Chapter 3: Kudame

Even social ostracization is leashed by the silken ribbons of society. — Djan de Falin, Tears of the Abandoned

An hour later, Lily stood on a ladder as she scraped off the glass. Under her breath, she muttered vile things about Kendrick to pass the time as she painstakingly inspected every inch of the glass for smears or drips. The sun had set, so her light came from a pair of lanterns on the ground. After working in the flickering, yellow light, her eyes ached from the strain of looking for the nearly invisible marks.

She could have cleaned the glass in the morning, but she didn’t want to risk any potential customer seeing her store front less than perfect. Her momentary rage that broke the wine bottle cost her a half hour of sweeping and cleaning. Thankfully Kendrick’s magic removed the wine before it could stain the wooden floors; her own magical talent could color wood but it was exhausting to alter anything so dense.

A pale green shone across the street only moments before a carriage rolled toward her. The wheels clattered loudly against the cobblestones, slowing as it came to a halt behind her.

At the brightness shining across her arms, she smiled. “Good evening, Tabithas.”

“Good evening, Bedame dea Kasin,” said the older driver in a purr of a voice. Tabithas was Lily’s mother’s driver for the last four decades. An older woman with a talent for remaining silent and attentive. Lily grew up with Tabithas always nearby and couldn’t imagine life without the indispensable woman.

Lily turned on the ladder and wiped her forehead. Her cleaning outfit, with tight sleeves and legs, clung to the sweat of her body. She smiled at the older woman who doffed her top hat back. “Is it time already?”

“Yes, dinner is in one bell.” Tabithas’s eyes flickered to the side. “Something wrong with the store?”

Lily nodded, then smiled with an idea. “Think you can brighten your light and see if I missed a spot? It would save me a lot of time.”

“Of course, Bedame dea Kasin. I’m here to serve you.”

Tabithas held out her gloved hands. The green light glowed from her knuckles, but as she brought her palm facing up, the glow flowed across her gloves and into the cup of her palm. With glittering eyes, Tabithas held up her hand and the light rapidly brightened into an emerald glow as bright as the sun.

Shielding her eyes, Lily slipped into the store and then inspected the glass from the inside. She found a few spots where Tabithas’s light turned the wine black. She rushed out, wiped them clean, and then returned to inspect the glass again. It took her only ten minutes to finish with the last streaks.

Content that the store would be welcoming to customers in the morning, Lily returned inside one last time to gather her dress, place it in a travel bag, and lock up. Minutes later, she was crawling into the carriage. “Thank you again, Tab.”

“Always, Bedame dea Kasin.”