“Why don’t you hunt?” asked Johnna.
“I See too well,” her father Aif answered. Between them, they held a wide, heavy board so two men could bang nails in from the roof. They were putting up a wall constructed of a series of such boards, each nearly as long and wide as the tree from which it was hewn, smoothed by machine, and chosen for this project with great care. Building an Auric hut was hard work.
“But I’ve seen hunting parties,” Johnna protested.
“Brace that!” said her father. Johnna squared her weight and the hammers commenced above. This addition to her father’s hut was going to be larger than the original building.… Read the rest
Sade shifted on her rug and ruffled her shoulder feathers. “Pass me that bowl,” she instructed, her blind eyes focused somewhere over Johnna’s shoulder.
“Which?” Johnna asked. There were three bowls in front of her.
Her grandmother said, “The one you were thinking of.”
“Oh.” Johnna picked up the right hand bowl and passed it across the low fire.
The old woman nodded and turned it over in her hands, tapping her fingers rapidly around the rim. “This is a good one,” Sade said. “Now tell it to me.”
“Excuse me?” Now, Johnna shifted. But where her grandmother had changed positions to get more comfortable, Johnna moved because there wasn’t any comfortable to be had in this hut.… Read the rest
When people asked about Johnna’s dark skin and hair and her grey-violet eyes, her mother Manda said, “She was my surprise baby.” Those traits, especially the eyes, belonged to the Auric tribe, whose standing with the ruling council was never stable. So the askers usually pretended to think Johnna was descended from her stepfather, even though she looked nothing like him or her younger siblings on that side.
Her father, when Johnna saw him once a year, was more honest. “Pfft. Accident,” he said. “The caravan leader had a fetching daughter, and I had a terminal problem keeping up my drawers.”
Johnna grew up among her mother’s folk, nomadic traders who settled into their mountain valley only in hard winter.… Read the rest