The Weeping Empress

Chapter 6

This is a preview to the chapter Chapter 6 from the book The Weeping Empress by Sadie S Forsythe.
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And as the mother slept, the earth wept.

Though painful, Chiyo’s wounds weren’t serious and would take little time to heal. The somber group moved out not long after day’s full grace. By early evening they had reached Brizion, a modest town consisting of little more than a small market, a restaurant, an inn, and a number of craftsmen’s shops. There was little conversation as the three turned their collars against the drizzle and sunk into their own thoughts.

Chiyo had changed out of the elegant robes with an unexpected pang of sadness. They had been beautiful, and the girl in her still apparently appreciated such things. The thought made her laugh. She had washed her face in a passing creek but was still finding white paint behind her ears, and she was fairly certain she still had kohl under her eyes.

She was in desperate need of a bath and some time alone. As always happened when she thought of Hannah and Michael, her emotions were stirred and it took an epic effort to calm them. Her eyes darted toward every movement at the roadside. She half-expected to see Michael walk casually from behind a tree or Hannah emerge, mud splattered and joyous from each passing puddle.

She knew her shifty-eyed, erratic behavior was worrying her companions. At one point she caught herself raising her hand to call out to her husband before remembering that he couldn’t be there. They had looked at each other, concerned, and picked up the pace.

The inn was surprisingly elaborate for such a small town even though the paint was chipping in places and the roof sagged. It was tiered, standing out as the only two-story building in town, and brightly painted. There was a balcony on the second story on which a number of candles burned hospitably. It was a leftover of a finer time; evidence that once the people of Brizion had known wealth and affluence. The proprietors, a couple in their late sixties, greeted the sodden group at the door, the wife clucking at the sight of Chiyo’s matted hair and downtrodden state.

“Aye-aye-aye, you boys should be ashamed of yourself. Dragging a poor girl through the rain like this,” she said with the verbal equivalent of a wagging finger.

“Jainie, Jainie, Jai—oh, there you are. Show these gentleman to the west blue room,” she called to a lanky girl with bad skin and strangely beautiful hands, which she was wiping vigorously on her apron.

Jainie gave her a curt nod and silently indicated the direction she wished the men to follow. Chiyo watched them go, held back by the proprietress’ maternal fluttering.

“For you, my dear, it’s straight to a hot bath. You’ll die of a chill, you will.”

It was exactly what Chiyo had wanted, and it was glorious. She sank low into it and heaved a deep, soul-cleansing sigh. She let herself float, free and weightless. She liked the feeling of her hair haloing around her and swaying with the ripples. She felt her previous calm descend, and she knew she owed Muhjah and Senka an apology, but for what she wasn’t exactly sure.
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