A SILENT DROP OF OCEAN; thoth from below - " />
A SILENT DROP OF OCEAN; thoth from below


Minnow’s jaw tightened at the, presumably unintentional insult. Herbs were perfectly good medicine if you knew how to use them properly. Lore had used herbs and people were getting better from the illness that had been plaguing her home for weeks. At least, Minnow hoped they were better now. They’d improved a bit but she hadn’t had much time to see her family cured before the raid had knocked her into Shaman. If herbs weren’t real medicine, what did that mean for her siblings and cousins. What did that mean for the refugees they’d housed?

Now sullen and fighting to remove the unpleasant thoughts rattling through her head, Minnow set to finding the brushes. If Shaman didn’t have a woods witch who could make medicines from herbs, maybe that was why Thoth didn’t know they’d work. Maybe he was just doing his best. Besides, the aja, no the horse, looked like she would enjoy a cleaning anyway. Water would wash away the hurt she’d suffered from the men at the market.

There were books everywhere with symbols that Minnow knew were words, but reading hadn’t been a large part of her culture. Stories passed down orally in traditions and folk tales, legends of bravery. A few families at the edge of the swamp, near the mainland, would send children to Rock or Volcano Academies, so some stories were written down, but Minnow had never seen them, and the idea of dressing in the odd restrictive clothes worn on the mainland had been enough to deter her from even considering the fantasy of formal education. Yet here she was lost in a culture where she needed to wear them to avoid stares. She moved the books aside and found the brushes at the bottom of a box.

Once the tools were free, Minnow returned to Thoth and noticed the water splashed everywhere from the bucket. He wasn’t particularly physically strong then. It hardly mattered now. She stepped through the puddles and held one of the pair of brushes out for him to take.

Pyre had never been fond of baths, but she’d never been as dirty and hurt as this mare was. She was also part fire, and this horse seemed at ease with the process. Still, Minnow shifted to softly brush the least injured areas before starting on the open wounds. The dust had turned to mud, making it harder to remove, but the dirt in the wounds had washed out, making those easier to see and avoid. She had chosen to ignore Thoth’s use of another word she didn’t know, antiseptic.

“No, not long,” she agreed. Long enough, she wanted to say. She had counted days briefly, but that had been when she’d hoped she was just in the wilds and had to find her way back to the swamp. When she’d learned she wasn’t even on Xara anymore, the number had been forgotten and counting seemed pointless. But saying every day here dragged on and felt like a fortnight away from her family seemed rude. What she wouldn’t give to be a tad by the fire, safe at home again. She picked at a dirty scab on the mare until the urge to cry vanished and the debris came loose. Then she shrugged. “Where I can. Here, there. Mostly up in the tree branches, but sometimes in rooms on…” she paused, recalling that Thoth had one of the same sleeping arrangements as the people in town. “A bed,” she finished quietly.

photo by Andrea Kirkby


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