Make Belief Studios ~

November 10, 2007

chapter 02

Filed under: 01 Into the Hive, Gilded Providence, Story, WIP — Tags: , , , , — Saturday @ 9:43 am

“Ahmgh?” I shot my head up from my bowl of steaming stew. Eyebrows crimped, cheeks inflated, lips pressed, trying to keep the solids in, not succeeding so well with the liquids.
“My name is Tremarch. Tremarch Jungor. What’s yours?” I forced back my mouthful. Tender meat becomes a sandbag when you swallow too much. I coughed some back up and gagged. Tremarch smiled in awkward politeness and waited patiently.
“Sally Jones.” My voice collapsed halfway through the words and hot tears squeezed out of my eyes, partially from my attempt at mass swallowing, partially because I’m a bad liar.

It was a policy of mine not to give my real name to people I’ve just met. Actually, since I had been on my own, it had really become more of a bad habit. Even worse was the fact that I could never really work up the courage to tell people my real name once I felt I could trust them with it.

“Well, miss Sally Jones,” Tremarch leaned forward and rested his palms beneath his beard. I was half expecting him to ask why I had lied about my name, but even if he knew I was lying, why would he care? I would have been out of his hair soon enough. “What are you doing out here in the middle of the nowhere?”

I rolled the spoon around in my mouth, staring up at the candlelit chandelier, with its autumn light which coated the room.
“Nothing much… Just getting out in the world.” I waved my spoon at him without removing my gaze from the ceiling. “What about you? What are you doing in the middle of nowhere? If you break your hip your screwed, you know.” Tremarch lifted his woolly chin and laughed.

I stretched my legs and tilted my chair. The kitchen had a fireplace glow just like the living room. The whole house was possessed with a curiously consistent sunset atmosphere.
I’m stuffed.

“I’m a lumberjack,” he informed, “I live where the merchandise is. More soup?”
“… sure.” Tremarch smoothly grasped my bowl from the bottom and raised it to the large cauldron in the middle of the table.

The table wasn’t round. Octagon-ish. I didn’t bother to count its sides, though. I sat a couple edges away from Tremarch but I wasn’t near to sitting across the table. There were probably more sides than eight. The cauldron was built right into the middle of the table, held above hot coals by a hoist with a ratty straw-made rope, much like a wishing well.

This house looks way too big and elaborate for just one old man.

“Half, please.” He spooned me a ladle full of stew and gently returned the bowl perfectly to its hole in the stew spill beneath my chin. “So if you have merchandise, you must have clients. What kind of business do you get out here?”
“Oh, no one comes out here to purchase my lumber, but my clients prefer that this is where I live. They protect me as long as I work solely for them. Once every month, more or less, I go to town and deliver their goods.”
“So there is a town nearby? What kind of clients don’t want you expanding your business?”
“Not necessarily nearby; ’bout a half a day’s walk, and it’s not as it sounds. Working in a limited market makes me feel rather special.” The old man smiled but his eyes somehow seemed sullied. “Not that I wouldn’t give it up. Another time around.”
Whatever, old men’s eyes always look like that.

“Half a day, eh? I can be out of your hair by tomorrow then.”
“Oh! You’d better let me escort you if you plan on tromping through the forest. Even experienced travelers ‘ave been known to get lost in these woods. This house is fairly close to the edge of the forest but you’re still rather lucky to ‘ave spotted it. I’ll ‘ave my shipment loaded up and ready to go in a couple days.”
“Pehhh.” I let out a breath of frustration.

Concerned fella, isn’t he? I suppose I shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to have someone guide me through the forest if it really is as difficult to navigate as he suggests.

“Alright. Another companion. But I’ll be fine on my own once we exit the forest, right?”
“Well… you’d best let me escort you right into town. After the forest, there’s still a couple miles before we come in contact with any kind of population.”
“Fine, fine. I can deal with that.” I dropped my spoon into my stew. I had only taken one bite from the freshly filled bowl. I pushed my chair back and walked out through the living room.

“If you want to go to bed, feel free to take any of the rooms upstairs. And don’t you worry about extra blankets, this house stays pretty warm at night.” I could feel Tremarch’s smile through his words, humming in the rims of my ears.
Does he keep the fire going all night? Blah. I’m way too full to sleep.

The lights were off but even in my room, farthest in the back of the upper level of the house, fireplace reflections were still bouncing off the polished wood. It was fairly bright compared to outside, but not at all irritating. I was really getting curious about what was making everything glow so much. Is it really just that well polished?

My full stomach weighed down on my hips as I rested my crossed arms on the wide rims of a large diamond shaped window overlooking the backyard. My mouth pressed between my wrists, making squishy faces. Outside, the whole yard seemed to glow. Even the small tool shed had a slight aura from Tremarch’s oil lamp. I could see him rummaging around outside. Waddling back and forth between the shed and the outhouse a few times, sitting on the doorstep to smoke a pipe, eventually entering the shed and closing the door.

He was the one who seemed to jump at the idea of sleeping in the shed, so I didn’t mind taking over the entire house. I wouldn’t mind doing some exploring, if I wasn’t so tired. I wouldn’t mind going to sleep if my stomach would just settle down.
I’m too much of a glutton.
I flopped onto the bed in the corner of the room: side against the wall, pillow by the window, and feet towards the door. There were only a few linen sheets to sleep in, but Tremarch was right, it was plenty warm.

I sprawled my arms and legs over the sides of the bed haphazardly. I stared at the waves in the wood ceiling, recollecting the day, questioning tomorrow, erasing my head and thinking it all over again.

I wonder if I should be concerned about Tremarch. Even people like me know that this isn’t the kind of world where you should just let people walk into your home. I guess I’m just the kind of person people crave to have stay at their house! Wait, that might not be a good thing. He might be plotting something in that shed of his.

Maybe he’s one of those old hermit men from the stories I used to read, that eat children lost in the woods. Hah! Well, it’s not like it’s the first risk I’ve taken, out on my own. I still think its better than being stuck outside with the spiders and mosquitoes. I really doubt that guy could do something, even if he wanted to. So old… His creaking bones would wake me up before he could even approach me.

…or he might just be a nice old man. If anything does happen, it’s the fault of my inability to pass up an opportunity. And right now, I have the opportunity to sleep!
I rolled over and shut out my thoughts, in attempt to do just that. I felt really… expanded. Like my body was attempting to dissipate into the night atmosphere and my consciousness disappear. Only the weight in my belly seemed to be holding me back.


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