NaNoWriMo: Posted November 29@11:54pm
Hitting the end of NaNoWriMo and hitting a wall as far as what I want to write. I could go back and review my work, but I don’t believe in doing reviewing anything in the process. I’d review and edit after NaNoWriMo is done…so, what to write today?
Yaryth never made her bed, but Safreen sat on it brushing her roommate’s hair. They had just finished washing up from spending the day in the Bazaar with Safreen’s brother and nephew, which made for an interesting set of Guardians. Yaryth normally used Nom’s pair of Guardians whenever she needed to attend the Bazaar, but a new merchant arrived for the town’s weekly event with various hair accessories otherwise unavailable in Lynthia. Lachlan offered to escort the girls with his son who wanted to buy a bird kite with the money he earned wildcrafting for his Aunt Nom.
The girls decided it would be fun to take turns styling each other’s hair. What Yaryth didn’t know was that Safreen planned the activity so that she could share a secret with her roommate. First she needed to work out the tangle in Yaryth’s hair.
“Why do we have to do this before we leave for the night?” Yaryth whined as she held a batch of her hair in a fist close to her head. Safreen knew she did it to help lessen the pain.
“You know,” Safreen started before answering her friend’s question, “if you would just brush your hair every day you wouldn’t get knots, and, really, you should do this after every bath.” Safreen’s fingers weaved through Yaryth’s long chestnut hair and carefully pulled the knot open. Her work released an almondy scent into the air. The same smell of Yaryth’s perfume, or what Safreen always thought was perfume. “Do you wash your entire body with a bar of soap?”
“Um, no? We sell hair product.”
Safreen pictured Yaryth as a youth looking and acting similar to what her people called a “tom boy.” The girl cared little for fashion or beauty. Outside of their room, three of Nom’s assistants ran down the hallway in an uproar, giggling about one of the other girl’s cute brothers. The immature noise normally would have annoyed Safreen, but in a week Nom would announce who stayed and who didn’t make the cut. Her aunt already told her who her fellow assistant was.
Safreen finished untangling the hair and picked up the brush. After a series of swipes, Yaryth’s hair was finally knot free. Safreen leaned over on the bed, flipped aside an askew pillow and pulled the new box of gemstones close.
“In Loches, it is considered bad luck to leave the house during the night with your hair unbound.”
“I thought you said that you had something to show me in the house?”
“Well, I do…sort of.”
“It starts in the house.”
Yaryth’s eyes boggled. Safreen could tell by how the girl’s neck twitched. “Safreen, I’m not walking on Lynthian streets without a proper Guardian.”
Safreen smiled to herself. Lachlan warned her about Lynthian laws before she even packed her bags to move to the city. She was well versed on what she could and could not do. Her knowledge was extremely important because Safreen had no interest in getting lashings for disobeying a statute nor did she find an interest in getting her brother in trouble. Her successes and failures reflected on him directly, more so than herself. More importantly, she could not undermine or compromise Nom’s work saving abused women.
“You know I follow Lynthian law. Where we’re going, we don’t need a Guardian.”
Safreen slipped Yaryth’s dark hair through the hole of her first gem, pulling hair piece to the top of her head. As a Lynthian, Yaryth didn’t believe in the hair’s magical symbolism. Her people believed in a single god – their sun god. Unfortunately, Safreen believed that a story of Mitra came from a distant land and became jumbled in the process, twisting the story’s truths.
Really, it didn’t matter, because Lynthians were not religious people.
Her people were very different. Lochens preferred to explore their supernatural connections. Nom had her Spirit Bells. Lachlan had his [ADD]. Safreen had many indicators she liked to review. Tonight, she considered indications of Yaryth’s connection by studying her hair. Safreen mulled over Yaryth’s dark hair and her terrestrial connection. Lochens as a whole believed themselves to be bonded closely to their gods because of their genetically blessed golden hair whereas Yaryth’s hair deemed her too connected to the land to be ready to separate from it.
“So where then?” Yaryth asked, rubbing the section of hair that had the knot as Safreen worked on lacing the colored glass. When she finished setting the first gem in place, she twisted a vibrant blue ribbon through the same lock of hair and braided it into the strand then continued the process until Yaryth’s entire head was sporadically jeweled and braided in three different places.
Safreen’s manicured red nails clicked which sounded like the rhythmic beat Yaryth’s moaning.
“There,” Safreen told her friend as she secured the flexible gold clap that held up the loose loops of all three braids.
Yaryth lifted her right arm and fingered her hair. Her face brightened then fell. “I should redo you’re hair.”
Safreen stood, stretching her legs, then walked over to her vanity where she picked up her hand mirror. She held it up to the side and turned her head, appreciating the work. Yaryth had weave a single plait from the crown to her nape where instead of crossing each strand over the middle piece, she weaved it under. At Safreen’s nape, Yaryth twisted the braid around itself and pinned it into a bun. Black gemstones sparkled in Safreen’s ice blonde hair at various point along this braid.
“No way,” Safreen said with a smile as she offered Yaryth her mirror. “This is gorgeous. Why don’t you do this to your hair?”
Yaryth rolled her eyes at Safreen but accepted the mirror. “Please, that’s too much work to bother with every single morning.” She lifted the mirror, angling it to see her hair. “I’m glad you convinced me to buy these gemstones. This is really pretty.”
Yaryth stood and walked over to replace Safreen’s mirror.
The girls waited until the last of their fellow herbalism assistants shut and locked their bedroom door then exited into the hallway, walking down the hall and out into the courtyard. Safreen immediately rounded to the right and opened the small half door there. She crouched down and stagger-walked through. Yaryth followed a little less gracefully.
Safreen shut the small door, took Yaryth’s hand and led her through the black. She needed to feel the walls herself. She ran her fingertips along the cool stone at a particular angle until they hit a wooden handrail. The path was easier to follow in the daylight, but Safreen worried about bringing a lantern. She assumed Nom knew about the secret door and tunnel, but she wasn’t sure whether or not Nom wanted her to know. Safreen was pretty sure the path was used for transport abused women from the homestead out of Lynthia.
Safreen stopped walking, turned her hand and whispered to her friend, “You have to take the handrail, we have steps.”
The girls walked down carefully, but as they neared the last step the darkness gave way illuminating a possible labyrinth of tunnel ways. The temperature was warmer here than upstairs, but only because of the evening hours. During the day, the area probably felt relaxingly cool.
“What is this place,” Yaryth whispered.
“I’m not sure. I was hoping you knew. I’m guessing somewhere down here is Lynthia’s dungeon?”
Yaryth snorted then corrected her friend. “It’s just a prison.”
Then she looked around, stepping down the left hallway. The walls were all limestone. They dripped and smelled like rotten cheese. Lizards of some sort squealed and slithered across the floor as Safreen and Yaryth invaded their home.
“Did you follow any of the tunnels?”
Safreen shook her head. “Did you want to?”
“Yeah, why not?” She fingered a blue marking on the wall then preceded down the tunnel way toward another one. “This is the fourth one.”
Yaryth led the search as Safreen kept an eye out behind them. The tunnel darkened as they went along but never entirely.
“Look!” Safreen shouted, eying a small bag lumped against a wall. She hurried toward it, opened it and riffled through its contents. “It’s travel items. Fresh clothing, cleaning products, some herbs, money.”
The path didn’t have a stairwell to lift them back onto level ground. The walkway just angled up until the girls found a portion of ceiling that was made from wood and had a metal handle to it. The wood was young and fresh, and the clasp didn’t show a hint of rust.
Safreen flipped the uncomplicated lock and opened it into the night with an ease that came with well oiled hinges.
Their eyes needed to adjust to the brightness of the moon’s light, but the moon itself was not readily available to wish upon. Unlike the Lynthians who cherished their sun, Lochens often bonded with the moon and the Divine Lord of the moon.
“What do you see?” Yaryth shouted from behind Safreen.
Safreen’s roommate pushed her, forcing her aside. “Stop your lying.”
“No, really, palm trees. We’re surrounded by them.”
Yaryth’s mouth babbled irritated cursings at Safreen until her head fully emerged through the doorway, and she got to look around. “What on Atala?”
Safreen studied Yaryth’s expression change, considered what her thoughts might have been, and she probably was more amazed to see greenery than anything else. “Have you ever been to Port el’Reathsen?” Safreen asked her.
When she spoke, Yaryth’s voice sounded breathless, “No.”
Safreen swallowed hard, hating the thought of being the one who showed the girl this wonderland and being the one who had to tell her they couldn’t come back. She wasn’t sure what the area really was for or who prepared the tunnel, but Nom couldn’t be tied to it. Safreen stepped out and circled, scanning the land. She identified the water as the Lagoon Kalle and Toivo had often talked about.
“Look,” Yaryth said, tugging on Safreen’s sleeve and pointing out into the distance. “That’s the Palace!”
Safreen turned, looking down Yaryth’s arm. “This is part of the Underground,” she whispered, more to herself than for Yaryth. “We can’t expose that tunnel. If something ever happens to Nom, or if our lives are in danger, then we use it. Otherwise, we can’t come back.”
Yaryth bit her lip and nodded. “It’s beautiful though. I may never get the chance to come back. I don’t have the same herbalism knack as you to be a shoo-in as one of Nom’s two assistants, but even if I only see this place once, I’m going to sleep with a smile on my face. I’ve never been outside the Palace walls. This is the biggest adventure I’ve ever gone on in my life. So, that,” she said lifting her arm to point again, her face beaming. “That view makes my night.”
WORD COUNT: 1879
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Whew! I crashed last night when I completed this work!
Copyright ©2010-2014 by Kristine A. Strauss, Amara SuraShakta. All rights reserved.
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