Teaser Tuesday

Here is about half of a scene in my current WIP, The Balance. This is part of what I wrote over the last couple weeks. No editing has taken place yet. Hope you enjoy!

Calm, she pushed the doors open with a touch of magic, just to let them know she was there. The men jumped up, and the mayor looked surprised. “Mistress,” he said, bowing. The other’s followed suit. “We were just about to begin.” It was clear that they had already begin talking and his flustered appearance did nothing to reassure his words.

Celeste smiled though it did not reach her eyes. She wanted him to know she was displeased. “I do hope you’ve maintained a seat for my guest and myself.” The mayor waved towards the back of the room. A few men shuffled about. Celeste knew two men would be leaving as discreetly as possible. They had not accounted for her appearance. Perhaps they did not think she would arrive at all.

Silence followed her as she crossed the circle, Aljimara on her heels. She arranged her skirts and sat down, belatedly gesturing that the men should as well. Celeste stole a glance at Aljimara and her face was expressionless.

The men did not talk for some time. A cough here and there, and a shiffting of the seats drew attention to the silence since her arrival. Celeste did not motion for them to begin, and instead sat patiently waiting to here them talk. She noticed the absence of the town women.

“Well. We’ve got the crops to talk about.” The mayor shifted in his seat. “Farmer Gorde, how do things look?”

An old man nodded. “Seem to be normal. Everything’s looking just good. Had enough rain.” He scratched his chin. “Though we could always use more.”

A few men chuckled.

Celeste settled back into the chair, content with observing. After a few more minutes of talking about the weather, the men changed the subject.

“What should we do about Aldor? Lives down the yard. Took a few rolls from the baker and some ham down the butchers.” The mayor leaned forward. “Well?”

The talk died down, and the men knew they’d moved on to something more serious. A younger man cleared his throat. “Not sure. Aldor don’t have coin to pay for anything, no family to support him. Went crazy when that wife of his died a few years back. Heard ol’ Johrn let him go from sweeping that place of his.”

“It’s not right,” another man piped in. “Taking things from another. No matter if he ain’t right in the head.”

“You’re right Bunym. Shouldn’t be taking things from another.”

Another voice joined the growing consensus. “Not something I stand for.”

A deep voice rumbled through the others, “No charity for others? I seem to recall that each of you have has run up against bad luck. And I seem to recall each of you to getting some help.” The man was wide and tall; Celeste guessed him to be the blacksmith.

The voices stopped talking, most of the men eying the blacksmith, some eying the floor.

“Charity is a grand virtue.” Celeste voice chimed in the silence. “And yet when and to whom do you not offer to? When to demand return upon the gift?” The men looked down at their shoes. They would not listen to what she said; she was but a woman. “You do not need council to see this. Punishment to one who is ill, whether in the head or in the body, is a moral crime. Offering one down on his luck something to do and he will be better off for it.” She slowly shifted in her seat. Aljimara said nothing.

Silence filled the room like an unwanted guest. The mayor spoke again after a few moments. “Well, gentlemen, that should be everything.” The men shuffled about, their voices now creating a low drone, and left. The mayor smiled as Celeste rose. Once outside the sun beat down heavy.

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