Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Red As Any Blood--Part 31

"...And forty-three pitchforks," finished the village headman, cheerfully.

"Very nice," said Eirene.  "You keep a surprisingly accurate count of the village's sharp implements."

"Part of the job," he replied with a casual shrug.  "A headman is expected to know his village from the top to the bottom, and frequently from the side as well.  And as I am a headman of highest quality--or at least try to be--I labor hard to do so."  He gave a laugh.  "Besides, we've been planning our own revolt for some time.  But you know... we've been waiting for a decent opportunity, and it never seemed to come, Always--always, a few more soldiers would come into town, or the weather would turn..."

Eirene blinked.  "The weather?"

"Have you ever tried to revolt in a rainstorm?"asked the headman.  "It's bothersome, because everyone is usually inside when it begins, and no one wants to go out."  He gave a shrug.  "So no one does.  And no revolt."

"You Tintagelians seem to be a horribly practical people," said Eirene.

"That is our burden, yes," agreed the headman.  "Still, you are quite a perceptive young miss to notice it."

Eirene raised an eyebrow.  "Haven't been called that in a while," she noted.  "I have to say, you've been... remarkably level-headed about the entire... Nightfolk matter..."

"Well, this is the outer islands of Tintagel," said the headman.  "We run the ships that go from Bellamarina to Albracca. Oh, you have a few recluses, who only know you from sermons and folklore, but most have... some exposure.  We know you're just... odd-looking people.  And we've never really had to deal with the invasions the Free Cities had, so... no real problem."  He gave a laugh.  "No, we know you're not a lot of witches hurling curses every which way.  Not really."

Eirene blinked. "Uh... huh.  Yep.  That's... very... good."  She gave a nervous cough.  "Very... very good."  She made a mental note to keep track of where all those sharp implements were, and that they weren't pointed at her.

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