She’s the One Who Doesn’t Say Much
( War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters, #4)
by S.R. Cronin
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Do you know what your problem is?
Olivine knows hers. This quiet thirteenth-century artist has been hiding a secret as she travels to K’ba to meet her friends. Others assume she’s fallen in love with another artist, but it’s much worse than that. For on the way to K’ba is the dirt poor nichna of Scrud, a place scorned by other Ilarians. And in Scrud is the one man who understands her.
However, Bohdan recognizes the dangers posed by an impending Mongol invasion. When he learns of Olivine’s unusual visual powers, he convinces her to pick up her bow and start practicing.
She does, though she’s more concerned with moving to K’ba where she can paint all day and see Bohdan whenever she wants. If only her sister hadn’t decided Olivine and her fellow long eyes held one key to defending the realm.
Then, as if life wasn’t complicated enough, Olivine learns the artist community she yearns to be part of has developed a different take on the invasion. They’re sure the only way to survive is to capitulate completely to the Mongols’ demands. Artists who feel otherwise are no longer welcome.
Where does her future lie? The invasion is coming soon and Olivine doesn’t have much time to decide.
The ank after I dropped my new creations off at the shop, I stopped in to see if they’d sold. All three of the paintings had gone for twice what I’d hoped, and the shopkeeper had taken orders for five more done in a similar style.
Zoya came with me that day to check on my sales. She knew how much I wanted to move to K’ba, and she knew why.
“How soon can you get me the five more?” the shopkeeper asked. “Wait. Let’s not do it that way. Make me five more and we’ll hang the best one, so more people will place orders. We’ll use two to fill existing orders, and then I’ll let customers place bids on the other two. I’m sure they’ll sell for more that way, now that you’re becoming fashionable. The others who ordered will understand; it can take time to get a painting from someone in demand.”
“It’s okay to do that?”
He laughed. “It’s better than okay. They’ll love telling everyone how they’re waiting for work from someone so popular. Trust me. You’re about to become the new darling of art collectors.” He hesitated. “You can keep making these, can’t you?”
I nodded. “Sure. People who place new orders can tell me the size they want and let me know if there are special colors or subjects they like. I only do plants and animals, but I’ll try to accommodate them.”
“Oh, that is going to be hugely popular. Can you get another artist to help you with these?”
“No.” It came out harsh, but really, this shopkeeper ought to know better. Making a painting wasn’t like making shoes, where more cobblers could up the production.
I tried to soften my response.
“I do have someone who carves the wooden edges for me, and he helps me apply the metallic paint to the wood. I’ll get him more involved, and that will speed things up a little.”
This seemed to be exactly the news he wanted to hear.
“A partner. How wonderful. My patrons will love learning that these beautiful creations are a collaboration between two ….” he gave me a sly smile “can I say between two lovers?”
I shrugged. I wasn’t anxious to have my work marketed that way, but people were such romantics. I’d probably sell more and at a higher price.
“You could say that.”
“Then I will.”
About the Author:
Sherrie Cronin is the author of a collection of six speculative fiction novels known as 46. Ascending and is now in the process of publishing a historical fantasy series called The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters. A quick look at the synopses of her books makes it obvious she is fascinated by people achieving the astonishing by developing abilities they barely knew they had.
She’s made a lot of stops along the way to writing these novels. She’s lived in seven cities, visited forty-six countries, and worked as a waitress, technical writer, and geophysicist. Now she answers a hot-line. Along the way, she’s lost several cats but acquired a husband who still loves her and three kids who’ve grown up just fine, both despite how odd she is.
All her life she has wanted to either tell these kinds of stories or be Chief Science Officer on the Starship Enterprise. She now lives and writes in the mountains of Western North Carolina, where she admits to occasionally checking her phone for a message from Captain Picard, just in case.
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