Linda Maye Adams

Writing in Public, Story 5: Scene 1


SHIVER OF SILVER, Scene 1

Under the silver of the full moon, Eleri dipped slipped a turner into the skillet heating over the campfire and flipped the thick slices of bread.  The cinnamon she’d tossed it with smelled wonderful.

Something she’d never thought would happen with her cooking.

“Supper’s almost done,” she called out to her partner Morgan.

They were both on the return trip from the city of Manchester, picking up supplies for the coming winter.  The season had arrived early with a chill in the air.  The gold and red of the hemlocks and birches formed a path back to their town.

Their wagon was packed with sacks of potatoes and turnips, flour, salt, raisins and currants, coffee, and tea.  Plus Eleri’s stash of spices to experiment with over winter.

She’d grown up the only girl in a family of six boys. The birth of her last brother had left her mother sickly and abed.  Everyone expected Eleri to cook.  Then they complained about how terrible it was, but never lifted a finger to even tell her how to do it right.  She hadn’t known how bad it was until she tried to hire out her water magic to travelers.   With some water in the area mysteriously fouled, water magic was essential to any travel—and no one would hire her because her cooking was terrible!

Eleri poked the bread with her finger and thought it was done.  She scooped the slices out of the pan with the turner and put them on the tin plates.  She opened a small stone jar of maple syrup and drizzled it over the bread.

Footsteps crunched through the drying leaves. Morgan propped his muzzle loader on a rock and squatted next to Eleri.

He was a scratchy looking fellow, like he was made up of winter dry twigs and grass.  Every time Eleri looked at him, she had an urge to smooth down her hair, wondering if the trail was doing to her what it had done to him.  She wondered if his clothes had ever seen better—patched trousers, stretched out homespun shirt, faded black wool coat.  The leather boots were worn white.

Eleri offered a plate up to him for inspection.  He took a fork and sliced off a corner, chewing it carefully.  He’d taken her on this trip to teach her cooking, because they really did need the water magic.

His face brightened.  “This is pretty good.”

Eleri sampled it.  Definitely much better than when she started the trip.  Then, she’d burned the bread and mixed up the cayenne and the cinnamon.

After they finished supper, Eleri grabbed their canteens to refill for the morning.  They stopped the horses near a small stream that was a tributary of the Great River.  She’d already checked the stream with her magic and it was safe to drink.

She adjusted her woolen cloak about her shoulders and walked faster to keep warm.  Her own boots were

The wind whispered through the drying leaves in the tree tops above, like a thousand voices speaking to her.  She stopped, staring up at the branches, not sure why she suddenly felt so uneasy.  This was a fairly well-traveled area, because the streams here were not fouled.

She turned, scanning the line of birches for movement.

Nothing.

Morgan also had a special sense about knowing when someone was out there.  Reassured, she started walking again.

She heard the stream before she reached it, a sound that was cool and peaceful and deep all rolled into one.

Her magic reached out for it, almost automatically, like a child running ahead to play.

Stopped.

So abruptly that Eleri stopped.

This stream had been fouled.

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