Fedan was absent from Rising and Setting for the next week. No-one protested his non-attendance despite it being against the laws of the ravellers. Wherever he had gone, it was somewhere other than the Thread Court. Tahnner knew this because he had searched the place several times looking for him. Fedan’s appearance at Rising on the seventh day was marked by the obvious glances of the other ravellers.
His face was drawn with all the signs of fitful, sleepless nights. Tahnner tried catching his attention, but his eyes were downcast, remaining fixed on the tiles of the roof beneath them until the last possible moment before the Threads rose up with the dawn. When the readings were finished, Tahnner hurried to catch up with Fedan as the other boy hurried towards the stairs, clearly eager to get as far from there as quickly as possible.
“I’m sorry,” Tahnner said as he reached Fedan, spurred on by more guilt than he had ever felt. “I tried, I really did. I know your father was innocent. I’m so sorry. I was too slow to stop it. I should have- should have been better. Senara would have been. I’m so, so sorry.”
Fedan’s eyes were like empty shells and his pain tore through Tahnner. He wished Fedan would rail at him. Hit him. Break down. Anything but the blank mask of muted agony which he had shrouded himself in.
“Please- you have to believe me-”
“Believe you?” Fedan’s cold, cruel voice cut through Tahnner like dawn does the night. “But I do believe you, Tahnner. I know you knew my father was innocent and yet did nothing to save him. I believe you because you are a Turro,” he spat the word like a curse, sneering his top lip up as he glared at Tahnner. “I believe you because you are just like your father. I’m sure he is proud of the monster he’s created.”
“Wait-” Tahnner grabbed at Fedan’s robe as he tried to pass, needing him to understand. “I’m not like him!”
Fedan yanked his arm from Tahnner’s grasp, his mask slipping, revealing a face raw with a pain so intense that Tahnner flinched back at the sight.
“Then why did your father bribe Kheelan to take you with him that day? Don’t bother lying. You’re not the only one who can read the Threads. How did you do it? Are all the ravellers as persuadable as Kheelan or did you trick them somehow? I had thought they had enough wealth here to drown themselves in but apparently not-”
“Fedan?” Kheelan interrupted, approaching them with a wary gravity in each step he took. Tahnner expected Kheelan to say something sympathetic to Fedan’s loss, but instead he said, “Listen, new orders have come through from the council.” Tahnner flinched at the words. Less than three days after Councillor Nadien’s body had been discovered, news reached him that his father had been voted into the empty seat. His insides now churned at every reminder of the power his father now wielded. “More ravellers are required on the Daenan border. You should head downstairs and pack your things, a carriage will be waiting for you at midday. It will take you to the guild keepers so your papers can be updated then on to the barracks. You’re to leave with the next dispatch of soldiers.”
Fedan only nodded at the news, accepting it with his blank mask back in place, hiding any emotion he felt at being sent to war. He stayed that way, unmoving, even after Kheelan had left. Tahnner opened his mouth to say something, but the words died at the look of contempt Fedan levelled at him.
“I hope you end up hanging yourself with whatever web of Threaded lies you and your family are spinning. Enjoy Girona, Tahnner. I’m sure you will. Betrayers and scum have a nasty habit of flourishing here.”
Fedan pushed past him, leaving Tahnner alone on the rooftop, watching the person he considered the closest he had to a friend in the entire city, disappear down the steps. He wished he had been sent away too. At least the war had Senara. Girona had only the corrupt and power hungry.
The next few days passed by in a blur of solitude and loneliness. Although surrounded by the bustle of the Thread Court and the half-mad city which near-worshipped it, Tahnner spent his days ignoring everything that he couldn’t avoid in his need for isolation.
Each raveller had a favourite Rising or Setting, one they looked forward to witnessing more than the rest. Even ravellers old enough to have seen so many that they all blurred together in a great golden haze, still found themselves partial to one or another. Some smiled when they caught sight of pink rays dusting the horizon at Rising, other’s hearts sang at the sight of the deep estervan reds of Setting. Tahnner’s favourite had used to be when the sky rioted with colour, each determined to leave their mark before night stole them away.
Now though, he longed for wispy morning clouds at Rising, stained pink as they blocked the dawning sun. He ached for storm clouds to conceal Setting, for readings to be cancelled because the risk was viewed as too great to the minds of the Thread Court ravellers.
He longed for those days in particular, because then he might stow away by himself, Senara’s lock of hair in hand and his time his own. He didn’t care about the risk to his own mind that came with attempting to read the Threads in such inclement weather. All he wanted was to catch a glimpse of Senara in whatever stolen moments he could.
He had to wait a month before a typically warm late estervan day faltered and dark grey clouds filled the sky. He spent the afternoon watching the rain lash down upon the rooftop of the Thread Court as he waited, yearning for the storm to linger long enough for the reading that evening to be cancelled. The rain had long since seeped through to his undergarments as he stared at the western horizon, praying to the Threads for a glimpse of sunlight.
Even through the churning mass of storm clouds, he knew when Setting approached. He pulled the lock of Senara’s hair out and held it before him, the soaked light brown strands sticking to his fingers in the rain. In that moment, he didn’t care if he lost his mind to the Threads. All he wanted was to look upon Senara’s face again and to be comforted by her presence.
A ray of sunlight hit the lock and Tahnner latched onto it with all his mind, sifting through Threads of the rainwater until he found hers. Without wasting any time, he threw his mind backwards through her Threads, peeling back the days since they had left Pelston. He could have wept from happiness when he caught sight of her as she had been when she had cut her hair and given it to him. He might have cried, but he was unable to tell tears from the rain drops pouring down his cheeks.
He leapt to Senara’s Threads, throwing his mind into her life since leaving Pelston, watching her long journey north with Haret and the soldiers. He followed her to the present and almost lost his grip as he collided with Senara’s consciousness.
His insides clenched as he saw who stood next to her in clothes worn and travel-stained. Jealousy surged through Tahnner as he stared at Fedan, his guilty heart breaking at how Senara’s joy was mirrored in Fedan’s eyes.
Thank you for reading The Ravellers Guild, I hope you enjoyed it! This novella is a prequel to The Threads series, coming soon.
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The Guild Keepers Law
Some people are content with the life the Threads give them. Freemen enjoy the luxuries of choice, whilst indenture can find security in the protection of a guild. Netti had never felt the same assurances. She didn’t care for her freedom being stolen from her.
Taken from Chalil as a child, she was forced to serve the Ilyian Empire. Not a day has passed when she has not resented her artesian training, longing instead for the white shores of her homeland and the family she was taken from.
Her situation becomes more precarious though, when Councillor Evenard, one of the most powerful men in Girona, notices her and elects to hire out her for his own ends.
How will she fair indentured to one of the people responsible for the enslavement of her people?
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