The Unfinished Song: Initiate
|“Stoning VII” by arturobandini|
…reasons why, others simply placed the stone according to their choice.
Unfortunately, his mother’s plea moved many people to pity him. When all the rocks had piled up, the orange mat held the most stones.
Kavio swallowed hard to conceal his reaction. You have murdered me all the same.
Father pounded the rain stick.
“Kavio, you have been found guilty of the most heinous of crimes—hexcraft. Though you remain a member of the secret societies that initiated you and are therefore spared death, nonetheless you are forbidden to enter the Labyrinth, to take with you anything from the Labyrinth, or to study with any dancing society of the Labyrinth. Do you understand and acknowledge your punishment?”
“I understand it all too well,” Kavio said through gritted teeth. “But I will never acknowledge it as just.”
“So be it,” Father said tonelessly. “Bring the pot of ashes.”
Two warriors hefted a ceramic pot from where it had rested in the shadow of the tall platform. They forced Kavio to lean back while still on his knees. They smeared him with a paste and rubbed in the gray-black powder. His bare chest and clean shaven face disappeared under a scum of grey crud. Humiliation itched, but like poison ivy, he knew it would be worse if he scratched it. He forced himself still as stone while the warriors slapped on more mud.
“You must wear mud and ash for the rest of your days,” the Maze Zavaedi concluded. His voice broke. “I am ashamed to call you my son.”
Kavio struggled to his feet. The warriors escorting him sur- rounded him with a hedge of spears. Did they fear him, even now?
“You never could just trust me, could you, Father?” Kavio asked.
Father’s jaw jutted forward. A muscle moved in his neck. Otherwise, he might have been rock.
“Escort my son out of the Labyrinth.”
Dindi and Hadi climbed down a ladder to the kitchen in the main house. Puddlepaws was not invited but the kitten scrambled down the ladder after them. Smoke dimmed the whitewashed walls to grey and hazed the air with spicy fumes. She searched the room for an important guest. In the corner opposite the ladder were three beehive-shaped ovens, each with its own adjacent ash pit. Mixed with lard and soaproot, the ashes would be used to wash clothes in the stream—which reminded Dindi of the chores she should not have let the fae do for her. Nearby were quern stones for milling corn.
Beyond the querns was a deep, cool pit for storing jugs of milk and water. The two walls extending from the cooking corner were lined with shelves above and jars below. The shelves were crammed with spices, cheeses, dried fruit and tools knapped of chert. The rest of the chamber was given over to a broad clay platform at knee height, which served as an eating-place. As a tot, she’d danced there, pretending to be a Tavaedi, earning…