Lull of the Storm

The woman was drenched and her boots were full of mud, yet the door had yet to oipen. The sounds from within made it evident that no one had retired, but the door had been bolted. Miriam could well guess why, thinking of sort of family that her mother had married into. There was light peeking out from doors and windows of nearby homes, with more joining in on the show after the furious woman grabbed a heavy pail which was employed as a door knoicker. The din could be heard over the storm and forced the door to be opened aftr only a few strikes.

The pinched face of Blaise appeared in front of her. The little shrew was about to say something until Miriam swept her aside and tramped inside. Ignoring the shouts and complaints from around the room, she walked to the hearth, discarding her outer garments to begin drying. A moment further saw a kettle filled with water, deftly hung on the hook and put over the fire, and Miriam strode off to her small cubby to change clothes.

The kettle had still been warm from previous use, so it was already singing before she had finished sufficiently drying off. It was quiuckly silenced, though, and there was a sound of ceramics being deployed. On entering, Miriam saw the last of the water being poured out. The room was rife with barely concealed laughter and assorted giggles as everyone began drinking tea. Her mother cast a sidelong glance that pleaded against another disturbance in the crowded house.

Miriam rolled her eyes and made a comment that was more of an exagerated whisper than an attempt to keep it silent. The ruddy face of Nils flared red and his piggish eyes widened in so far as they could. He leapt to his feet, crossed the room, and struck her across the cheek. Further laughter began, but died off as the young woman spun around with an ear-splitting backhand, which was itself followed by the other hand clenched into a fist. That impact sent the sound of cracking bone across the sudden silence.

The first one to react was Blaise, who began striding towards here stepsister. Miriam stepped over Nils before the big man had finished collapsing on ther floor, balling up another fist and slamming it into the other woman’s gut. No sound came from the mouth that gaped in a perfect O.

“Child, what are you thinking? You must stop this,” her mother began, but was cut short by her daughter’s strong tone.

“Mother, I was chased by a Nuck onm my way home. It is probably difting towards the village and we must leave.” She was throwing items into a sack while speaking, mostly food and a few other items. It wasn’t a large sack, though, and she had it filled by the time she had finished speaking.

The room flared to live once more, but this time it was shouts of condemnation, some mocking her announcement, and a few outbursts of mocking laughter. She ignored them and fetched the bag she left just out of view. The noise continued as Miriam donned heavier clothing to withstand the storm. She glanced at the dripping clothes earlier discarded, and decided to abanbdoin them.

“Mother,” Miriam began again, “it is unbelievable, but I saw what I saw. Pack a few things and come with me.”

The answer was non-vocal, causing the younger woman’s heart to sink. Drawing in a long breath, she embraced her mother, gripping the woman tight. Leaning back, she brushed a few errant locks of hair back under the bonnet. They held that gaze for a long moment, but finally ended with a kiss.

“I’m going for Red Maple,” she whispered, “and try to find someone who can deal with this. We will return as fast as we can, okay?”

Her mother nodded and kept the tears from falling as her only remaining child swept out into the driving rain.

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