Houns

By Ryan St

An unexpected guest in the garden is asked: Why are you here?

A Houn girl sent me here. She was setting out her … her trees. She sold those tiny trees that Houns place in their courtyards, where they say their families dwell in the years between this life and reincarnation. Are you Houns also? Oh, yes, I can see you are.

There were also the tiny pagodas that you folk set beneath the trees in your gardens. It was very early in the morning - the rest of the street was silent, and still dark. I knew she was one from her pale skin; I'm sure she was short as well - I heard the clack of her tall sandals. She could have been fifteen years, maybe fourteen.

More? It's hard to remember. A man was drunk, some sea drunkard, not an [[Uunri]]. He came out of a shadow, I think he was sleeping there, and he smelled very bad. He yelled at me and I shrank, I'm no fool. He was very large and scarred. But when he grabbed her arm, and I knew what he wanted, I yelled back. He let her go and turned to me, he had a heavy stone in his hand. I don't know why a man would carry a heavy stone but his fingers were very dirty, I saw it in his fist because he was waving the rock.

Then something happened. I'm not sure - I think he hit me, but I don't feel any pain.

The girl was there, after. Everything was dark, but I could hear her. She tried to tell me something, I know she sent me here. You haven't seen her? No, I don't know her name, she was just a girl setting up shop by the canal.

It was in the small bazaar by the fifth Canal.

Oh, yes. Great-granddaughter? I wouldn't have guessed, sir. I've always heard that you Houns care well for your families and friends. That makes some others bitter but good families are good for the city. I can see why [[Cheneth]] and [[Meccon]] welcome you. I'm sorry to intrude, but I'm sure the girl sent me here.

The tiny pagodas must take ages to build. The trees are harder? I wouldn't have guessed.

Above us - wait, look above us - I've never seen a tree so huge. Where am I?