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Snippet: On Pale
The Dime
She met him at a wayside inn - perhaps a boy on the cusp of manhood, perhaps a man who would never lose that boyish look. His skin was wan and his hair was dark, and when he wasn't smiling from behind two thin lips, he was smiling in his amber eyes. It was a gentle smile too, one without subterfuge or irony. He brought her food and her small beer, wiped the tables down as customers departed, and was quick to obey the orders of the lodge master as the new guests arrived.

When she asked the master about him, he could only shrug and tell the tale of the day they found him wandering naked as a babe alongside the road. The master's wife had insisted on bringing the poor child in and giving him a set of clothes, which he had taken with a strange curiosity, and more acceptance than gratitude, as if he was unfamiliar with the concept. He had been mute the entire time, but was far from simple - when they could not bear to turn him back out into the harsh world, they had set him to earning his keep, and he had never disappointed them.

They called him Pale, and if he objected to the name, he never let on. Instead he responded to his name as if being asked for by a close friend. All the regulars of the tavern (and she knew how to spot such characters) treated him fairly, except for those that seemed to politely ignore him. All smiles and diligence, she wondered how he would react to aggression, or mockery, or other forms of confrontation. Not that she wished such things on him.

She watched him carefully as she broke her bread, unsure of why he captured her attention so. She had traveled across the kingdoms several times over, met thousands of people with stories stranger, with demeanors more fascinating. And yet this Pale seemed familiar to her, and so grossly out of place amongst the tankards and the heavy cooking-fire smoke and men with mouths half-full of food, half-full of crude remarks. He seemed trapped, but happy to be so.

She often did not like what she saw when she would raise the veil with her second eyes, and so did not use the Sight has frequently as many of her Azurian rank. But now she chose to let the mundane drop away, and peered at Pale through the glass of the otherlight. And he remained the same, except for three points of bright blue light on his body; one upon his tongue, one upon his right hand, and one over his heart.

She choked on her own surprise.

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