Today’s excerpt is from O’Tan’s Gate, a story recorded by Lace, the second chronicler, after Harpo and long before Bekka. Below is my rough sketch of Lace.
Frad, a nester musician, is featured in today’s excerpt.
The entire story swirls around Dosh, a mysterious hutkeeper.
A ziler, when well played, strikes a tone mellow and smooth, bell clear. A warm tone filled the room, and somehow it did seem yellow. I looked at Frad and nodded yes. He took the tone and wove it with a careful ease up and down in clever comfort. A theme of restful calm he sculpted in the air. He allowed it to hang there and melt, drifting to fade. Silence. Sigh lence. I sighed. Frad lowered his ziler. Another sigh. Not from me this time. From the hutkeeper! She opened her eyes. Yellow they glistened bright. She moved her gaze from ceiling to me to Frad. Her smile remained unchanged.
“Where? … Who? … Imagine …,” she said.
Frad leaped forward and blurted out, “You are in the fattest tower of Blossom Castle in the Woods Beyond the Wood. We found you at the gate on the cobbled road. Your clothes were torn. Your wings. We fixed your antenna. It was broken, out of tune. Lace did, I mean. That’s Lace there. She’s from Clover. Yellow, right? You hutkeepers dress in yellow. Lace repaired your things. She’s a roamer marvel with needle and thread. No hutkeeper has ever visited us here before. You are the first. I, how rude, I forgot, am Frad, historian and nester musician, ziler player, to be more note accurate. What a thrilling overture you have presented. I am anxious to hear …”
I was in no hurry to interrupt Frad’s gasblather. I patiently waited until he was out of breath. It took a goodly long seam of time. Ziler players have most powerful lungs. But there came a time when he finally wound down. I raised my hand to keep him from starting up again.
“As you can guess, youngling hutkeeper,” I said, “Frad with his ice blue hair is pleased to see you awake and seemingly well. Let me say that I am Fuzzybug Lacejacket, and I was long ago a Clover roamer. How do you really feel? Do you hunger? Or thirst? What is your name, youngling?”
She blinked her yellow eyes and fixed me with a stare of muted madness.
“Dosh. I am Dosh. If you have Clover honey, I would taste a drop or two. Imagine my pleasure,” said the youngling hutkeeper softly.
“Well, Frad, do you have honey here?” I asked.
“We do, but not Clover. It’s Blossom. Should I get some? I’ll get some. Mark time. Rest. Don’t play on before I get back,” said Frad, and he bolted out the door.
“Dosh, you are a long way from Clover. You look as if you have had quite some sort of adventure. Have you?” I probed with a seeming offhand delicacy.
She dropped her head back and stared up at the chamber’s low beamed ceiling. She moved her limbs under the quilt, grew still and turned her face again to me.
“My stockings,” she said.
“Right here with the rest of your things,” I reassured her, lifting the pile of neatly folded garments and the braced gildy slippers for her to see. “The stockings I’ve rolled up in your shoes.”
Frad raced into the room, holding a little pot and spouting, “Did I miss? … Has anything? … Did you start? Here’s the honey.”
What shortly followed Frad’s arrival was the hutkeeper Dosh being polite, tasting the Blossom honey. Why polite? I tasted it, too. It was to Clover honey as a dying ember is to the sun. Frad contained himself while the honey was tasted, then dove directly at the question. What question?
“How did you get here?” he asked.
She blinked her eyes as if in thought, smiling all the while.
“Imagine my pleasure. I don’t think I know. It wasn’t a random rain riddle,” she said.