She gathers me into a hug. I can smell the faint scent of flowers from the steam room. She separates us so she can look into my eyes. I know she expected me to lose. It was my first challenge, after all. “What happened?” I smile, and she gasps. “You won? Oh, my, Klymenstra! This is wonderful. What was your number?” “I got twenty. We both brought nine, but mine were blessed. I was victorious in my first ever challenge. It was fun, too.” I didn't dare add that the fun part was watching Lycaenion's face as she tried to hide her rage. My mother hugged me again.

“Well, this is all fantastic, but you must be hungry and tired. It is almost time for feast. Why don't you go change. I have gotten you a new dress. I believe you will like it. Go now.”

I race to my room, energy not yet expended. I am tired, but I would never be able to sleep right now. I am to excited about seeing Lycaenion and telling my story to all. I see the new dress. My jaw drops. It is amazing. I reach out to touch the velvet soft rabbit fur. The color is entirely unique. It is almost blue. Not the usual gray or brown. I remove my sweat soaked clothes, and place them in the tub of oil. This is important. It makes the skins last twice as long. That way, we do not waste the animals gifts.

I sigh as the fur settles itself against my flesh. It is much better than my coarse hunting clothes. I look at my reflection in the spa canister. My cheeks are pink, my eyes the blue of the ocean for the moment. My hair is tied back. That way, I won't accidentally get it wrapped around an arrow. I pull out the ribbon. I can feel the familiar weight as my light brown hair slithers down. Past my shoulders. Past my back. All the way to my knees. I pick up my horse hair brush, and start to attack the snarls. The summer sun has bleached some strands to the tone of wheat. When my mother calls to me, I am ready. I walk from the manor by my mothers side. I have my amber encased insects twined around my neck.

The End

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