Enthusiastically ripping genre fiction a new one since 2010
The Five Lords: Seeing the World
To celebrate hitting 50,000 words on my latest draft of The Five Lords, here’s another scene for you to experience with your eyeballs. This is separate to the scene I posted here a few months back; where before we were with Koron and his captors on the continent of Caras, this scene takes place in Kantis, the eastern continental neighbour of Caras. The scene is part of several Interregnums spaced throughout the story, where characters across the world, far away from our protagonists, show how they’re surviving the aftermath of the Great Punishment.
It was a beautiful morning for all of Kantis.
In Mimia’s mind, that was saying something. Kantis was the second-largest continent in the world, succeeded only by their western neighbours of Caras. The nation itself consisted of a multitude of ecological zones and weather systems; one city-state could be falling victim to the fiercest storm known to mankind, whilst another on the opposite end of the continent could be enjoying perfect seaside weather. For the day to be unilaterally gorgeous for all parts of Kantis was no small feat.
Mimia knew the day was so good because she consulted her World Bowl, filled to the midway with Seeing Water. It cast her gaze high above the countries of the Kantis Empire, giving her a Lord’s-Eye view of the ground. No clouds, no rain, no encroaching storms. As far as she could tell, Kantis was in for one of the best days it had ever been gifted since the Punishment.
She smiled, leaning back in her rocking chair, the World Bowl on the table in front of her. The room was at the top of the local Seer’s Tower, several kilometres inland from Kantis’s easternmost shore. The town of Kalab, famed in old days for its spicy food and hospitable locals, lay in ruins not six hundred metres from where the Tower stood.
The thought of that made her smile ebb a little, but not much. A good day meant the Five – or, at least, one or two of them – were pleased.
Loud footsteps from the Tower’s staircase told her Strenna had returned from her hunt. Sure enough, the younger woman reached the top of the stairs with an expertly-slain deer wrapped around her shoulders. She deposited it on the floor in front of Mimia’s table wordlessly, then took a long gulp from the water pitcher on the mantelpiece.
‘How many were there?’ Mimia asked, leaning back and closing her eyes for a moment. The breeze from outside gently kissed at her cheeks pleasantly.
Strenna swallowed loudly, then regained her breath. ‘I counted sixteen, at least. This one was a little slow.’ She prodded the deer gently with the tip of her boot. ‘We should be fine for a few days.’
Mimia nodded slowly, eyes still closed. ‘Can you remember the last time we had a breeze like this?’
Strenna put down the pitcher and stepped out onto the balcony. From there, Mimia knew she had a full view of the ocean, the shore and the border jungles that lined it for kilometres. The younger woman stood there a moment before turning back to Mimia and wryly remarking, ‘Doesn’t take much to make you happy, does it?’
‘Not these days, no.’
‘Good. Means I don’t have to try hard.’ More footsteps told Mimia that Strenna had walked over to the table, probably to peer into the World Bowl. She confirmed that by asking, ‘See anything good today?’
‘Only the lovely day ahead of us.’
‘What did you give up for it?’
Mimia opened her eyes, regarding Strenna with sardonic expression. ‘If I could tell you, I would.’
‘Uh huh.’ Strenna flicked a finger through the water. ‘Seems an odd price.’
‘Maybe. But it’s worth paying. I’ve told you that the last fifteen times.’
‘If I could, you know I’d throw this thing out,’ Strenna said seriously.
‘You’ve told me that the last fifteen times, too.’
‘Yeah, well, history has a way of repeating.’ Irritated, the younger woman went down to start skinning the deer. Her knife flashed quickly into her hand before making the first cut.
‘Do you really have to do that here?’ Mimia asked lightly.
Strenna grunted in the affirmative. ‘Might attract bandits if they see me downstairs. I think I saw tracks near one of the jungles.’
That wasn’t good. Mimia hadn’t presumed they’d be found so quickly. Granted, Strenna might only have seen animal tracks that looked like those of ruffians, but it was better not to take chances. They’d have maybe one more day before they’d have to leave.
They still hadn’t found what Mimia had come here for, and the nearest Seer’s Tower was six days by horse gallop. Time was running out.
‘Are you sure they were bandits?’ she asked.
‘Pretty sure,’ Strenna replied, cutting off parts of the deer’s flank.
‘How sure is pretty sure?’
‘Decent chance. Why?’
‘I need to know for certain.’
‘Then use the Bowl.’
That startled Mimia. In the four months since they’d first met and started traveling together, Strenna had never suggested using the Bowl as an option for anything. Fifteen separate conversations had given Mimia fifteen impressions that Strenna disapproved of using it. But now she’d apparently changed her mind, and in the space of a few seconds, no less.
Strenna seemed to catch that she’d thrown Mimia a little. ‘I’m allowed to change my mind, y’know.’
The knife cut more off the deer, peeling skin back from the pink, raw muscle underneath. ‘You’re clearly intent on using it to find what you’re looking for. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from you, it’s that you can’t be shaken from a path once you start walking it.’
Mimia smiled lightly. Good thing she’s learned something, at least. ‘It’s for the greater good.’
‘Sure it is.’ Strenna didn’t sound convinced. ‘Just do your thing, if you’re gonna do it.’
It seemed trivial, now Mimia thought about it, but she couldn’t go outside if there really were ruffians out there. The power of the Bowl was only meant for strong magical purposes, given what it took to use it. But hadn’t she only just now used it to see the weather, itself a trivial thing these days?
It’s beautiful. But maybe that’s a key.
To see the tracks from here would not require a large memory. The weather today, and the picturesque view of Kantis, would do.
Mimia clasped both hands to the rim, filled her mind with the memory of seeing Kantis, and poured it into the Bowl.
What little of the water that had been flicked out when Strenna drew her finger through it returned. The clear water was replaced by the image of sand, small dunes piled near a beaten dirt path. Small footprints led across them, from out of the image and into the nearby jungle. She leaned in, looking closer, and saw…
Yes. Definitely bandits; humans, at any rate. Those tracks were too narrow to be any local animal.
Mimia stood from the table, walked around Strenna’s dressing of the deer and pulled the doors of the balcony shut. ‘We’re staying in today, and tonight. We’ll leave in the morning.’
Strenna nodded, seemingly unsurprised. ‘Shame. It’s going to be such a nice day today.’
‘Oh,’ Mimia frowned, moving back to the table, ‘is it?’