Challenge: Green Tea 18 (tea time), Pineapple 1 (your mission, should you choose to accept it...), Cream Puff 15 (big cheese)
Toppings: hot fudge, gummy bunnies (500themes #122: Mysterious stranger.)
Extras: malt (cream puff PFaH: Majiv : helter-skelter)
Rating: teen and up
Summary: Majiv decides it's time to make her next move.
Notes: Taking a break from the NaNo stuff to return to canon and Arc 8: Majiv Does Stuff. This is the night after this piece.
Also! Some of you will have already seen the Manifestations Primer, but for the sake of easy access, it's now linked from my index. Go read and learn!
“Your tea is ready.”
Majiv didn’t look up. She heard the sound of a cup being placed on a wooden floor, and the hatch closed again. Barjin left her alone once more, amidst the rafters.
She liked that, in her own indifferent way. She’d found all she wanted here - a wayside town, too small for a lord to take residence and wonder who she was, but large enough for talk to circulate and clues to reach her ears. And Barjin was just the right sort of host. He had no family, or rather, he had none any more. Perhaps that was why he’d allowed her to stay. They’d looked at one another as equals, and asked no questions either way. He gave her his attic and claimed he had no use of it any more, and she, in return, did not ask him why.
She picked up her tea, and sat by the window. Outside, the snowstorm continued. A few flakes caught the golden lamp light, or piled up outside the window frame. Nobody wanted to be outside in weather like this. They’d all be hidden away by their firesides, safe and warm. At least it gave her a chance for some privacy. People did give strange looks to a woman on the road, who called herself a beast-hunter. “There’s no sense in trying to appear normal,” Bala had once told her, when she was young. “They’ll know something’s unusual, and they’ll talk.” She guessed that they whispered rumours amongst themselves; she knew that they asked questions. But Barjin would step in, when he saw that happening. “She doesn’t have to answer to you,” he’d say. “Go bother someone else.”
Other people’s rumours, on the other hand, were more welcome. Sometimes, if she listened hard enough, she could get an idea of where she should go next. Where she would go next, if she wasn’t hemmed in by walls and snow.
The evening meal was ready just as she was finishing her tea. It was little more than hard bread and dried meat, but all the best food was waiting for midwinter, when the town would erupt in fire and feasts. The sight of the preparations put Majiv into a mindset she hadn’t felt for a long time, one that she had no idea what to do with, except...
“I have made my plans,” she said, “if the weather clears. Would you be able to escort me to the south waystation, the day after tomorrow?”
“That’s a long way to go, on midwinter,” Barjin said.
“Can it be done during daylight?”
He looked lost in thought for a moment. “I can take you there,” he said. “but not take you back until the morning. And you’ll forgive me, but I’ll not take my sled out on any road after dark.”
“That will do,” Majiv said.