Adane barely escaped war in his homeland. He wanted nothing more than to hide in this new city with his adopted child Chisa by his side. But every choice he makes risks their quiet lives and every day brings the war that Adane fled closer to their doorstep. Soon Adane will have to choose between running away again or taking a stand against an enemy that can’t be seen and cannot be fought.
Transplant of War
by Meyari McFarland
The old door crumbled under Adane’s fingers as he eased it out of the way. Truly, it was a miracle that the thing had stayed in place for so long. Dawud snorted and shook his head as Adane brushed the dry, rotting wood off his fingertips. Both of them laughed as Chisa, face utterly serious, poked a finger straight through the door and then gasped with stunned delight.
“Careful,” Adane warned Chisa. “Could still get splinters.”
“Useful for compost,” Dawud said as he tore the frame out with his bare hands. It crumbled under his grip, prompting a disgusted snort. “Not much else.”
“Lintel will stay up?” Adane asked. He gently gripped Chisa’s shoulder and pulled them back away from the now unsupported doorway through the wall. “Not dangerous?”
“Nah,” Dawud said. “Frame was just to support the door. Not structural. Old walls like this, real old ones, made so magic doors could be cast. Grandfather told stories. Glowing doors, spells to welcome or repel. Like the rich mansions other side of town.”
“Ah,” Adane breathed.
Now that Dawud had pointed it out, Adane could actually see the old runes around the inner surface of the archway. It wasn’t a spell that he knew but Father had taught Adane years ago how to make door-shields much like the ones Dawud spoke of. Of course, the ones that Adane knew were intended to kill anyone forcing their way in. He certainly couldn’t cast that spell here.
Still, Adane helped clean up the crumbled doorframe, sweeping the splintered bits into a pile that Zakwan could use for compost or not, as he preferred. As Chisa helped Dawud measure the new door frame timbers, Adane traced his fingers over the old runes cut into the stones. Here was Peace, round swirls familiar. That was probably Quiet, logical in a home where other houses were right next door. You would want to be able to muffle noise inside and outside so no one disturbed the others. And that, most definitely, was Death.
Adane’s fingers lingered over the coffin-shaped rune. It still held a whisper of power. Perhaps that was what had kept the Shiraida in all this time. The walls, weakened by time and lack of care, certainly hadn’t done it.
The deep-voiced comment startled Adane. He whirled, heart pounding, only to stiffen even further when he saw the neighborhood’s bane, Bahji the tax assessor, smiling brightly at the three of them with his plump hands folded over his full belly. Adane waved for Chisa to come to his side, pushing it behind him where the child would be safe.