Open Sliver'd in the Moon's Eclipse
The bridge was as repaired as he could make it with the current resources at his disposal, so he stood from his work a while later and stretched, his eyes trailing from either side of the water's edge and back, in case he saw one of those ignis fatuus, or another leathery mummy surface for its first centennial. He'd been meaning to go back into town and see just what exactly those two blokes had done with the first one he'd seen, and if it had at least gotten a few respectable words said on its behalf. It seemed wrong to just take a body that used to be inhabited by someone and take it home like a lucky clover. But it seemed there was naught but the light from the hut's interior that illuminated the water's surface. Dembe sighed out his apprehension before packing his tools up and heading down the planks and knocking on the door. He couldn't just barge in like a cad. They might be dressing...
Marinette squeezed Marina’s hand in turn, the solidarity of the true sisterhood they shared giving each strength. They conversed a bit more, all along the same lines of how they could hope to make their existence as secure as their friendship, and then after a while came a light knock. ”Come in,” she said, in her odd monotone, feeling no apprehension that whoever it was might mean them any harm. It was late, it was cold, they were in the middle of a bog – and what evil doer would ever knock first?
It would be rude to doubt anyone offering assistance, as Walter was not in a position to do so. Even so, he could not help but wonder how the man could be sure to know the way when he did not yet know where Walter was going. Of course, Walter did not know where he was going himself.

Blinking in the light, Walter shielded his eyes, not yet able to see the man. "I was looking for someone," Walter said. "I was told she might be out here somewhere. But if you can get me back to the village, that would be enough to earn my thanks."
Marina was laughing softly as they spoke and told tales by the fire. Her fingers were busy tying knots over and over in a long thread now, it would soon be a charm she could sell to some clueless and naive villager. She looked to the door though and smiled brightly at who entered.

"Ach Dembe, such a nervous sort, you are! Come warm yourself! Do not hesitate. Come come! Such a lad, so afraid to step on a wrong blade of grass the way you act. Relax, lad, sit with us. Perhaps there is still some food about since you have been working so hard!"

She grinned a bit as she added in a crow's feather, and looked down at her work. The man who entered was older than her, but she treated him like a boy. In her mind, while he had the body and strength of a man, she couldn't help but treat him as innocent and kind like a child. It made her like him better though to think such things. And she did trust him, he was good to the girls of the group. He wouldn't be there if he was otherwise.

Her head turned back to the one she loved enough she'd always call sister. " You must rest soon. Don't you have a lot to do tomorrow?"
Indeed, he couldn't help but feel scolded like a boy by Marina. She was assured beyond her years, and he surmised the years she had behind her were hardening. Dembe ducked and nearly had to crawl into the hut, smiling apologetically. "Too kind, Miss Johnson." He eyed the creation in her hands curiously, then smiled and nodded awkwardly to the enigmatic Marinette. Coming forward to rub his hands aloft above the fire.
Marina did not smile at the man who was her unofficial adopted brother. Morgana had birthed him, and years later had taken in this unwanted daughter of a Haitian woman of color, who had passed away, and a wealthy, white, British merchant. Dembe was already a full grown man by that point, and the two had not been raised in any way as brother and sister. However, it was not a lack of fraternal feeling nor any silent animosity towards the man that kept a smile from the odd girl’s pretty face.

It was just her way. She seemed to either forego, or not understand, the social cues that most humans use to communicate with body language and facial expressions. Those around her day to day knew this. For others, they would have to take the time to learn that her strange manner was not personally directed towards them or motivated by either indifference or aversion. Internally, she did acknowledge the special relationship she shared with Dembe.

Externally, she merely nodded at his entrance, but then patted the spot to her other side, indicating that he should sit next to her, if it pleased him to do so. She rose to drag a ragged bit of a torn up carpet over, to provide a barrier between his trousers and the damp earth floor. She also took up a basket, which held a stale heel of bread wrapped in a clean cloth, and from a wooden box, three wooden bowls and three wooden spoons.

With these she stepped back to the peat fire, and the small iron pot suspended over its heat. With a metal ladle she scooped up a watery soup, bereft of any sort of meat, but with some amount of wild asparagus and the roots of the cattails that could be found in the wetter parts of the bog. Hickory nuts, recently collected and laboriously shorn of their limpet like shells, added something that might have reminded one of potatoes, and provided a good amount of protein, though none of the three eating the soup would have known that.

A few late dandelions had contributed their leaves, and the whole had been seasoned with wild thyme, wild garlic and rosemary. It was healthful, compared to the heavy fatty meals often consumed by those who could afford such luxury; but not exactly filling or sustaining, over time. However, it was all she had to offer her sister and her brother. Passing each of them a bowl, and tearing the heel of bread into three portions to soak in the soup and thus render it chewable, she sat back down where she had been before, and said without preamble, ”Dembe, this hut needs a floor.”
Marina's eyes fell upon Dembe as her friend prepared the food and her lips tightened. It was more in amusement then annoyance. She tutted to herself but loud enough he could hear as her fingers wound through the thread to tie more and then together, giving it form.

"Miss Johnson, ya say. Dinnae gimme that. Ya know ya din ave ta call me that as if ya dinnae know me. We may not be blood, but ya can still call me Marina. I'm not gonna bite yer 'ead off. And we need more than just a floor. I wish we 'ad the money or the materials to make a nice wood 'ouse out here. Something to carry the warmth of tha fire, and protect us from tha wind and rain."
"She?" It was just as likely that She was someone not of the Hecatite, but there was also just the matter of coincidence and how fate tends to lead one to invisible paths. "What is her name?" He came closer still, piling up the wet furs in his arms with embarrassment, which was free to burst forth now that apprehension stepped down to second place.
"Marina." The familiarity was hard to get used to. British were detached that way, as he had come to grow into after living in his London abode, the orphanage, for the majority of his youth. "I can build a house. It will take a while if it's just me, but if anyone here's got a strong hand to lift beams, or a deft one to paint a finish, it might get done right quick."
If he had not remembered his proximity to the bog at the last minute, the man’s appearance would have caused Walter to step back into it. He did not look as though he belonged here in the wasteland of the English countryside, but in another country, far over the ocean. And immediately upon thinking this, Walter fully recognized that he himself looked nearly so out of place. It was the furs, and the man’s attire, that made him look as though he had only just arrived from some far distant frontier.

That this man would know his mother seemed far outside the realm of reality, but so was the fact that he might find his mother here in this nowhere-place. “Her name is Jingfei Qui,” Walter said. “My mother.” Perhaps he should not have said this last, but Walter could see no harm in it.
"Your mother?" Eyes widening, his embarrassment fading into warmth. He smiled, "Then surely, you'll be welcome. Follow me?" Nodding, hoping he came off reassuring, and turned to go toward the lights.
Marinette said in her unhurried voice, ”I can help, and Marina will too. She is stronger than me. You can give me the lighter tasks, Dembe.” She made a beginning on her own scant meal, dipping the bread in the broth and chewing it to softness. ”Where will we get the wood? And the nails? And tin for the roof? I have seen roofs of peat, on some of the cow barns in this countryside. We could attempt to do one the same.” She sipped her soup after blowing on it to cool it a bit.

”Whatever it takes, me must do. Mother needs warmth. She is not young. This cold, wet earth will kill her if we do not build her a good, warm house.” For all the emotion contained in that last statement, she might as well have been telling them the time of day.
Marina gave Marinette a pleased smile and nodded "Aye , I have the strength ta help a wee bit. " Her head seemed in thought as she rubbed her forehead in thought. "We cannae see if we can get someone in town ta trust us for a loan o' supplies. Though I cannae day if anyone will..." She started to eat slowly and kept her eyes down. "I dun think we have anything ta sell.."
He was impressed with Marinette's forward thinking, "If lucky, I will find work building in town, for a living. There are new houses at request, it seems. The population is spiking." He had not yet been guaranteed the job, but at present he might take advantage of the desperation that seemed to sweep around the corners and crevices of Madsmoor in its haste to attain the height of the Marchioness's ambition. They needed all the help they could get. And he was no spring chicken when it came to the work, he could prove himself to these queer strangers.

"But if not, who's to say we can't cut down a few trees ourselves? And peat a'plenty anywhere you look, when it comes to that. Tin is better, yes, but for the moment it will do to at least stopper the leaks in the roof..." he eyed them above. Wood was bound to soften and rot in this near-aquatic locale. What they needed was stone or brick. But the faster they could shield Mother and the other old women from the cold, the better. so wood for now.

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