To the Rhennee of Verbobonc, Lynessa had a bit of a notoriety. She is known to be an adopted member of the people, but her height and religious ties with the outside world separate her in the eyes of the typical Rhennee. Her own immediate family embraces har as if she were born one of them, but other Rhennee are less endearing towards her.
One afternoon she was meditating on the shores of the Velverdyva River, east of Verbobonc, as she often did. To her soul, this was peace. The river is where her upbringing and her faith coincide. Here she was complete.
Lynessa noticed a young woman (early to mid teens), most likely Rhennee, watching her from behind a tree about thirty yards distant. Lyn was unable to determine if it is someone she knew at this distance. She continued sitting, watching the girl from the corner of her eye.
The girl continued to observe Lyn, trying to use the tree to conceal her presence. She was definitely Rhennee. Her long hair was pulled back in a traditional kerchief that young girls of their people often wear. She seemed nervous or impatient, perhaps both.
Lyn stood up and started walking in the girl’s general direction, feigning not to see her.
Immediately the girl perked up. She ducked back behind the tree and stood up straight. She quickly dusted herself off and peeked back around the tree towards Lynessa.
When Lyn had closed half the distance the girl abruptly stepped into plain view. Her movement was so sudden that she stumbled and nearly fell before catching herself. Her cheeks blushed with embarrassment.
Lyn barely suppressed the urge to grin before speaking. “Hello there.”
The girl quickly tucked a stray lock of hair back into her kerchief before effecting a quick, awkward, curtsy. She stammered “Good afternoon…,” paused, briefly, before finishing “…Wise One.”
“I don’t know how wise I am, but good afternoon. Is there something I can do for you?” Lyn did recognize the girl, but she did not know her. The girl was from a Rhennee family that has semi-settled here in Verbobonc. They ran several barges up an down the Velverdyva and surrounding waterways. Among their people, the girl’s family was considered very odd, as it is extremely rare for them to settle at all.
“Oh, uh, I was just enjoying the lovely spring afternoon when I happened to notice you sitting over there. I didn’t want to disturb you.”
Lyn attempted to interpret the girl’s mood, but her nervousness made it difficult to read her. “Yes, it is a very nice day.” Lyn continued to slowly approach.
The girl continued to fidget nervously while looking around and trying to look as though she weren’t watching Lyn.
Lyn stopped. “Do I make you nervous?
“Huh? Uh…well…no. Um, why would you make me nervous?”
“I wouldn’t, or at least I shouldn’t.” Lyn smiled at her reassuringly. She returned the smile, but Lyn was still unable to see past the nervousness.
“Would you like to come sit with me?” She motioned toward the river.
“Oh, I thought you were leaving. If you’re not finished I can leave you in peace, if you like.” Her embarrassment returned anew.
“I am done meditating for now, it is just such a lovely day that I don’t feel like going inside just yet. I just thought we could enjoy it together, but we could walk if you like.”
“Hm, yes, sitting near the water would be nice.” She smiled at Lyn.
Lyn turned and began to walk to the river shore. The girl hurried to keep up with her. Her height and long stride required that she walk slower than her usual pace in order for the girl to keep up without hurrying.
The girl tried to watch Lyn out of the corner of her eye. She walked with her hands clasped in front of her. Lyn kept a slow pace, but tried to make it seem normal.
They reached the shore and found a suitable spot to sit. The girl sat carefully, so as not to get dirt on her skirt. Lyn sat nearby, facing her. The girl glanced up, saw lyn looking at her, grinned and looked back at the ground.
Lyn broke the silence, “The river is such a beautiful thing, as if it were a living creature.” The girl had relaxed enough that Lyn could see past her demeanor. The nervousness seemed sincere. The girl looked out over the water while Lyn spoke. ” Though I am enjoying my time here, I so miss being out on the water.”
The girl’s lips formed an endearing grin. “I love the water. It is like a loving grandparent.” She blushed slightly, perhaps embarrassed by her poetic musing.
“That is a very lovely way to put it. I think I shall always think of it in that way from now on.” Lyn returned the smile. A large smile graces the girl’s face. She seemed to enjoy the praise. “How is your family? I miss mine terribly sometimes, especially my sister.”
“Oh they are well. My father and uncles make a good living working up and down the river.” She was becoming more at ease. Her fidgeting lessened.
“The river is the best place to make a living and a life.”
“Though it does seem odd to be seeing the same places so often. But that’s not a bad thing, really. Just different.”
“Well, different can be a good thing. Though I do know what you mean. Being in one place so long feels…... odd.”
“Oh, I just realized I didn’t introduce myself. My name is Risa.”
“Hello Risa, I am Lyn. See there, we are fast becoming friends.” Risa smiled gently and warmly.
“May I call you by your name?”
“Well, it is my name, I don’t know what else you would call me by.” Lyn grinned wryly.
“I did not want to presume too much. You are my elder.”
“Ha, don’t let my brothers hear you say that, they would have me calling them sir.” Risa giggled. Lyn could tell it was a natural response, with no falsehood in it. Since she had relaxed, Lyn had been able to get a feel for the girl. “And believe me, Jacoban is no sir.”
“I shall call you Madam Lyn, if it pleases you. It retains a degree of respect that you are due.”
“Though that does sound nice, I think I would prefer just Lyn. If my brothers heard anyone calling me Madam I would never hear the end of it. Besides, we are friends are we not? And friends call each other by their given names.”
“Mother would tan my hide if she heard me address a wise woman by their name alone.”
“You keep calling me a wise woman, but that is not what I am. I am just a woman following her heart down a path of faith.”
“You might not be recognized as a wise woman in your presence, but our people regard you as one when they speak of you. They give you a great deal of respect—perhaps more than they show you.”
“Well, I I shall have to do my best to earn it.”
“May I ask for you guidance? I have a decision to make, an important one, and I would greatly like some advice before I make it.”
“I am not sure I am qualified to offer advice, but I can listen very well and sometimes that is enough. Go ahead and ask away.”
“There is a man who wants me to do something for him. ” Her nervousness begins to return. “He is shore-folk, not one of us. What he wants me to do, I do not wish to do, but he is very persistent. Over and over he comes to me and asks me. No one will be hurt should I give him what he wants, but I do not feel it is right. He offers to pay me money for this.”
“You should always do what you feel is right. If what this man asks of you doesn’t feel right then follow it. If you would like, I can speak to this man for you. Ask him to leave you be, it is the least I could do for a new friend. Money is no compensation for losing yourself.”
“Recently, his requests have not been so nice. His words no longer drip of honey, but of venom.”
“Ah, well then. I insist you let me speak to him. What is him name, where can I find him?”
“I don’t want to do what he asks, but doing it would be easy and then perhaps he would go away.”
“The easy path is not always the right path. If I had taken the easy path I would not be here now. I would not have met my love and I would not now know you. Always do what is right. Besides, easy is no challenge and challenge makes you a stronger, better you.”
“His name is Kanley. I often see him around the docks.”
“Then I think I shall pay Kanley a visit, see if he has the same offers for me.”
“He will not want you. With all due respect, Madam.”
“No, he will not.”
“No. I mean you cannot give him what he wants.”
“If it wouldn’t embarrass you too much, would you mind telling me what it is he does want?”
“Of course not, Madam. He wants me to tell him things.”
“Well, no. Not really. Just common things…but I don’t like him. He scares me. I do not understand why he wants to give me money to tell him boring, every day things. He wants to know things I hear from our people.”
“Things like what?”
“Of our people?”
“Who went where. What they heard, what they saw. Yes. He was very specific.”
“He wants to know specific things about specific people?”
“Well, no. Just about only wanting to hear about our people. He’s not interested in anything else I hear. Which, is really nothing. Normally, I never talk to outsiders.”
“Hmmm, well, he is not one of us and the stories of our people should only be told to our people. He has no right to ask this of you and by offering you money, I think he knows he shouldn’t be asking. I think it is time I ask him a few questions.”
“Madam, why would he want to know these things? And why would it be worth money, or worse, to him?”
“I don’t yet know, but I intend to find out. If this man scares you, then he can’t be a trustworthy fellow. Why don’t you run on home and if he comes by before I find him, don’t go near him. If he is starting to get upset with you for not telling him what he wants, he might resort to worse means indeed to get his information.”
“Yes Madam.” She rises, straightens her skirt and pauses. “Madam Lyn, please be careful. And thank you so much for your help.”
Lyn laughed, “Again with the Madam. My brothers would love you. I always try to help my friends, go safely Risa.”
Risa began to move away at a quick pace, stopped, spun around, quickly curtsied, then ran along the shore towards town.
Lyn reached town late in the afternoon. There was less than two hours of daylight left. Once she had reached the docks, she began to ask around for Kanley.
One of the advantages of being a tall woman is that it commanded people’s attention. Every dock worker watched Lyn pass, they always did, but this time she used their attention to her advantage. A few hours of questioning got her the information she needed.
She headed toward the Inn where she was staying. A quick stop to don her armor and she would head over to Kanley’s to pay the man a visit. Quite possibly an unpleasant visit.