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Lorraine

Since I'm of a mood to share some scenes, here's another I wrote during the Writing on the Waves 2012 conference. I had a bit more time to work on it, so it is more complete than The Dreaming Sea, though it's still just a fragment. Comments would be quite welcome.
The carriage came around a bend in the road, and Lorraine jumped at the sight of squat cottages lining the brick street. She marvelled at how villages could be simply tucked away around a corner, behind a thicket of trees, completely out of sight. That a dirt road through the countryside could lead to a little place like this with no warning.

This was no poor refuge from hedgerows and farms, either. The roofs were slate, and to the east, the sun glinted off glass windows, a rare privilege in these parts. A gust of wind blew down the road ahead, carrying red and gold leaves toward her, and the smell of the smoke curling from many a chimney. She drew her shawl a little tighter around her shoulders, laying her hand on Richard's arm.

“The tavern should be up ahead.”

He nodded, not taking his eyes from the road. “Yes, ma'am.”

Where the cottages here were wattle and daub, the tavern was stone, and three stories high. Richard reined in the horses, and Lorraine climbed down, not waiting for her driver's assistance. She gathered her belongings, slinging her pack over her shoulder and adjusting her shawl so that it still covered all the necessary spots, and turned to cross the courtyard.

Five days of traveling had made her weary. As she closed her grip around the handle of the tavern door, her mind caught on the quiet. In her weariness, she had grown too complacent. No town was this quiet just before the Fruit Harvest.

She let go of the handle and spun on heel. “Richard, we need to go. Now.”

But Richard was gone, along with the horses and carriage. A latch rattled behind her, and the creak of the door opening was swallowed up by the stillness of the empty street. Lorraine sucked in an uncomfortable breath and turned back toward the tavern. There was no retreating now.

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