12th Day of Harvest Season
“He threatened us.” Niles grabbed another piece of wood and bent it, testing its strength. The youth has been busy. At least three other bows, in various states of design hang from pegs on one wall in the old barn. He has pushed a wooden table into the corner and lying atop it are scores of unfinished arrows.
“The words of men are many, Niles. One could sow thousands of farms with empty promises, hollow threats and misspoken confessions of love. If you attack every arrogant man who speaks, Sarond will become a lonely place.”
Niles shrugged. He would say little more on the subject. I fear his anger has found an outlet. The weapons have become his life. When he is not constructing bows, he’s shooting them. A row of barrels stands at the far end of the field, and another row within the trees that border the eastern side. He spends all day marking boundaries, preparing for unwelcome guests. Unfortunately, he is the only youth at the farm who’s developed such an interest in security measures and that means it is he who decides who is welcome–and who isn’t.
Master Gryst has holed himself up in one of the smaller bedrooms upstairs. He asked for ink, a quill and whatever parchment we could find. I haven’t seen him since the morning meal. Brother Milton accompanied the lads to the fields, which left me alone with Niles, Hilla and our wounded visitor.
“Tell me, Hilla, how many visitors has Niles sent away?” Together we tended Brother Trinn. Trinn hasn’t awoken since he took the arrow. His breathing remains shallow and a fever has gripped him. The girl, however, has gentle, healing hands. If it is your will, Sisters, the man will survive. While he slept, she washed the wound and bound it with fresh linen. We spoke in whispers, while every few seconds we could hear arrows thunk into the empty barrels outside.
“I cannot say, Brother Borchain. I do know he let the tinker in.”
“An old man, he mended a couple of pots and some other items in the barn. He seemed harmless enough.”
“How long did he stay?”
“Two days? Yes, I’m sure it was two days. Little Hugo fell into the creek the day the tinker arrived. Ivette dragged him out of the water. He was blue. She pushed on his stomach, checked his mouth, flipped him over and slapped his back a few times, and then repeated everything. I don’t know what she did, but it worked. The boy spit out what seemed like a bucket of water. We kept him in bed two days, watching for fever. When we couldn’t keep him in bed any longer, he squirmed away only to come back angry that the man with the funny jacket wasn’t here anymore.”
“How long ago was that? When did the tinker leave?” I asked.
“He left for Aramas a few days ago,” she replied. She tucked in the last bit of cloth and looked at me. “Why?”
I pressed my lips into a thin, tight smile. “I’m afraid I was merely curious,” I answered. We passed no one along the trail heading to Aramas.
– Jakob Borchain