• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 01
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Drops of water fell from the beard onto the head of the woman. She had not moved now for a short time, her complete attention on the small pot on the table in front of her. Her hair was already saturated, the shoulders of her over-cloak sodden and her hair piece had been removed and was now clutched protectively in one hand.

The ceremonial make-up reverently applied each morning now ran from each eye, the ritual decoration now dragged down and across her cheeks to under each ear. More a marking of facial war paint than sacred expression. This only made her look more threatening.

Suddenly flicking back her head to keep her hair from under her collar she looked up and fixed her stare on the Dran seller who took a half step back. The smudge marks from her make-up knitted venomously with her sneering eyes and half curl to her lips. Sheltered under the awning the Dran seller quailed into his jacket.

"I will not pay you that, it is too much."

The Dran seller shuffled around, his morbid tone of whines and wheezes mixed over the rasp of his leather wrapped feet on the cobbles as he shuffled in his discomfort. The threat of her cold nature and lofty position in the city was magnified by the smeared facial make-up.

"It is the price 'Ahmla, no more can I benefit one of your nature. It is beyond me. My forebears watch over me and will curse my actions. You know the family is the only Dran family here and the ties with the long gone never pass."



The 'Ahmla looked up. Just above her head a forebear looked down on her. The rain beaded skin glistened. The long beard pulling itself from his face. The misted eyes open, not moving, but seeming to follow her. Along the awning line five pole ended with a forebear head. All looking down on the business until the existant would close the shop and as a last act of the day close each set of eyes.

The existant shuffled in expectation of the return of the cold eyed stare. He squeezed his shoulder muscles to fight the cold now running through him.

"This is not your best decision, it is difficult for me. And now difficult for you. As 'Ahmla you, you, are expectant to me, I honour you. I want the Dran at my price." The 'Ahmla moved slightly to her left as yet more water fell down the forebears beard.

The Dran seller's discomfort mounted. He shrank further into his damp clothes. His hands that were clasped behind his back now came together defensively in front of him, fingers squeezing in anxiety.

Above her the central forebears head dipped a fraction. The line the water took through the beard changed and the drops re-centred on the 'Ahmla's head. The Dran sellers eyes followed this, his eyes widening.

The seller took a deep breath and dropped his hands "No 'Ahmla".