Friday, July 03, 2015

Bonus Scene 4 - The Restorer's Son


The Restorer's Son - Bonus Scene

In which Payton and Skyler work to save Morsal Plain

After Chapter 12


            The residue of poison tinged the dead crops a sickly yellow. The burning smoke was long gone, but the reek clung to my clothes and seeped into my skin as I worked my way along the rows of what had once been fertile farmland. Anger drove my hoe deep into the ground, and I turned over a strip of damaged plants from the edge of a section that had been spared. Protecting the remaining plants was our first priority. Susan and the guardians had saved perhaps a third of the crop. Even with careful rationing, the months ahead would be brutal.

Across the wide expanse of Morsal Plain, other Braide Wood farmers—men, women, and children—worked to remove the ruined grain. Shock and dismay had given way to determination, fueled by the improbable victory our guardians had won over Hazor. We were alive. We still held our clan. So while there was strength in our bodies, we could work the land and survive.

A few rows away, Skyler straightened and rubbed his back. Strange transtechs tools weighted down his belt, and he held up several plasteen tubes with various liquids. “I suspected an organic toxin. You know there’s good reason to believe the Kahlarean venblades use the venom from a living creature. My guess is rizzid, but of course no one knows. Anyway, we can only guess at what the Hazorites might have extracted. The chemical profile isn’t making sense. If I could figure out what it was made from, I might find a way to neutralize the effects more quickly.” He rubbed his forehead, pushing dirt into the creases of his frown lines. 

I hadn’t heard so many words from Skyler in the past six seasons combined, and I wasn’t sure if they were addressed to me. Should I answer? Offer encouragement or thanks for this rare participation in the problems of the clan? Or would that distract him and send him stomping off?

He poured some red liquid into one of the tubes and it turned yellow. He touched it with a small buzzing tool that looked like a narrow signaler and it turned green. “No, no, no.” He squatted down and scooped up another bit of earth, muttering to himself. 

Best to leave him alone. He was clearly talking to himself. At Tara’s urging, I’d stopped by his solitary cabin each season over the years, only to suffer the sting of his bitter words. Years of solitude had only solidified his resentment for everyone else in the clan. Still, he was here now. That was something. 

I used the hem of my tunic to blot sweat from my face and rubbed my callused hands together before resuming my grip on the hoe. 

Hours later, Skyler was still collecting samples, mumbling to himself, and generally ignoring everyone else. We’d protected a small section of young grain from the poisoned earth nearby. How long would it take for the damaged ground to be safe for new plantings? Would there be years of hunger ahead?

My eyes traveled to the forested hill leading to our clan homes. The soft collar of light above the tree line had deepened. “Time to head home,” I called to the families working nearby. We gathered our tools and hiked toward the woods. The cool scent of resin soothed me, as did turning my back on the ugly, scarred fields. The One had saved our clan. He certainly wouldn’t leave us to starve. If our crops were small for a while, we’d forage and hunt. My shoulders lightened and I picked up my pace. Tara would have a spicy soup waiting tonight. Warmth filled my belly . . . more from the thought of her than the soup. 

She’d spiced my life in countless ways during our years together, and I kept discovering new sides to her. She was a nurturing mother and grandmother, yet she’d taken all the recent dangers in stride. She’d also torn a strip out of Kieran and Tristan when she learned they’d tricked Nolan into escaping back to Hazor. I grinned at the memory of her fury over that incident. 

Now that all the guests had left, our home had been unusually quiet. Talia and Gareth were off visiting friends, and Tristan and Kendra were as preoccupied as newlyweds. My grin deepened. Perhaps Tara and I could take advantage of the extra quiet tonight. 

You can find more of the story in The Restorer's Son.


No comments: