Kengar returned at last. Seeking his wife, he came to Kesia’s house. Kesia listened as Ànlisia explained feebly that Tàvae had departed the previous day with Mitchas, perhaps to Offenure—or Alendae, it was so rushed—on some unknown yet urgent business. Yes, they had used Mitchas’ horses. No, they had not given a return date. Yes, Tàvae was fine. No, she hadn’t appeared anxious. She had merely asked for some things to stock her herb-purse. Would he like some tea? Not to worry, Mitchas would surely return soon, and have better information.
Kesia knew her mother, and was surprised her uncle bought the false gaiety. Whatever had transpired in Tàvae’s departure, it had been serious and distressing. Ànlisia’s insistence that it had been otherwise was strange. Yet Kesia decided to aid her mother’s flailing excuses, and entered the kitchen from her bedroom.
__Kengar eased his searching expression, and smiled at his niece. ‘Kesia. Good morning. I was just asking your mother about Tàvae.’
__Kesia planted a kiss on her uncle’s cheek. ‘She’ll be back. Tea?’
__ Kesia went to the hearth. ‘Are you here for long?’
__‘Actually, yes. I have been temporarily relieved of my duties.’
__ Kesia stopped fitting the kettle. ‘You plan to stay?’
__‘I don’t suppose you know anyone seeking a tutor in weaving?’
Kengar sat on the leaves beneath the oak in his yard, two shivering young women seated opposite. The clouds were high, and the sun yet to rise. He leant forward and held his hands against the damp earth, indicating the others do the same.
__‘This is a useful technique for cold mornings such as these,’ he told his shaking pupils. ‘I want you to draw fire from deep in the earth.’
__Kesia and Mellena pressed their hands firmly against the soil; soon a flicker of red energy rose from the ground—and seeped away within moments.
__‘Ah,’ said Kengar, sparking their attention, ‘I gave poor instructions. Concentrate on drawing the energy to rest before you.’
__They resumed their concentration; shortly, a small shape – like an echo of burning coals – glistened before them and did not disintegrate.
__‘An excellent first attempt,’ commended Kengar. ‘Again.’
__ Kesia reached over and took Mellena’s palms. They pressed their sandwiched hands down and focused. Energy like a cluster of flames shimmered between them and Kengar, radiating warmth. They smiled proudly at their tutor, shuffling closer to the heat.
__ Kengar’s eyebrows were raised. ‘Very clever, Kesia.’
__She smirked, humbly.
__‘Now your fingers are thawed, would you like to learn to repel small objects?’
__Their attention had returned to the fire they had drawn.
__Kengar tossed an acorn at Kesia’s head.
__‘I said would you like to learn to repel small objects?’