“Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life. Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.” –Thoreau

14 October 2009

Chapter one, done.

     Circumstance can sometimes transform familiar scenery. Priestess Enaya, the Baroness of Judive, sat in her parents’ kitchen and watched her work-worn mother brew chamomile tea. Deryn Sawyer looked calm as she arranged the food and set the worn tabletop, but Enaya knew it was mostly for show. Her mother grew shakier and shakier as their meal went along until her husband had to take the mug from her hands to prevent her from dropping it. Enaya’s brother Orsin covered a smile with his hand.
      The news of Enaya’s elevation to the peerage shocked Deryn and Becker Sawyer, and it was several days before they recovered enough to look their only daughter in the eye. There were questions, of course— what could little Ena Sawyer have done to garner such reward? Why would the King put such faith in a common child?— but it seemed to Enaya that her parents feared hearing the answers more than she feared giving them. Now the family prepared to travel to court and watch as Enaya’s title was made conspicuously public.
      After breaking their fast, the family changed into rich clothes crafted for the occasion. Enaya had considered sparing no expense, the newly-awarded wealth still a dangerous and enticing unknown, but her pragmatic father had reined in those fancies a bit. Gleaming in fine white lawn and brown silk, Becker Sawyer held himself with pride no noble draped in jewels could match. Enaya kissed her father’s cheek and took one arm while her mother took hold of the other. The whole party strolled out to meet the waiting coach, sent by the King to carry them to the Palace in style.
            On Midsummer’s day, the streets of Abriad City were wreathed in flower garlands which overlaid the rich, muddy smell of the streets with perfume. There was a persistent clamor of enterprise; birds and beasts squawking and howling while vendors shouted the nature of their wares and buyers argued down prices. Enaya’s toddling nephew, Myllar, raised chubby hands toward the sky as his father kept him from tumbling out the open carriage window. But Enaya wanted to break free too, to still the churning of her stomach by pounding bare feet against the soil. She took several deep breaths and closed her eyes against the tumult.
      The long wait to be formally introduced was torturous. They had been there nearly a candlemark when Enaya noticed Finngall of Shern and his younger brother, Lord Sandro, enter the antechamber. They were tall, blonde, and sleekly muscled, like a matched pair of regally dressed greyhounds. It had been nearly a moon since she’d last seen Finn and she fought the urge to call out to him from across the chamber. Finn smiled cautiously when he caught her eye and led his brother over to them.
      After introductions were made, Lord Sandro smiled warmly at Enaya’s parents, who looked nearly ready to faint.
      “Don’t you think the waiting is just awful?” He commented conspiratorially to Deryn Sawyer. She nodded hesitantly. “So much unnecessary waiting, especially when there’s honest work to be done.” He and the Sawyer men launched into a careful discussion of the weather, a serious subject for farmers and fishermen alike. It was clear that the lanky page had far greater ease with strangers than his self-conscious older brother.
      “How do you feel?” Finn asked Enaya in a low voice. “Are you nervous?”
      Enaya shook her head defiantly. “I’ve seen worse,” she replied. Finn chuckled unexpectedly and Enaya pushed away a suspicious fluttering in her chest. A rush of honesty spilled out of her. “I suppose I can’t be expected to feel prepared…”
      “No, I suppose not,” Finn interrupted. “But it’s just another grand adventure, Enaya.”
      “Grand is relative,” she responded, sighing.