Just because I’m feeling a little blue today, I’ve decided to share an excerpt from Book 2 of my Keepers of the Wellsprings series. In this scene, Tib has been taken in by the kind graces of Lady Nessa Ganvent. Nessa is a merchant’s daughter who is married to the Admiral of Cerion’s royal fleet. To keep from getting too lonely while her husband is away, Nessa has a habit of taking in stray children and helping them to make better loves for themselves. Here, they’re getting to know Tib, a stray Sunteri boy, a little better.
“It’s time Tib figures out what he wants to work towards, if he’s keen to stay,” Nessa says. She bounces baby Garsi on her knee while Emme clings to her arm.
“Well, he can’t do swords like Saesa and Raefe and me,” Ruben pipes up through a mouthful. “He’s too skinny.”
“I was weak when I started. Hub helped me get stronger.” Saesa argues.
“Master Hubvenchlis, Saesa.” Nessa corrects her.
“Master Hubvenchlis,” Saesa repeats apologetically.
“What is it you like to do, Tib?” Nessa catches a bit of drool with a lace-trimmed serviette as Garsi gums a crust of bread.
“Climbing,” I say. Right away I realize that I shouldn’t have. It might connect me to the towers.
Nessa makes a suggestion that I don’t hear. Everyone watches me, waiting for me to answer.
Yes, say magic. No, I don’t want to. I despise magic. Mages, Sorcerers, I don’t want anything to do with them.
“Tib?” Saesa whispers. Nudges me. Everyone’s looking.
“Magic,” I say reluctantly. Most of the eyebrows around the table go up. Lilen is the first to break the silence.
“No offense,” she says, “but you really don’t seem bright enough.”
“Lilen!” Maisie scolds. “Just because you start off saying ‘no offense’ doesn’t make it all right to insult someone.”
“Well anyway, he’s too old. Mages start at six, like I did.”
“How old are you, anyway?” Ruben asks me as he dunks his bread and pulls out a long, stretchy string of cheese from the pot.
“I don’t know,” I say, shrugging.
“You don’t know?” Lilen asks with disbelief.
“You must be around my age. Twelve.” Saesa says.
“Nobody ever kept track.” I mumble.
“Didn’t you have birthdays?” Emme asks, wide-eyed.
“Not really.” I look around at them and then down at my fine plate. They have no idea. “In the fields, we work. We work every day, all day. We work and we sleep. Picking, hauling, pulling, dumping. It never stops. You’re too tired for anything but bread and sleep. We don’t play. We don’t dance or celebrate birthdays. We work. We sleep.” I pluck at my shirt. “So you can wear your red.”
The room falls into awkward silence. Finally, Rube speaks up.
“Well, do you have hair yet?” he asks. Nessa covers her laugh.
“Ruben!” Maisie gasps. “Where did you hear that?”
“Raefe,” Ruben leans across the table. “He says you get hair on your chest when you’re thirteen. I’m going to have a beard. If you don’t have any, you’re probably twelve. Do you?”
I shake my head.
Nessa clears her throat, still quite amused. “I’ll see if I can set up an interview for you, Tib, if you’re certain,” she says. “Studying at the Academy is a hefty expense, but Master Rendin and I have an agreement. If you’re serious and he deems you suitable, I’m sure we can work something out.”
Like it? Read more in Call of Sunteri for just $2.99 on Amazon.com! and leave a message for me here in the comments. 🙂