Wednesday, October 9, 2013

"Inkweaver" Excerpt--The Three Daughters

The Tale of The Three Daughters
 
There was once a family who lived deep in the country: a man and his three daughters. The eldest daughter was very studious, and was always thinking of what great things she could do to change the world and make it better..... The second daughter was as self-centered as the first was extroverted. She longed for the comfort of the past (for the family had long ago been well-connected), and she sighed for the comforts she once knew.... The third daughter was not like her sisters. She neither waited for the future, nor pined for the past. Instead, she asked herself each day, "What can I do here and now?"

The eldest daughter sneered at her. "Why must you stay at home all the time? Why will you not go forth and prepare for great things as I am doing? Will you ignore the goings-on in the world and do nothing to end the disasters that plague it?"

The second daughter thought her too industrious. "What, are you trying to make father love you more than us? You are such a busybody, always going off and doing things when there's so much to be done here!"

The third daughter said nothing, only continued in her duties faithfully.

In time, the father began to notice the unrest of his daughters, and sought out the matter. He went to his eldest daughter first.

"Why is there discord among you?" he asked.

Immediately, the eldest daughter set upon him. "It is our third sister! She is so lazy, she will not go forth from the village or even this house, not to help the wide world. Methinks she grows indolent and selfish."

The father was disturbed; he went to his second daughter. "Why are you in such distress, my daughter?"

"Ah me!" the second daughter cried, "It is all the fault of our third sister! She is never around when I need her most, and she is always doing things and never taking time for me! It seems she is far too busy with strangers and folk outside the home to be bothered with her own family!"



At this the father believed the words of his two elder daughters. Forthwith he turned his youngest daughter out into the world....
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A cock crowed in the distance when I at last struggled from the depths of the dream world. I couldn't recall the last time I ever had a dream, but on this night, I had two:

In one, I was the young person with the dog from the story Larryn had told—but somehow I could not stop myself from hiding behind the rock or closing my eyes every time the beast passed by. Just when I thought I could face it, the scene changed to quite a different one.

I witnessed a family with three daughters, quarreling like I'd heard earlier that day, until at last the father turned one of his daughters (the virtuous one, of course) out of the house. In my dream I followed her from a bird's-eye view, down a long path, on and on, till at last, bone-weary, she came to a village. She made her way to an inn and begged for a room—from the same innkeeper as ours! 
Abruptly the dream ended and I sat up, blinking. The whole thing felt very surreal—till the bed on my left moved. I could not move, but stared in horror as the stranger in the next bed sat up and looked at me. Then my tongue was loosed and I screamed and tumbled off my bed in shock, slamming against Larryn's.

The girl in the next bed was the same one in my dream! Was I still dreaming? Above me, Larryn stirred.

"Mmmwhuuh?" she moaned.

I could not speak, my eyes locked onto the stranger.

"Good morning," she said pleasantly.

I took a deep breath, and finally my racing heart calmed. This could not be a dream, and it was purely by chance that she looked so like someone from my dream. Dreams were not real. I regained the use of my limbs and climbed to my feet to sit upon my bed.



"Good morning," Larryn responded to her. "My name is Larryn; what is yours?"

"Greyna," she answered. Then she looked straight at me. "And what is your name?"

My voice seemed to stick in my throat. It took a few tries, but finally I gasped out, "Shereya." My mind misfired several times before I was able to croak out, "H-h-how... Why—W-w-Where did you come from?"

Greyna hung her head. "I've come...a long ways," she confessed. "My village is called Stania, about ten miles to the southeast."

"What are you doing so far from home?" Larryn asked.

Greyna didn't seem to notice or acknowledge the gross impropriety of such a question. "I am looking for work," she stated. "There was nothing for me in my little village, so I have begun traveling through towns looking for some means of employment."

"We're headed to Gramble," Larryn bragged. "Want to join—"

"Larryn!" I caught her before she could finish, "A word, please?" I snatched her elbow and dragged her into the corner.


"Please don't do this!" I begged her.

Larryn frowned at me. "What has gotten into you, Shereya? You've been acting strangely all morning."

"I—I don't know," I stammered. "It's just that I..." I glanced to the girl waiting on the bed. "I dreamed of her last night," I blurted in a whisper.
[...]
I expected to see my friend filled with dread as I was, but Larryn's reaction was just the opposite. She quivered with excitement.

"This is incredible!" she gushed. "Is she on the tapestry too?"

I snorted, "Now that would really be impossible. There was nothing about this on the—"

Larryn unfolded the cloth and spread it on the table in front of us. I traced the landmarks on the map we had followed, and then I noticed up near the edge a small building that could have been the inn we were staying in, or (as I tried to convince myself) it was the house from the tale. Before it stood three girls.

"There she is!" Larryn breathed.

"No, of course not!" I stammered, "Those are the three daughters. It's just a scene from the story!" I was beginning to tremble again.

Larryn peered closer, and I could not help but do the same.

One figure had dark-golden hair and wore a sensible brown dress. I told myself she was the eldest sister. The next girl had brown braids and a drab-yellow dress. I dismissed this one as the middle sister. The third was unmistakably Greyna.

"Or," Larryn insisted, "They could be us."

How could she say such a thing? "Larryn, surely you can't... You don't really believe—"

She pointed further on in the tapestry, where it showed the same three figures on the path to Gramble.

I turned away and spoke to Greyna. "Greyna, do you have two sisters?"

Greyna winced, "Yes." Her voice was strained, as if their memory caused her distress.
[...]
Larryn cut in before I could say anything. She picked up the tapestry and folded it so that only the scene of the three girls in front of the inn was showing.

“Greyna,” My friend asked smoothly, “Do you know of the Wordspinners?”

Greyna peered at the tapestry in wonder. “Wordspinners? Oh, but I thought they were only a myth! You’re telling me this is a Told item?”

[...]

"Shereya and I found this left behind by an Inkweaver, the last one in our village; we’re on our way to try to find her.” Larryn answered Greyna. “I have a feeling it was more than just chance that brought us together." She stared straight at me, and I understood her meaning; she would have me believe that the tapestry depicted us three, and Greyna's appearance meant that the Inkweaver desired us to travel together. I rolled my eyes at her; what did I care about the designs of a woman we barely knew who might not even exist anymore and could very well be exactly what everyone thought she was—a witch?

“Do you mean,” Greyna said slowly, pondering the offer while gazing at the figure (who seemed to rapidly resemble the girl standing before us more and more), “that… you want me to come with you?”

“More than that, Greyna,” Larryn affirmed, placing a hand on her thin shoulder, “I think you were meant to join us. Will you?”

Greyna glanced between us. “Well…” she answered slowly, “I suppose I could; it would be far better than traveling alone.”

Larryn grinned, “Then it’s settled! Let’s be off!” She picked up her satchel and looked ready to march out of the door.

“Oh no you don’t!” I cried.

She looked back at me.

I pointed to the underclothes she had slept in. “Not like that, I mean. Get dressed, we’ll eat breakfast in the dining hall, and then we will depart.”

Larryn blushed and reached for her dress as Greyna laughed.

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