Wednesday, July 20, 2016

City of Curses: Little Ainesia 5 (Maralda's Notes)

Here is part 5 of the story Maralda is getting from Unatoly.  How a young woman fled her homeland for #Crux.  The price of revolution for a noble girl who didn't know any better.  A tale of a refugee from a #magicalwestern #fantasy setting.

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"And then I got on the next ship south.   I ran as hard as I could.  I found my way here to the City of Curses."  Unatoly shrugged.  "For a young woman with no skills, Crux is such a frightening place.  But I never would've gone back.  I found an apprenticeship, learned a trade, and found a home here."

Ueda studied a series of leather boots along one wall.  I looked over at her.  The Tengu hadn't stopped listening, but she hadn't asked a question for a bit.  I guess I had to keep the conversation going.

"What happened to your brother?  You didn't say."  I asked.

"I never could find out."  Unatoly pulled down a placard full of letters and papers.

I looked at them.  Apologies.  Refusals.  Denials.  Each letter held a variation of claiming to have no idea where Unatoly's brother was.

"How many of these did you send?"

"I've lost count now."  Unatoly shrugged.  "I hire people from time to time to go back home.  They look.  Those that Revolutionary Guards don't arrest, or those that don't swindle me, never have given me any solid clues on what happened to Zhamon.  I can never go back there.  I can never know what happened to him.  To be honest, all I remember now is his name.  Zhamon."

"You don't remember anything about him?"  I asked.

"There are memories, or the echoes of them.  But its been long enough that I can remember his hair color.  I remember having a brother.  He wasn't very old when we had to flee.  He'd been grown now.  But I doubt he remembers anything about me."

"I... I don't know what to say.  It all sounds so sad."

Unatoly gave me a smile.  "Maralda, it all isn't that bad.  Sometimes things happen.  I've managed to learn things here in Crux I never would've back home.  An education with my hands.  Hands.  Something that my family would never let me learn back home.  Sometimes I understand why the revolution happened back home.  But even then, I still cannot believe how violent people chose to be."

"But the fervor is magic.  It isn't just people's choice if it infects them."  I pointed out.

The Revolution cult relied on the practice ever since it's emergence twenty years before.  The Fervor infected the mind.  Like a catchy song, it seemed to possess common people with anger.  It could create a riot rather fast.  Ith had banned the use of the spell.  But that couldn't keep it from popping up from time to time.

"Maybe.  But the Straw Pastor who set a mob on my Grandmother was no foreigner.  The anger was there before.  My family just ignored it.  We should've learned from it."

"What about the rest of your family?  You didn't say if your father survived or-"

"I don't know."  Unatoly shrugged.  "There is only so much I can do from here.  The last time I spoke with a diviner, they confirmed that my father was dead.  My mother too.  I have living relatives, but they are too far away and have too much of their own troubles to come and find me."

I bought a pair of boots.  Ueda herself considered a purchase, instead having Unatoly take her measurements for something.  The Tengu woman still hadn't asked her question yet.  I could tell she had waited.  Perhaps for the right moment to ask?

After a bit of small chat, we started for the door.  As I stepped out, a bank of smog from the Irons District had clouded the street around the shop.  Behind me, Ueda paused.  The Tengu brewer turned to Unatoly.

In a calm voice, she asked her question.

"What will happen next?"

Unatoly didn't look up from her counter.

"War."  Anger flowed in that word.  Frustration and despair coated it.  "The Empress of Ainesia used a Revolution to conquer a continent.  Empress Krasynsang won't be pleased unless she can keep that fire going.  War is coming because, otherwise, the Revolution will take her and burn her alive."

We left.  I remembered Unatoly's prediction.  We'd have to see how her old homeland changed.  Crux would be here, like it always had, at the center of the world.