Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Siege of the White Mountain; Volume 2: Fields Running Red--Part 8

The winds screamed outside Nisrioch’s tent, though he supposed some might say it howled. But for Nisrioch it seemed quite clearly a scream, not a howl, and those who said otherwise were simply being temperamental.

Antea poked the fire in the brazier. “Does the wind always do that here?”

“Oh, it occasionally pauses,” he noted as he jotted a few things down. “The Kizaks say it’s the voices of dead warriors.”

“Or the howls of the three wolves from which we are descended,” said Enryk bin Jerzy, as he stepped inside the tent. “Or the cries of spirits from feuds who are unavenged. Or…”

Nisrioch nodded. “Understood, Balu Khan. There are a lot of stories, about the wind.”

“Too many, really,” the Kizak stated, taking a seat. “I blame it on having too much time on our hands.”

“Ahh, yes,” said Antea, placing a kettle atop the brazier. “The sisters always said that idleness is the mother of wicked invention.”

“Well, that explains Nissy then,” said Balu Khan.

Nisrioch frowned. “Enryk, in the name of our long-time friendship, I must insist that you not sully my name with my darling young daughter who I am just getting to know.” He turned to Antea. “Ignore him, dear one. He is only being his usual scapegrace self.”

“Such I assumed,” said Antea with a bow. “Mother always had to deal with similar statements, which I likewise banished from my mind.” She set out a cup. “Now what sort of tea will you be having?”

“A fragrant jasmine suits my mood,” replied Nisrioch. “And what will you be having?”

Antea blinked, and then began to fidget. “You… you want me to make myself tea?”

Nisrioch stared at her for a moment. “Yes,” he stated. “As you are making me some. It seems only fair.”

Antea’s fidgeting became rather more pronounced. “ Ahh. Yes. Well… I think the ginger seems… interesting,” she stated at length.

“And you, Balu Khan?” asked Nisrioch.

“Just a nice spot of normal tea with a drop of yak’s butter to give it the proper consistency,” said the Kizak. Nisrioch raised an eyebrow. “Listen, I have embraced the ways of my people, and will not…”

“I didn’t say anything,” said Nisrioch. “So--the Red and the White Hordes should be here soon?”

“Jerzy should be here in a few days,” said Balu Khan. “The White Horde… may take longer. They were hunting in the south when you arrived…”

Antea gave a slight gasp. “My goodness. This yak butter is… quite fragrant, isn’t it?”

“That is part of the charm,” declared Balu Khan, forcefully.

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