Don’t authors always want to meet those whose lives they write about? Well, what if I told you that by magic I did? I stepped into another world and into the Kingdom of Emrilion. I’ve written the stories of this people across the pages of The Edict and meeting them has been eye-opening…
I settle into a corner of the square hoping my disguise of travelling pedlar will mean Kiara won’t recognise me. She’s just arrived, a basket on her arm for the good they’ll be buying from the various stalls, and her uncle to her side.
She’s about my height, which means she’s small, but she certainly has presence. I watch her move from stall-to-stall talking animatedly with each seller. Her face lights up as if sunlight were glowing just beneath the skin.
Zephenesh, her uncle, has something of her about his light eyes, but his whole manner is calmer, more circumspect. She seems to be the rushing, bubbling brook, and he the immovable rock on its bed.
She’s moved forward again, her basket slowly filling with fruits and vegetables, all of the richest colour. She’s passed the basket to Zephenesh now, he’s stepped back, resigned as she pours over a stand of salted fish. I could smell the stall easily an hour ago when the woman had opened it. Her daughter is somewhere – there, near her elbow – bright eyes peeking up at Kiara, face beaming when Kiara speaks to her.
Kiara selects two fish and they are laid carefully in her basket by the woman who has a kindly face. Then Kiara turns for her next stall and catches eyes with me. I freeze, I didn’t want her to know I was here, but she looks at me and around, clearly recognising me as an outsider, and then walks straight towards me. She has no idea I am the narrator, that I live outside of this world and time, that I’m only dropping in to observe as so many authors are wont to do. But it’s too late.
“Hello,” she says before she’s even reached me. Her eyes, so piercingly blue, are holding me locked within their gaze. “I’ve not met you before.”
I nod in response, afraid to contradict the falsehood. Her frankness is not surprising, nor the blue eyes, or golden hair, or that mixture of intrigue and suspicion in her look. I know her inside and out because it’s her story I’ve written across the pages of The Edict. She has no idea that this quiet town life won’t last for long.
“Are you a merchant?”
“Yes,” I finally venture to speak. How would she recognise my voice anyway? I know her through the tip of my pen. But that’s why I snuck into this world, I wanted to see her. “Of sorts.”
a pedlar of stories
“I’m a tale teller, I peddle stories.”
“Stories,” she says, almost breathlessly. “Stories of the Laowyn Resistance?”
She’s taking a risk. She doesn’t know if I’m Laowyn, she can’t see if I bear an Ensper. But perhaps the fair, muddy-blonde hair helps – I couldn’t be one of the dark-haired Reluwyn that reign over this land.
“Some, and tales of Meir Elves, Radichi, Reluwyn.” I gain confidence as I see she does not suspect who I really am.
“Reluwyn, urgh!” She almost spits the word.
I nod but remain silent.
“A horde of barbaric oppressors – you shall not see a coin from me for such stories – how do you know tales of them anyway?”
“Travels,” I reply, happy my creative brain thinks quickly.
“And your travels have taught you nothing of our merciless overlords? Shame on you for having your eyes covered and your ears stoppered.” She has become the fiery, passionate woman I know her to be, but I’ve never been on the receiving end.
For someone so small, she is fierce and I can see exactly why she’s going to get herself into trouble soon.
I hear the sharp reprimand even as I’m thinking these things.
“I apologise for my niece’s behaviour.” Her uncle has finished talking with the owner of the first stall and come upon us. “You should know better than to carry such prejudice!”
He whispers in her ear, his words impossibly calm but unrelentingly firm.
An elf with a sharp face has appeared at their sides.
“An Edict has arrived concerning the Laowyn – you’ll want to hear it, Master.”
Zephenesh looks apologetically at me and then, taking Kiara beneath the elbow, bows and guides her away. The elf, I know Djeck to be his name, does not smile at me but lingers to speak.
the beginning of it all
“You would do better to move on – you’ll find no trade with the Laowyn now.” And he walks off without waiting for a response.
So, the first Edict has arrived, this is where it all begins…