A scholar lies dying in a merchant’s stable where Nadira receives his last words. To Nadia, words are her life: she lives them as her master’s scrivener and dreams them in her mother’s poetry. She wonders why these men seem mad with greed and violence as they chase after old manuscripts.... read more
“His clothing is like a book, she thought. Every chapter was written in wear and tear. Even now, she could see where the recent battle on the mountain had left a new slice in the leather. His own blood had left spatter stains that had not been rinsed out. New chapters were written every day, and not only on his clothes.”
“She pressed the lips of the wound as close together as possible. The swollen skin resisted her and it felt too warm. The line she must sew seemed impossibly long. She sat cross-legged like a tailor and threaded her needle. With one hand she held the wound together at the top as the other hesitated with the needle. Trembling, she pushed the silver needle through the bruised flesh.Immediately she found herself face down in the straw that covered the hard dirt floor. She clutched the needle lest she lose it as a heavy weight that felt like an elbow pressed her harder into the ground. Around her she heard shouts and felt the elbow disappear as hands pulled at her, setting her back up again. She shook her head. She guessed that Montrose had come alive and knocked her down. Now he lay on his back gasping with Alisdair holding his arms pinned to the ground.“Are ye hurt, lass?” Alisdair puffed.“No,” she lied, wincing as she pulled the needle out of her palm. “I’m not hurt.””
“If it is the collected insight of all the wisest men who ever lived, do you not find that an exciting endeavor? Don’t you want to know?”“Know what?”“Why everything!” William exclaimed.“Is that possible?” Nadira laughed.William sobered. “It drives me mad. I have been trying for my whole life to understand why. No one has satisfied me.”“You want to know why?”“Yes, why does a rock fall to the ground when I throw it? Why does it not fly off like a bird? Why does a man die without water? Why does he die from too much? How does one die from sickness? Why are sicknesses different? How is it that one man may have his leg off in battle and live for years after, yet another succumbs to death? How is a child formed inside its mother? How does it get out? Like calves and lambs? I do not know. I think about it. No one can answer me,” he finished, dejected.“’How does it get out?’” Nadira repeated merrily. “How old were you when you went to live with the priests?” she asked him.“Nine.”“Do you know how the child gets in?” she asked him mischievously.William laughed. “In great detail! That is something I have been warned about daily for ten long years. All of the priests can tell me how it gets in, none can tell me how it gets out.”“I assure you, it gets out the same way, though with a lot more trouble.” They both laughed.”
“Da Salvo spread his hands on the table. “As with all great instruments, there is good and evil in how it is played. A horn’s delicate tremuloso can be made to pierce the ear with pain by the inept player. So it is with this book. In the hands of the wrong man, the power of its liberation can cause great suffering. Even to an individual as Brother Henry. No daemon sapped his mind. The book did not torch him. Brother Henry is a victim of his own ironclad beliefs. He could not open his awareness for the torrent and the waves then crashed through the barred doors of his mind, breaking it.””
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