Stillness, and serenity. A mote of dust, caught by a narrow shaft of light peeking past the shades, drifted across the room, and alighted upon the bald pate of a small stone statuette of a man resting cross-legged in meditation. The silence was broken by the muted voice of a young woman:

“Wait here a moment, Walhaim. I must make a brief inspection.”

Sunlight filled the room as a hanging straw mat was thrown aside, and a petite elf dressed in plain robes lithely stepped into the doorway. Turning her head slightly, she spoke in Tien, “Master, please check the ceiling. I will take care of the rest.”

A small thrush fluttered into the air from her shoulder, and flew a circuit at ceiling height. The woman stalked into the room like a cat, stopping to inspect bits of string placed on windowsills, mats left askew, and glass vessels balanced precariously (and particularly) atop piles of papers and books. After a few moments, the thrush landed once again upon her shoulder, chirping briefly as he did. The woman nodded once, satisfied.

“Nothing amiss, Walhaim. Enter, and kindly take care not to track anything as you do.”

At that, a diminutive halfling stepped tentatively into the doorway, carrying a stack of books, papers, and scrolls. He coughed politely and said, “Umm… where shall I place these things, Lady Kaede?”
Kaede, already engrossed in a document she’d pulled from depths unseen, gestured absentmindedly towards a low wooden table in the corner of the room. “Over there will do, Walhaim. And if you would, please prepare some tea for the both of us.”

Walhaim glanced around the stone-walled room; it had been a long walk, further from the Council chambers than he had expected. The decor here was very plain: unfinished wooden tables and cabinetry, a lone chair in the corner piled high with books, a hanging scroll on the otherwise-empty wall stitched with a strange foreign-looking symbol, and straw mats and cushions placed strategically around the floor. Placed in the center of the back wall was a shrine with unlit candles and a small statue. Tucked into the corner of the room, was a bedroll, with a stiff-looking pillow laying on top. The only other notable feature was a fireplace set into the wall, with a nearby stack of firewood.

Without looking up, Kaede sighed from behind her paperwork.

“The house is far from the chambers because it’s quiet and serene here in this part of the city, chairs are an unnecessary luxury, the symbol means ‘Focus’, and the statue is of Irori, Master of Masters. I have great plans for you, Walhaim, but none of them involve woolgathering in my doorway. We need to study these blueprints, make the necessary adjustments, and have them back to the Ministry by evening. The Council will not stand for delays in construction, but nor will I suffer the edifices of our kingdom to be little more than haphazard piles of rock and mortar.”

The halfling started, opened and closed his mouth a few times, and then shook his head. “Yes, Lady Kaede. Straight away.”

A small thrush chirped from upon the elf’s shoulder.

“Master Yukimura”, Kaede chided, “That wasn’t very nice.”


The Rise and Fall of Glamorfell johnrmcinerney johnrmcinerney