Monday, August 30, 2010

Chapter Ten (preview)

Johnsa listened to Pral’s commands and kept her confusion to herself. She wasn’t exactly sure what had just happened but Pral had reasserted himself in the group and left Hosus in a visible daze. Phanza was watching the small woman with concern but he seemed the only one to immediately notice the shift. Most of the others still had their backs turned to their friend and were just running on habit of following Pral’s orders.
                Johnsa’s eyes flicked to Pral, studying his face, emotionless despite the gruff orders he barked. She understood the mask Pral wore though, like Hosus, Johnsa couldn’t see what lay beneath. She had tried to listen to the conversation between the dark man and his diminutive counterpart but the rest of the group made it impossible, speaking loudly just so they wouldn’t have to listen. Probably wise of them, staying out of the politics, but in such a small group knowledge couldn’t remain secret for long and it would likely cause internal strife.
                Drawing her finger through the dirt at her feet in a tightening spiral, Johnsa considered her options for the immediate future. Pral had mentioned a town in the next day or two, but from the way the group had seemingly accepted her, thanks to the twins and the admission of their quest, she thought they wanted her to join them. It was a mission of importance, but Johnsa had other duties she must fulfill first as Ramadan.
                A memory of her father intruded on her considerations. Johnsa could see him, armored as he always was, called from his tent by one of his lieutenants. Johnsa could still see that armor perfectly. Dented, dinged, but buffed to a brilliant shine when he was in camp, her father was rarely seen without it. He had always politely declined gifts of new armor, and when Johnsa had asked why, he had responded that his armor was a symbol.
                For a moment, the world disappeared around Johnsa, and she was suddenly a little girl again, giving her father a curious look as she jogged in his footsteps.
                “A symbol of what, War Mage?”
                He responded without looking back. When he was on the move, Johnsa was an attendant, not his daughter. “A symbol of my command. Each dent, scratch, and imperfection is a symbol of battles won and lost, but ultimately survived....