This is mine, for the words lenity, cerement, yataghan and adamant. I meant to make it funny, in contrast to the stories that kept wanting to come out of swords and grave-wrappers. I think the words weighted it on me.
“Hey, Cash, what’s this say?” Anemone jabbed a finger at the metal placard on the broken case.
“Yataghan,” Cassius read, “a Turkish saber found in…”
“Cash! What’s this?”
Of the eight, Cassius was the only one whose parents had paid for his schooling at the Tower, and thus the only one who could read with any skill. This old building they’d found, half-buried under the rubble of another one, the gate buckled open just enough for a skinny teen, had him running all over the place, translating for his friends.
He jogged to the other side of the room, staring at the rotted linen Roma was yanking on. “Holies, Rom, don’t do that. That’s…” He peered at the plaque for the correct word. “That’s a gravecloth,” he temporized, “a cerement.” He braced for Roma’s helpful…
“It ain’t cement.”
“Cerement,” he repeated. “They wrapped it around the body. The dead body.”
“Oh!” Finally getting the point, the bigger boy dropped the length of cloth.
“Ca-a-sh!” That was Ona and Ursa in concert, the way they often were. They had no lenity in them, no forgiveness if they were ignored. He jogged down the buckled and cracked floor towards the twins, Roma following him, wiping his hands on his pants and asking questions.
“What is this place, Cash? Some sort of place like the Tower, a Library? What’s with all the broken glass?”
Cassius skidded to a halt by the girls, Roma stopping abruptly behind him. “No,” he said, ignoring the quaver in his voice and the doom his friends would bring down on him for arguing. “No.” He made his voice hard, adamant, even as he backed away from the artifact. “No, it’s…”
“Cash,” Ona snapped. “Read it for us!”
He didn’t need to. He recognized it from the books, from the ones in the room labeled “Never Again.” He didn’t think, here, in the open like this, it could hurt them. Then again, vandals had broken every other case, stolen anything of use, except this, still sealed in its glass.
“It says ‘death,’” he snapped.
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