“The runes themselves have inherent meanings, too.” Faye turns back to the drawing in the book. The cuff of her sweater has begun to unravel, the piece of yarn an even squiggle of not brown, but many multicolored fibers spun together. “They aren’t just letters with sounds.”
“The way a Chinese character for strife is a house with two women in it?” my brother asks. He reaches for the book again, and I smack his wrist away.
“That’s not quite true, actually. Though there are characters that do have specific connotations.” She smiles at him, a wide grin, shocking on such a little face. My brother blinks, and his teeth click together. He’s not used to being told he’s wrong. “It’s more like comparing “jingle” and “jangle.” Both are basically the same word, but the “i” makes it a happy word, and the “a” a discordant one.”
“So when translating this stuff, you know that words can mean just by the letters alone?” Ethan’s face has lost his usual scowl.
“Yes. Exactly. See, look here.” She points to a word. “There are a lot of ways you could write the word “death”, but whomever carved this used the runes hagalaz and nauthiz.”
“So what does that mean?” I ask Faye.
“Well, I don’t think the woman named Kaunan died of natural causes. This infers that she was killed.”