Flash Fiction Friday – Composition

Today, on my Friday indie game stream, I played a lovely little puzzle game called Engare. It was really fun, and very beautiful. Like, just look at this level selection screen:

Pretty, isn’t it? I really enjoyed the game, and it caused patterns to be on my mind, so they’re sort of the theme of this weeks rather lengthy Flash Fiction Friday post. It’s another little piece of spontaneous worldbuilding for Erziyye.

Composition

“Good morning, all.” Matron Kelten’s usual monotone entered with the sound of the opening door.

“Good morning, Matron,” the chorus of young voices echoes in greeting, and Viell shifted in her seat at the back of the room. She fiddled with the sleeve of her blouse.

“Today we shall begin practicing matrimonial drapings,” the matron said, unfolding a large piece of fabric that was folded neatly on her own table in the front, and holding it up to the class. It was perfect, as her own works always were. Not a stitch out of place on the entirety of the large triangular draping that would at some point be draped across the shoulders of a pair of newlyweds to seal their union. Or perhaps it already had been? Viell wondered if it was the Matron’s own draping. She’d heard she’d been married long ago, before she became a matron, but she wasn’t sure if it was true or jus gossip. “As you no doubt understand,” the matron continued. “work such as this constitutes some of the most frequent and important work you will undertake once you are fullfledged stitch-makers. It is essential that you master it. As such, we will be focusing on this for quite some time. We will discuss at length the techniques and traditions that go into it, but before we get to that I want to see how well each of you can apply what we have learned so far, the stitches and patterns you have learned, and apply them to the following situation…” She paused a moment, and everybody straightened in their chairs. 

The matron liked to do this, make up a scenario for each new thing they learned, and let them freely chose how to tackle it. It was to test their creative intuition, she said, and claimed it was just as important as technical skill. This time, the story she told them was of two particular Riverlands families. who had for several generations been in intermittent conflict over who really owned the land by a particular river which connected to one of the large trading ports, who had decided to marry their heirs and unite their lands to put an end to the conflict once and for all. “Imagine,” she said. “That while the families and the spouses-to-be are optimistic about this plan, there are those in both keeps who oppose the idea, and many of those who live on the lands are skeptical and concerned. Now show me how you would bless such a pair. Chalk and slate, please. Hands up when you are done. Once you have shown me your design, you may go and get your thread.”

Viell knew right away what she wanted to do, and reached for her ruler to demarcate a triangle on the large slate sitting on her table. As she begun drawing her design, she made notes in the corners that were not part of the design about the colors to use. Blue would dominate – the color of the Riverlands, and more importantly of the peace and unity they would need. She knew of both families, and blue dominated, one complementing it with yellow for love and green for prosperity, the other with orange for loyalty and black for steadfastness. She would let the colors work their way out from the emblems, then wrap around each other and combine in the blessing knots that would run down the center of the triangle from the base to the tip. Then the edges would be more blue, a small, neat frame of the trade that had made both families into what they were now. She knew just what to bless them with, too, except… She couldn’t resist stealing a glance around cautiously, even though technically wasn’t doing anything unallowed. The Matron was walking around the room, as was her habit, glancing over shoulders and at slates and waiting for raised hands. Viell slipped the small piece of practice fabric out of her sleeve and unfolded it, searching for what she wanted among the hastily sewn blueprints. Ah yes, that one, and that. 

“Still don’t know your knots, Miss. Viell?”

Viell started. The Matron had been across the room a moment ago. Somehow she always knew. “I just wanted to make sure I got the right ones.” It was strange. Her stitching was good and getting better, and she always got top marks on her composition. She always knew what knots to use, what their intent was, but somehow she could never quite remember the exact shapes.

“Are you ever going to learn them by eye?” the Matron asked and Viell just shrugged. It was like her teacher couldn’t understand she wasn’t just being obtuse on purpose.  They were so intricate, so many little loops and circles to keep track of, her mind’s eye could never retain them all at once. She begun to fold her reference piece up and tuck it back in her sleeve, but stopped when the Matron’s hand landed gently on her shoulder. “Well…” she said, giving her shoulder an encouraging squeeze. “Show me which ones you were going to add.” 

Viell looked up, hesitating, and after an encouraging nod she unfolded the reference again. She found the knots easily and drew them onto the composition on the slate. Once she was done, she looked up once more and was met with a smile of approval. “Beautiful, as always. You may go collect the thread you need, and begin.”

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