As soon as we enter, there is silence. This happens whenever something of interest happens. My mother, Chief of the capital, Woman of Drucilla, is respected always. No one questions her judgement. But there is a difference in the air. All the women are looking at me. Not my mother.
The energy leaves me, frightened away by the faces. I have grown up with these faces. I have watched the lines form around Rohana's eyes, formed because of her near constant smile. I have watched Atepa realize that her mother is not coming home. I have experienced Annada's cooking, and the vast flavors she can create. I smile at the women that have surrounded me with love and the children that have been my friends. I love them all so much. I am glad that I have made it to this day, that I can share it with them.
As the smile forms on my face, they all start whispering. They laugh. They giggle. They smile back at me. Every one but the two sitting in the back. Their faces are turned up into what might be mistaken for a smile, but I know better. Lycaenion and her mother almost never smile. The shared spreading of lips is more like a grimace of pain.
When every one calms down, Annada returns to the cooking, and everyone takes their seats. I, as chosen one for the night, am at the head of the formation. My mother sits at my left, and all the women sit around the stump.
It used to be a massive tree, but the Spirits combined their power to make fire to strike it down. Not just any fire, but white fire that hi the top of the tree during a crying. As the falling wetness battled with the flames, the tree lost its power. It fell, and became a reminder that the Spirits can do anything.