Author’s Note: This is the conclusion of Part 2 of the prequel blog serial entitled “What is Needed”. Click on these links to read Part 1 and Part 2 (first section). This series is a companion to The Bow of Destiny (Part 1 of The Bow of Hart Saga) as expanded writing samples for the conclude Indiegogo campaign for the novel. The events of the blog series pre-date those of The Bow of Destiny by several hundred years but include several long-lived characters who appear in the forthcoming novel. This material is copyrighted and not intended for reproduction except at the author’s consent.
What is Needed (Part 2: Conclusion)
by P. H. Solomon
Hastra’s lips puckered as the door to the Meditation Hall closed softer than falling snow. Nothing again. No impression to share with anyone or write it in the Book of Prophecies. She pulled her thick shawl close and high-stepped through the snow that billowed in her eyes. Thick clouds rolled over the Gray Spires. “Maybe I should just forget them.”
The Withling wandered to her room but didn’t find her sister. Zelma’s already at table. Hastra shrugged. She could use an early dinner. She found dinner ready and served herself a bowl of steaming soup that smelled of onions and sausage. Hastra snagged brown bread with butter and shuffled between the trestle tables toward Zelma who sat alone and stirred her bowl of soup.
“This is different for you. Your crowd is busy, I see.” Hastra straddled the bench, sat and swung her leg over.
“Your visions trouble me. You’ve spent so much time in the Hall of Silence. Won’t you write them down for others to see? They consume you.” Zelma sniffed and wiped her nose while a tear gleamed in her green eyes.
“This is hardly the place to discuss my visions.”
Howart approached and sat across the table from Hastra and her sister. The tall Withling lowered his head in prayer. If he heard us… Hastra picked at her food and then took a hot spoonful of soup, smacked her lips, snatched a cup of water and sloshed the contents as she gulped.
“What visions are you talking about?” Howart tore bread and dipped it into the steaming soup.
Hastra choked and almost spewed her water. Now it will be out. She swallowed and wiped her face.
Zelma elbowed Hastra. “You should talk about it.”
Hastra scowled at Zelma who arched one eyebrow higher than the other and offered a faint smile. No chance for denial now. Hastra’s face heated with a flush. That soup burned. Hastra drank again. She swallowed and opened her mouth.
The Grendonese sisters strode past. They giggled and whispered while their skirts twirled with their flouncing stride. Hastra clamped her mouth shut and followed the sisters with her eyes. Which one was which? She could never tell. They sat several tables away and shared a jest with Zeld and Kregen that set the Rokan brothers laughing.
Zelma cleared her throat. Howart paid Hastra’s reticence no mind as he dunked his bread again.
“Not here. Let’s eat first and find somewhere to speak.”
Howart shrugged and his sunken cheeks filled with his broad smile that exposed his crooked teeth. “A big secret, I see. Well enough, I’ve nothing to do after supper.”
Once they finished, Hastra led Zelma and Howart on a walk through empty corridors. She related the tale to Howart who bent close to hear Hastra’s whispers. She paused often and checked the passages for anyone following. They paused at a window overlooking the courtyard.
Howart gazed out the window at the late winter night beneath the early stars until his breath frosted the panes. “It’s almost like the vision is now since you have no unction about it.”
Hastra shifted her feet and cocked her head. “I don’t understand what you mean.”
The gaunt Withling turned from the window and his deep-set eyes shifted between Hastra and her sister. “The danger from these visions is here, now and not something in the future.” Howart swept his arms in an arc over Hastra’s head as he spoke.
Zelma hugged herself as she shivered. “But there’s no sign of trolls in this old keep. How can there be any danger?”
“The danger’s here though. That’s why there’s no interpretation, no instruction.” Howart wagged a long finger as he spoke.
Hastra turned to the window and found her murky reflection in the fogged pane. “But from where and whom is our danger? There may be trolls or not but there’s something else at work.” She turned back to her companions but neither answered. “We must watch for odd behavior and investigate if necessary. We have no proof of a betrayal or danger.”
Howart crossed his arms. “Except your dreams.”
Zelma chuckled and tossed her flaming tresses. “And oddity is common in this house.”
Hastra turned back to the window where the fog faded. Below, Kregen crossed the courtyard and entered the gatehouse. “You’re right, not odd, just activity that is out of place.” She watched her companions’ reflections nod.
“We’ll catch whoever endangers us.” Zelma patted Hastra’s shoulder.
Hastra drummed her cheek with her fingers. But this may not be about catching them. She shivered and pulled her shawl closer.
End of Part 2 (Part 3 will be re-posted on 11/29 or after)
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P. H. Solomon