December – 1026 YD
‘I don’t understand what you’re saying, Tàvae!’ Ànlisia, alarmed, was throwing supplies of preserved food in a satchel at her sister-in-law’s bidding.
__‘I have made the most terrible discovery and I always felt they were watching me, since I left, and sometimes my books moved overnight—my heart whispered that they’d been in—but why should they? And so I never really feared, never knew—how—how perilous—’ Her breath caught in her throat like the clogged cry of nightmares. ‘Mitchas will escort me to Miggest at his own peril. There he is now, saddled and packed—’ She began pillaging Ànlisia’s herb cabinet.
‘With no cart? Ride to Delus with no cart? Have you papers? Coin enough? You must leave me some word for your husband—?’
__‘No!’ Tàvae growled viciously, halting the frantic packing of her herb-purse to crush Ànlisia’s biceps in a vice grip. ‘Not a word to Kengar! Not a single word, do I make myself clear?’ The snarl in her voice was to be obeyed. ‘Make some tale and stick to it.’ She discarded Ànlisia. ‘Give the parcel to Toran, or Kesia, when the time comes—a year after Kengar takes her, perhaps more—and keep it buried deep from now until. Do not open it yourself.’ She snatched the satchel and threw the purse inside, moving toward the front door in the same moment. ‘Swear to me you will make a tale for Kengar, though he may not return?’
__‘Yes, Tàvae.’ Ànlisia recognised the dread of parting with danger aloft. ‘Please don’t go.’
__Tàvae recalled Ànlisia’s broken months and was almost stopped by pity; but some other drive compelled her, and she pushed through the front door. Ànlisia pursued with speed, suddenly sensing the nature of Tàvae’s thoughts, and grabbed her sister-in-law’s cloak and arm. ‘Whatever your errand, you are right to fear, so say nothing of it to anyone en route. Even when you think yourselves alone.’ She eyed Mitchas and whispered: ‘Is there anything in your home you want no one to see?’
__Tàvae murmured: ‘I have destroyed or concealed what I thought I must.’ Quieter again, she added: ‘There is a vault. Find it, though wait, until next summer at least, if I do not return.’
__She pried free of Ànlisia and met Mitchas outside the gate, waiting with two fine mares. They mounted their rides and were gone almost instantly from the village.
__Their haste invited concern from neighbours nearby. Ànlisia ignored the inquisitive expressions turned toward her, retreated into the house, and took up a cushion before the altar. She lit a candle and began intoning a fervent prayer.
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