The Book of Transformations

The Book of Transformations by Mark Charan Newton

Book: The Book of Transformations by Mark Charan Newton Read Free Book Online
Authors: Mark Charan Newton
tin shacks and canvas houses and small pit fires that leaked paltry trails of smoke. Grubby and layered in rags, people bore expressionless faces, yet eyed her closely as she rode through their mass. Now and then she spotted people clothed in fine Jorsalir robes, handing out flatbreads. It was a haunting trek up to the gates.
    After passing through the high levels of security at the gates of the city, a task made effortless due to the fine faked documents produced by Cayce, there was a small administrative matter to attend to, where she had to collect her key from one of the sub-Council posts annexed to the Villjamur Inquisition, which merely required a number to be recited and money would be handed over.
    Is it really that easy to be reborn in Villjamur?
    She eventually strode back to her family’s old home, a large two-up, two-down on the fourth level of the city.
    Nostalgia washed over her as the lanes and crumpled granite facades ignited her memories. When she stood inside for the first time, smelling the musk of her dead parents, she immediately began the process of shredding all traces of her former existence – letters and deeds and heirlooms. The Caine family name was assiduously eradicated from Villjamur. Despite the fact that she had been left the property, despite clear evidence that her parents must still have possessed some love for her, for her own sanity she needed to purge the past. Like herself, she would have the house transformed. She had suspected that many of the rooms would hold bad memories for her, but she was relieved to discover that she had blocked much of her childhood from her mind. Memories were unreliable at the best of time, but over the years she had accepted what her parents felt towards her, accepted their hatred of who and what she was. As she let them go for the last time, she felt relief. Lan repeated to herself that people only ever feared and loathed anything that was different. Her transformation was nearing completion.
    Lan had been in Villjamur for twenty days since her operation on Ysla, and her body still hadn’t fully recovered from the procedures. Bruises had formed in surprising places, and she discovered internal aches in previously unknown regions. Just underneath her ribs, a small, knife-thin wound was noticeable, but aside from that there was very little in the way of actual scarring. She felt moments of acute weakness and dizzy spells and occasional nausea but, over time, they too diminished. By the twentieth day of her return, she was feeling well again.
    Ever so slowly, she was learning what it was like to be a woman in Villjamur. It was years since she had lived in the city, and there was a lot to get used to.
    Lan was now fully – anatomically – a woman. She possessed the same rights as a woman, and she would be treated by others like a woman. But the city, it seemed, was not constructed for the benefit of womankind. Doors were opened, quite literally, and that was rather lovely at first, but she became ultra-sensitive to further gestures from men. She did not feel especially pretty, but could feel their gazes. Looks from others were penetrating and loaded with new psychology, and other women seemed to judge her out-of-touch fashions. Whenever she spoke up in the iren, the traders would patronize her. She sought employment – she had enough money for the short term, but wanted to be out doing something, engaging with the world, and with enough wealth to live well. She wandered from street to street, up and down the levels for several days, exploring what work was available.
    The few job offers available were positions such as waitressing or making clothing. Guilds seemed to bar many female members, and she could hardly pursue a ‘career’ as housewife. If she really wanted she could have joined the military, who accepted women, but a life enduring extreme conditions at the fringes of the Empire wasn’t quite what she had in mind. Still, she had time on her

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