|Dec 08 2003 cycle
||[Dec. 8th, 2003|03:46 pm]
The White Tower Room
It was her first snowfall in the woods, and with no animal coat like her two companions Sascha was freezing her butt off. She huddled in the back of her cave and tried to build up the fire with what little they had left, waiting breathlessly for Aleki and Barak to return.
A year ago she would have been huddling by the fire in her mother’s home, with her twin. A year ago she would have a belly full of hot porridge, or bread and drippings, or stew, or something else cooked and savory. These days she was the only cook, and her meals consisted mostly of burnt meat and greens. She was still learning which plants could be eaten, which would make her sick, which were kept until a dire emergency and which were to be avoided at all costs. She was still learning how to fashion her own cooking and eating utensils, or trade for them between the other skinchangers and their mates in her area.
A year ago she would have had her family about her, mother, her sister, her older brothers, their friends. The house would never have been this empty; there had always been two or three at home working, or cleaning, or cooking, doing something useful. Here the companionship consisted of Aleki and Barak, and the other women and their skinchangers when she wandered from her new cavern home. No one from the village would acknowledge her existence anymore; to them both she and her sister were dead, even though only one corpse was mouldering in its grave. And her mind shied away from that thought as she decided it was still too soon to remember that. Aleki and Barak would be home soon, anyway, and it would be time to clean and burn the kill.
Sascha smiled a little. She’d always known she’d be keeping house for a husband some day, but she’d never expected two. And two who could change their skins for beasts’ if they chose, she’d never expected that either. Oh, she’d heard the stories of the skinchangers. Everyone in the village told them and listened to the whispers. If she was naughty she was told she’d be left out on the edge of civilization for them to find her and eat her or take her away for their bride. She’d never realized until she’d been beaten out of the village, sisterless and alone, that that might not be the horrible fate she’d imagined.
The fire was dying down again. Sascha edged herself as close to the flames as she dared, and reminded herself that she’d have to ask Barak to go out and collect more wood, Aleki to hunt down more of the winter rabbits and foxes so she could have fur of her own to wear and keep her warm. This situation really would be untenable if it went on too long, although she was coming along in her fur coat endeavor. That was one thing she’d been quite skilled at, sewing. Mischa had been more adept at the decorative part, but Sascha had had an instinct for the way clothes were put together, the pieces that had to be stitched and the way they hung. It was an instinct that was coming to serve her in good stead. And she was even working on building a loom, perhaps for the goats that Livya had promised her when she finished turning the cave into a proper home.
Sascha glanced out at the snow again, shivering but now curious. Perhaps next year by this time, by the time the first snow fell, she wouldn’t be huddled in a cave any longer. Perhaps she’d have a proper bed, a big one for her and her two men, and a proper sort of room. She fully intended to have a fence by that time, and some sort of door. It couldn’t be a home without a door, she insisted, clinging to what she saw as the last vestiges of civilization.
Perhaps by this time next year, by the first snowfall, she would have time enough to go out and play in the snow like she used to.