Wisdom is the Reward of a Lifetime of Listening

Tyves 6, 1015

Tuesdays were the days he went fishing with Wulf. Even with everything that had happened in the past few days, Edmond had determined that he would keep his implicit promise to Wulf. If there was anything he had learned in nearly fifty-eight years of living, it was that life went on, whether you wanted it to or not. It was better to go with the inevitable ebb and flow than to try to swim against the current.

And more than that … it felt good to have a bit of normalcy breathed back into his life.

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These Times Together

Endskel 25, 1014

Erin could feel Anja hovering behind her, like a curious butterfly or one of those guardian angels folks were always nattering on about. “Are ye sure I can’t be helpin’ ye?”

“Ye’re helpin’ me plenty, Anja, jest by keepin’ me company,” Erin demurred. “Besides, ye brought the salad along. That’s plenty helpful.”

“But ye’re makin’ the main course an’ ye made dessert,” Anja replied. “An’ ye’re hostin’ all o’ us … feels like we’re barely doin’ our part, it does.”

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In Short, Our Pal is Doomed

Author’s note: Before anyone goes panicking over the title, (re)familiarize yourself with this.

Radenth 5, 1014

“An’ this,” said Torben, bending to pick up the wriggling puppy, “is Yvanette.”

“Yvanette?” asked Wulf. “Hi, puppy!” He scratched her behind the ears, and Yvanette yipped, her tail wagging. “How come ye called her Yvanette?”

“I dunno. It were Anja’s turn ter name the pups.” He rubbed Yvanette’s tummy. “She said that Eldaron an’ Yvanette were the best names fer Rona’s pups that she could think of … so that’s why we named ’em that. But Erich says it don’t matter. Whatever nobles we sell ’em ter are jest gonna name ’em somethin’ different.”

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Paying it Forward

Lenona 25, 1014

The gifts had been a hit. Lynn felt herself begin to relax, although, really, she didn’t know why she had been so tense. If there was any self-appointed “Crown Princess” mission that was likely to go over well, surely it was delivering toys to orphans.

The girls were sprawled on the floor, some devoting themselves to the dolls, others to the wooden horses, and one little girl with adorable brown pigtails hugging a stuffed bear like she would never let it go. Watching her with that bear reminded Lynn of her own childhood, when she had a bear her mother had made for her when she was just a baby. That bear, whom Lynn had imaginatively called “Bear,” had been her constant companion until she started her schooling, and it had a place of pride in her bedroom until she went to Camford. Now it was on a shelf in Elise’s nursery, too fragile for a three-year-old to put it through its paces, but in good enough condition to keep watch.

Her eyes still on the little girl with the bear, Lynn decided that she would devote some of her charity budget to giving every orphan a stuffed bear when he or she entered the orphanage. She would have to discuss strategy with Garnet as soon as the latter had a minute.

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Summer Sun, Something’s Begun

Hybel 6, 1014

Anja should have known that she’d be edging closer and closer to George Wylde the moment she caught a glimpse of his bright red mop-top.

She shouldn’t have even been at the market. Well, maybe that was the wrong way of putting it. There was no school this month — they called it the Agnestide break — and her family certainly did need eggs and fresh-ground flour. Plus Gretchen would probably be outgrowing her smock soon, and while Anja’s mother had managed to make almost all the family’s cloth herself, Anja just couldn’t find enough hours in the day. So there were plenty of reasons to go to the market. But Erich could have done it just as well, and Anja could have worked the whole day in Sir Mordred’s fields. She could be earning money this break, not just spending it.

But whenever Anja — or anyone, really — showed up for more work, Master Barber scowled when they showed up and scowled more when he handed out the wages. Her father said she didn’t have to deal with that every day if she didn’t want to. And he wanted to use the Agnestide break getting the boys into the forests and learning their trade. So maybe …

Maybe it wasn’t so bad that she was here.

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Rekindle the Inner Spirit

Darid 4, 1014

“ARGH!” called Torben. He clutched his heart and stumbled back. “Ye got me, Wulf! I’m dyin’!”

Wulf pretended to put his bow away. “That’s what outlaws like ye ought ter get, Torben the Terrible!”

Torben, meanwhile, fell to his knees, hands still folded over his heart. “This is it! I can see the light! Argh …

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Your Heart Walking Around Outside Your Body

Hybel 11, 1013

“Well, Wulfie,” Erin began, “let’s see, what do we have ter get terday? I need eggs, an’ bread, an’ — oh, perhaps a new bolt o’ cloth fer yer shirt …”

She’d barely started on the litany, and Wulf’s eyes were beginning to glaze over already. Part of Erin couldn’t blame him. She’d been much the same way at six: a ball of energy and liveliness that didn’t want to sit still and be quiet. Trips to the market were always a horror at that age. It would have been one thing if she had been allowed to run around and shout a bit, like her brothers, but girls were supposed to stand still and be quiet, lest everyone in the village think Greta Shepherd was raising a little hoyden. And oh, what a long time her mother would take, hesitating over the apples or waffling over a dozen practically identical loaves! At least Erin didn’t subject Wulf to that, since she herself hadn’t the patience to take that long.

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