book cover of Cognito Sum

Cognito Sum

(The first book in the Daughters of the Woods series)
A novel by

The tavern was about half full and there was no reason for this one table to have ten chairs and only one occupant. Except that she was sitting there. At her table. I say her table because she seemed to be the captain of her own little island nation, exiled and alone in an otherwise busy tavern. She didn’t look up until she heard my chair scrape the floor when I moved it so that I could sit down. I think it startled her. I know it did. It wasn’t that she wasn’t observant and didn’t see me coming, it was that I was unusually hard to see. And so was she. She wasn’t waiting for a company of friends. She ate alone. She drank alone. She wore a simple brown frock like a clerical monk might wear. It went from her neck to her ankles. Her head was wrapped in cloth the same color as the frock. None of her hair showed and neither did much of her face. All I could see was her chin and lips, the top half of her face was covered by a loose gauze the same color as the rest of her outfit. The other part of her that I could see was her hands. Her gloves sat on the table next to her mug. She didn’t pay attention to the gloves–but I did.
She said, “Go away. I’m not whoever you think I am. And I’m not looking for conversation or company. Find another place to sit.” She didn’t have any weapons that I could see. I knew she had them, but they weren’t where I could see them.
In a very steady low voice, a voice as hard to hear as the two of us were to see, I said, “I’ll leave when I’m ready. When you are ready, you can come with me.”
She snapped her head up and stared at my face. I couldn’t see her eyes but her mouth was surprised, defiant, and puzzled all at the same time.
I said, “I know what you are.”
In a voice that matched mine in both timber and sincerity, she said, “You may not live to push your chair from the table, let alone stand and walk away. Unless you go now.”

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