Contributed by Larissa Peltier
The air was sweet with spring. Next to the cottage was a building that housed Riven’s carpentry tools. It was his woodworking shop where he built everything his family needed - the house, the horse stable and the furniture in their home. Nearby was a rough log cabin. It was the first shelter he built when he and Beija chanced upon the clearing in their youth. With a natural stone foundation and a creek nearby, it was the perfect place for the new couple to build their home.
Riven entered his shop and sat down on a bench. He thought about Beija and the girls and how much he loved them. But Beija was unhappy. What could he do? The thought of moving to a city was immediately dismissed. Lindane was home; this valley of peace and bird song was home. He could not bring himself to raise his children anywhere but here. How could he make his wife understand that? She had such a strong will. It was nearly impossible to make her listen when her mind was made up. And she had made up her mind that he had trapped her in this valley. Riven covered his face with his hands and groaned. He sat up straight. If he could not make his wife happy, then he would make his children happy and maybe their joy would reach Beija’s heart as well. He picked up a plank of soft pine, measuring it with a carpenter’s creative eye. Then he got to work.
Karice woke up to the sparrow’s cadence at dawn. The wind carried the scent of alder sap in through her open window. She sprung out of bed and ran into the kitchen to begin her day. There, next to the hearth, was a rocking horse. She yelped for joy and jumped on it. Her exuberance was only slightly dimmed by the absence of her father. Her mother said he left for the city of Avle to buy her another pony.
Karice spent the whole morning rocking on her horse. She prattled happily to her mother about horses and ponies, but Beija was not listening. Finally, tired of hearing Karice’s piping questions about riding ponies, Beija told her to begin her chores. Karice got off her rocking horse and did as she was told, but hummed contently to herself as she did so. At 6 years old, Karice was already managing the household by herself while her mother busied herself with herbs and brews. As Beija’s interest in botany grew, the little girl took over the neglected duties of the house. She dusted and put away scattered implements back in place and was even learning how to cook whole meals by herself. Beira no longer bothered herself with housework. Instead, she would leave for the whole day scouring woods and fields for new plants and then come home as the sun set to go to her writing table and document them in her journals. Today, Beija had taken to her journals early and simmered a new concoction that was so pungent, it could only be for another enchantment.
Beija bent over and ladled out a spoonful of amber liquid. “Come here Icene.” she beckoned to the toddler.
Karice looked up from her sewing as her little sister crawled to their mother. She got up and went after the baby, picking her up before Icene reached their mother. “Mama, what do you need her for? I can get you what you want.” she said, holding Icene on her slim hip.
“No Karice, put her down. I don’t need anything.”
Karice continued holding the baby. “Then what do you need Icene for? She’s not supposed to go by the fire.”
“Do as you’re told Karice, I’m your mother. Now put her down or bring her to me."