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Rhobin Lee Courtright
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The ancient witch Chloe bound four men, Aegis, and their descendants, to eternal duty protecting Kaereya from invasion. Generations later, only the superstitious believe in witches and Aegis magic.
Devastated by a callous and false suitor, Vesper accepts the clansman Drew Montoren's offer of handfast. Confused and full of self-doubt, dream visions plague Vesper. News of the royal family’s murder and rumors of imminent invasion come to the clansmen, tormenting Vesper with guilt, for this is the vision that haunts her. She swears to follow her visions and use them against the approaching evil.
The kitchen’s warmth soothed the chill felt from the dining room. It’s cozy atmosphere brought an unspoken relief. Eudora and Freda were putting the finishing touches on the family’s dessert and looked up in unison as she entered. Vesper lowered her eyes. "Hayden has asked for Freda to finish serving," she said not looking up from the floor. Freda huffed and groaned before she left with the desserts. A quick side-glance caught the rebuking glance Freda threw her way.
"What happened?" Eudora asked.
Vesper looked at her foster mother to judge her temper. "I spilled the wine. Some stained Dame Winnifred’s sleeve."
Eudora stood calmly cleaning up the worktable. Her strong features seemed neither upset nor harried as the soft brown eyes regarded Vesper. A simple embroidered white cap framed her oval face with its beaked nose and high slashing brows, and hid the black and silver hair braided and coiled beneath it. "Is there a mess to clean up?"
"No, Dame Winifred wiped it up with her napkin."
"Were you careless around the mistress?"
"Yes," Vesper said. It was useless to suggest her arm was nudged. She sighed. "The mistress’s talk put me in a trance, by the time I heard her request, she had to repeat it. I hurried, that is all. I am sorry, Eudora."
"Sit and eat your own dinner."
"I’ll help you clean up, then we can sit together," Vesper offered, guilt stricken for the lack of a reprimand.
Eudora nodded and placed the plates in the warmer. "Freda eats with us tonight as with the full moon and harvest, Marwyn will be late from the fields. You need to stay focused, Vesper."
"I know. It’s hard. They talk of nothing, except maybe meanness. Not like you and I talk about all manner of interesting things in the evening. It was boring and I was thinking of something else."
"You were daydreaming. You should make no judgments, Vesper. Can’t you feel the unhappiness in this house? The mistress is deserving of your sympathy."
"Dame Winifred?" Vesper scoffed. "She has everything she wants."
"No, Vesper. Not everything. Some treasures can never be gained without the loss of another."
There was no answer for that and Vesper mindlessly helped her aunt until Freda finished. Before they sat, each washed her hands in a special basin for that purpose, then Eudora held a pitcher of warm scented water and poured it over their hands. Freda sniffed at Eudora’s required mealtime ritual and Vesper hid her smile as she wiped her hands on a linen towel. Closing her eyes, she smelled her palms and enjoyed the lingering scent of rosemary and lavender. The smell reminded her of Eudora’s tales of life in the south. Freda’s voice called her wandering attention back to the Kellsie kitchen. The washing-ritual always reminded her of Eudora’s home, made her seem less familiar and more exotic. Freda placed their plates before them, and after a few simple words of grace, they sat down.
"Do you miss Kennetsure?" Vesper asked.
Stopped mid-chew, Eudora slowly finished her bite before speaking. "Sometimes. Why do you ask?"
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: 418
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