Feb. 19th, 2013

It’s getting on towards lunch time, and since I am heading back to Bel’s anyway I decide to do an experiment. I grab the bucket I’d found by the well and fill it at the pump. After looking at it again to determine if the feeling of wrongness persisted, I lug it to the bakery.

“Hello, Wander,” Bel says. “Been getting yourself in trouble with the Select, I hear.”

“On the contrary, I’m thick as thieves with your Elector Tyrol,” I say.

“Well, few men are thicker or more thieving,” she says. “I’d watch that he doesn’t have you sent to investigate the well directly, head first. Probably the only reason he hasn’t is he thinks you might have money, and he doesn’t yet know if you have the clout to hold onto it.”

“Nonsense,” I say. “We’re getting along like a house on fire. He even invited me back to his this afternoon. His house, I mean. Not his fire. Though he didn’t give me directions. I guess he assumed it would be unnecessary.”

“It is, since I can show you the way. I do his bread… I don’t usually deliver it myself, but when the boy is late or sick he’s one of the ones who won’t wait for it to be sorted.”

“Excellent! In the meantime, would you mind putting this on to boil for me?” I ask, holding up the bucket.

“You know I have a barrel of water back here, right?” she says.

“Yes, but I need for this water here to be boiled, and then poured back into this bucket, please,” I say. “For science.”

Twenty-Six

Feb. 19th, 2013 06:19 pm
It’s possible that her water would have served, but in case the results of my test turn out the way I hope they will, I want absolutely no doubt as to what had made the difference.

“Is this a thing that will sound silly if I ask you to explain it?” she asks me.

“Slightly, maybe,” I say. I know she’s up on the idea of boiling water to kill disease, but such knowledge might only make her even more skeptical of my notion that it might cure a bad feeling.

“Alright, then,” she says. She empties a teapot sitting on a metal plate on the corner of her oven into a pair of mugs, pours my water in, and puts it on to boil. “It will be ready in a bit.”

“Thank you,” I say.

She gives me one of the mugs while we wait. It’s loose-leaf tea, a rather excellent herbal blend with just the slightest taste of anise. She prepares a long, tough loaf of bread as a trencher and ladles some stew on it when the kettle begins to rattle.

“Let it go for a bit, just to be sure,” I say.

When I judge the water should properly have had the hell or hell equivalent boiled out of it, I ask Bel to pour it back into the bucket. Once it’s cooled a bit, I carry it out into the sunlight for a proper look.

No change.

I still see nothing but the bottom of the bucket, and feel nothing but the mindless, clutching dread.
“He directed you to the back door, didn’t he?” Bel asks as we wend our way to the Elector’s house in the early afternoon.

“He told me not to use the front one,” I say. “He was not actually specific as to how I should enter. I was thinking a window?”

I want a chance to examine the boxes in privacy if I can… and it wouldn’t hurt anything to send Tyrol a message, that I’m not one of his servants.

Well, it could hurt several things, including my standing in Peram and my chances of success. But it would hurt my pride not to, and I think you will probably forgive me for indulging in an impulse towards vanity every now and again.

“Your funeral, sunshine,” Bel says.

“I don’t suppose you’d want to come and watch my back?”

“I’ll watch the back of you walking in through Tyrol’s back door escorted by his servants, if you like,” she says. “I have a position to think of… if this all falls flat on you, you can just wander down the road again but I’ll be stuck here, dealing with the consequences.”

“Fair enough,” I say. “That’s his house, isn’t it? We should part ways here.”

“Yeah, that’s his… bit obvious, isn’t it?”

That’s something of an understatement. Tyrol’s house boasts a yard, a rare luxury in a walled city whose boundaries are doubtlessly fixed by statute and would be expensive to expand even if they weren’t.

Like the city he rules, Tryol’s estate is walled… surrounded by a fence of stone capped with wrought iron. The back gate has a lock, but it hangs open during the day. Through it I can see a statue garden and the edge of what looks like a reflecting pond. Even that’s enough to put a prickle of unease at the back of my mind.

What is it about the water here that’s so unsettling?

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theonecalledwander

June 2013

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