Tonight I decided I’d try a different exercise from the usual, attempting to describe indicators of a circumstance without, at least until the very end, specifying what the circumstance was.
Her workspace smells not only of ink stones and silk, but also of wax and wood oil, of polish and new metal. The papers on her desk have acquired some semblance of formation, in place of their usual tendency to mill and mob—red ink and red wax seals gleam like regimental banners against the cream-colored silk, and brushes in their stands rise like a legion’s spears. On the back wall, her palisade of arrows, sorted by type, color-coded by fletching, rises over the neat stack of those deemed unworthy.
She trains with others—a half dozen bodies in flurries of motion clashing and separating, prides smarting from blows that hands and feet refrained from delivering. No eviscerated golems, no stairsteps of sweat pools from falling-returning-falling-again.
She borrows Devin and spends hours with him by the sandtables, attempting to fit a year’s worth of tactical instruction and battlefield jargon into a week, make sure he understands the rows of instructions she presses into his hand, the contingencies, the counter-contingencies, how to recognize special situations that merit taunting Saff about her strategy and what to say in case of such events. She jokes regularly about leaving her armies to a green commander, and they both laugh; it is true in more ways than one.
And she jogs to her assignments instead of merely walking, smiles even at her ideological opponents, and takes the extra paperwork in good humor.
Because it’s only for a week. Because after that, Kes gets to go demon hunting.