More of the story of Elucuna, a runaway Orikrindian woman who goes into hiding in Quarios to start a new life.
It was from there that I made my way to what I had long planned would be my destination. First, I navigated the cramped streets and alleys of Naeglitan to a man who was an acquaintance of my brother’s. His name was Glohitan and he was in the business of ground transport—whether of cargo or person, he did not care. Moreover, he was in the business of discreet transport, which was of utmost concern to me, as I did not wish for my family (other than, of course, Poltyar my brother) to get wind of my location in Quarios, or even that I had in fact fled there. For all they knew, I had perished in some dark wood of Orikrindia or fallen in the hands of highwaymen.
At the edge of Naeglitan, I found him, precisely where Poltyar had said I would—in what appeared to me as the shack of a beggar, but decorated very incongruously with red ribbons. These ribbons on such a poor abode were the sign to those who knew to look for them that this was in fact the dwelling of a person who would be able to help them—escape, disappear, whatever they needed. Glohitan would fit my needs very well.
Glohitan himself was a old man, perhaps seventy or more, but he was very tall and seemed to have retained the statue and strength of a much younger man. I imagine that his figure would have been even more impressive twenty, thirty years ago, or fifty years ago. At this time, he was dressed in a non-descript manner, his legs wrapped in linen strips that looked worn and distressed, and his overall outfit more or less like a man of the lower-middle classes in Orikrindia. Besides his stature and obvious physical power, he was totally unremarkable in appearance. Every color about him was grey or beige, and he seemed to blend in wherever he moved.
“And so this is Poltyar’s sister,” he said, looking me over. I was surprised to hear Ori after hearing mostly Gotevian and other tongues for quite some time.
“I am Elucuna,” I replied, realizing this was the person into whose hands I would soon be placing my safety and life. For a half of a second, I was filled with raw panic, but then I remembered why I had to do this. Still my heart beat fast.
“Poltyar didn’t say you would be so young. Nothing but a child, aren’t you?” I bristled at the comment but I knew why he said it. I looked younger than my age due to my shortness and narrow hips. At home, I was also known for my large eyes, which only amplified the impression that I wasn’t even a girl of fifteen.
“You wish to be stolen away to the capital, is that it?” he said with a quirk of his lip.
“Not stolen, corest,” I said. “I was already in prison in Orikrindia. It’s here that I have come to free myself.” I had fallen back into my habit of polite address to men, as had been dictated by my upbringing, but somehow I still had the courage to contradict him, though I could tell he was only teasing me. Corestwas also how I had addressed my father, and somehow the thought that I still held onto this tendency caused me to burn in disappointment with myself.
Again Glohitan’s eyes glowed in entertainment, but he did not look at me in an unkindly way.
“Yes, I know. I was sent many sincere entreaties by your brother. Honestly, if any man of Orikrindia were good enough to do such a generous deed, it would be Poltyar. His origins are not worthy of such a man.”
In Orikrindia, my brother’s origins were as desirable I wondered how he had come to know my brother so apparently well, but ignored my curosity for the time being.
“I have to get to the capital. Did my brother say where I was to be taken to?” I inquired somewhat nervously.
“Oh, yes. A very thorough detail he imparted, as always he was wont to. A pretty word in a pretty hand. I had to burn all of his letters, of course, but my memory is not yet rotten.”
We had up until this time been sitting inside of the shack, each of us resting on a wooden stool that was low to the floor. But suddenly, he rose, and stuck his head out of the door. I followed him cautiously as he crept around to the front of the small building. In the distance, the sharp cry of horns could be heard. At the time, I did not know what they indicated, though later I would come to find that this was the sound of the guard of the lord and lady of Naeglitan. The echo off the stark white buildings of environs sent a shiver through my body.
“We will leave soon,” said Glohitan. “Are you quite ready?”
I nodded automatically. I had carried very little with me on my journey to become a new person and start my life anew. One reason was entirely practical, the other intentional. I wanted as few physical connections to Orikrindia as possible. The entirety of my remaining possessions consisted of pack on my back containing personal necessities, money, and few general valuables. Crucially, there was nothing that identified me for who I was. No signet ring, no piece of cloth marked with my family’s crest, no jewelry specific to my province, no inherited items from my parents. Poltyar was very specific in his help, for he was one of the cleverist people I knew at that time.
Glohitan looked appraisingly at me. He reached back inside his house and took a gnarled walking stick from the wall. He handed me a dust-colored shawl and I hung it around my shoulders. I felt I must look like a bride in mourning, only lacking the funeral veil. He pulled his ragged cloak about himself and looked to the south.
“Then we depart now.”