Hello Everyone! There’s a cool breeze wafting in my window as I type, it feels sort of like—I can’t say it—fall? Yikes! It won’t be long now until I put the pool away, but while the sun is still warm, I’ll be out in my hammock. I hope all is well with you in your corner of the world, and let’s get on with the exploring, shall we?
When we left Elahna, she had just returned from her trip to the top of Rosewood Manor. Let’s see what other mischief she gets herself into.~
I stopped back in my room, since Rosewood had so conveniently deposited me there, thinking to grab stuff for a day in town, but then I remembered I didn’t have anything! What an odd feeling. The summer-appropriate clothes I wore had all been given or loaned to me these past three days, I had no personal supplies and no money. Indebtedness was adding to the anxiety I chose to bury in discovery. I’d have to sort that out soon. I hoped the queen would have some ideas of how I could be useful while I was here. Hopefully one that didn’t involve indentured servitude or work camps…. So far this society didn’t feel like a cruel, vindictive one, but I shouldn’t get my hopes up.
For now, I was glad I had been practicing ‘living in the present’ and being concerned with what I could control at any given moment. And oddly enough, right now what I had to control was time. Oh, the irony…
In the back of my mind, yes, I was worried about what my parents and brother were thinking. Especially since I was sure someone would have discovered my car left there in Vermont. I hadn’t really said where I was going, though, cause I wasn’t sure myself. My bike would be harder to find, but if my mom remembered that I was seeking a rumored megalith someone was bound to know where I would end up. It would look so much worse than it really was, I felt awful at how scared and upset they would be. I was also glad I hadn’t yet gotten the puppy I was planning to.
After a quick re-set of my hair in a ponytail, I decided to find Aymur before I left the manor. Perhaps he had a time-keeping device I could borrow for the day so that I didn’t miss the evening meal. On my way back out the the door, something caught my eye on the side table. A small green pouch and a silver disc on a chain sat with a card bearing my name.
Once again, the generosity of these people left me speechless. A few metallic clinks sounded from the pouch, but there was more in it than that. I took it over to the bedspread and upended it, not knowing what to expect. Four copper coins like to quarters with holes in the middle, four white pearls the size of an eraser, two pink pearls a bit bigger than the whites, an iridescent bauble with sides (a dodecahedron?), three gold circles like O-rings the same size as the coppers, and two silver crescents about half-dollar size tumbled out. Well, this would be interesting, hopefully I wouldn’t overpay too much for a tart.
The pocket clock was simple yet striking. The silver cover clicked open when I pushed the tiny catch and revealed a flat dial with numbers one to twenty-seven in a circle. The transparent bronze arrow in the center spun around and sprang to a stop at half ten. I wondered what kind of stone the arrow it was, I’d have to ask about that too.
I swept the money back into the pouch and put both items in my pocket. I still had erdurs before dinner. Time to explore Cragbend!
As I left the manor I encountered the young boy, Lignan, from the night before. He stopped so that we didn’t have to walk through the door together, holding it for me, and I could have sworn I heard a mumbled “Sorry for what I wrote” as I passed. I nodded slightly in thanks and continued down the cobbled apron onto the dirt drive. Moments later, he ran past me and off toward the horse paddocks.
The walk to Cragbend proper took about half an hour. I crossed an ornately carved wooden bridge at the Sawyer’s Run Inn that put me in view of the crossroads. Most likely that was the river’s name, which would make sense, given the barge scene I saw from the treetop. The smell of roasted vegetables and meat surrounded the inn, making my mouth water. How could I be hungry after the lavish breakfast I’d had? But man, that smelled heavenly.
People nodded and smiled, sometimes palming a greeting. I returned it, trying to hide my observation of ears and other elvish features. I wondered how many of Cragbend’s citizens had elemental powers and how many were, what did Daphne call them, Ungifted? Was there animosity between the Gifted and non? She didn’t seem to indicate it, but then again, she obviously had gifts aplenty, so why would she. I’d have to try a little sleuthing of my own.
A large stone clock tower outlined with dark wood in Tudor-esque style marked the center of town. It was one of the few stone items I had seen so far here. The smooth facade gleamed cream with pink streaks in the bright sun. A large, triangular shaped crystal of the same bronze stone as in my pocket clock glinted in the clock face, pointing just after the eleven. It still felt like the days were the same length as home, it was so hard to tell when my frame of reference was gone.
There was something remarkable about the sun here. The light it gave off was of an intensity that made me expect it to be unbearably hot, but it wasn’t. It felt like a June summer day in New England, no humidity, perhaps around 80 degrees. Was that the weather workers’ doing? How much did they have control of? Did they plan a week’s weather (um, an anek’s weather, I should say) like a menu? When did it rain? It must be frequently, with the lushness of the land and the healthy haystacks I noticed. I had never felt so unknowledgeable before.
So many questions I had, can’t you imagine? No, I didn’t have an escort or anything, I didn’t need one. No one mentioned any threats or things to watch out for. Kind of telling that’s what we think of first, right? Come to think of it, I hadn’t even seen any guards in Rosewood Manor. I guess with a living house that could help when it was needed, people defenders were unnecessary. I’d hate to think what that house could do to an intruder.
The field next to The Cleft Barrel stood empty, the Bluebirds had moved on to their next stop. I felt a pang of sadness at that, but it was replaced by the hope that I would see them again someday. Maybe the other Madrigal troupes too, so I could compare all of their shows. Perhaps a festival. Surely a society with such amazing performers would hold festivals, right?
Since I knew the road to the right headed back to Venrood Forest, I took the left fork. One of those many pointed signs indicated that somewhere down the road were places called Sagebridge, Arrowbreak, and Crescenton. I wondered what they were like. Were they family seats, too? I could hear the rhythmic splashing of a water wheel not far away, and maybe the grinding of millstones? The scents of cooling bread enticed me as I passed a bakery, no wonder as plump baguettes filled racks just inside the windows. Even the carved sign of a steaming loaf above the door looked good enough to eat!
Just then the door of the bakery flew open and three boys scampered out, a stout baker hot on their tails. As the boys rounded the corner toward me and the road, the one in front, a black-haired boy in green shirt and gray knee breeches, reached in the window and snagged two of the baguettes. They took off down the street in the direction I was headed, hooting and laughing. The baker’s rolling pin clocked the slowest boy in the back of the shoulder, but he did not slow.
Wow! That was a surprise! And there I was, caught in the middle! We’ll find out next time what happened 😉.~
And there it was, the first bit of mischief or dissent that I had witnessed since arriving. I did feel bad for the baker, but it was a great throw of the rolling pin! The money, though, I wasn’t sure what to make of that, it was so different. I’ll tell you what I learned about it next time. What would you do in a new town in a new world for several hours? Drop a comment in the box below and we can talk about it 🙂.
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