He was a thing of time and stone, and quick wits simply confused him. His natural expression was to look down at the world as if it was lying to him and he would dedicate the next week to sorting out the pieces of the trick. His mouth stayed in a straight line and his jaw was almost too relaxed, while his eyebrows came down as low as they could. Looking up at his carved stone features, Brance expected him to blink in the next moment. He never did.
Brance wondered, from time to time, why someone had carved a statue of a muscular idiot. Late at night, wandering past it on the paved paths between one nowhere and another, he had asked it. The statue just looked at him, head leaned forward and seemed to pick through his words to figure out if any of them had been an insult. Brance almost felt badly, but didn’t have the heart to clarify it for him.
“Did you swallow something?” Brance asked him. He touched his own throat to demonstrate, just in case. “A fly? If you need to cough it up, I won’t call you out for being rude.”
The statue wasn’t sure what he was talking about.
“Not a fly?” Brance asked. “Just not sure what you just ate? You can’t spit that back out. Your hostess spent time a lot of time on the menu, sir.”
The statue stared at him. It at least wanted to figure him out.
Brance chuckled to himself. “All right,” he said. “Not something you ate. You, know, it’s all right. I can’t do equations in my head either.”
The statue was curious about these equations, in a deeply suspicious way.
Not for the first time, Brance glanced idly around the stone pedestal under its feet, looking for an inscription. Its expression might make sense if it had been modeled after a lord or hero, if it was a commentary on someone. He had never found anything more telling than the artist’s mark, and no one he knew called the statue by any name. Brance looked again, but wasn’t disappointed when he didn’t see anything new.
Brance met the statue’s eye again, and shook his head.
“Honestly, friend,” Brance said with a smile. He put his hands in his pockets and hunched his shoulders, half shrugging, half warding against the midnight chill. “I think you deal with me better than most.”