Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mere Acquaintances- Chapter Ten

The papers and video tapes made a huge clutter on Becca’s tiny desk, and the amount of material she suddenly had access to was astounding. She had never imagined that she would be doing a study like this, but both Dr. Anderson and the Board of Directors seemed eager to see what she would come up with. All this was Dr. Anderson’s notes on each of the patients involved. She stared, but her eyes didn’t really see them; she was more lost in chewing the eraser on her pencil-- a middle school habit she had never quite broken.

Sun setter. It meant something to them all, but what? The phrase wasn’t given any importance in Dr. Anderson’s notes; then again, incoherent mumbling was to be expected from people in a place like Ighosia Falls.

Becca disagreed with the good doctor’s thoughts on the phrase. She had the feeling that it was actually one word, but it would be hard to prove. It was hard to pick out spaces between words when people talked, but there were differences in the ways people said two words and the way they said one. What Dr. Anderson was certain was a two-word phrase, she had a hunch was one longer word. But that still got her no closer to uncovering the significance of it. Why were the patients so obsessed with it? There had to be a connection.


The hulking, broad-shouldered blacksmith was carrying a long cloth-wrapped bundle when Zanthys let the man into his chamber. With a flourish, the tradesman pulled back the cloth and unveiled the sword, exactly as he had described. It was Sonsedhor, down to the last detail. Zanthys grinned broadly as he ran a finger along the steel blade.

“No steel finer, M’lord,” the blacksmith said gruffly, at the same time caressing each word as he talked about his work. “Balanced true, and sharp as a cold wind. But far below what M’lord should truly carry. If I might say, a sword with more decoration would better suit M’lord’s station. A fine carved bone hilt with gilding and silver chasings, beaten brass and gems, gold, carved wood, whatever M’lord’s preference! Even other tempering methods would make a finer sword for M’lord to wear at his hip. Etchings along the steel could make M’lord a sword to hand down to his heirs.”

Zanthys shook his head at the man’s suggestions and suppressed a scoff at his frequent bows. He wrapped his hand around the hilt and lifted the sword. Lifted Sonsedhor. The though made his grin reappear; he could feel it broadening, trying to split his face in two. For all his rambling, the man did good work. At least, by Zanthys’s untrained eye, he did. This was the first real sword he had ever actually touched. Even as a curious child, his fingers had never touched anything more than a dinner knife. The weight of it, the knowledge of what such a weapon could do, filled him with a feeling he couldn’t quite describe.

“I suppose I will take you up on that offer,” he said to the still-complimenting blacksmith. Make a sword grand enough to suit me, as a great lord of Morena. I want one that I will not be ashamed to wear when I take my father’s place. And I want it in two days. Or less.”

The man scurried away, and a moment later, a servant had been summoned and sent of with orders to call on the finest leatherworker in the city.

He couldn’t make himself put down his Sonsedhor replica until the leatherworker was announced. He explained to the man what he wanted: two fine scabbards, one for this sword, one for the sword the blacksmith was set to making at this very minute. Both were to be the finest leather and decorated in thread: the plainer sword’s in gold, and his own in gold and silver. And maybe a few gems on his, too. He had to stop himself calling the plain sword Sonsedhor in front of the man; that could ruin everything. But he was adept at making people hear what he wanted them to hear.

“Two days,” he finished, sending the man back to his shop.

At first, Vale ignored the nurse who brought him his food. The chicken, buttered corn and peas, roll, and the little dish of pudding went untouched until they had grown cold. It was when the nurse came back and tried to talk him into eating that he lifted his eyes and looked at her from underneath scowling eyebrows. The look was menacing enough to make the nurse take a step backward.

With nothing left to do but wait, Zanthys decided to take his horse for a ride in the city. His ears were tuned to gossip, and he picked up enough to make him giddy. The city was abuzz with rumor that one of their own natives had already declared himself Cheyne reborn. The seeds had sprouted perfectly. There was a deep sense of cold satisfaction in knowing that the rumors were his own doing. Now all he needed was the scabbard.

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