Monday, April 27, 2015

112 - Shake Some Glitch-Taken Sense Into Her!

The House of the Sleeping Dragon was quiet this late. Though not as quiet as if everyone were asleep.  Lixand sat at the chef’s table in the kitchen, the board in front of him set up to make a sandwich.  He picked up the bread knife, put it down. Poked the jar of mustard, tilted the bowl of sliced pickles and tomatoes, looking into it as though he’d never seen it before.

He sighed and pushed the board away from him, picked up the heavy mug still half full of tea, leaned over to fill it to the brim from the samovar bubbling to itself at the end of the table.  It was something that mother had approved of, even before she’d brought them home from Arko… having easily prepared food in the cold cellar every night, should someone wake up hungry.  She had had too many deprived nights when she was a child herself.  He and Ardas had sneaked down the first night in F’talezon and eaten themselves almost sick, because they couldn’t believe that someone would just leave food out that they could eat.

Megan had caught them, both of them, hands and mouths full, sitting in the cold room, unable to swallow another bite but also unable to feed any of the food to the entourage of dogs they’d let inside to the holy-of holies.  Lixand smiled and sipped his tea, remembering.

She’d sat down and picked a sandwich from the wreckage herself, without a word, and stuffed half of it into her own mouth. The three of them, mouths full, hands full, had burst into half terrified laughter.  “There’ll always be something to eat here,” she’d said finally, putting her smoked meat sandwich down.  “If I have anything to say about it.  Neither of you have to ‘watch your figures’ anymore. Two rules.  Don’t make yourself sick and vomit it all up. That's a waste. And clean up after yourself.”

He looked up at the kraumak over the table that he’d unhooded, held up his hand and wished for more light.  The five silvery sparks danced around the tips of his fingers and he shook his hand to make them go away again. “What in Arko’s flea-bitten bottom have you done, mother?” he said to himself.

He wished for light again and then clenched his hand shut on the sparks as the kitchen door opened.  “Oh! Lixand, you’re up.” Rilla stepped in and plucked her mug from the wash-rack.  Even for a huge household in Brahvniki, they did a lot of things for themselves.  Lixand was glad that the paid servants came and went home to their own homes every day.  She poured tea for herself and added a generous dollop of cream. “I couldn’t sleep either.”

“Ardas’s ship should be home soon,” he said, pulling the board back across the table and starting to slice up the bread. "And Sova's expedition, too."

“Yah,” Shkai’ra’s sleepy grumble came from the door.  “I’ve been having nightmares about my wife getting eaten by manrauq.”

“You too?” Rilla sat down across from Lixand while Shkair’a sat on the stool facing the window.  Even if they were half way up the hill from the harbour, with a glorious rock-face below them and a garden at the bottom of that, old habits weren’t allowed to die. “She’s gone and done something, in Arko.  I can feel it.  She’s been horrified by how much the manrauq has aged her these past few years.”

“I want her to stop.” Shkair’a said bluntly, spearing a whole pickle out of the pottery jar on the counter with her belt knife. “It’ll kill her.”

“Do you still sleep with a dagger under your pillow?” Lixand said, nodding at the knife she’d just put back on the belt around her waist.  “I never see you without it.”

“Habit,” she grinned at him and scratched between her breasts.

“Barbarian,” Rilla said, and tossed her the end of the loaf, grinning.

“Shyll got up when Ashmita woke up,” Shkai’ra said.  “Nobody but the little kids are sleeping tonight.”

Shyll’s entrance was heralded by the baby’s fussing.  “Viktor and Vlad and Runald are all still asleep. Here she is,” he said passing her to Shkai’ra who was suddenly transformed from a mountain-cat quickness to an almost graceless stiffness as she set their daughter to her breast.

“Latch on, then, you little grub,” she said, looking away, looking down, looking away, then looking around at her sootchistveniki, her family. She blinked, hard.  “This one makes me feel too much!” She exclaimed and wrapped herself around the new baby.  “I’m so confused!”  She twitched as if to straighten, as if to push the baby away from herself but it was only a twitch.  “Mi kheeredo isn’t here and somethings wrong and I can’t make myself hand this…Ashmita… over to a crèche minder and…” She sniffled, looking down at the baby who managed to smile at her even around her nipple latch.

“I’m here with you, Shkai’ra,” Shyll said.  “Rilla’s here until her expedition leaves.  That’s a whole moon away.”

“We don’t have anyone to go after our wife and find out if she needs back up, or to shake some Glitch-seen sense into the sheep-brain!”

Lixand cleared his throat as everyone listened to the silence after Shkai’ra’s outburst, drawing everyone’s eye to him.  He looked down, tapped his fingers on the table. “I think I need to to go to Arko and find out what’s going on with Mata,” he said softly.

“To Arko?” Rilla leaned over the table, looking up into his face.  “Really?”

He nodded.  “Really.” He turned his hand over and held it up illustratively, and wished for light.


  1. I have to say that every update intrigues me further. Thank you, for the joy you bring in your stories you share.

  2. Thank you! Lixand really doesn't want to go back to Arko. You see... the Temple has re-written Megan's (comment removed by Anti-spoiler ware V 4040) and that will make things certainly interesting for all Zak, not just Megan and her family.