The second day after the arrival of Yuwen Blue-Eyes dawns cold and clear, with a blanket of snow on earth and eaves and a deep blue sky that stretches for miles beyond the tops of the pines. As is his wont, Thorvald has gone with first light to cut wood in the forest above his home, leaving his strange guest in the care of his wife Gritta and of Sora, her slave.
When Gritta was told that Yuwen would not be leaving in the morning, her face had shown a mixture of confusion and subdued pleasure, for the man was surely charming company. When she was told that Thorvald would be helping the stranger ambush the armed Lakelander who was following him, her confusion had become silent worry. Today, with Thorvald away and no pursuer in sight, that worry is shading towards ill-concealed annoyance.
Yuwen, too, seems ill at ease. Waiting does not suit him. He lounges now by the morning fire, playing absently with the embroidery around the collar of his green tunic, watching as Gritta and Sora clear away the bowls emptied of breakfast stew. Every now and then he goes to the door, cracks it and peers out over the snow; then he returns to his place and flops down again.
Silence lengthens between the three in the little house.
As last, while handing bowls to Sora for washing, the matron Gritta remarks, “Another quiet day.”
To which the stranger, after eyeing his host, returns a sardonic, “Indeed, madam. May they continue so. No man of action I.”
“So my husband says,” Gritta answers. Guest and hostess smile briefly and thinly at one another.
Sora has had her own worry to cultivate, hand in hand with those that come with the dawn. Beyond the practical matter that she has agreed to help their charming guest with this dangerous matter, and beyond the temper of her mistress, there is the troubling matter of her belly. She was certain it was flat when she lay down to sleep yesterday and now it curves out from its former smooth concave, giving every indication that she is some weeks gone with child. Continue reading “Shattered Land: Chapter Three”