Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Voyage of the Minotaur - Chapter 14 Excerpt

Iolanthe dismissed the three men and walked swiftly to the stern of the ship where Yuah was awaiting her. The dressing maid was wearing a simple grey wool dress over a white linen foundation. Her hair was pulled up into a tight bun, but even its severity didn’t take away from her obvious beauty. Though Iolanthe was accounted one of the most beautiful women in the great city of Brech, she recognized the truth that few did—Yuah was more beautiful. Their difference in wealth, status, and religion obscured the fact, but it was a fact, none the less.
“Did you see Terrence just now?”
“Yes Miss.”
“You’ve been checking up on him, I know.”
“Yes Miss.”
“He doesn’t look very good. Is he… alright?”
“Yes. I don’t know. I think so.”
Putting thoughts of her brother or the relative attractiveness of her dressing maid aside, Iolanthe toured the ship from stem to stern, from the main deck to the lowest deck. There was much to do and she intended to make sure that it was all done and done properly. When an obvious need presented itself, she assigned the task immediately. When a need was less obvious, she gave Yuah a note to remind her about it later. When they reached deck four, Yuah stopped unexpectedly.
“What is the matter?” asked Iolanthe.
“This is my deck,” said Yuah. “My cabin is just up on the right.”
“Well, there are too many doors in this hallway. The doorway… here,” she pointed to the second door on the left. “That door shouldn’t be here.”
Iolanthe smiled. “Excellent.” She walked over and rapped sharply on the door.
It opened and Senta, Zurfina’s ward, looked out with a puzzled look on her face. Iolanthe was sure that it was the first time during the entire voyage from Brechalon that anyone had knocked on the door.
“Is your mistress at home?” asked Iolanthe.
The girl nodded. A moment later she was replaced in the doorway by the sorceress. She had evidently just gotten out of bed, and was clad in an ankle length but completely sheer nightgown. With no shoes on her feet, she was several inches shorter than Iolanthe.
“We have an assignment for you, sorceress,” said Iolanthe. “The creatures in the bay need to be driven away from the area where we are planning to build a dock. They need to be kept permanently away, or at least long enough for the construction to be completed.”
“I will take care of it,” said the sorceress, and closed the door.
Iolanthe turned around to look at her dressing maid with an uncharacteristically broad smile upon her face.
“That was most satisfying,” she said. “Thank you.”
“Yes Miss.”
“I think it’s about time for lunch,” said Iolanthe.
“If you’ll let me know the menu and the guest list, I’ll contact Mrs. Colbshallow and the wait staff.”
“I was thinking that you and I could have lunch.”
Yuah stood looking blankly for a moment, and then placed the palm of her hand against the wall of the corridor as though she were steadying herself in uneven seas.
“No need to look as though you’re going to pass out,” said Iolanthe.
“No Miss, It’s just…”
“Consider it a weak moment.”
“You don’t have weak moments, Miss.”
“No, well. You see Yuah, I don’t have any friends here.”
“You don’t have any friends back home either, Miss.”
“Thank you for your merciless honesty, Yuah,” said Iolanthe. “Peers then. This is a new world. If I’m going to have any kind of social life at all, I’m going to need a new group with whom to socialize—a new class if you will.”
“I won’t fit into that class, Miss,” said Yuah. “I’m the wrong religion.”
“No one is going to care about that anymore.” “People will always care, Miss.”

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