"Eight limbs; two to walk the earth, three to reach out and three to fly up. Hair in curled locks of gold, and lips of smooth silver. So shall her grace and mercy transcend all."
-- Tome of the Clouds, Arunthé 1:11-13
The bell at the door jingled as a richly browned hand tugged upon its string. And within the Elder's house, Tuetha Carah walked in her finery to greet her guest. It was part of Eissan culture, to bear hostess greater than host. And so the Elder remained seated.
However, a little boy raced ahead, sliding between legs and beneath his grandmother's dress, to open the door with a broad grin.
Kernew de Seballe saw a familiar woman laughing in the distance, and looked down to see Tudfry's simpering welcome, missing a tooth.
"You're late," said Tud.
Kernew could not help but admire the wool tapestries that marked the walls. They showed the seasons, depicting harvest and plantings. It was a life of such rhythm and simplicity, that he knew he'd soon crave when his nomadic days came to an end.
"Sir Kernew is always late," mused Tuetha. "It is in his nature."
In strong arms, Kernew lifted Tud from the hardwood floor and hugged the little rascal, "He has your father's eyes, Madam Carah."
"Put me down," Tudfry pleaded, "I want more potatoes!"
Instead, Kernew kept one hand on the child and moved towards Tuetha with his other arm open to an embrace.
She kissed him twice, once upon each cheek, "It has been too long since those days at the academy."
The grown man rolled his eyes, holding her tightly, "Don't make me remember. He was a brutal taskmaster."
"Put me down, mister!"
A puppy came running down the hall, barking, sniffing and jumping up at Kernew's thighs.
"Tudfry," she said as she withdrew, "I changed this man's diapers."
Despite the rich and natural tan of his skin, Kernew blushed noticeably, as he placed the boy gently upon the ground.
"Heh heh, you're old, Gran."
She smiled, drawing a hand through her straight locks of gray hair, "Coming up on sixty winters."
"Oh, she's just hitting her prime. Now, is this your last-born, which I must take?"
"Sir Kernew, you flatter me," she teased. "No, the boy's youngest uncle of eighteen winters."
"That's a shame," said Kernew, "I prefer to start them as young as I did."
"Well, he's out right now. But please, come join us at the dinner table. I'm sure you have some mighty fine stories to share."
"Aye," Kernew said with a smile. And he followed them in to the Elder's dinner table.
There, the first thing he saw was a gleaming brass statue of the Goddess. With three open arms and three widespread wings, her face reflected a look of awe. It was such a strange expression to see upon the body of the divine, that it unsettled Kernew. For a moment, Kernew wondered if it was the same Goddess they worshiped in his homeland.