• Vol. 03
  • Chapter 07


When dawn arrived mistress lifted herself from an undisturbed bed. She had watched as the shadows retreated, watched through the open window as the stars had winked out one by one, watched as her flesh had knitted itself together, separating from night like a pelt being pulled from a hare.

She emerged from her chambers to find Asrar already tending to the fire, full of the knowledge that her mistress would want to leave.

There was no need for words, both knew exactly what the day would bring. Mistress made directly for the gate and Asrar followed.

It was a quiet walk, save the sound of footsteps and the brush of cloth. The trees were reverent, the leaves too heavy to be swayed by an impish breeze. The blush of clouds knew to not trumpet their passing.

They walked slowly, the crossroads to which they walked was waiting. Silent and indifferent. They were reluctant. The end was plump with meaning, with truths, with cold realities that needed facing. Both women swallowed the fear of those realities, though for different reasons.

When they stopped, on the lip of sight behind them, were the umbra walls of their town. Small though they were, they still carried weight, as if the earth itself sagged beneath them. They were the buttresses that supported each step, each breath, each day beyond the next that was impossible to see.

They looked in three directions at once and in each one found a dirt path, twisting it's way towards the horizon. Each as empty as the last.

A sigh bellowed it's way skyward.



'Where has he gone?' she asked from behind her veil. Her features washed in shadows, her voice thick with worries.

'Do not fret, my mistress. He will return.' her companion could say no more.

Just then the stark, black outline of a falcon scythed across the sky, leaving behind an imperceptible tear in the fabric. Birthing the sensation that night were on the verge of spilling through should the two women breath too deep or say too much.

But for mistress, her feelings were a pot on the boil. She could not hold back. 'And if he does not?'

'Then we shall follow.'

They stood amidst the growing silence, each turning slightly this way or that. Within one, the unquenchable desire to see the figure of her husband walking confidently home, his proud head buoyed above his broad shoulders. His strides long and eager. In his hand, a bundle wrapped in cloth, looking identical to when his wife had first prepared it on the eve of his departure.

Within the other, an equally strong sensation, for the paths of dirt and stone to fade with disuse, for the world to shrink and fall away, for nothing to exist beyond the walls of their village and for the light, that had once dazzled in her mistress's eyes, to be lit again.