Monday June 3rd, 2013

The exercise:

Let us return once more to Mejaran.

Planted out our peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, and zucchini in the garden this morning. This evening I helped Kat's parents finish up their cherry tree netting, then they helped pick most of the strawberries for tomorrow's local orders.

With two rows still to be picked we got somewhere in the neighbourhood of fifty pounds out of there.

Rather looking forward to Saturday's market at this point.


Doctor Maximus Jaycox was a rare case within the boundaries of Mejaran. For most villagers it was common for everyone else to know their parents, usually their grandparents, and, more often than an outsider might expect, their great grandparents. Family trees were public knowledge, necessary for everything from prolonging petty personal feuds to avoiding inbreeding.

But the village's elderly physician seemed to be the exception to the rule. Whenever his ancestry was discussed memories clouded over and names fled from searching tongues. As he was extremely skilled at his chosen profession and not in danger of becoming a parent himself, no proper investigation was ever launched.

Which was fine by him. He just wanted to be left to work in peace, not get tangled up in the strange politics of that isolated place.

Maximus was busy doing just that, his fingers attending to his young patient while rain lashed against his office windows. Thunder rumbled through the streets as he completed his final stitch before turning to watch the storm with an unreadable expression on his wrinkled features.

"It's been three days now," Yarel said into a silence he suddenly found uncomfortable. "That storm doesn't seem to have any interest in moving on."

"No, I suppose it does not," Maximus said quietly, turning back to his patient. "I've been seeing a lot of these injuries recently. Nicks and cuts, some major, most minor. All on excitable young men such as yourself."

"I don't know anything about that."

"No, of course you do not." Maximus rose slowly to his feet and shuffled to a nearby sink to wash his hands. "Still, it seems like something I should bring to the attention of our ruling ladies. Let them decide how best to keep our young citizens safe from themselves."

"I'd prefer if you didn't do that." Yarel's smile was strained, the muscles in his neck and shoulders tense. Without appearing to realize it he'd moved his hand to the blade at his waist.

"Indeed?" A crack of lightning turned both of their heads to the window looking out over the back alley. "You remind me quite strongly of your father, you know."

"Ah, yes." Yarel stood, making a show of examining the work done to his arm. "I have heard that you were the one to administer the poison at his execution. Let it be known that I hold no grudge against you. Orders must be followed, lest those orders be turned upon those who have been ordered."

"Certainly. I believe your father said something similar, moments before the needle entered his veins."

"May I go now? I have no interest in discussing those brief moments you spent with my father."

"Oh goodness, child," Maximus said with a rattling laugh. "Your father and I knew each other long before that day."


Greg Bennett said...

That sounds like a pretty busy day, and at last you've described the quantity of strawberries using units that make sense! (I'm sorry, but using volume measurements for solids it like stating the number of salt crystals needed: I'm sure it's fine if you're used to it, but there are better options). I can imagine that you're looking forward to the market.
Ah, a new character, and one I think I can make use of as well! And the storm is continuing – that's going to make everyone grumpy! I think I rather like this doctor, and the allusions to what Yarel is up to are really nicely done.

When Yarel left, the frown on his face suggesting that he had some serious thinking to do about what he'd just learned, Maximus turned to his filing cabinet to put his notes on Yarel away. No-one in the village had ever questioned that he had a little file on each of them detailing their illnesses, pregnancies and reactions to medicines, which was to be expected. But none of them had ever questioned why he had four drawers full when the village could barely be expected to need one.
Someone coughed behind him.
"That doesn't sound like it needs my attention," said Maximus, not looking round. "You should drink something hot and make an appointment to see me tomorrow if it's persisting."
A hand dropped on to his shoulder, and he looked at it. It dropped off and fell to the floor, tendons and tatters of flesh bouncing.
"Oh good," said Maximus, his voice dry and papery. "Medical student humour."
"You'd prefer estate-agent humour?"
Now Maximus turned and greeted Azmar with a stiff-armed hug. "Where did that come from then?"
"Another man, who probably doesn't have such a good doctor to sew him up afterwards. I did him a favour and shoved his stump into his camp-fire before I left."
Maximus winced. "You're idea of a favour makes me wonder if you have any friends at all."
"Did I recognise your young patient?"
"I'd be surprised if there were any of my patients you didn't recognise. Why the interest?"
"Nothing special. He just looks familiar."
"You knew his father."
The two men looked at each for a moment, and Azmar nodded gently. The moment passed.
"Lady Helen will be ordering you to visit her sometime in the next few days, Max. Unaccountably her household will be coming down the Staggers. And about the same time Lady Margaret will probably find her household succumbing to the Dry Heaves."
"You know they're both sheep diseases, Az?"
"Were, Max. Were."

g2 (la pianista irlandesa) said...

I'm ridiculously giddy about how crazy things are getting in this little village.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Varana barely looked up from the morning's dishes to see who had come in.
"And what, my friend, happened to you?"

Yarel shrugged. He tried to disguise a wince--moving his shoulder had stretched the new stitches a little--but Varana had seen it. She pretended not to notice, though. "Swordplay isn't without its risks," he replied. He shook his head of the persistent rain, throwing some of it on the stacks of dishes.

"Not on the clean ones, y'lug!" she trilled, tossing him a rag. "That isn't for your head, boy-o, you've got to make yourself useful if you're fixing to hang around here." He was older--and taller--than she, but Varana was his elder in all other respects.
"Only reason Orsana doesn't have you do the same is you'd probably end up burning down half the mountain range."

It was difficult not to allow the words "Yes ma'am" cross his lips. Yarel dried the dishes he had sullied with rain, then dried the others as they came along.

"So where'd you get that shiner?" she asked again. "Give me another look." He turned to show his upper arm. Even for the doctor's fine handiwork the cut still looked bad enough to turn most stomachs. But Varana did not have most's stomachs.

"Liefert got me by accident."

"I thought that club didn't use real weapons." Yarel recoiled. "I mean, I thought you used training weapons, not the actual, potentially-leathal, things."

"How could you improve your deflection if you didn't know the consequences?"

Varana rolled her eyes as she set the dish bucket aside. "Azmar's in that club as well, isn't he?" Yarel nodded. "You got to be careful with him, something's not quite right with him."

"In the head?"

Varana grabbed his collar and pulled him lower. "He's up to something, Yarel. I don't know what, but I don't like it. You notice a lot of things when you run a place like this. I know scheming when I see it." He was about to say something, but she yanked his shirt again for emphasis. "I'm serious. Something is wrong, and I don't want you to take the fall for it."

"Why would I--"

"You know what happens to people who get caught in the middle better than anyone else, Yarel. Your mother doesn't need that twice."

Varana let go and Yarel straightened. "I appreciate the concern, but I don't think this is like that."

She put her hands up. "Fine. I've said my piece. All I ask is that you think about it."

Marc said...

Greg - well, we sell them in pint containers at the market, otherwise we generally sell them by the pound.

I am intrigued by the reference to the good doctor's filing system. And I like this new side of Azmar you've shared with us.

g2 - me too :)

Another intriguing conversation here. Great little details. You've got my head pondering various options now...