NaNoWriMo: Posted November 2 @10:42p
The concept of Ethantine being an “urban” city seemed ridiculous to Nom or so she decided as her carriage pulled away from her home and over the middle of three bridges that stretched across the River of Parity. There really was nothing urban about the place. The population of Ethantine wasn’t dense. There was no need for a public transport nor was there a wide variety of housing.
Ethantine was just different, and Ethantinian culture was one of its own.
Nom watched the Palace as she left for the Port. Unlike Lynthia and Port el’Reathsen, the home of the Lord Protector of Ethantine was the largest and foremost building of the city. Anyone who arrived or left the city filed through the Palace’s Brynxeen Core walls while their transport was taken around back to the market and commercial area of the city by proper officials. Nom’s gardens surrounded the other three sides of Ethantine while the civilians lived protected in the heart of the city. If an attack would come to Ethantine, the Lord Protector believed he – and not his people – should be the first to defend.
Samir’s philosophy ran deep within the architecture of the city – he focused on practice. The city’s layout and planning needed to support lifestyle and transport. It needed to serve a function. Architecture was a crucial tool, more than art and not just to boaster class value. Samir knew that the men and women of Ethantine were a unique few. They didn’t wander aimlessly. They never wondered about where the day would take them. They always had a plan. Time was not a luxury they could spare. Ethantinians saw days like currency, and they exchanged time for actions, moments, progress. They had goals and desires unlike many within the world of Atala.
Nom had them too. A trip to Port el’Reathsen was not one of them.
[Time of day?]
With the Palace disappearing from view, Nom watched the final feet of well decorated, marble bridge pass then uncrumpled her sister’s letter. She never should have crushed it in the first place…or she never should have opened the words again.
She sighed, lowering her eyes to again read the paper.
“As much as you may want it to, I refuse to begin this letter with any type of sympathetic or familial designation. I do hope that it does find you in better spirits as your last letter sounded sad and desperate. You are my sister, and I love you. But you are an herbalist, first and foremost now. I warned you what the title meant before I ever began my teachings, and you accepted the challenges of the choice.
“As you begin to seek your own students, or “assistants” as you have chosen to call them, you will need to decide how to begin your own teachings. I fear that you are not ready to begin this leg of your journey and beg you to reconsider mentoring until you have answered some very basic, but very serious questions.
“If you chose to defy my plea, which I suppose you will as you always have, I suggest traveling to Port el’Reathsen. They have a university there wherein men and women are already in the midst of studying various components of herbalism. I believe you can find a suitable set to assist you although I am not certain how many would actually leave their studies to return to Ethantine with you, but one never knows. I have arranged for you to meet Fox and his wife Vixey.
“I believe you would be happy to know that our sister is with child. She’d rather be the one to tell you that, I’m sure; but let’s face it, she is not a scribe nor had she ever been. By lunar calculations, Chand will be bringing her a girl. Perhaps this little one will one day join you and be the assistant you so dearly yearn for.”
Nom crumpled the letter into a ball, smashing the document until she forgot her anger. Her sister could be so painfully forthright, whatever love she said she had came across as phony. Nom was certain her behavior became what it was because of the woman’s decision to remove herself from Loches’ society as a whole.
Nom thought about opening her sister’s letter again, considered rereading the closing paragraph. Then remembered how Zor packed her medicine and left those in need, which alone triggered the fracture of Nom’s confidence in her own mentor. At that point an air of phoniness came with every word Zor spoke. Why bother reading supposed niceties?
How could an herbalist make ill patients walk miles in order to seek out treatment? Nom crumpled the letter again. Zor was wrong. Nom knew the answers to the serious questions. One of which was the fact that she’d never be as pigheaded as her sister. She’d make a point to travel to patients when they needed her to do so. Zor swore that she felt that the distance allowed her to be more rational, less biased. Nom disagreed. The tie of humanity that she had with her patients made her work harder to cure them. Wasn’t there something to trust?
Some things are about survival, some are about transcendence.
The trip to Port el’Reathsen was about survival. The carriage ride there, if they bypassed Lynthia, took thirteen days as long as the weather cooperated. It was not a journey Nom cared to make. It harbored danger, which was why as her carriage finished crossing the Lord Protector’s bridge – the middle bridge – Nom couldn’t prepare for her work in the Port. She had to concentrate on preparing herself for the worst, if it came to that out in the dessert.
Nom crossed over the small arching bridge with polished burgundy railings. The stream of people entering Port el’Reathsen thickened as Nom entered Port el’Reathsen’s docks. Fox and Vixey’s herbalism shop was located in the busiest part of the Port, where items of necessity were in easy access for the sailors and traders as they entered town. A wooden sign affixed above the shop’s entrance creaked on its hinges. The salt of the sea was strong in this area. Nom happily slipped inside, where the aroma of plants and brewing elixirs replaced the sea air.
Inside a small bell over the door jingled as Nom shut the door carefully behind her. An aproned man with turquoise glasses and rainbow bandana worked a mortar and pestle. Sweat dripped down his tanned skin. He didn’t look up as he continued to crush his work.
“You’re late!” he called from the back counter.
Nom blinked, shocked at the greeting. She had expected something a bit … kinder? The man had an air of approachableness or seemed to.
“Excuse me?” Nom asked. Her voice rose defensively. She paused in her pursuit for the back of the store and with a rapid scan of the room distracted herself with a green and gold bound book. She didn’t read the work’s title but picked it up as a means of diverting her attention, of calming herself before meeting Fox. She needed his help. Certainly Zor hadn’t indicated a specific day and time for arrival. She knew how inconsistent travel could be.
Fox peeked up at her over the rim of his glasses. His working hands stopped as he took in Nom’s expression. “Oh child,” he started, dropping the pestle and sitting back on his stool, “It was a joke.”
He snickered to himself and wiped his hands clean on his apron. “Vixey always said I was a better flirt than a comedian.”
“You’re no flirt,” warned an insistent voice that floated through the shop from the store’s hidden back room. “I told you that you scare women!”
“Flirt…scare, same thing.” Fox’s smile widened as he knowingly taunted his wife. He stood from his stool and removed his glasses. Without replacing the book, Nom continued again to where Fox worked.
“My name is Nom. My sister Zor said you would be expecting me. You must be Fox?”
“Only one in the Port as sexy as one.”
Nom’s head flipped to the side in confusion. “What?”
“A fox.—” Fox stopped, unsure how to take the new herbalist’s reaction.
A soiled towel snapped across his chest. Vixey slapped his chest once and playfully pushed him away. “She’s from Ethantine, love. She hasn’t a clue what a fox is. Pay no attention to him. Are you hungry? I figured we could talk over a meal. It sounded as if you have quite to endeavor to fulfill.”
[add?] Nom knew exactly what not to teach, thanks to her sister.
She stopped at the lanai’s guardrail and rested her elbows on the wood. She liked her room. When Samir insisted she room within the Palace / she liked how the balcony opened only three stories above Ethantine. The height was low enough to see the citizens clearly; they looked like people and not insects. Yet, it was high enough that the typical conversation couldn’t be heard. Nom loved her people, but as an herbalist she needed to distance herself from them. She didn’t want to get too close to anyone she treated. She crossed her arms, folding her fingers under the curves of her elbows. The men and women of Ethantine were a unique few. They didn’t wander aimlessly. They never wondered about where the day would take them. They always had a plan. Time was not a luxury they could spare. Ethantinians saw days like currency, and they exchanged time for actions, moments, progress. They had goals and desires unlike many within the world of Atala. Part of Nom believed their motivations came because they did not have restrictions. Men and women were equals.
Even the Ethantinian Palace symbolized the kind of government Samir sought He focused on practice, consistent, with the architecture of the city playing a crucial role in that belief. He believed his rule to be open and available as a tool.
Unlike Lynthia, the city surrounded the Palace. The civilians and their homes were one with the Lord Protector. The rich and the poor lived intermixed. The market and other such commercial activities were left to the outer boundaries of the city.
[I needed this moment to work on the layout, the laws of Ethantine. They will probably change.]
AUTHOR’S NOTE FROM DAY 2
Some days it’s just about getting the words on the page, even if you know they will be rewritten. Today was one of those days. I just needed to get them there. I had a much bigger event to celebrate today – my baby turned 11!!
The hardest part of today was trying to learn (with limited time) Nom’s personality before she came to Lynthia. Who trained her? What was her family like? Her sister Zor original letter was very kind yet something turned out as seen above. I kind of like the idea of Nom’s mentor slighting her. We’ll see if I keep that or not.
Ethantine as a city layout was not visualized until today. A good portion of Day 2 meant figuring out that architecture, which seems simple enough but a lot can be said about the way a city is planned. Ethantine is a bold city. It is a confident city. The Lord Protector is a humble man and one with his people so I originally I thought the Palace would be tucked away. As I worked through the first part of today’s word count I came to realize a bold, confident city would have its palace first in line. So I rethought the structure especially since I want the city to really fit Destovl (Aara’s brother – you’ll meet him soon) as a person.
FUN FACT? I needed a name for the Ethantinian wall material (I do not yet have a full backstory for it but…) Brynx is my sister’s eldest dog. My two pups – Kira and Kako – are already named in Aara.
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WORD COUNT: 1735