NaNoWriMo: Posted November 12@10:43pm
Nom hated seeing Chista unresponsive. She knew it could be shock from whatever caused her mind to slip and produce the horrific wailing episode. She also knew it could be because of her low body temperature.
Nom chanted directions to herself in her head.
Keep her alive. Keep her from getting colder. Transport her to a bed.
Then snapped her fingers sharp and suddenly in front of Chista’s face. The girl jumped, blinking and for a moment her vision focused on Nom. Her pupils dilating as hoped.
“Ok, let’s get this wet shirt off of her. I want that blanket on immediately.”
As Nom and her assistant worked to remove Chista’s clothing a second assistant entered the shop’s backroom. Nom noticed the lighting of the lanterns from the corner of her eye. The morning fire would begin soon so that coffee could be prepared as requested. Nom decided she wanted to serve Chista a proper tea.
Behind her, she heard a set of heavier footsteps. Her male Guardians were awake. She needed their strength. Nom wrapped the blanket around Chista’s body then instructed her assistant to hold it there. She studied her assistant to make sure her student did as instructed, not that she doubted the assistant’s ability. “Don’t massage or rub her,” she warned as she slipped her fingers over Chista’s wrist and checked her pulse. It was slow as was the girl’s chest movement.
Then…Nom momentarily did nothing.
She knew what she needed to do.
Standing around wasn’t it.
Maybe she needed her own moment, her second to pause and mentally catch up to the actions of the pre-dawn morning. She blinked, watching her assistant, and Chista, but thinking about her breathing. When she felt comfortable she turned around and met the eye of the male Guardian.
“I need her upstairs. She needs to get horizontal on one of the beds. But don’t forget to do it all gently.”
The male Guardian nodded. This wasn’t the first episode of hypothermia in Nom’s shop. Her Guardians had experienced what many in Lynthia laughed about when told it was a medical emergency. For her assistants, it was a new experience. The male Guardian stepped forward, replacing Nom’s position in from of Chista. He helped the verbally unresponsive girl to her feet.
Before the set split up, Nom turned to her assistant. “Once you are upstairs, get her head insulated too.”
Confident that Chista was in good hands, Nom walked to her backroom and pushed aside the small swinging dividers. Lanterns were lit, which meant Nom saw the sad status of her backroom. Remnants from the previous night’s teachings had been left all over the countertops – Nom’s orders. That choice was regretful now. Nom rolled her eyes at herself then grabbed a jar of powered green tea leaves and her boiling pot. She started preparing tea while her assistant prepared coffee. “For the record,” Nom started as she placed the pot on the fire. “Warm tea isn’t really effective in warming a hypothermic patient, but it sure does boost their morale.”
Upstairs, the male Guardian stood near the door, watching Chista and Nom’s assistant carefully. The Guardians usually did seem to actively engaged, but he knew that this assistant needed the support.
Chista lay in bed, wrapped in blankets like a cocooned bug. Her head had been insulated as requested. Color already looked to be returning to the girl’s cheeks, but her eyes were closed. Nom didn’t like that.
With prepared tea in hand, Nom walked over the bed and sat down. She quickly glanced at Chista but then turned to her assistant.
“Go get some coffee,” Nom said then lifted her head to her Guardian. “Both of you.”
Nom spoke to Chista, wanted her awake, as the pair left. “Chista, I have tea I want you to drink.”
The girl’s eyes fluttered open.
“What happened Chista?
Nom knew some things were difficult to talk about. Her work trained her to trust her instinct skills in situations like this. Her instincts screamed at her right now. Nom was prepared for the girl’s answer.
“Where’s your mother?”
Chista’s face lurched, recalling horrific memories. Whatever color had returned to the girl’s cheeks was again gone.
“My father beheaded her.”
Nom’s stomach curled, waves of coffee mixed with upset acid. Chista’s father was one of the few successful Bazaar merchants. He was a humble man but strong in his principles. It was part of the reason he’d done so well.
The herbalist opened her mouth, shut it then opened it again, “Why?”
“She wanted a divorce.”
Divorce…women weren’t allow to seek a divorce in Lynthia. They weren’t even allowed to “want” it. “That sounds very Port el’Reathsenish.
“She traveled there with father when he picked up his last supply shipment,” Chista admitted, taking a small sip of her tea. “She acted immoral there.”
“So this was an honor killing.”
“She was warned. He warned her for years.”
Nom sucked in a deep breath. Her ancestry tended to shame and denounce immoral choices, but the rules in Lynthia were different. Cheating was not acceptable. Its punishment was as severe as murder’s. The Lynthian people believed in the family unit. When the laws were followed as their written nature intended they really meant to preserve that belief. Children were not rushed into unwanted marriages – even the princess who receives an arranged marriage has a say in who it is arranged with. The Guardian law isn’t meant to make travel within the Lynthian streets difficult, it was meant for loved ones to spend time with one another.
Murder tore families apart.
Cheating tore families apart.
One always included the other, regardless of which one happened first.
“Do you believe what your father did was right?” Nom asked, trying to get a feel for why the girl had spent the morning wailing, why her hair and shirt was drenched.
“I don’t celebrate his choice. It’s obligation I wish he didn’t have.” Her eyes met Nom’s. They swelled with tears. “And I refused him. I told him I would help then I refused him.”
Nom’s heart raced. She knew that often times honor killing plans included other family members.
“What did he do to you?”
“He screamed that he ‘refused to raise a Port whore’ and shoved my head into the day’s bathwater, but he changed his mind and apologized. He said his emotions tricked him, said he saw my mother’s face again when he grabbed me.”
Nom felt a spasm of irritation ripple across her shoulder blades. “Take another drink of tea.”
She was pretty sure she knew how the rest of the morning would go. Chista would dry and her body temperature would stabilize. She’d finish her tea…then she’d want to go home. Nom couldn’t and wouldn’t stop her from making the choice. It was the hardest part of training in herbalism outside of Lynthia. Her job was to make patients better. That was it. Once she met Jaith that changed. Her job description grew, but she never provided underground services to someone how didn’t request them.
Doing so was dangerous.
Jaith dragged Toivo down the dark corner’s alley. It had an outlet, but Jaith had no intention of using it. He hoped the Palace Guard believed differently. Kalle and Bankim willingly made excessive noise to try and lure the Guard off Jaith and Toivo’s trail. The Guard ignored their diversion, but it was enough of a distraction to allow Jaith to tuck himself – and Toivo – away into the dark. Jaith pressed Toivo into the ninety degree corner – both mathematically and temperature-wise. Toivo grunted as he hit but remained otherwise quiet. The Guard ran by without a second thought, his sights set on the shadow that crossed the outlet’s lit up exit.
Jaith released a slow, silent breath.
“Of all the alleys in Lynthia, you bisho-ur avasi choose this one.”
Jaith’s head shot in the direction of the breathy, aggressive feminine voice.
It was too dark to make out a single feature, Jaith only discerned movement of a blob deeper in color than the night.
“This is my alley.”
Jaith wasn’t a fearful man but hearing such an uncompromising, belligerent tone from a Lynthian female was staggeringly…horrifying. He admitted – only to himself – that he was taken aback.
“I didn’t realize Lynthian females owned a Brahman thing,” he snapped, curious of her reaction.
She said nothing.
Her body’s blob of darkness didn’t move.
Jaith couldn’t even hear her breath.
Toivo stirred and groaned his opinion. “Since when did you become so mean?”
“Mean?” Jaith huffed. He knew his own crew member had no intention of backstabbing him, but sometimes that’s what alcohol did. “That wasn’t mean it was just Lynthian truth.”
“No,” the woman said, “that was just mean.”
Jaith heaved a sigh. She was a Lynthian, one who knew that her status in the city was nothing more than property. “Well, you’ll just have to deal with me being mean a bit longer…”
He wondered what she thought…because he certainly didn’t intend on just leaving her in the alley alone.
“Because I want to know why such an important piece of Lynthian property is sitting alone in an alley.”
The woman snarled. Jaith never expect to seriously identify such a noise – especially from a female throat – but that was a snarl.
Toivo pushed him and Jaith stumbled forward, falling into the girl. She was gorgeous. Jaith was certain she was a couple years pass schooling age. In Port el’Reathsen she’d be preparing for university. Her eyes were dark like his own, but unlike his skin hers was flawless. She had the typical Lynthian brown hair, worn long. She even had a necklace adoring her neck. A gift from a male – it was the only way a Lynthian woman could wear jewelry. It also meant she came from money. Jaith bite his cheek. If he remembered correctly, it was also a sign that a man sought to marry her.
Jaith couldn’t tell what else she wore because she had been curled up in a blanket, but he immediately made out the pillow behind her back. “Are you sleeping here?”
“For the last three days.”
“And you haven’t been caught?”
WORD COUNT: 1707
Today was the first day I needed to force myself to sit down and write.
“OMG, I’m so busy. I really need to fit in some writing.
“OMG, I’m so budy, but I really do not want to write anything.”
BUT…it only made sense to get to work regardless of what my final word count would have been. It’s very hard to make up missed words during NaNo. I had to do it more than once last year because I was down for the count sick. Surprisingly, tonight’s word count flowed and was complete in no time flat. I even had time to relax in front of the TV for a bit to unwind 🙂
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