Letters from Armorica—5 Janvier 34AF

Dear Journal,

It has been a busy and mostly delightful month, learning how to be a proper husband to Amelie, and how to prepare for an Armorican winter; and now the snows have come and stayed, and the deep cold has set in.

It is unlike anything I have ever seen. It snows in Yorke, certainly, and in the surrounding countryside, not that I have ever been in the country at this time of year before, for my father's tasks with the Guild have always kept us in the city.

But there is snow, and there is snow. Bois-de-Bas is buried to the rafters and (in some places) beyond, with only the rooftops and chimneys picking out through the drifts. In some ways this is a good thing; Amelie and I walked to the church this morning through a tunnel in the snow in the easiest possible way, although a blizzard was raging far above our heads. The congregation was tiny, only those of us who live right in the village, and we all of us dispersed to our homes immediately after the service. One wants to be at home, snug, in weather like this. In clear weather we would have gone to the hot springs despite the cold, but the snow tunnels do not extend so far as the hot springs, and the blizzard is too intense.

The shop is quiet, for every household has already acquired the supplies it needs for winter. We have begun to spend our days sitting in the kitchen, to conserve firewood. Only a few people come to our door each day, and those few come to visit rather than to buy. Their visits are welcome! In the larger farms there is no shortage of company through the winter, but households are smaller right here in the village.

For myself, I am enjoying the quiet. Rumors of war are far away; whatever might be happening elsewhere, no commander of sense would bring troops to Bois-de-Bas at this time of year. Amelie and I have continued with her reading lessons. And best of all—next to the delight I take in Amelie—I finally have the leisure to pursue my interest in sky-boats.

I had thought that a small boat, suitable for one or at most two persons, would be a simple thing to form: far simpler than the swarms and layers of forms that surround a great sky-freighter. And that is somewhat true, for a working freighter has aboard it a great many informed devices. But as to the work that makes a sky-ship a sky-ship, a thing that can be maneuvered from place to place through the sky and the Void, it turns out that the difference is mostly one of scale: informing a sky-ship takes great power, which must be provided by a team of formers working in concert. For the largest vessels, it requires a double or treble team, working in shifts. A smallish sky-boat is within the capacity of a skilled former working alone, but it remains a complicated bit of work.

Something the size of a rowboat might be within my capabilities, but I would be a fool to begin there. What if I bungled it, and could not undo what I'd done? A rowboat is a not inconsiderable expense to a shopkeeper in a tiny place like Bois-de-Bas. So I have begun by making a tiny model of a rowboat out of wood from a discarded packing crate. It is a crude little thing, a few scraps glued together and whittled roughly into shape, but sufficient to the purpose.

I handed it to Amelie when it was done, and she turned it over in her hands. "Alors!" she said. "You will have time to do better before the first baby comes."

"Oh, it isn't a toy," I said, taking it from her. "Watch this!" And holding it in my hands I focussed my attention, and imbued it with the first form called for in my grimoire, the form of buoyancy.

I guess I overdid it, for the little boat jerked out of my hands, leaving me with a nice splinter, and slammed into the ceiling of the kitchen.

Amelie watched it go with shining eyes. "Incroyable. Is it that which you wished it to do?"

"Well. Part of it, at least."

That was several days ago, and it is still up there. I brought in a step-ladder from the store room and tried to pull it down and could not: the force of buoyancy is too strong. I can see that I shall have to practice. More than that, I can see that I shall have to build some kind of frame that is anchored to the floor to hold my sky-boat while it is being informed. I shall have to seek help when the time comes.

But for now, models are good enough; and in the deep of winter I have no shortage of time, and surely no shortage of old wooden boxes.

photo credit: Dave_S. Garage via photopin (license)