things of immediate use." She scooted her chair backwards birth a sound of dissonant scraping as wood met wood. This gave her the room to lean forward, elbow upon knee, hand upon chin, still in concordance with Gloria's gaze, just from slightly underneath the other woman's face. "You can't predict what people with money will want, right?" It was said with a smile and a hint of wist. It was a good joke for the road. It was a good joke for a Myrken farmhouse.

It was not a good joke in the present, not one bit. "I guess you can though, can't you. Patterns, right? That's the start and the end of it all. Inquisitors look for patterns." Her smile had become a grey thing, something stitched on out of habit. There may not have been fears, bit or small, but worry lines tugged at her forehead. "It's funny. Most of us, most of us here, we just do what we were born to do. Even the men, Gloria, even the men. The idea that you have a skill or a trait or a talent and that someone will pay for that as opposed to just toiling and making babies and living your lot. It's a bit like selling yourself, isn't it?"
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Re: Acquaintances

Postby Rance » Tue Jan 14, 2020 2:31 am

Inquisitors look for patterns. Had she not said such herself? Justified with it, wielded it, like a shield against the swords of accusation. How could a seamstress make a fine Inquisitor? A laughable notion, that — one ought to have a brain to inquire, after all, and not just good fingers. But if she looked for patterns, if she saw where stitches started, where they tied off, where the seam became loose or far, far too tight, where one thread had snapped off and been surreptitiously buried, where another picked up the task and continued on, tail-end of the snake...

"The only prediction you can make," said Gloria, with something of a whimsical smile — though even that seemed oaken, forged out of necessity, "is that people with money will want exactly what you do not. Money is a cruel whip. In irresponsible hands, it damages and destroys, and at worst, it might as well tear out the eyes and sense right alongside them."

She squinted at the fire, glancing away from Mary. It confounded her that someone should need her company, let alone want it. So she instead relied on the patterns: if not for want, then, she was sought out for purpose; there was some aid, service, or purpose she could provide. Mary, she spoke in generalities, and her words might as well have been shadows and blurs for all their indistinctness. It was all innocuous questions, conversational inquiries, measuring, pressing, weighing how Gloria might respond, as if testing the tightness of an egg's shell in the palm before trusting it to the boiling water...

"But the idea, Mary, that we ought to feel poorly for — for selling ourselves is what seems most silly to me. If willingly given, a woman's blood and sweat and industry is — is her greatest worth, well beyond her capacity to lift her shift only because a fellow thinks he ought to make another him." Then, a pause — drumming her fingers on the armchair, leaning back as Mary leaned in, providing all the space the other woman might ever need. Softer, now: "You mentioned ideas, Mary. Thoughts about a future. Isn't that so? I take it you've learned something worthwhile, or something worth sharing. So maybe whatever it is, you were born to do it, or to speak truth to it."

Now, she bent forward, the wax-coated strings of her bonnet whisking across her knees. Unblinking, she watched Mary, and gave her ears and eyes.
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Re: Acquaintances

Postby Glenn » Thu Jan 16, 2020 2:38 am

When Gloria spoke, she had Mary's full attention. Before it had been pleasantries and fidgeting. Before it had been looking to the fire or scuffing at the floor. There was something primal here, though, something she sought out more than more conventional elements that Gloria might have anticipated.

As Gloria spoke, a responsive nodding began, slow at first, but taking on more speed and momentum as she went on. By the end, she seemed impatient to speak where before she had been hesitant. "I know you're right. I can think it. I can reason it. And it makes sense, it does, but I feel how I feel. Do you ever envy them?" She reached back to her hair idly, bunching a bit of it together, giving it a measured though not quite tortured squeeze. She seemed entirely unaware of this as her eyes darting back and forth, from Gloria's own to her left or right ear. "All those people who think what they feel and feel what they think?"

She pressed her lips together tightly, trying to force yet another smile. "You understand the work, is all. It's not all." Her hands dropped to her side once again. "It's a good start though. You understand the work. And you understand, you understand how people are. Can be. Are." The thin line between her nose and her chin tightened a bit more as she tried to gauge the correct amount of charity. "I've worked for the Inquisitory. I've been working for Burnie," she finally admitted, not as some sort of grand revelation, but instead a stop along the road. "I'd like to work for myself." Here, her voice was strong, clear, confident, defiant even. To even voice this had taken a great deal of soul-searching and internal struggle. It was about her, all about her, and about the intersection of herself and Myrken, her family, her patrons. It shined in her eyes even as her hands, still at her side, shook slightly in the voicing. That confidence did not last into her next sentence. Hands fell upon one another in her lap. Her eyes went downcast and her volume dropped considerably. "I was thinking that maybe you'd like to work for yourself too?"
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Re: Acquaintances

Postby Rance » Thu Jan 16, 2020 5:05 am

"It depends upon the work," Gloria responded, matter-of-factly. "Depends upon the expectations, and my ability to fulfill them. What I am, Mary, is resilient to a fault; what I am not—" she said, touching a finger in the air as if to punctuate the strength of the word, "—is agreeable or charming in the way that you are. I hold these up as compliments: I wish I possessed a fraction of you, or — or could claim to possess some of your sharpness."

Then, she sucked air in through her cork-colored teeth, as if avoiding the pain from a needle or the bite from tiny spider's fangs.

"That, I think, is the limit of my envy. If I want too much of what others have, feeling or thinking, I won't be able to stomach seeing this girl—" a brief motion across her own face, "—in the mirror glass."

Mary came a little more alive at this mention of working for herself, as if fanning the flames that had been buried inside the coals of her belly. So Gloria fell motionless. This was necessity in listening: to make the self invisible, to still the air so that the words and passion of those in those moments of power could truly breathe and exist without judgment, with room to grow. How many times had Mary not been heeded? Perhaps in the presence of the employer she spoke, even more frequently than the human heart could manage. Very suddenly, a pocket of sympathy swelled in Gloria's stomach. Swelled so powerfully, it almost bloated her.

Beneath her bonnet, her ears burned with strange heat. A woman deserved being heard.

She flexed her cold toes in her colder boots, and wondered if Mary's felt as restless as hers.

"How can we work together, Menna Ford, so that you can work for yourself?"
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Re: Acquaintances

Postby Glenn » Tue Jan 21, 2020 1:04 am

Deep down, Mary Ford remained unsure. She'd seen things, many things now, met many people, and the majority of the times, it wasn't all that different from what she saw in Myrken. People had needs. People had wants. Sometimes they put the wants before the needs. Sometimes they put the wants in front of the needs of others. Most of the time, they did, and when they didn't, it was usually with something driving it, some stigma or more likely, some dogma. Those worked ok for some people, but those people were rarely women who needed to be heard.

"I'm not sure about agreeable or charming," she finally sputtered, her voice somehow resonating with the very wood of the building, the roots splaying outwards, the wind and the leaves and the shoddy buildings, with Myrken. A sputter became a sniff. "Or about sharpness, really. If I'm sharper than anyone else, it's because I've spent more time listening. That's all." And maybe not by choice. That was the point, or part of it.

Then, slowly, she shook her head, exasperated. "Agreeable isn't all that great. You're bold and strong and determined. You're your own person who answers to no one. I'd rather be that. Is it an either or? It might be, you know. We're trained to never see things as an either or, that nothing's all one thing or another, but I'm not sure there's a middle ground. I'm not sure they let us have one." If anyone was going to instill a sense of all or nothing in someone, it was going to be the men of Myrken wood. They'd agree on nothing but they'd agree on that.

Finally, though, Gloria asked the question and here Mary sucked her own bottom lip inwards, chewing on it for the briefest second. "I hoped in talking to you, that would start to get some sharpness too. We have skills and talents, things that are rare for anyone here in Myrken. Have you ever heard of a scribe that could pick and choose who they want to write for and how much? Or sometimes people need finding or questions answered. We can answer questions, even some of the impossible ones. Is there enough regular work of that, even here, to live off that. Or law," her head had drooped a bit, but one eye popped up there to look at Gloria. "People get fleeced, fleeced, because what's right isn't always what the law says and only rich people can afford people who know it. Anyone who can read can learn it if they try hard enough though." She quieted there. These were ideas but hardly possibilities, or maybe possibilities but hardly ideas. "I don't know. What do you think, Gloria? What would you want to do if you could do anything?"
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