Monday, October 7, 2013

"Inkweaver" Excerpt--The Unfinished Tapestry

"Shereya Rubinsyn!" Larryn's eyelids almost vanished from around her green eyes. "You mean to tell me you just happened upon this old scrap of cloth at the Inkweaver's cottage?"
Her voice was getting too loud for my comfort. "Hush!" I whispered, "Yes, it's true!" I looked around for any sign that someone might have heard her.
"But when? Why? How?"

"Last night," I said quickly. There was something familiar about the old, battered heap of cloth on the little table, but I couldn't place what it was. Looking at it, I could hear a faint muddle, as if the cloth itself was a portal into a bustling world full of voices and noises just beyond it's surface. "Belak and I, we—"
"Belak?" Larryn's freckled nose wrinkled. "What does he know of the Inkweaver?"
I shook my head, "Nothing; I—well he asked me what I was afraid of, and I told him of the Witches' Hill and he took me there and I heard the tapestry and saved it when the cottage collapsed, and—" I quickly pressed my mouth shut. I hadn't meant to say so much.
Larryn's eyes danced, "Did you say you heard the tapestry?"
The old fear welled again. "No! Of course not; I saw it, not heard—well not exactly," for some reason I couldn't justify the rationalization. I tried to pick it up and waggle a corner of it, to show her. "See? It makes a whispery sound like taffeta."
Larryn still stared at me, "I hear no whisper."
I blinked; was she trying to be difficult?
Larryn continued, "But I have heard of Told items bearing tales for only the person meant to find them; maybe—"

I dropped the bundle on the table, listening to the words "fearsome wild" as I did so. "No, that's not it at all!" I cried, my heart pounding wildly. "I just found it there, it wasn't meant for me! It can't be; I’ve never had anything from her hand! The Wi—Weaver left it behind."
Larryn picked it up and unfolded it, revealing fully half a portrait of some kind. The whispers were stronger than ever; I heard snatches of voices, frightened people crying out, a growl, a barking dog—and a young man softly snoring. "What a pity she never finished it," my friend exclaimed. "I suppose we can just throw it out, because perhaps it was never meant to—"
"No!" Suddenly the tapestry was in my hands, and Larryn stared at me. "I mean—maybe it would be more useful to finish it," I said more calmly.
"Why?" Larryn asked.

I peered at the pictures. There were several figures in robes—like the Wordspinners—and a castle with royal figures. Later on, there was the King, and the Wordspinners going away. My stomach twisted: the next scene showed a heap of rubble not unlike the Witches' Hill. Across from the rubble, the King stood in his castle, with a frown on his face, ignoring the haggard villagers below, and some distance away the Inkweaver surveyed the completed tapestry—and there it ended. I gasped.
"What is it?" Larryn demanded of me.
I pointed to the hardened King. "Is this what is happening in Gramble because everyone sent the Wordspinners away?"
Larryn studied it somberly. "Perhaps the only way to find out is to travel to Gramble ourselves."
I shook my head. It was only a portrait, for goodness' sake! What if this wasn't about Gramble at all, merely another random town that suffered, meant as an allegory or fable?
"I don't think that's at all what we should do," I told Larryn, but she was already moving toward the back of the house where Eidan worked.
"I'll ask Father," she said.

Eidan sat at the grindstone, sharpening his plowshares in preparation for tilling. Soft and weak he might have been at first, but the last ten years had worn him into a craggy, stodgy old man. He looked up as we approached. "Well, Miss Shereya! What brings you here?"

Larryn spoke while I could only nod politely. "Father, Shereya and I would like to journey to Gramble."
Eidan frowned at his daughter. "Larryn, you know I cannot vouch for the safety of anywhere beyond the boundaries of Mirrorvale. Why would you want to travel all the way to the city?"
"To find out the reason for this," she opened the tapestry and showed her father the story it contained.
His face showed some awe, which quickly transformed to alarm and then composure. "Reason?" Eidan scoffed. "There doesn't have to be a reason! It's just something the Witch never finished."
Larryn would not yield. "She's not a witch, and we want to know why Gramble is in it, and why it was left here! May we find out the truth?"
"The truth?" Eidan set down the plowshare and laughed. "You want the truth from something that old conjurer made? You'd have an easier time finding the woman herself and getting her to finish it!"
Larryn grinned at me, but my gut sank. What were we doing?
"Oh father," Larryn gushed, "May we?"
Eidan scratched his head. "May you what?"
"Find the Inkweaver and ask her to finish it!"
"Oh no you don't!" Eidan rose from his stool and frowned at his daughter. "No child of mine is going to gallivant off to who-knows-where beyond these borders to find a being that might not exist anymore. No!"
"But—"
"No!"
I grasped Larryn's hand and led her back toward the house.

"Maybe it's for the best," I tried to reassure her. "After all, it was a rather flighty idea."
Larryn snorted and as soon as she entered the house, she began packing things into a knapsack.
"What are you doing?" I cried.
"You get a knapsack too, Shereya," she suggested, flitting busily. "I'm going to convince Father to let us go for a couple days."
"But Larryn, he's already said no!"
Larryn smiled at me, "It's just a few days. If he really doesn't think I'll find the Inkweaver in that amount of time then there should be no harm in my going, won't there be?"
It didn't matter that her assumptions were deeply flawed; she was going and that was that. The question was, would I go with her and face my fears?