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Her mother demanded that Tyna never expose her true nature, and that she never enter Cygna, the land of witches. Now, her mother is dead and her sister has deserted her. To save her traderâ€™s caravan after disaster strikes, Tyna must break every prohibition. Once inside Cygnaâ€™s borders, Tyna learns it is the one place she could be her true self, but the cost will be her freedom and self will. Escape is impossible.
The flaming brand heavy in her hand, Tyna took two steps and thrust the short length of wood into the carefully built structure. Dry kindling quickly ignited. Like a replay of the life it consumed, the fire remained hesitant at first. Small nascent flames crawled in pale transparent lines along pine branches to suddenly crackle with the energy of young life. Air caught and twined the glowing currents in endless possibilities and eddies that eventually whipped into a crescendo of radiance, engulfing the pyre. She imagined she saw her mother writhing within, as she had before the fever claimed her. The image was so strong she nearly called out.
"Your mama is now at rest.â€ The cleric patted her arm and left.
At rest? Mama never rested. She caught herself up, hearing Naomiâ€™s curt reply to calling her 'Mama'. "I am Naomi, owner of a caravan and mother of two girls, but still myself. You will call me Naomi.â€ Her words backed her strong Kernite belief that the Holy One was everyoneâ€™s parent; his followers were all brothers and sisters, meant to work together but maintain independence. Tyna murmured an answer to her memory. "I am sorry, Naomi, but you will always be my Mama.â€
Nor would Naomi have approved of the funeral service, but no Kernites homesteaded in the surrounding area. At least the Holy Oneâ€™s words given by the cleric provided Tyna comfort.
Her workers spoke their condolences, then left for the caravanâ€™s campsite. Tyna remained. She watched the flames until the conflagration died and only embers remained. There would never be reconciliation with Kissre. She had sent messages, but her sister had neither come nor sent word. She should have been here, should have helped, should have made peace and said goodbye. Now her chance was gone. Death never waited on personal choice.
Jebe stood nearby. A man hired by her mother to lead and protect the caravan. Unreliable, stout, middle-aged Jebe, who needed frequent hygiene reminders and memory prods about lifeâ€™s niceties. He covets your caravan. She put the thought aside as inappropriate.
As the fire ebbed, Jebe urged her home. They walked along the icy riverbank to the painted and merchandise-festooned wagons of Naomiâ€™s trade caravan, grouped on the fringes of a small hamlet. Jebe helped her step onto the back door step of her wagon and waited while she lit the lamp hanging outside the door. He bid her goodnight. She watched him walk away.
Stepping into the wagon she looked around the interior. Fresh awareness of her loss brought tears denied during the funeral. Her motherâ€™s work gown hung next to hers. All their small necessities of dress and personal adornment intertwined within the small space. But Naomi was gone, and continuing the caravan fell to her. A gust of wind blew out the lamp. She closed the wagonâ€™s door. Sinking onto her narrow bed, she listened to the wind. Eventually rain poured over her wagon, drumming a soft, slushy rhythm on the roof, broken later by the hard rap of hail.
Rhobin lives and works in the Northern Michigan where she draws inspiration for her art and her scifi/fantasy stories.
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 320
Paper Weight (lb): 13.4
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