Sunday, July 10, 2005

00004

“Well,” Answered the bearded man, “someone’s here and apparently he says that there is an army heading this way.”

“What’s going on here?” Someone shouted from the crowd.

“Yes!” Someone else shouted from the crown. “Why are we waiting here? Why doesn’t anyone tell us what’s happening?”

As Tharetes examined the crowd he could feel their agitation growing like a wave approaching the shore. They were invested in this meeting, if an army truly was marching on Cragton, it might mean their lives and the lives of their families. For Tharetes it simply meant another trip down the road, a trip he would have made regardless of any army, although now his direction was chosen for him. Another one of the problems of being tied town to one place or to a family.

A guardsman walked out onto the town gate and began gesturing for the crowd to be quiet. The guardsman wore a leather cuirass that had been dyed red, differentiating him from the other guardsmen that Tharetes had met in Cragton, both on and off the card table. “Please everyone, please, please!” The guardsman’s voice rose to almost a full shout before the congregation before him fully quieted down. The man looked down at the crowd as one used to giving orders to others would, but the slow sway of his body from left to right showed Tharetes that he struggled to maintain the calm demeanor that he stove to project.

‘The captain of the guards in Cragton, aside from drunken brawls at the inn this may be the first test of your mettle.’

“Please, an emissary has arrived…”

‘Why does he pause?’

“From an army that is apparently approaching Cragton. He has come to deliver us an ultimatum.”

A man stepped out from the guard tower to stand beside the captain of the guards. The crowd froze momentarily, before eyes began glancing at their neighbors sending messaged of surprise. Tharetes expected their surprise, but what he did not count on was his own. The man’s dress was completely unfamiliar to Tharetes. It wasn’t a subtle shift from earlier fashions the addition of a headscarf in Bray Bend or the removal of a sash in the lower provinces, it was a full-scale departure. The man was dressed head to toe in woven leather. Leather dyes black, white, red, and green was woven together in a grid-like pattern that radiated colours from the center of each major body part. In almost bull’s-eye like fashion the man’s dress pulled the eye to different parts of the body in an almost dizzying effect.

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