Sighting the Bride-Party

My father and mother died at the hands of bandits when I was a child.

Malgar took me in.  Castellan's Law said that being his indentured servants, he was now responsible for me.  To his credit, he tried--but children are unlike vines, and grief shapes us beyond our desire.  We had no common-ground.  His life was centered around grapes, while mine was focused on violence.

Too often, Malgar would find me gone from my letters to stand before the pell-pole in the yard.  My rage was an inchoate, inarticulate  cauldron.  I would beat the pell pole with a steel rod Merris used for sharpening her knives.  Sometimes, I bore a heavy pot-lid for a shield.  Most times, I fought until my arms were sore and I could barely lift my sword.  Then, I would crawl into the kitchen and Merris would scold me, all the while ladling out broth and succulents from the days' meal.  She would make subtle imprecations to Dana, the Hunters' Maiden, to watch over me.

The year they built the bell-tower, Malgar and Merris married.  They'd observed the three years decreed by The Castellan's Law, and Merris' entire family came to stand witness to the bonding.

I was twelve cycles that summer, still sullen and withdrawn.  I was old enough to work the vineyard.  Most of my free time I spent ranging the little wooded glen south of Ukiah's Gate, fighting imaginary telkas on the river or climbing into the scaffolding of the tower.

It stood three times higher than the wall.  From the highest platform, I could see clear to the Dolcet Mines and just to the near shore of Lake Rentes.  It was inevitable that I was the first to see Merris' bride-party following the Kings' road to Ukiah's Gate.

The End

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