I was born under the first clear full moon of the wintering – that birthright is told in my name. As to any other, there is a small leather pouch of baubles I have fought, til mouth full of blood, to retain. Perhaps to someone the ear danglers, and wristlets might tell a tale. I await that meeting with hope and dread.
As to my childhood; there was none. I was prenticed to the Poisoner, an assassin of the first order and thus trained in his deadly arts. Not a hard master so much as an unfeeling one. If he ever had need of companionship or love, it was long dissolved ere I lived under his roof.
I always sought an atonement; a means to counter the death I wrought. The ancients held that for every death a birth; for every birth, a death. If I could intercede twixt the two, perhaps there would be a salvation path for me.
I said the guise of a healer would stead me well. If called to assist a person I had sickened, I could easily procure proof of the death. Many of our weapons were such that death occurred long after the fatal dose had been administered. So, no suspicion, no blood trail would lead back. Who might blame the healer, called upon when circumstances dire, when phyisks ministrations failed? If sought but a bit sooner . . .
But in between these orchestrated deaths, I might add life back. Not to mock the ancients balance, but to atone for my own sins. The Poisoner need know none of that. Besides, years of tending, harvesting, blending noxious weeds to his will, took a toll. His own health was failing; his first concern now how to preserve, how to lengthen life.
In this pitiable state, he summoned me, full of remorse and requests. “I needs see things through, he whined, “Grant me these small boons.” I might have turned away; he had poisoned my life. But I wanted to prove myself not as bitter as he. I granted his desires, but only to a point. I read his correspondence. There were requests for ancient texts in his possession which spoke not of life or death. These I packed into a chest and sent off with a trusted servant. But petitions for poisons, potions, or cuttings from his noxious garden, I refused. Simply nodded that I understood his request nare saying it would be fulfilled.
And when he came close enough to smell death, he quickened it. “Whatever lay ahead,” he mused, “I am practiced in the art of diffusion.” I sat vigil, watching his face; at last gasp, there was panic. I held his hand to comfort; such was the way of the healer.
His rooms would be his funeral pyre. Afore setting alight books, poisons, manuscripts; equipment, vials, bowls and releasing cleansing flame to the gardens, I set aside few items. For, I was used to the road; knew what to put in my sling and tapestry bags; how to tie the bundle to wear on my back.
Clothes for a journey: long shirt; leggings; stockings; boots. Most times better to seem a man than a woman. Frocks could be obtained when necessary. A vest with beautiful stitchery packed down small; the one gift he. had ere given me. Bundled with a few twists of herbs, posts of salve and soap, scrapes of toweling.
My worn leather sling bag, familiar weight upon my hip. Into it I placed my birthright baubles, one slim manuscript scribed in runes of the eld, intertwined with high tradition – codifying the personal essence of runeship into words. I thought, byhaps, I was of the ancients; I had taken on some of their rituals and beliefs. Then, these were my birthright too.
Out of my knife roll I chose three: the tiny quill knife (though did not take ink stone nor bowl); a knife for gutting, filleting food or foe; and a well-weighted knife for throwing – in a fight or for others’ entertainment.
The fortune casting beads to help me make my way in the world. He had mocked my use, but casting beads sharpened my skills of observation. I was not an intuit; rather by reading the people who sought answers, I could then read the beads to suit them. With a fair fortune came at least a thin ducat. And the ability to assess another in the barest breath of an instant.
Thus equipped, I prepared to take my final leave. As would the ancients, I lilted words of parting. Despite all, he was, in essence, my father. These chambers, my family home. I grew in those rows of darken herbs; I matured in the drying and mixing shed. I came of age amidst the cauldrons and scales. I was intertwined with this place; a strange birthright, too.
The smoke would be as noxious as his life. Tying a thick cloth about my nose and mouth, I torched the house, shed and gardens. The wind was still, the air had scent of coming rain. Set back as the property was from further fuel, all would burn itself out. I need not stay.
I had kept out his ledger, his book of death. Recorded there the names of those who sought him out, their reasonings why, and who would be victims of our talents. No doubt some deserved death; but others? Lust, greed, jealousy, politics, kingsmanship; personal gain not justice. A whisper of an idea. What could be salved and salvaged now from those darker motives? I would needs time to ponder. So, it was among my most precious belongings as I slipped on my sling bag, swung up my bundle and turned towards the rising full clear moon.
This is a morph of several “head narratives;” stories I’ve told myself over the years to distract, comfort, create. Each character has multiple iterations; each plot twisted in on itself a million times. I’ve “written” and forgotten several novels; getting the images from my mind to the page is torturous. Like the dreams I see with my eyes closed, I lack the ability to fully paint, with words (and especially with brushes), pictures of what I see, sleep and wake dream, envision. Sigh.
Prompts sometimes tease out a version – add a new twist to an old, entangled plot, give a character new life or hair colour. Such as this one for KL Caley’s #writephoto – poisonous plants.