To Win Hearts To Rebel

To Win Hearts To Rebel

Postby catch » Sat Jan 04, 2014 5:49 am

The market has seen much better days. Those days were not even a distant memory, but a fever-dream, a strange, gold-and-scarlet dream of brisk trade, and silver and copper and even the occasional gold. Where delicacies and food were abundant, pouring out of the carts and holding-bins, barrels of tea and crates of silks and furs and other fine fripperies. Where an ill-dressed farmer was never in sight, much less a beggar. Much less a thief. What thieves there may have been had changed, suddenly, their professions, so that a man may walk with purse open, and fear not a wayward hand.

The market was empty. Near-empty, and grey, in the winter's light. Someone had made a fruitless effort to keep the square clear of snow, pilling it up in grey-coal heaps, left to melt and refreeze and send dangerous tendrils of ice down cobble-channels. There were few, here, who pushed wares, match-sellers and wood-sellers, and a man with a scant collection of molding roots. A butcher was there, sharpening his knives, ready for any desperation to wander his way - a farmer with a precious cow, a lame horse, or even a furtive, thin-cheeked man, leading a slinking dog on a thin bit of wire. He did his work for a cut of the meat, and meat was what there still was in abundance, meat and blood for pudding. Yet even that was shrinking.

There was something new there, today.

A lunatik came, a bag slung over his shoulder, and a great, steel kettle taken from some depth of Darkenhold. With a bit of copper he bought a match from the match-seller, and a bit of pence and a promise he bought some wood from the wood-seller. He set his fire, and he put down his pot over slatted wood. From the common-well, he took up water, and more water, the only thing that remained to them. There were those who were afraid, save the wood-seller, who sent one of his urchins off and waited, hunger in his dull eyes.

The water boiled. And here, the madman upended his bag, and into the water he dumped peas - great, fat, shelled peas - and beans, bay-leaves and salt. He had taken anything and everything that was ripe, from the green-house, and he had begged the salt and the bay from Darkenhold's cook. There is even a few sliced turnips, here and there, slogging from the pack and plopping into the water like the rolling of heads.

"This soup is free," Catch said, and he said it very loud. "It is f-f-free for, for everyone." And some did not come, or they went away, saying that this was a madman, unpredictable. And some did come, but they did little but take a bit of the soup, and then, run away. The wood-seller's family came, and took the hot, watery soup, and ate it. It was filling, if nothing else. It was a bit of green in a winter of white and red.

And Catch sat there, stirring his soup, doling out as much as he could give. And he said only this.

"This soup is f-f-free," again and again, serene, his face a too-bred mask of benevolence. "I m-m-made it for you. It's m-m-more than Glenn would have you eat. He would r-r-rather you eat lies."
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Re: To Win Hearts To Rebel

Postby Rance » Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:57 pm

Some doubted. Some ran. Others brought wooden bowls from their homes, even kettles for tea to be filled with the watery offering. Some sampled palmfuls of the burning soup, willing to scorch the cool skin of their palms to examine the ingredients, scraping through the bay leaves and turnips, looking for shards of steel or thorns. Because what could one expect from a madman, a lunatik?

When Gloria Wynsee saw the addled man and his steaming cauldron, her lips were a line. The people around him seemed to bend back away from the offer, stare into his eyes as if questioning his motives. A bundle of parchments was tucked beneath her arm, a delivery -- matters of minutiae -- she'd been tasked with transporting from the Inquisitory to some destination she could hardly remember. The matter could wait, she decided; the matter could decidedly wait.

With one hand, she hiked up her muddy skirts enough to keep them out of the frozen slush, gently shouldering her way through Market-goers and sellers. She slipped Glenn Burnie's ring off her thumb and let it settle like a hard stone at the bottom of her pocket.

It's m-m-more than Glenn would have you eat. He would r-r-rather you eat lies.

She wended her way through the people to stand at Catch's side, her sweat-blackened bonnet upturned to look at him. She smiled, all bleak teeth and cracked lips.

"Soup," she said in greeting to her friend, "is -- is much better than lies. Or beatings. Or anything. And besides, everybody ought to have a pretty face with them when they pass out soup. Yes?"

Because a lunatik, she reasoned, was suddenly not so much of one when a girl stood at his shoulder, eager and unafraid.
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