Stoneseer: Magda or Sol…or both?
Magda the young woman, or Sol the king’s old spy…or both?
She looked around the room which was the “Red Tower”, rumored to be haunted with dragons, and spoken about in hushed tones. It was actually peacefully isolated to her. Few people ever used the tower rooms, which served Magda’s “vocation” perfectly. Magda existed in two identities. She was Magda, Essen’s daughter, but she was also “Sol”, supplier of information to the king. Through some malfunction, Magda did not sleep….ever. All the hours others slept, Magda practiced. She knew languages, mathematics, weaponry, and how to use them all to her advantage. She also learned disguise. A small plant that secreted a gel dried on Magda’s face, causing it to wrinkle. A little soot, dirt, and ground herbs gave her an aged appearance, and male clothing completed her disguise as “Sol”. The king knew Sol as an older man who brought information from missions. The information helped the king make decisions. Mara helped Magda keep her identity secret. The tower room was the perfect place for her existence in two worlds.
Mara laughed as Magda relayed the pursuit of Saygard and Aggles.
“I know I should have hid somewhere else, and launching myself out the window was probably not the smartest move to make. They were so close coming up the stairs, I did not have time to remove this clothing or face paint.” Magda said. She told Mara that the two men talked so loud the whole time, that she could clearly hear them discuss what they had, or rather had not found. Stealth was not an attribute they exhibited. Magda mimicked each man’s stance and voice as she relayed the pursuit.
“Looks like the room’s empty to me,” said Saygard.
She was warned of Saygard’s approach by his raspy breathing, long before he ever came into view up the tower steps. She leaned heavily against the stone walls, acting like the tall guard . He rested as he tried in vain to catch his breath while he waited for Aggles. Soon Magda could hear the agonized gasping of Aggles, the other guard. Where Saygard was tall, Aggles was short and round. His clothing was always fastidious, but it was also always tight. His breathing was more than gasping, and made a loud moaning sound as he pulled reluctant air into his lungs. When he forced it out, it end in high pitched wheezing.
After a long time…an exceedingly long time…the two men were able to speak in breathless sentences, “There’s not a man here….again! Why does that stupid woman…have us climbing to the top… of this wretched tower?” Aggles whined between gasps. The two men roamed around the room looking for something to take back to Ailsa, then they tried the risky dance on the rotunda before finally giving up.
“There has got to be a secret exit in this tower.” Saygard said vehemently. However, Aggles was not listening. His fat head was tilted up causing rolls to gather on the back of his neck, as he looked at the carvings all around the room. His eyes were large and his distended stomach jutted, while he stood with his hands on his lower back…similar to an advanced pregnant woman’s stance. When Magda imitated him, Mara had to use the blanket to wipe the tears from her eyes because she laughed so hard.
“Dragons!” he breathed reverently. “Just look at all them dragons,” he said as he pointed to all the carvings in the room. Mara looked at the ceiling , which seemed to undulate with dragons in the firelight from the great stone fireplace. Carvings circled the room on all the stone walls…large dragons, small dragons, dragons in flight. Each dragon had tiny stones in the eyes and in the firelight they probably seemed to look down on the two men, shifting and moving as the men moved. Magda told Mara that Aggles shivered as he probably remembered all the myths and legends told to him as a child. They were stories told to keep children in at night, and to scare them around campfires. “She lives with dragons everywhere. No wonder she’s so strange. There’s something weird about her and this room, Saygard. I don’t like it. I’m gettin’ out of here,” Aggles said determinedly as he thrust his rotund form through the door and stumbled on the top step, nearly plummeting head first. He regained his footing with a curse and grunt, and hurriedly descended the stairs.
Magda knew the “fat witch” as Ailsa, a malicious woman in the castle. “Send me up here with a superstitious idiot like Aggles,” Saygard had muttered as he followed. “No one has to scare him…he can do it to himself.” Magda saw that just as he was even with the stone doorframe, he turned and looked out the window. She knew that he considered the window as a hiding place one more time, but his false bravery gave way. The pent up superstition about dragons, and the ingrained fear of them, moved him toward the staircase, forcefully thrusting him through the door as if a strong arm shoved him between the shoulder blades.
Mara watched as Magda drifted into silence, her eyes on the window. Magda was remembering the beautiful sunrise and the guests. She was combing her fingers through her long red-brown strands, coaxing out the tangles, when she saw the group of riders enter the gates of the courtyard. “Mara, the miners were here. I saw the Bordokians. Not many people know anything about them except they mine jewels from the bowels of the mountains. Although, I did overhear someone say that the “alliance” custom does not exist there!”
Magda lived in constant worry about her alliance time. She remembered watching the travel dusted horses when the rider with dark hair looked up, just as his horse entered the gates. The wind blew his hair and the deep brown of his eyes met her clear green ones. Her breath caught in her throat and her heart jumped, but she held his eyes with a steady strength. He grinned and his teeth flashed white as it turned into a smile. His eyes were deep and thoughtful, and they remained in her mind for a long while.
“Have you heard anything about the Bordokians?” Magda asked Mara.
Mara continued to work around the room as she said, “Well the castle rumors endow the miners with Irini attributes. Some of them descend from the original Watchers, and the rumors are many and varied. Some say the miners live longer lives than everyone else, they are stronger or faster, and some even say….better lovers!” Mara said with a smile and a wink, “but all agree that they are different. You know nothing would make the king happier than to arrange an alliance with Bordok.”
Magda considered the information as she readied for the fall room…a long time under those healing warm waters was just what she needed. She removed her boy’s clothing, and stashed it in the false bottom of a bench beside the fireplace. Mara would clean it or patch it as soon as she had opportunity. Magda should have had the traditional “cassone” in her room. It was a chest that propective brides filled with things for her marriage. It was customarily decorated with flowers, ribbons, and birds. Magda disdained the custom. She knew that marriage was imprisoning, and nothing like flowers. She had watched several marriages over the years, and none were happy. She used the bench’s false compartment as a storage chest for her leather braes and tunic. She loved the freedom the clothing gave her, and she considered it unfair for men to be the only ones who wore such clothing. Magda grabbed up a linen cloth, breathed deep of the scent of her last sliver of soap, and made a mental note to acquire more.
As she lathered her hair, she thought that while she was acquiring supplies, she would use some of the coins from her pouch to contract some new clothing. Her father was never going to realize she needed things, and frankly she was tired of waiting for him to notice. She needed shoes, as hers were worn and frayed. She also could use some new undergarments, as well as a serviceable dress…or two…and possibly boots.
Magda was tired of depending on anyone. No one noticed when she needed something. No one noticed her, most of the time, and most of the time that was just what she wanted. Her newly acquired coin source might be questioned, but she could usually get around the interrogator.