Chapter One, Scene Three (Part One)

“I’d have beat your ass too,” Eelyx laughed between mouthfuls of fried crab noodles. Sylith had invited both of his friends over for dinner. His mother, Neelath, and his father, Duaan, had decided to go for an evening stroll after dinner. Sylith had prepared their meal as a way to curry favor with his parents after that little scene in the market. It wasn’t even a big deal and Sylith was a man fully grown! True, he did live with his parents, but there was nothing for that. There was no shame in it. There were plenty of young adults in Ma’Bagi that still lived with their parents.

One day, Sylith would build his own home and revel in the independence that came with it. The only problem was that it was not customary to leave your parent’s home until you were married, no matter your gender. It made sense. There weren’t enough resources on their little island to warrant that many homes. They could have imported the lumber or the stone, but that was costly and impractical. There was also that secret hope that Sylith wouldn’t live out the rest of his days on Ma’Bagi… That was a foolish hope on his part. It would never happen. Twin-spirits were not permitted to leave, and he was considered a Twin-spirit; so were Eelyx and Abrex.

“Oh, do come off it, Lyx,” Sylith said with a roll of his eyes. He busied himself as his friends ate. The kitchen would not clean its self and his mother had made it very clear that the house was to be spotless upon her return. Sy would not risk incurring her wrath a second time in one day. Scrubbing at the cast iron pan, Sy went on, “You’ve done way worse yourself, Lyx. Need I remind you of the itch-worms you snuck into your sister’s bedding? I’ve never seen you howl so much! Ma’Kaan sure had a field day whipping you from here to Rathvee.” It was his turn to laugh at that; Abrex even started to quip. Eelyx’s eyes shot daggers at Sylith.

“Don’t call him that. He doesn’t deserve a title of respect,” Eelyx grumbled.

“He has passed his training in Bibliomancy, done many a service to the clans; I think your father is well deserving of the title ‘Ma,’ Lyx,” Sylith shot back instantly.

Abrex nodded, “You really shouldn’t be so hard on Father, Lyx. He’s only hard on you because he cares.”

“Bah!” Eelyx spat as he shoved his plate away, “I’ve lost my appetite…”

Sylith noted that Eelyx had already finished his second helping. The boy could eat. Sylith rushed over, emptying the last of the fried noodles onto Eelyx’s plate. “Eat. Don’t give me that look. I know you want it. You can feign hatred for your father all you want, but we both know that you love this dish; AND him. You wouldn’t be so good with that staff of yours if he wasn’t drilling you day in and day out.”

Eelyx stared at Sylith with a begrudging look. He didn’t say anything at all when he reached for the plate and attacked the food with gusto. It was empty again within seconds.

Abrex took the moment to change the subject, “So, Sy! Is your sister excited about her Pilgrimage? Avaaz sure is. Did you hear that she’s going to Shu Muqi as well? I can’t say I’m surprised… Sometimes I think our sisters get along better than we do sometimes.” Abrex giggled at that, he didn’t mean it of course. Everyone in Ma’Bagi knew that there were no better friends than Sylith, Abrex, and Eelyx. He wasn’t far off in his estimation, though. Seraph and Avaaz were only a year apart in age and they had grown up just as closely as the boys had.

“Oh, I’ve heard Avaaz go on at length about her plans. Honestly, between those two girls, there’s enough ambition to unite the Domzi clans under one chief! Knowing Ma’Rosi, she’ll still be Keeper when our sisters’ grandchildren are leaving on Pilgrimage. I swear, that woman is indestructible. I can’t believe she taught our parents. I’ve told my Mom about our lessons and she says they sound exactly the same as when she was learning Bibliomancy as a girl…” Sylith said to the pair as he took Eelyx’s empty plate. Within moments it was cleaned and the dining table was spotless. He brought out a bottle of wine and a box of giggle weed before returning to the table.

 

~

 

Stay tuned for part two coming at you tomorrow night!

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Chapter One, Scene Two (cont.)

This scene was previously unfinished. Here is the last few paragraphs of ch. 1, sc. 2.

Read the rest of scene 2 here

 

~

 

Sylith would rather not remember that. It had been one of the only times in his life that Ma’Rosi had punished him; save for when he was a child. She wasn’t a mean woman, quite the opposite, but when you angered her… Light, help you.

“Of course, Ser; you are right. The Caravans limit us, though! We only have so many to go around and the leaders of our Clans have laid down the law quite firmly. The Caravans are only to be used for Pilgrimage. They maintain their seclusionist policies, citing ancient history as the cause for the law. That all happened hundreds of years ago! What is the purpose now? The old kingdom is dead and so are our ‘enemies’! You know, part of me doesn’t even believe the old stories of Mara, Pratha, and Annan. Goddesses waging a planetary war… If there were Divine beings meddling in our world, especially waging a war against one another, do you really think there would be a world for us to live on? No. Abrex agrees with me. Eelyx doesn’t, but he doesn’t know shit about our history,” Sylith was about to go on, but his mother heard the curse word and spun on her heal.

“Sylith Ja’Sangzet, what did you just say!?” she called out with a stern look on her face.

Sylith sputtered and stuttered, looking to his sister for help, but she was already yards away from him. Seraph was busy inspecting the wares of another merchant, doing her best to look innocent and ignorant; not that she had any money of her own to spend. Sylith caught her watching out of the corner of her eye, and sly smirk widening slowly.

“I… Uh…” Sylith mumbled under his mother’s stern eye. There was only one thing left to do.

He spun around and ran back to the village, towards his home. Neelath was left in the dust calling after him. True, Sylith still lived with his parents and he would certainly catch an earful for the swearing and then the running, but he’d rather not get admonished in public. His mother had quite the temper when you pushed her in the wrong direction, and swearing was always the wrong direction in Neelath’s eyes.

Map of Mahima

The following are a few maps that I had made for the Mahima Islands, the location where our 3 heroes are from. These maps are now outdated, as I have changed the entire layout of the islands and their geography. I will post the new ones as soon as they are done, but I still wanted to share these just to give you all a general idea of the different locations on the island (again, the placement is no longer accurate and there are more than a few islands in the chain, unlike these older maps.)

Chapter One, Scene Two

(this scene was incomplete, Chapter One, Scene Two (cont.))

“Of course, Neelath! Of course! Anything you need. My wife thanks you, as do I. We do not know what we would do without your cooking. Truly. It is remarkable! Who knew that one woman could feed so many people?” Wohad went on gushing to Sylith’s mother, Neelath. Wohad was her chief supplier of the cured meats so commonly used in her bakery. Many of their neighbors had soured when he had had to turn their business away; most of his product went to Neelath. Once those same neighbors discovered what Neelath was doing with the cured meats… Well, those frowns had turned the other way.

Neelath was a hand shorter than Sylith, but they looked much the same. Oval-faced, wide blue eyes, full-bodied lips, and a strong nose to balance it all. Long, wavy brown hair spilled over her shoulders and tumbled down her back. Neelath wore a prath-cloth wrap of deep blues and aquamarine, the thread of gold woven in elaborate designs at the hems. It was a gorgeous dress, all the more impressive when one considered the fact that you had to actually picture what you wanted your wrap to look like while you were putting it all on.

Sylith loved his own prath-cloth. It was one of the many wonders of Bibliomancy. The process of creating the cloth was not very complicated, not if you had more than a rudimentary understanding of Bibliomancy. Once the appropriate charms were worked over a bolt of cloth, the wearer only need wrap it around their person and hold an image of what they wanted their clothing to look like. The prath-cloth would then shape and change it’s self accordingly. The cloth itself did not need to remain in a wrapped fashion on its wearer, but that was the fashion in Ma’Bagi.

Today, Sylith had formed his own prath-cloth into a traditional wrap; it was wound around his torso three times before being draped lightly across the right shoulder. The top layer of his wrap was a deep shade of maroon, while the underlayers were varying shades of teal. Leather sandals dyed in a deep shade of mahogany protected his feet from the dirt of the road, and a gold woven belt sat upon his hips completing the ensemble. He had been very proud of it all.

Neelath proffered a sack of coins to Wohad, who took it discreetly into his own wrap. His smiles grew wider and he took both of Neelath’s hands into a generous shaking of hands, even kissing the tops of them twice. Neelath was just as gracious in her own manner, thanking Wohad in turn and assuring that her bakery would be nothing without him. Her voice was all sugary sweetness, enough to give one a toothache. That was Neelath’s way. She did not believe in an unkind word or gesture unless it was warranted. Sylith’s mother was easily one of the most well-liked people in all of the Domzi clans.

“C’mon, mom! We’ve got to get my Pilgrimage supplies still!” Seraph said urgently as she tugged at Neelath’s wrap. Seraph, Sylith’s younger sister, was much too old to be acting so childish in public. Wohad was very polite about the entire scene by ignoring it completely and offering Seraph nothing by smiles and sweetness in return. Sylith really liked Wohad; but, really, there weren’t many in the village he didn’t care for.

“Of course, Ser, of course. I am so sorry, Wohad, but we do have other errands to attend to today,” Neelath said to the merchant.

“Surely. It is of no bother, Neelath,” Wohad said before turning to Seraph, “Good luck on your journey, young one. I pray that you find much of value for yourself and for the clans.”

“Thank you, Wohad. I’m planning on going to Shu Muqi! I know everyone goes there, but they have the largest library in the world! The Royal Library of Shu is my first stop on the road. I can’t wait to get my hands on some ancient tomes! Just think of the things they hold! Why I think I might discover enough to come back and be Keeper of the Clans myself!” Seraph said, bringing her fists to her hips in satisfaction.

Wohad chuckled and nodded to Seraph, “Of course, child. We would be lucky if that were so! Do us proud, young one!”

The trio left Wohad’s shop amidst smiles and well wishes. Not many merchants had actual shops in the Market, most just had stalls propped up against houses, but Wohad made enough revenue to set up a permanent site for his business. Wives, Sailors, and children scurried along down the dirt road that was the Market. Past the shops were the stalls, and past that was the Harbor. From what Sylith had read of other countries, the market of Ma’Bagi was quite small. There were about 15 merchants at any given time. That was nothing. Places like Shu Muqi held hundreds, if not thousands, of merchants from all over the world.

A particularly fetching young Sailor caught Sylith’s eye. He was tall, sun darkened, and well muscled. Judging by his shaved head, Sylith assumed the young man was from the Sandsone Clan. They enjoyed warm relations with the Sangzet, Sylith’s own clan. Thoughts of approaching the young man danced in Sylith’s head, but the fantasy was quickly chased away as he realized Seraph was talking to trying to get his attention.

“Do you hear me, Sy? I asked why we never see any sailors from other lands?”

Sylith rolled his eyes, “Really, Ser? Do you pay that little attention to your tutor’s lessons? If Abrex were teaching you… Oh, you’d come home crying every night.”

Seraph stuck her tongue out at Sylith, Neelath did not notice. She was already 10 paces ahead of them, dealing with another merchant. Not for the bakery, of course, it was for Seraph’s pilgrimage. She was probably securing a few casks of pickled herring. Seraph loved herring.

“You know as well as I do that there are only a few times throughout the year that we let outsiders in, mostly traders and merchants. The Eye of Mara rages must of the year, there are only a few windows where we can use our magicks to quell the storm long enough for travel to be possible. Why do you think you had to wait until next week to leave for Pilgrimage? If it were easier to leave our little pocket of the world, I am sure we would have a more diverse population… Why? Are you not happy with Aagaa and the other islands?” Sylith asked of his sister. He was a little tired of the islands himself. He could not fault her for such feelings.

“Well, yeah, but that’s not why I was asking. Even though I’ve spent my whole life here, I sometimes think it’s strange that we never see a new face. Sure, there’s some random clan members, that we don’t know, that pop up from time to time… Like that boy you were looking at earlier. I can go talk to him for you, if you want,” Seraph said, making doe eyes at Sylith.

Sylith spluttered at her and stammered out, “W-what!? O-o-of course n-not. Don’t be s-silly.”

Seraph just stared at him. Sylith blushed and quickly changed the subject, “Really, I think Ma’Rosi likes the fact that the clans are secluded… I’ve seen what she can do with Bibliomancy… Really… I find it absurd that someone of her power cannot calm the storm when she wants, much less make vessels that can withstand the storm…”

“That’s what the Caravans are for, stupid!” Seraph said, playfully pushing him to the side as they waited for their mother to pay for the product.

Sylith mused at the thought. The Caravans of Mahima were another artifact of an age long forgotten, much like High Tongue. They very well could withstand the storm that was the Eye of Mara, but there were only so many of the Caravans to go around. The Caravans were not even conventional vehicles, they were magickal covered wagons that were summoned into existence by enchanted quills. No one, not even Ma’Rosi, knew how to craft new quills, thus they only had a few dozen to go around. That meant that Domzi youths leaving on Pilgrimage had to leave in groups of 5 or more, all sharing a Caravan until they found their way to their respective destinations.

Ma’Rosi was very tight-lipped about how many quills she and the other Elders had on hand. Sylith had tried to discover the answer through less than honorable means, but Ma’Rosi had caught him sneaking about before he even reached her locked rooms. That was one of the only times she had punished him.

 

Chapter One, Scene One

Chapter One

Scholarly Pursuits

 

“Bibliomancy was given to us by the Gods. No one outside of our culture knows how to perform it, thus must that remain. It is a system of magick; one that is the end result of a contract between man and the Unknowable. It is a magick for the wise amongst us; its rules are flimsy and hard to nail down. Ours is a magick that can bend the very fabric of reality; if one is clever enough. Now. Say that back to me,” Ma’Rosi said as she paced across the carpeted floor before Sylith. Beneath the carpet was bare earth.

Sylith had always wondered why his people had not made floors over the soil, just like the other cultures he had read about. The builders could easily use the same stone or wood they used for walls, but they didn’t. Instead, they just lay carpet after carpet over the ground. That had to be expensive. Carpets weren’t even produced in the Mahima Islands; they had to be traded or bought.

Ma’Rosi was the Elder of their Clan, and many had said she was the most powerful amongst them. Sylith had no doubt about that. Ma’Rosi had been old when he was born, and now he thought her ancient. No one in town knew her actual age, but it had been whispered that she was well over 150 years old. That was foolish, of course. Sylith knew the average person only last till 80 years of age. 90 if they were extremely lucky. Myth and legend had said that, in the distant past, people lived to be well over 500 years old. Such stories were codswallop.

‘It is to keep us closer to Spirit,’ Ma’Rosi had said a hundred times. Sylith still didn’t think it made sense. Spirit was all around, why was it important that they built no floors to maintain a connection to the higher power? The entire clan had heard stories of buildings of the other nations. It was no secret they made floors of marble, stone, wood, and so many other materials. It all sounded fabulous, yet Ma’Rosi did not allow anyone to cover the floors of their houses in any physical material save carpets.

All floors aside… The boys had been through this lecture hundreds of times by now. It was necessary, Ma’Rosi had said to him earlier in the day. Sylith was old enough now to begin teaching the children of their village, and if he was to teach them, Ma’Rosi wanted to ensure it was done properly. She was a lax woman, usually, but she took her role in their society seriously.

Sylith was sharing this slow-paced afternoon with his two best-friends, Abrex and Eelyx; twin brothers. Their mother and Sylith’s mother were childhood friends; both women becoming pregnant around the same time, it was only natural that their respective children become close. Both families had resided on this island ever since their village, Ma’Bagi, was founded a few hundred years prior.

The Isle of Aagaa was a small one, it’s natural resources scarce enough to support a population of 200. Sylith had estimated his village’s population to be around 163, give or take. There were some members of the Domzi that were traveling abroad. If history was to be any judge, some of those Domzi might never return to their respective home islands; thus it was hard to nail down how many Domzi called Aagaa their home. Sylith had tried to organize a complete list of the island’s inhabitants, but most of the townsfolk refused to cooperate with him. They didn’t see the sense in ‘wasting time cataloging our neighbors.’

“Yeah, we know this already, Ma’Rosi,” Eelyx groaned; his slim face and angular features made a sharp contrast with his dark hair. Something about Eelyx had always haunted Sylith. Eelyx looked just like his twin, Abrex, but there was something about Eelyx that had always drawn Sylith to him. Something that wasn’t there with Abrex. Sylith couldn’t put his finger on it; the only thing he knew was that he liked looking at Eelyx.

Eelyx slumped back in his chair, the parchment and quill before him sat lonely and unused. Sylith had to stifle a laugh at the comment. Eelyx was always so impatient in class. Sylith knew that his best-friend would rather be out in the open air, practicing with his staff. Eelyx had often said that classrooms were stifling. Well, he didn’t use that word exactly, but close enough.

“Patience, Lyx,” Abrex, Eelyx’s older twin brother, broke in soothingly, “Ma’Rosi would not be reiterating this if it were not important. If you know it so well, then speak it as she asked.” Talking in a calm manner, Abrex easily delivered Ma’Rosi’s speech without error. Eelyx rolled his eyes and Sylith had to stifle another giggle. He didn’t like it when the pair fought, but watching them squabble was always entertaining. They were both so stubborn, their arguments lasted weeks before one or the other forgot what exactly it was that they had done to offend the other.

“Very well done, Abrex,” Ma’Rosi said approvingly, “Eelyx, if you disapprove of the way I have delivered it, perhaps you know a better way?” The older woman smoothed her long skirts as she gave Eelyx as reproving look.

Eelyx considered this for a moment before nodding. He stood from his chair and spoke in a mock-knowing tone, “Bibliomancy is special. The Gods gave it to us and it’s difficult. When you go on Pilgrimage, don’t teach anyone else Bibliomancy otherwise they might screw up the world. There. Happy?” He sat back down quickly, rolling his eyes in the process.

Oh my, he is in a mood! Sylith thought to himself.

Ma’Rosi seemed to take no notice of Eelyx’s poor behavior, “Yes, I think you captured the meaning of it, Eelyx. Now try it again like you want to teach the younger members of your clan. Sylith, Abrex, and I have no issue waiting here until you can say it like you mean it.” Her deep brown eyes locked on to his.

Eelyx gaped and glanced from Ma’Rosi to Sylith. Sylith knew better. He kept his eyes on Ma’Rosi, all cool calm, and then nodded to Eelyx without looking away from the Elder. Abrex mirrored Sylith’s motions. Ma’Rosi smirked, satisfied with their lack of response, and glared at Eelyx. He looked back at Ma’Rosi and sighed.

“Bibliomancy was given to us by the Gods. No one outside of our culture knows how to perform it, thus must that remain. It is a system of magick; one that is the end result of a contract between man and the Unknowable. It is a magick for the wise amongst us; its rules are flimsy and hard to nail down. Ours is a magick that can bend the very fabric of reality; if one is clever enough,” Eelyx said all monotone and sulkiness. Sylith smirked to himself despite Eelyx’s expression.

“Very good, Eelyx. Abrex, I won’t bother asking you; I’ve sat in on your classes and I know you can make a near-perfect imitation of me. Well done. Now, as you may know, most of the old texts you will encounter will refer to Bibliomancy as Caligromancy. There is no difference, it is just a means of translation preference between the High and Low tongue…” And on Ma’Rosi carried much into the afternoon. Sylith learned nothing new during the lesson; he wasn’t supposed to. These lessons were merely a means to review what they had learned.

Sylith, Abrex, and Eelyx were to begin teaching the younger members of the Domzi clan and to do that they needed to be sure they had memorized the basics of Bibliomancy. These last few days had involved Ma’Rosi, the Keeper of the Clans, drilling the trio on their knowledge. Where they lacked, she was there to compensate. Ma’Rosi had been the trio’s main tutor throughout the years, so she had expected perfection from each of them.

“I am satisfied,” Ma’Rosi had announced after a time to the trio. Sylith exhaled in relief. He did not doubt his abilities, nor Abrex’s, but Eelyx was another story. No matter how gifted he was, Eelyx had zero interest in scholarly pursuits. He had skill where Sylith and Abrex had knowledge. It wasn’t always conventional, as far as the Elders were concerned, but he was indispensable in his own way.

“Tomorrow you shall all begin teaching the younglings. That means you are responsible for their future. Your successes and failures shall be measured by your students. Remember that fact and I am sure each of your students will be a credit to the Clans. You are dismissed,” Ma’Rosi said before bowing her head slightly to the trio. They returned her bow, but much deeper, as was appropriate for a woman of her station.

After the formalities were over, Abrex rushed up to hug Ma’Rosi, as did Eelyx. Sylith hung back until the twins were done. He was just as happy as the other two, but he could show more reserve. No doubt Ma’Rosi didn’t want three young men swarming her at once.

“Oh, thank you, Ma’Rosi. Truly, your tutelage compares to none,” Abrex gushed as he enveloped Ma’Rosi in a hug, which was not very hard considering just how short the woman was. Eelyx was right behind him cooing, “We would not have come this far if it were not for you.” Within seconds, Ma’Rosi had disappeared amidst the pair’s flattery and embraces.

Sylith rolled his eyes as Eelyx took both Ma’Rosi and Abrex into a great big bear hug. It was cute in a way, but Sylith knew they were only kissing her butt. Sylith was planning on doing so too but in a different way.

“My mother baked you something in thanks for helping us, Ma’Rosi,” Sylith announced over the twins. He bent down to reach into his satchel, fumbling about between all the books and accouterments stuffed within. Hands outstretched, Sylith offered Ma’Rosi a parcel of oiled paper wrapped in twine. Her eyes widened for a fraction of a second before accepting the package. Eelyx and Abrex shot Sylith withering glances.

It was no secret that Sylith’s mother was the best baker in the village. She had single-handedly redefined the Domzi way of eating with her pastries stuffed full of cured meats and roasted vegetables. The stonemasons had constructed an extension on her bakery in thanks for her efforts to simplify their daily meals. Workers around Aagaa flocked to Sylith’s mother’s bakery on a daily basis to buy her pastries. Wives had thanked her too for simplifying their jobs.

The Domzi were not used to such convenience. Most wives woke an hour or two earlier than their husbands, just to whip up something delicious for them to eat at lunchtime. After Sylith’s mother started stuffing dough with meats and vegetables, everything changed. Sylith’s family had seen an increase in their wealth, not exorbitant but enough to make a difference.

The oiled parcel Sylith offered to Ma’Rosi contained his mother’s newest concoction: a dessert pastry stuffed full of custard and flecks of fried sugar. It was delicious. And expensive. Abrex and Eelyx had to have known exactly what was in the parcel, judging by their looks; they had tasted it only the day before and they knew just how delectable it was. Surely Sylith would curry the most favor with this gift. There were cows on their island, but not many; anything involving milk or it’s subsequent products carried a heavy price tag on the islands of Mahima. Not to mention the sugar, which was only imported twice a year…

Ma’Rosi’s eyebrow cocked and a sly smile crept across her face. “Thank you, Sylith, and thanks to your mother as well. Please give her my regards. I know how costly this must have been, truly you did not have to. Thank you nonetheless. I shall enjoy this with a fine cup of silver tea tonight as I read a few select tomes. Truly. Thank you.”

Sylith was all smiles. He could not help but to bring his fists to his hips, in a fine gesture of self-satisfaction. It was Ma’Rosi’s turn to stifle a chuckle as the twins wore mirror expressions of muted anger. Some would say that Sylith bought people’s affections. That was the wrong way of looking at it. He merely enjoyed sharing what he could with those that he loved. If it came with any unexpected benefits from others, well, all the better.

Eelyx opened his mouth, with a snide comment no doubt, but Ma’Rosi was quickly ushering them out of her Classroom and out of her large house. She was not rough or rude about it, not at all; just insistent. Anything Eelyx was going to say was quickly forgotten as Ma’Rosi began speaking to them while walking them out, “I am so sorry we cannot spend more time together today, boys. As you are all aware, the other four Elders will be arriving shortly and I must prepare beforehand. Just look at my rat’s nest of a head. It’ll take me hours to brush it out! Thankfully I won’t need my brush,” she gave a wink and a nudge at that.

“Ma’Rosi, please, let us stay! We can help-“ Abrex began, but was curtly cut off by Ma’Rosi.

“No, no, no. I have occupied enough of your time today, boys. Besides. What makes you think I do not need a moment to myself, hmm?” Ma’Rosi wagged a finger under Abrex’s nose as they faced her at the front door.

“I didn’t mean anything by that, Ma’Rosi. Surley, you cannot think-“ Abrex was cut off again.

“Light, child! I am simply jesting! Really, Abrex, you shouldn’t take everything I say as gospel! I am old and prone letting my mouth run away on it’s own. You should know this by now. No. I think you must be wound too tightly after the past week. Take the rest of the day to yourselves and relax. Word is Old Gil received a new shipment of giggle weed… Not that I should condone it… But youth will be youth,” Ma’Rosi gave them a knowing smile and another wink before closing the door on them.

“Well, I never…” Abrex breathed.

“Oh, do come off of it, Ab. She’s right. You’re wound up tighter than stableboy during the Spring Rites Festival. You need a release, brother. C’mon, Sy. Let’s do what Ma’Rosi said and pay a visit to Old Gil,” Eelyx said, slipping both his arms over Abrex and Sylith’s shoulders. He lead, no, pushed the trio away from Ma’Rosi’s tile-roofed house. Sylith let himself be prodded along.

They walked down a hardpacked dirt road towards the center of the village. More house lined either side of the road, each looking like smaller copies of Ma’Rosi’s dwelling. She had the largest in the village, by far, but certain perks came with being the leader of a Clan, not to mention the Keeper of the Clans. That was like being the Queen of the Clans; maybe not exactly like the Queens he had read about, but near enough for their small society. It was even said that their ancestors used to have a Queen or a King, but they called it something different. Zultanne, if it were a woman ruler. Zultahne, if it were a male ruler. They were words in the High Tongue, a language used by the old Mahimans. They were relics of another age.

“I am on nothing, brother. Why don’t you come off of whatever high horse you’re on,” Abrex said to his twin, all snide coolness.

Eelyx rolled his eyes, “Don’t worry, Ab. I’m not feeling particularly feisty today, not with Ma’Rosi giving us the rest of the day off. No. I’m feeling refreshed. So, I’ll let you off easy with the comments… for now.”

Abrex huffed and Sylith broked in quickly, “Yeah, Ab, let’s just drop it. You too, Lyx. It’s over. We have the whole day to ourselves! The sun is barely passed it’s midpoint, let’s make the best of it. I, for one, think that visiting Old Gil is a fabulous idea. We can stop by my mom’s bakery, pick up a few pastries, and sit by the docks for a little while. I wouldn’t mind a puff, a pastry, and a sailor,” Sylith gave a throaty laugh at that.

Eelyx started laughing too and Abrex just blushed, but Sylith saw a quirk at the corners of his lips. Abrex liked the sound of that too, he was just too shy to say it.

“Sounds like a plan, friends,” Eelyx announced before breaking again into a hearty chuckle.