Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less each week.
I’m continuing the story of Willem and Torrey, who are being torn from each other on an alien world. This week the prompts were: “Get on your bike and ride!” or “Try peddling your papers somewhere else” or “the ties that bind” or have your character find out that someone they know is pregnant or “ship of fools” or use a broken condom or use voyeurism or exhibitionism or use a flogger or paddle or have a character wear a pair of gloves and then explain why or have a character with a banana fetish or use: motorcycle, wings, tilt.
Sealed in Stone #10
Willem was on the floor, being held down by two women and one brawny guard brought in especially for him, when the nomari courier arrived. Upon that news, the women got off his legs and the guard yanked him up by the collar and thrust him into the nearest chair.
“Stay there!” Jayn snapped. Frustration poured off her like heat and narrowed her gray eyes to menacing slits.
Willem glared at the women and the guard—who really was the biggest human he had ever seen—and made a show of slumping back in the chair, showing he understood this was a fight he wouldn’t win. There’d been a string of them lately.
The door opened to admit a slender nomari warrior, its elegant body sheathed in the Queen’s colors and carrying a golden message tube in its hands. The creature’s dull-witted gaze scanned the room alertly but if it thought anything there was no way to tell. It addressed its words to Jayn.
“This”—it displayed the ornate tube with its seals and privacy ribbons—“for the male Willem Danisvit.”
“I will accept it.” Jayn extended her hand.
No! Only Torrey would have—could have—sent the message. Willem would never trust Jayn to give it to him. He lurched from the chair but the huge guard pushed him back down with one hand. The nomari messenger seemed not to notice the other humans, neither did it hand over the message.
“For the male Willem. No other.”
Nomari warriors weren’t very smart, but they were utterly obedient. Jayn’s mouth stretched thin with acknowledgment. She gestured for Willem to come to her and this time the guard let him rise. Not sure how he must behave, Willem walked over to where Jayn stood before the messenger.
“This is Willem,” she said, then to him she added, “Extend your hand.”
He did. He had never been this close to one of the nomari. He stood a head taller than this one. The creature smelled sharp and different, and it looked almost human except it was completely wrong: too angular, too bland, too yellow. He forced his hand to remain extended as the creature bent over it and sniffed. Was it possible the creature knew him by smell?
“This is the one.” When it spoke, the nomari messenger’s teeth showed, filed to sharp points, between pale lips. It handed the cylinder to him. “Return answer next sunfall.”
It left without another word. Unlike their females and queens, nomari warriors didn’t really have enough sense to be polite.
The message cylinder was made of wood carved with the shapes of coiling worms and other fantastic living things, covered with thin hammered gold and bound with intricately knotted ribbons and seals of wax. None of the latter were broken.
“May I see it? Please?” Jayn stood stiffly before him. What they’d been arguing about before was clearly no longer of concern.
“He sent it to me.”
“You will be the first to see the message. I will give you privacy to read it. I simply want to see the seals before you break them.”
The seals? Willem hesitated, not sure he could trust her. She’d taken just about every freedom he’d ever known… insisted he stay in this house, give up his stone working, eat and crap and bathe under watchful eyes in case… what? What did she think he would do? Talk to someone? Try to escape the only home he’d ever known? It had turned into such a hellhole the thought had begun to appeal to him.
The look in her eyes now wasn’t at all what he was used to seeing. She looked like she was pleading, wanting something from him. If she truly wanted to screw him over, she could just call in more guards and take the cylinder anyway. Pondering what lay behind her request, he handed it to her. Jayn snatched it and eagerly turned it in her hands. The two other women, though they eyed Willem warily, crowded near to look at the seal. They chattered excitedly.
“… the Great Worm of Pesht, the hammer and chisel… look! How beautiful it looks in wax!”
“Can I just have the message?” Willem didn’t see how a seal was so worth talking about. “I’ll try not to break it and maybe you can keep it.”
Jayn sighed and handed the cylinder back to him. “The seal is designed to break if the message is opened. But thank you for allowing us our first sight of it whole. Each Chosen is given his own design and seal. We are honored by the one Torrey has adopted. See?” She showed him the seal, nearly three fingers wide, layers of colored wax stamped to show the Worm of Pesht encircling two tablets of stone. Within the tablets were a hammer and a chisel. “The tools of our trade. Arton’s was a wall. Torrey chose these things to honor us… and also you.”
Willem took the cylinder and retreated to the chair, where he pried the ribbon loose, trying to simply lift the seal free. Just as Jayne had said, the seal cracked and broke into dozens of pieces. Seeing no more need for care, Willem opened the top of the cylinder and tipped it so the message fell into his hand. He dropped the cylinder to the floor and unrolled the paper to read Torrey’s words.
His friend was well and whole, living in luxury. Cyrrhi treated him kindly and he spent much time with her. He spent his time reading books and drawing designs, two of which he had included—Willem looked at the two other pages—and hoped Willem might work into stone for inclusion in Torrey’s chamber. The Queen was pregnant and he was doing fine. Torrey still sounded as optimistic, good-natured, and determined to do his job well as ever.
Willem looked up to see Jayn’s resolute face.
“You and I,” she said, “have much to talk about.”
Thanks for reading! If you’re looking for more fun, free fiction use the links below to visit the blogs of the other Wednesday Briefers.