Rain had swept over western Terra Draco during the past three years, providing relief to the drought. This spring was no different, and it was another wet morning when Kesia awoke dry-mouthed from her coming-of-age celebrations the previous evening.
__Entering the kitchen, she found her balance thrown by the wine, and steadied herself against the wall.
__Chuckles came at her from the table; there her aunt and mother sat with mugs of steaming tea and knowing smiles. Her mother pushed a mug toward Kesia, and an egg with toast. ‘Have these.’
Kesia groaned and complied.
__Once done, some colour restored to her cheeks, Tàvae announced that she had a gift to give. Kesia suddenly remembered Shann.
__‘Come, it is by the stables.’
__The three exited the house into the rain, soft and steady, and made their way to the humble stable at its rear where Shann patiently awaited her new mistress. There a waxed blanket concealed some large, lumpy object. ‘A gift for entering adulthood,’ Tàvae said.
__Kesia pulled the blanket aside, spilling the water it had collected, to reveal a beautifully crafted cart of spruce, trimmed subtly with gold. Kesia gaped as she examined the cart, Lenyolite iconography carved on all sides. Kesia’s carpentry apprenticeship had led her to building altars, and she spent countless hours each week carving similar images; her work was considered good, indeed excellent, and had earned her a reputation in the Alendae markets. The craftsmanship before her was beyond what she thought wood capable of yielding.
__‘The workmanship is—just—superb. Far above the skill of any I have encountered in my trade! Who fashioned this piece?’ Kesia looked up at her aunt. Tàvae looked pleased with Kesia’s reaction. ‘I must meet them…’ Kesia looked again, shaking her head at the detail. And then she remembered her manners—she stepped toward her aunt and embraced her tightly. ‘Thank you so much. I hardly want to drive it.’
__Tàvae laughed. ‘It will not be worn by use.’
__Kesia frowned questioningly and sought to find the joke in her aunt’s eye, but she was all enigma. And so Kesia turned her attention to the beautiful mare; their eyes met, and Kesia was suddenly desperate to ride her.
__‘Here, Kesia; saddle her up.’ Tàvae opened the stable door. Shann grunted happily and began to fidget in excitement. ‘I will ready Tapa; come to mine, and we will ride to the Stones.’