Early Days

Ice Age

Age of Conflict

Through the Eye of Paal

Maps and Tables

Ch 2

Chapter 2

Lazy Lizard

"Lucky stiff" he heard someone say, "I been trying to get into this bed for years."

"You never had a chance." another voice answered, "Old Scopazi is like a mad dog when it comes to his daughter."

"You boys clear out now." Joanna was closest to him by the sound. "I think I can handle it from here." A cool hand brushed against his forehead and suddenly the voices faded behind an explosion of pain.

He grunted and opened his eyes. The room was darkened and Joanna sat beside him on the bed, attempting to remove a cloth from his forehead. He grabbed for the hand, and was pleased to find that he caught it. "Lady Miss,"

"Lie still," she said, trying to pull her hand back, "You've been out for nearly an hour and the bandage was hasty. The blood has caked and dried. Removing it will be painful but necessary."

"My pack is where?"

"Beside us." Joanna gave an exasperated sigh. "Let go of the hand."

"I do not will to compromise you." He said flatly.

"So you heard those fools." She stopped trying to pull her hand away for a moment. "Most of them wouldn't make it in here if I were on hooker salary. My father is not as rabid as they say, and you are in no condition to compromise anyone even if they helped."

He released her hand and let his arm drop to the bed. "This is more than a cut. I think my head is ...broken." Inwardly he swore at his lack of a command of the language. "I will ...sleep suddenly. This you must expect."

"Pass out." Joanna said hiding a smile, "I agree, Phineas. Your skull must be harder than most to survive your lack of grace, but I heard the crack from six feet away. Now may I continue?"

Once again she tried to remove the cloth and once again the pain jolted him into stopping her. "Lady miss, my pack carries a box of wood. Hand it to me, please."

She sighed, "You are a difficult patient, Phineas of the Fever, but I assure you I will have my way on this."

"The box."

"Alright." Lifting the pack to the bed, she opened it and rummaged through the contents. Eventually she found a small wooden box with the design of a bird on the top.

Taking it, Phineas pressed several places on the sides, slid three panels to the side, and touched the jeweled eye of the bird. He then opened the lid to reveal several vials of multicolored liquids. Since the box was sitting on his stomach and he couldn't lift his head without pain, he selected a vial from memory and held it up to the poor light. His memory was a bit better this time. "Boil water, put one drop of this into the water and a clean cloth also. When it is cool, the wet cloth on my forehead will make to remove the old cloth with ease." And help prevent infection, he thought ruefully. He handed her the vial and shut the box. His head had started to spin and he knew he wasn't going to last much longer. "Please, lady miss."

Joanna took the liquid and looked at it doubtfully, "You are a healer?" She asked, but he passed out before he could answer.

His memory was awash with confusion after that. Faces would appear and disappear as if by magic as he faded into and out of consciousness. The light played tricks too, for the time spent unconscious was significant. When he finally managed to regain his senses for good, he was alone and the light from the window was the clear brightness of morning. He knew well where he was and what had happened to him. Very carefully he moved his head and found that if he did it slowly it wasn't likely to fall off. The room was a moderate size with a sparse scattering of heavy furniture. Joanna's father must have a hand in the interior decoration, he thought. A screen at one end hid toilet facilities, he surmised. Suddenly realizing he was in need of those facilities, he struggled to get up from the bed. He was amazed to find that he could do it with only a little difficulty.

It was indeed the chamber pot. The small bowl had a cloudy layer that disposed of the refuse before it ever made it to the bottom. The magical little bucket was out of place in these surroundings. A device of this complexity would be more easily found in a palace or high wizard's dwelling. Among the possessions of a young girl of moderate means (for thus he judged his benefactor) it was a mystery. Gods! How he hated mysteries.

Finishing, he went to the window. Looking out he saw he was on the ground floor of the building. Two and three story buildings in moderate need of repair surrounded a fingernail yard. An ugly tan dog lay in front of a doghouse, chained to a stake, sound asleep. The picture it made sent a flood of memories of home through him that made him grip the windowsill to steady his knees.

"You should not be out of bed."

The voice took him by surprise and he found his weakness was not just from the memory. Still clinging to the window, he turned to face Joanna. "I should not be out of bed, truth, but the space to bed is too far to walk back."

Hiding a smile, she came and put an arm around his waist. "Lean on me." She said.

They were nearly back to the bed when he realized he'd been stripped and had neglected to put anything on. Oh well, he mentally shrugged. It was too late for modesty now. Gratefully he climbed back into the bed.

"You show kindness to strange people."

"Indeed I do." Joanna chuckled, "The stranger they are the kinder I get and you are at the very least one of the top four strangest people I've met."

Phineas suspected there were levels of meaning he wasn't getting in that statement, but he smiled anyway for she seemed to mean it as a joke. "I have come from very far away. The language has newness to me."

"Very far indeed if the language is foreign." Joanna commented, "Where do you come from, Phineas of the Fever, and why do you come?"

"My land is to the north. You will not know its name, for no one knows for many leagues now. My country is Måerschleïn." He looked hopefully at her but she did not recognize the name.

Suddenly he wanted very much to speak to someone from home. Even the imperious Krosus would have been welcome. He sighed. "I flee. My people cast me away. I look for Family here."

The lovely woman looked at him for a moment before answering. "I see. Well, if you have family here it isn't by the name Le Phevr?é. How do you plan to find them?"

"I will make the city know me." Phineas replied, "My people will know me if they are here."

"You are an optimist. Still, I wish you luck. Now you will sleep. In a little while I will bring you something to eat." She stood to leave. "I'll begin to pass the word for you. Perhaps with luck..." and she closed the door behind her.

True to her word, several days later Joanna brought him a rather special visitor.

"This is Raphael Schaefer, Phineas. He seems to think you may be related to his wife, Genviev." Joanna said as way of introduction. Phineas had moved to a room of his own just the day before, and although it was sparse and less accommodating than Joanna's room, it did offer one redeeming aspect. He was now required to take his meals in the common room, with the regular customers. Here he could sit in the corner and watch the people, assimilating their customs, listening to them speaks. It was here that Joanna brought Raphael.

"Good day, sir." Phineas began, motioning the large man to an ample chair. "Your wife, she is not sure of this?"

"She is very sure, young man, but I made her stay home." Raphael leaned forward over the table. "My Genny is a soft hearted woman. She would call you family on just the fact that you need one. My Genny lost her family to a plague some years back. That was hard on her. Now, maybe you are family and maybe you aren't. That remains to be seen. I don't much care one way or t'other. I just want to make sure you want this tie, boy. You say you're just passin' through, and I'll tell Gen there wasn't no way you could be related. I can make her believe it. But if you say you're kin, you're gonna have to make me believe you want it. I said my piece." He leaned back in the chair and waited.

Phineas looked at the big, rawboned man and thought about what he'd said. The tales of the family having come from this side of the world could have been exaggerated. Surely signs of them would be everywhere if they were as well established here as they were in his home country. A plague could not easily erase them and not devastate the land as well. Still, he knew of poisons that could be made to look like plague. If these people did turn out to be family, he couldn't afford to overlook this overture. They would know of those poisons too. If they were not of the clan, his affiliation could not be terminated easily. He took his commitments just as seriously as did the man before him. The homesickness washed over him again and he made his decision.

Slowly, Phineas eased his hand to his side and drew out his dagger. Carefully he drew the blade across his left hand, making sure to miss the more important muscles, tendons and nerves. Dark red blood welled up behind the dagger's path. Joanna gasped, but did not move to help him. Setting the knife down, he took Raphael's hand and turned it palm up.

"This is my blood." He said, pouring it into the larger mitt of the elder man. "Now it is yours."

With a curt nod of his head, Raphael sealed the bargain. "I will tell my Genny to set a place for you at our table." he said closing Phineas' hand to stop the flow. "The family always eats dinner together at sunset." and he stood up and walked away, still holding the blood in his hand.

"You really must try to stop maiming yourself in front of me." Joanna said, moving to bind the wound.

"My apology, lady miss." Phineas tried to stand but found he was a trifle light headed. He seated himself rather hurriedly. "This was a necessary thing."

"I do not doubt it, Phineas. Now you will stay sitting there until I say you may move. Is that clear?"

Leaning back gratefully, he smiled at her. "I maybe not move, lady miss."

Chapter 3