02. Deeds Without Drums

The University.

Students sat circled around her on a sun-dappled knoll. A great old oak stretched its branches over them and spread its roots through the soil below them. She was small and round, old and brown, with fully grey hair. Her hands wove words in the air, and all were rapt.

«And so it is poets whom warriors should fear, and not violent battlefield ends, for their eternal fates lie with us, who would write the unjust and cowardly into hell,» hand-signed she, Perminder Kwensie, her lined face defiant and proud. Every sign was broad, clear, punctuated and enunciated so there could be no mistake of her meaning.

«In the end,» she continued grandly, «words — gestured, written, whispered — are immortal, as long as poets care.»

Professor Kwensie was important at the university and a laureate of Malanastre.

“Professor!” Spandrel Darrow spoke up, a shining star with orange hair and freckled skin. She waved for permission. The Professor nodded.

“Um,” Spandrel, and her hands moved slowly and her brow knit with the effort: «But dead warriors are dead — how can they worry about something they’ll never know?»

«A great deed is meant to be remembered, and that’s what nobles and generals live and die for: legacy. A thing can only be great, or so they believe, if it is remembered. And poets — well, we remember.»

She winked.

«And that’s all for today. Go!» Perminder shooed them away. «Go and be memorable.»

The class broke up and and left the knoll, but not the young Spandrel who sprang forward.


«More questions. You think with your mouth, I reckon!» Perminder had to laugh, and pointed at Spandrel’s face, which had stopped in its tracks.

She relented. «Oh, it’s fine, little sparrow. What is it?» she signed, expression patient.

“I just don’t understand, um — ,” she said, then bit her lip to hand-sign. «Are there no selfless deeds?»

Perminder nodded yes. Of course there were. «But they’re done without drums.»

This story is part of the ongoing web serial, Malanastre. This series will incorporate scenes, historical and cultural bits, and illustrations. To learn more about the series and see an archive of past entries, see the Malanastre master post. To stay updated with the latest entries, follow me on Medium or Twitter.

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