Gesula Forest, Lenyol
The rear of Tàvae and Kengar’s house was a dozen yards from the edge of Gesula Forest, and here Tàvae awaited her niece on a dapple gray mare. Both Tapa, the horse, and Tàvae were examining the forest as Kesia approached silently on Shann.
‘Boo!’ Kesia expelled, playfully; yet Tàvae shrieked, startling Tapa, who whinnied and threw her head, stepping backward while Tàvae attempted to soothe her.
__‘Sorry, sorry—it was just a joke—Tapa, it’s me, girl, Kesia. Sorry—sorry.’
__‘Shh, Tapa, we’re alright.’ Tàvae held the reigns fast in one hand, and patted Tapa’s mane with the other. She smiled at her niece. ‘Were I not so easily scared! But Shann simply drifts, does she not? I heard nothing of your coming.’
__There was something forced in the lightness of Tàvae’s manner, although Kesia knew not to inquire after it. ‘She just glides. She must be one of Mitchas’ finest.’ She rose her chin toward the trees. ‘Shall we?’
__And away they rode, sheltered from the continuing rain by the forest canopy.
__‘Ànlisia tells me you have purchased rooms in Alendae,’ Tàvae related after a few minutes’ silence.
__‘I have. By the river, two corner rooms on the ground level. The house belongs to a client; three others reside there also. I have had more work than expected and needed a space in the city.’
__‘Your work is receiving attention, according to Kengar.’
__Kesia blushed. ‘Perhaps. My altars sell well, particularly.’
__Tàvae nodded. They came upon the Stones; both women dismounted, trusting the mares to abide untethered, and entered the ring. Tàvae touched the stones as she passed through; they sat on the grass in the centre. There they relaxed a while, absorbing the sights and smells of the forest in spring.
__‘Show me something,’ Tàvae requested at length.
__Kesia thought for a moment, then touched the ground.
⁂ ↟ ‘Out of sunlight flowers dress ↟ ⁂
⁂ ↟ Bidden, unfold, with fine finesse.’ ↟ ⁂
__The tight grass ruffled, and gave way to an array of tiny ivory flowers.
__Tàvae laughed, clapping fingers to palm. ‘Very sweet.’ She held her hand over the display.
⁂ ☉ ‘What grows will glow ☉ ⁂
⁂ » And wind winnow.’ » ⁂
__The petals lit up, broke off, and sailed beyond the standing stones like dandelion seeds. They watched the petals carry their light into the forest until they slipped beyond sight.
__‘Kengar will ask for your time when he returns.’ Tàvae said suddenly, heavily, as though it had been at the fore of her thoughts all the while. ‘You may need to set aside your chisel.’
__Tàvae’s fading smile fell away. ‘Your uncle and I have had some difficult years. In due time, I may sojourn to my father’s house in Offenure. My work leads me to a path Kengar dislikes.’
__Kesia felt a rush of cold.
__‘When you are ready, Kengar may ask you to journey with him. And of course you will go, and work with those who aided your father. But while Kengar has absolute faith in them, you must keep your eyes open, and not let reason be swept aside; and take Toran with you, if you can. Young eyes see clearly. Help each other.’
__Kesia knew not what to say. She stared at the ground for a minute before looking over to the horses. They seemed unsettled—heads upright, ears oscillating. Tàvae noticed also.
__‘Remember that you are always safe in the Stones.’ Tàvae reached forward and touched Kesia’s arm to wrest her attention from the mares. ‘The Stones are a haven. And if I do head south, please write. Your mother has the address.’
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