• Birthday Wishes

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    May 19, 2013 /  Musings

    Twenty-one violets arranged in a vase sit upon a large desk. Beside them sits a short letter, revealing the author’s deplorable penmanship:


    Eldes, 1 Aprilis 358.

    Your Holiness,

    It is true that you are never alone when you serve the Lord of the Springs, but you are wrong to think you must be without friends as Matriarch. You have one, at least.

    I humbly insist that you enjoy your birthday.


  • Beginnings and Endings

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    April 28, 2013 /  Lithmore, Musings

    Written sideways along an alphabetized, double column of names, some of which have been crossed out in red ink:

    Januarius 358.


    Corruption felled the farmers

    Their fields lay fallow, dry.

    Hatred seeds where faith should breed

    For blooms, untended, die.

  • Autumn’s End

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    April 15, 2013 /  Lithmore, Musings

    Beneath a written draft for mass, and beside a list of names with birth and death dates:

    Autumn’s End, 357

    The first Solisda feast was a success. Mass went well, though I may never get used to how quiet service tends to be here. HRM and I didn’t have a chance to discuss the Lay Sisterhood of Saint Celeste as we hoped. Perhaps we will try again next month. Tea with Lithmore’s young women, maybe?

    The refreshments were delicious and the people, cheerful, but we missed out on more traditional entertainment. No bards performed for Autumn’s End that I witnessed. No merchants chose their new apprentices.

    Lithmore is stuffed with citizens who are eager to work, but starved for advocates to secure them the work that interests them most. Too often I meet young men and women who yearn for the chance to prove their worth, lacking the benefit of formal training in their chosen profession, or even contacts in the city who would vouch for them. I cannot vouch for them all myself, but I am certain I can find them temporary employment to fill their time while they wait on their dreams.

    If it keeps our youth from turning to crime for survival, it is certainly worth the investment. And Lithmore will have the cleanest gutters and windows they have ever seen so late in the season.

  • Station

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    April 3, 2013 /  Musings

    Written on scraps cut from paper dolls:

    If we are lucky, we learn of our station in life at an early age. We accept our unique duties and are spared the frustration of wishing for more or less than what is our proper due. How many scullery maids dream of being lady of the manor and trading fish scales for silks, while their ladies sit over embroidery and long for a day spent under the sun?

    We warn against the sin of denying one’s station and spend countless hours attempting to teach stubborn adults what a smart child instinctively understands, yet the Reeves’ coffers fill with sumptuary fines and our donation boxes overflow with confiscated materials, too extravagant to clothe the poor. Perhaps we are trying too hard.

    Perhaps we should just share with them the simple truth that princes and paupers are equally lonely.

  • A Dark Day

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    March 25, 2013 /  Lithmore, Musings

    A short message, written under the flap of an envelope that still smells faintly of hemproot:

    357.8.27. Betrayed.

  • Suffering

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    March 24, 2013 /  Lithmore, Mozenk, Recollections

    Tucked between the pages of an expense ledger, scrawled into the margins of an illuminator’s discarded practice sheet:

    I remember a sense of sorrow about her, heightened by the dreary cast of shadows as the autumn wind sent the torchlight guttering. At that hour, I could not distinguish from one shade to the next: brown hair and brown eyes, brown skin. A brown, tattered dress. Brown ropes, a makeshift restraint.

    Red at her ankle.

    Shackle rash, I’ve heard it called. The skin was gone in a strip as wide as my hand, ringed darkly – scarring or dirt? – and seeping fresh blood. 

    She was the first “Lady” I ever met.

    Darker ink suggests a more recent addition:

    I never learned what happened to the cuff that bound her. Nobody offered and I didn’t ask twice. And I didn’t have to ask at all why the clouds glowed orange in Mozenk that night.

    In my mind’s eye, I can barely picture her now. Brown on brown, nondescript save for the shackle rash. But I cannot forget that heavy sorrow, that aura of suffering. It cuts into the people of Lithmore as stubbornly as that cuff held the Lady to her blasphemous throne.

  • A Calling

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    March 21, 2013 /  Childhood, Engvist

    It was an impeccable statue. Nobody expected any less of Vandagan craftsmanship, but even the detailed marble scrollwork framing the niche seemed crude compared to the basalt figurine housed within.

    A little girl sat bundled under several blankets against the chill of the evening, her pointed chin angled up and her dark eyes fixed upon the statue of Francis Willard – the saint who lent his name to the orphanage she called home.

    “Olivia, dear.” A pewter-haired, plump woman clucked her tongue from the adjoining hall. “Hurry on back to bed and let’s have no more of these midnight vigils. You’ll catch your death of cold out here.”

    Obediently, Olivia rose and turned for the voice, her small bare feet trudging across the thick woolen rug, layered blankets dragging behind. She stopped alongside the matron to bob a curtsey, and smiled.

    “Oh, no, ma’am, it won’t be the cold here that gets me. He assigns me too great a task to join him yet.”

    The candle flames burned blue. Midnight had come at last and Olivia, satisfied that no harm had come to the Lay Sisterhood of Saint Francis under her watch, bid the perplexed matron a good night.

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