The scruff watched his lady friend leave, noting her cap still upon a wall peg, indication of her intent to return and retrieve it and him. He was fair taken off guard when she entered the alehouse. He had not planned on recognition whilst here. He thought her more gorgeous with this simple hair arrangement and plain gown. Last he beheld her, she was shivering in a fine linen chemise with only a slight overdress, her hair still coifed with a fine mesh-netting cap studded with small diamonds.

He sighed, and retreated back into the shadows. He would not think upon her and the link of their relationship. Or, how by what chance, what aortistic fate seemed to bind the two.

He returned to his sideways observation of the cloaked woman which had been broken by his friend’s arrival. Such activities were irresistible to him. He liked to deduce “facts” about those around him, then speculate upon their lives. The daily comedies and tragedies, This one seemed untethered to the world around her.

No traveler ere what they appear; she was even more different still. He could not recall a wanderer or scruff possessing such a fine piece of jewelry as the broch which held her cloak together. It was filagree with the metal worked into an intricate design. In the center was a salmon-coloured gem – more pale than rose quartz. And, she was bold and brave to display such a piece so openly. True, in the alehouse it would remain with her; outside there were those who would force the parting. Perhaps she was new to this game and did not realize the danger? Or, did she have confidence in her ability to retain the brooch?

He watched her limp in, a worn leather sling back across her chest, a small back bundle and a bag made of old tapestry. Despite the limp, she carried no cane or staff as he did. Her boots did not display the wear usually found on the lame – her limp was recently acquired.

He sensed she had imperceptibly moved her face deeper into the hood of her cloak when MSM approached his table. She played with a bracelet of similar metal wrapped around her slim wrist, exposed then beneath the cuff of her long shirt, as if to cast, perhaps, an invisibility spell. He could only see small slices of her clothes as the cloak enveloped her. The cloak was road-worn; her feet were shod in high quality boots. Not as easy to read her as if a text, he determined. Too many inconsistencies; too many guises. Even her speech, was carefully modulated as if to misdirect.

He decided she was not merely a woman who, by circumstances of choice or no, was now upon the road. After he had wound scarf around his neck, donned his inner jacket, and checked that all his possession were will within reach, he thoughtfully tossed several roasted nuts into his mouth. He pictured her, up among the mountains, high where the eagles cry and hawks wheel in concentric circles. In this waking dream, clear winds blew, pushing back the hood of her cloak, revealing . . .

This excerpt of Tales from the Alehouse represents the jusjojan entries for January 21: spell and January 22: limp. I want to thank various folks who “provided” the italicized words in their prompts this week: Pensititivy101; Sunday whirl; mlmm wordle; mlmm music challenge and Tourmaline (toy photography, #cyw.

For previous excerpts of “tales from the alehouse:”   jusjojan 1 through 5  being installment 2  being installment 3   the saga continues  mistress sweetmeat the veil of secrecy  the alehouse

For more on jusjojan, see Linda Hill