* A tale involving the “other” side of Miss Hermit. Feel free to comment *
I was strolling along the open areas today, pondering upon what Miss Hienrichs said about a western agent being retained by the Yakuza. My feet led me up to the place where windmills were built. I stood off to the side, watching the urchin Tepic struggling with a rather crude version. He turns about and sees me and proceeds to come over, obliviously needing a breather from such hard work.
“Good afternoon Master Tepic. Quite the piece of work you are building.”
“Afternoon Miss…… errrrr…. have you hurt yourself?”
I look down at my left hand. “Just a small cut. Miss Hienrichs was kind enough to bandage it for me.”
Tepic looks at the bandage and takes a sniff, “You should be careful of cuts, Miss, if’n you don’t keep em clean, they goes bad very quick in New Babbage.”
“I understand. That is why I had her do it. I only know battle dressings and not much more.”
The urchin looks up at me with a questioning face, “Battle dressings? A lady? Wow…”
“Remember Tepic, I have traveled much in my studies. Even ladies should know some useful skills for an emergency.”
“True, an I seen Myrtil an Clara fight… very nasty…”
“Yes, girls can fight dirty.” I smile softly, remembering the fight with Hiro.
“I ain’t seen you about much Miss, you been keeping alright?”
I sigh softly, “I might be in a spot of trouble. I have sent pigeons home asking for answers. Not all arrived however…very odd they usually are quite reliable.”
Tepic looks startled, “Errrrr…… sort of fat pigeon, might put down somewhere fer a rest after a long journey..?”
“They might. It is a long journey back to the Temple. I have known hawks to kill then as they travel.”
“Yeeessss…. hawks…. hmmmm……ummm….. would these ones have something tied to their legs..? The pigeons, not the hawks I mean.”
“Oh yes always Tepic. Mostly short messages of importance.”
Tepic squirms a bit more, “Importance…. ummmm…..”
“But those things happen and one can not question the Gods when it does Tepic. They choose which messages make it and which do not.” I add
“Errrrr…… some of these messages… they wouldn’t be on black bits of paper, with white writing on em, would they?”
Something doesn’t smell right in the canal here….”Why yes Tepic. I would certainly use black paper on a black bird. It hides the paper very well, wouldn’t you think so?”
Tepic manages to concentrate very hard on a piece of dirt at this point, “ummmm…….if someone were to have found one of ’em pigeons, and it accidentally sort of knocked it’s head, and well… would have been a waste not ter … well… errrrr….”
Time to set a trap here to get to the truth, “Tepic…did you baste it properly at least. Pigeon can be very dry if not.”
The urchin looks up quickly, “Oh no Miss! it wern’t dry at all! it were proper tasty… ooppss…errrr…. I think this might be yours, Miss…”
Tepic Harlequin retrieves a scrap of grubby black paper from deep in a pocket, and hands it over.
“Tepic…Yes or no, can you read Japanese?”
“errrr….. not very well, Miss…”
“How “not very well” Tepic?”
“Chinese is easier, cus the pictures look more like words. Ummmm….. not read any in a bit…. an the writing was very small an i didn’t know it was yours.”
I take the scroll and tuck it in my purse, “Tepic, you did not read it at all did you?” I tap the haft of the katana as a suggestion for the right answer.
Tepic, never a slow one when his life is in danger, quickly answers, “Oh no Miss! course I didn’t, that wouldn’t be proper, would it, reading other people’s letters?”
“Very well, I believe you. Just remember, I can play as dirty as the other girls. Your silence on this saves you.”
Tepic Harlequin gulps, “I can keep me mouth shut Miss, you can rely on that! I’m sorry I took your pigeon, Miss, but it’s been a hard winter, and I been having to share me voles with the cats.”
“I understand Tepic. No more pigeon bakes all right?”
“No Miss, I’m sorry Miss….. errrr….. if I can see they ain’t got nothing on their legs?”
“No. More. Pigeon. Bakes.” I firmly and slowly repeat.
“Alright Miss… there’s more voles about now the weather is better anyhow.”
“Tepic, if I have a bird die on me. I’ll let you know.”
I turn to leave the area when Tepic speaks up once again, “Errrrr….. you don’t use green paper do you, Miss?”
I smile at that question, “No, there isn’t a green pigeon silly kitsune.”
“Ummmm….. I mean green paper ter write your bird notes on..?”
“No. I use white, grey, or black depending on the bird. Why do you ask this question? You mean you have a note written on that color?”
Tepic Harlequin searches his pockets, “Got it here somewhere…..”
Tepic fishes a ragged and worn bit of green paper, barely legible characters on it,
“Found this a bit ago, Miss, maybe you can find who it belongs to?”
“Was it on a pigeon?”
“May I keep it?”
Tepic looks puzzled at that request, “The pigeon was dead when I found it Miss, under the Palisade Wall.”
“Oh, I meant the note Tepic.”
“Sure Miss, you may be able to find out whose it is. Us urchins find stuff all the time, people is right careless, you know.”
“Thank you for the note Tepic. Hope the bird was still fresh.”
“It made a nice stew, Miss.”
I start to walk back home stroking the green note between my fingers. It has to be a coded message from them, it just has to be. But what is the message….
Another part of New Babbage, on a rooftop with a pigeon roost…
She grabs the bird from the perch and snaps its’ neck and throws it over the roof ledge after seeing the green note attached to its leg. Let the vermin have the bird, she smiles, I have permission to kill.