She's the One Who Doesn't Say Much
She’s the One Who Doesn’t Say Much
(Book Four of the War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters)
by S.R. Cronin
Do you know what your problem is?
Olivine knows hers. This quiet thirteenth-century artist has been hiding a secret as she travels to K'ba to meet her friends. Others assume she's fallen in love with another artist, but it's much worse than that. For on the way to K'ba is the dirt poor nichna of Scrud, a place scorned by other Ilarians. And in Scrud is the one man who understands her.
However, Bohdan recognizes the dangers posed by an impending Mongol invasion. When he learns of Olivine's unusual visual powers, he convinces her to pick up her bow and start practicing.
She does, though she's more concerned with moving to K'ba where she can paint all day and see Bohdan whenever she wants. If only her sister hadn't decided Olivine and her fellow long eyes held one key to defending the realm.
Then, as if life wasn't complicated enough, Olivine learns the artist community she yearns to be part of has developed a different take on the invasion. They're sure the only way to survive is to capitulate completely to the Mongols’ demands. Artists who feel otherwise are no longer welcome.
Where does her future lie? The invasion is coming soon and Olivine doesn't have much time to decide.
On Sashi Eve mom charged ahead, pouring full glasses of her best dinner wine for all of us. Dad stared at his food, avoiding eye contact and giving us a view of his thinning grey hair as we ate.
I tried to appear festive, but I could see Celestine’s sorrow at missing something, or more probably someone. When the conversation lagged, Mom prodded us to talk. She wanted to know more about our friends. Our pursuits. Our prospects.
It took a while for me to realize no one was dying, at least not anytime soon. And this wasn’t a celebration. It was a well-disguised interrogation of two older unmarried daughters who were making insufficient efforts to remedy their situation.
I wondered if Mom had any idea how she’d terrified me with her remark about locking me in the root cellar. Celestine appeared as spooked as me, saying little and barely touching her wine. I followed Celestine’s lead. Drink little, say less.
The next day Mom kept up her relentless attempts to engage us, and the evening brought more food, more wine, and more questions. Dad looked tired but played along. Once again, Celestine and I did not.
The worst part was having no way to tell Bohdan of my predicament. The idea of him thinking I’d abandoned him on Sashi for a night with another nearly brought me to tears. Well, tomorrow I’d make my way to Scrud and explain the bizarre family incident.
The next morning when I asked Dad about it, he shrugged.
“Your mother thinks she’s losing touch with you twins. She persuaded me we needed to spend more time together, to get reacquainted.”
“Do you agree?” He didn’t sound like he did.
“You can’t make people share what they don’t wish to.” Another shrug. “It didn’t hurt you girls to spend a holiday with us, though.”
I gathered that was all the sympathy I’d get.
About the Author
Sherrie Cronin is the author of a collection of six speculative fiction novels known as 46. Ascending and is now in the process of publishing a historical fantasy series called The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters. A quick look at the synopses of her books makes it obvious she is fascinated by people achieving the astonishing by developing abilities they barely knew they had.
She’s made a lot of stops along the way to writing these novels. She’s lived in seven cities, visited forty-six countries, and worked as a waitress, technical writer, and geophysicist. Now she answers a hot-line. Along the way, she’s lost several cats but acquired a husband who still loves her and three kids who’ve grown up just fine, both despite how odd she is.
All her life she has wanted to either tell these kinds of stories or be Chief Science Officer on the Starship Enterprise. She now lives and writes in the mountains of Western North Carolina, where she admits to occasionally checking her phone for a message from Captain Picard, just in case.
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