A lesson . . .
As I continue to write The Shifu Cloth, my share of the blog posts for The Masked Ball, the short story for The Masked Ball miniature book and the edits to Paperweights, I am finding my mind has to compartmentalise. To be frank it isn’t easy and when I return to both Shifu Cloth and Paperweights, I find I have to read a significant amount of the previous chapters to ground myself in the flow of that particular work. Which is probably why I choose to make the story posts I contribute here, fairly light, spoofish and V.V. short. So here we go with my next contribution, with the help of the wicked face of Guy of Gisborne alias Niccolo de Fleury.
A lesson . . .
Niccolo pulled me along. He, like Percy, took big steps and I panted to keep up. It seemed my lot to have men around me who were tall and whose legs covered a half league or more with each step. I by contrast, am of very average height and in addition, on this day I was wearing a long gown and shoes with tiny heels and by the time we had reached the Hall of Embroideries, I was breathless and eager to rest.
Niccolo however, had other plans as he hurried to the very end of the room. The chamber was large and with a fanned skylight in the frescoed ceiling so that luminescence flooded the floor. Every kind of stitch, every type of fabric, every gold thread, every floss, every design was represented in the hall. It was breathtaking. But none more so than the robe that dominated the exhibition.
‘Aine,’ I whispered, for such work could only have been done with the blessing of the Mother of the World.
‘Yes,’ agreed Niccolo. ‘Traveller’s work. Adelina’s to be precise.’
‘Adelina’s work?’ Sir Percy’s favourite embroiderer. Only one word could describe it. Iontach . . . it’s a Traveller’s word meaning wonderful, brilliant, superb.
I walked around the cream robe which hung above me like a waterfall of silk. I wanted to run my fingers over the thick welted embroidery which was sumptuous enough to hide things under. My eyes fixed on a blue silk butterfly.
‘It hides a book.’ Niccolo said. ‘ There are dozens of books on the whole robe, concealed, hidden . . .’
‘Indeed. And every one tells one chapter of a story . . . a lesson on why the nature of Others should be respected.’
‘I have heard the tale. A troubadour attended Parthenope’s salon last winter and sang the story which is not so very old itself. I heard it all happened only two years before. It was so . . .’ I was unable to finish, because if I had said what was in my mind, the man, my escort Niccolo de Fleury, would have been insulted and angered. I looked at him and realised he knew what I wanted to say . . . that Others could be cruel and infinitely dangerous.
‘Are you, ‘ I asked.
‘I can be.’
He took my hand. ‘Lucia, the book that I have taken from you tells mortals and Others how to mesmer the amulet open and thence how to use it for wicked means. Blakeney knew this and I confess to wondering why he wanted it. He is Other, he has as much to gain or lose as all of us.’
‘Why do you want it yourself?’
He gave me one of those slow, one-sided smiles that I could interpret as seelie or not and I was none the wiser, if damned uncomfortable . . . and frightened. ‘Niccolo, what does the amulet do?’
He stood apart from me as if we each stood on the opposite sides of an abyss. Mortal versus Other and apart from our breathing there was no sound in the room. Finally he spoke. ‘Something very bad . . .’