Winter is only mildly present here, shown in the slightly cooler breezes and a greater propensity to rain. Today, however, is as clear as anyone could wish, though Quorra has not stirred far. Large and uncomfortable and very, very pregnant, she's sitting in a rocking chair inside the little cottage, staring gloomily out the window.
"Thirty-second for 'em?" Zdenka appears with cat-like tread, and drapes herself over the back of the chair, causing it to rock backwards a little, and then stall there. Rather than gloomy, Zdenka has spent the past couple of sevendays behaving like a caged animal, and caused no end of family arguments, which despite having been held in a different room away from Quorra, were no less vocal. "Still not taken up knittin'?"
"And give you one less thing to needle me about? I wouldn't dream of taking away the pleasure," Quorra retorts, folding her hands over her belly while tilting her head back to look up at Zdenka. "I'm not sure they're worth the thirty-second," she admits. "I keep waiting for a plan to come into my head, but all I can think about is how sharding uncomfortable I am."
"I'll just keep goin' at you with the knittin' needles all of myself, then," Zdenka leans forward a little more. "Heard a peep out of that no-good brother of yours? And you ought to be havin' your feet up. Let me fetch that stool." And she does so, letting go of the back of the chair with enough of a spring to set Quorra rocking again.
"Oh, thank you," Quorra is fervently grateful as she lifts her swollen ankles to the stool. "I know it's not much longer now, but I wish it'd hurry up and make up its mind to come /out/." She pauses, resettling herself in her chair as her idle hands tug and smooth the fabric of her shirt. "Not since the last. I haven't told him what happened. Didn't want to trust it to a message." And didn't want to admit to her own fallibility.
Zdenka leans back against the windowsill this time, obscuring Quorra's view, apparently unaware of this. "Probably doesn't want to, and I don't blame the bairn! Still," she adds with a critical eye, "I really don't think you can be gettin' any bigger!" She clicks her tongue. "Fat lot of good men are."
"You don't have to tell me," Quorra remarks, dryly. "I wouldn't be in this mess in the first place if it wasn't for a /man/," she says, with disgusted emphasis. "I know I can count on Qil, but I don't know what to ask him to /do/. Shards and /shells/. I'm sorry, Zdenka. You must be cursing you ever agreed to help at all."
"Takes two to tango," Zdenka says on a shrug. "And stop sayin' sorry. It's gettin' old. Though I'd give my eye-teeth to find how he just happened to run across us. It's not like we get visitors." She forces down a sigh. "But what's done is done and we can't be changin' it. In fact, I don't see as we need to change much. Fob that N'tan off with a payment or two, then one day - bang! Gone! You and the kid, at least," Zdenka adds. "Even if he sends the 'lizard after you then, he'll not be findin' you for a while unless you're standing next to a plaque marked 'Ista' when the thing blinks in."
"But if he found me /here/," Quorra frets, "what's to say he won't find the babe /there/? I'm not so much worried about me. Once I'm back at Ista, I'll be safe enough. And what's to stop him from coming back here?"
"He's wantin' money," Zdenka shrugs, yet again. "And he'll not find it here when you're not. Do you think he'd really take the child? I'm thinkin' not, if you were payin' him, a while at least. We could have enough people here to stop him takin' it, if'n we really were needin' to. And elsewhere - it's you he'd be findin', not the babe. He doesn't know my name, nor Kez-" And here Zdenka stops and trails off. "He's had one coincidence, he's not due any more."
"No, he'd not be wanting the child itself." Quorra rocks, her eyes thoughtful and far away. "So maybe if.." she begins, slowly, the beginnings of an idea just starting to germinate, "maybe if I carry on like I'm beaten, and then a few weeks after the baby comes, just when he's feeling smug, I'll have Qil come for us? Though I don't think he'll give up so easy. Not him."
Zdenka nods thoughtfully. "He can find /you/ all he likes, if there's no babe with you, there's not much he can be doing. And what can he do, without the child? Lull him into a false sense of security, you get to feelin' better, and then we'll be gone before he's ever noticed! And even if he finds you, he'll not find the babe. Though it'd mean," and here Zdenka frowns, "You'd have to be careful about visiting Kez, when you did."
"I've got to be careful anyway, haven't I?" Quorra says, reasonably. "Might be all to the better, if I've got a reminder of /why/." There's a subtle relaxation about her shoulders, a release of tension that has built and built since N'tan's last visit. She grins wickedly. "I'd give anything to see his face when he realizes we've beat him."
"I'm sure you'll get a chance," Zdenka says tartly. "He'll come chasin' straight after you. Once he's come here and not found you, that is." She grins far more easily than Quorra. "I think I might just knock around here to give him a good reception. Maybe even send him off on a wherry-chase, that'd be buyin' us some more time and all."
"Oh, won't you?" Quorra looks delighted, her grin widening. "Where'll you send him to? The Southern continent? If only you could manage to get him mauled by some of the beasts I've heard stories of, it would certainly fix all our troubles."
Zdenka claps her hands. "I can say with rumours of Thread comin', you'd decided to send the babe there. I can make up some non-existent relatives for you out in the jungles there. Or even ones of mine, but no less made-up for all that!" She laughs, "And then just hope!"
"And then when he comes back and can't find anything, I'll say oh, no, it was actually these /other/ relatives out in the middle of the jungle, and we'll give it another go!" Quorra suggests, playing right along. She laughs. "Unless you can think of a way to get /him/ eaten up by Thread."
"Got to get the Thread to be fallin' first," Zdenka makes light of that serious subject, "So you just keep inventin' relatives until it does turn up. And you'd give him some money at the start. Can't really see what he's got to be complainin' about, then."
"Details, details," Quorra dismisses the threat of Thread with a wave of her hand. "But I've got an inexhaustible supply of imaginary relatives. I think I can hold out 'til we can give him the slip. You'll give him hell for me when he turns up, won't you?"
"I should practice my archery," Zdenka muses. "Scare him off from a distance. But savin' that, I think I'd quite enjoy chewin' him out." She folds her arms. "I'll be practisin' my glowerin'. Now all you have to do," Zdenka adds, "Is pop out a healthy kid, lie to your father, and hope to blazes that Kez is back on her feet again soon."
"Well, if that's all!" Quorra exclaims, feigning exaggerated relief. She continues, more seriously, "I've never had trouble with lies, but Faranth only knows how the birth will go. And Kez has to get better." She says this fiercely, as if she won't allow it to be any other way.
Zdenka says firmly, "You'll be fine. You're healthy and well-rested, and my nan's seen that many bairns into the world, you're in good hands. It's just drivin' me crazy," Zdenka pushes her sleeves up above her elbows, "Not havin' a proper letter from her, and knowin' she's still that way, but -" Zdenka shakes her head. "Like as not I couldn't do much more for her if I was there. You needin' anything right now? It's probably gettin' towards time I fixed dinner."
Quorra makes a sympathetic grimace, but no more comment on either her or Kezia's health comes from her lips. "No, but if you'll bring me a bowl and a knife and anything that needs chopping, I might as well make myself useful. I bet this belly of mine's big enough we could balance a bowl right on it, you think?"
"Yeah. And then the babe'll go and pop out with big circular marks all over it. I'll bring you some things through, hold on just two ticks." So saying, Zdenka stuffs her hands in her pockets and ducks outside to see what she can rustle up from their small storeroom.