Tag – Part III The Body – Chapter 18

Continuing with Tag – Part III The Body – Chapter 18.

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Tag – Part III The Body – Chapter 18

Dire rolled over onto her knees in silent darkness. She’d been asleep? In her workshop? For so long the candles and lamps burned out?

Something whimpered close by her side as a hand nudged her shoulder.

“Nory? It’s okay. Grandmother’s here.”

A hand stroked her hair. The whimpering turned into joyful crying.

“Help grandmother up, lad. There’s a good boy.”

Gentle hands guided her to her feet and steadied her. Once standing, she was embraced. Her hands searched for and found Nory’s familiar features. “Can you help grandmother outside, lad? Is it day or night outside?”

Nory put his fist into her palm and made the sign she taught him for “day late.”

She felt herself tugged in one direction. “Afternoon? How long did I sleep?”

Nory’s hand made a circling motion. “A full day? Oh, you must have worried so much. I’m sorry, my boy. Have you eaten, Nory? Are you hungry?”

He took her hand and patted his stomach, then ran it over the remainder of the food tucked in his clothes.

“Where did you get so much food, Nory?” She hugged him. “Doesn’t matter. Let’s get outside then. Help grandmother, there’s a good lad.”

Nory’s hand shaped “Show you.”

“Show me? Show me what?”

Nory stepped to Dire’s workbench. He sprinkled powder from her tinderbox into a shallow pot then dribbled a few drops from one of her phials. A moment later the mixture sparked and a flame grew. He brought over several candles and lit them.

Before he finished, Dire gasped.

Julia lay on some hides, unconscious. One of Dire’s heavy woven blankets covered her neck to foot.

“Nory, what have you done?”

Nory shook his head and wrung his hands togehter. He moaned and his eyes went from Julia to Dire and back, then focused on Dire’s shawl. He tapped it and Dire saw dust-like particles bounce and sparkle in the candle light.

She gathered some in her palm as they floated to the ground. Carefully, she brought the grains to her nose. “Wormwood?” She touched the tip of her tongue to the grains. “Lettuce oil and lime tree root. That one meant me to sleep, soundly and quickly, but not to harm or hurt.” She took Nory’s hand so he looked straight at her. “Think now, boy. Have you seen any strangers, any newcomers, in our village?”

Nory nodded vigorously and held up three fingers first, then one.

He puffed up his chest and flexed his arms then motioned as if setting a grinding wheel in motion followed by working a blade on it, testing the blade, and working it again.

“A tradesman? A tinker? A metal-worker? Come through the village looking for work?”

Nory nodded and held up a second finger. He motioned throwing a cloak over himself and pulled his already tiny frame in. He lifted an imaginary cup to his mouth and looked back and forth as he did so.

“Someone small? At the Red Fox? Smaller than you?”

No. Same size.

“Man or woman?”

Nory shrugged and drew the imaginary cloak tighter around his face.

“Who’s the third one?”

Nory imitated Father Baillot shaking holy water on everything around him followed by the sign for “other.”

“Another priest? From another village?”

Nory nodded.

“The first too big to be my caller. The second too small. And no priest I know knows how to mix sleeping dusts.”

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