by Jonathan E. Barnett
Alcasia walked back into the house and saw the food now sitting on the table. No one else was sitting yet, but she could see Lysander watching the table while holding a small toy near the wall. His hungry look made it clear that he had been told to wait for her to return. Alcasia walked directly to the table, but then made a slight adjustment and walked past the table toward the sleeping area she shared with Alishana. She turned her head just slightly so she could see Lysander start moving to the table and then stop suddenly when he watched her walk by. Alcasia reached her bunk above Alishana’s bed and moved some items around. She turned and looked at Lysander and gave him a little, knowing smile. “Shall we eat?”
Lysander’s ears perked up and he turned his whole body to face Alcasia. After making eye contact he quickly looked back at the table and then his mother. Everyone smiled. As soon as Alcasia began her first step toward the table Lysander ran to the table. Alcasia and Alishana walked to the table and took their seats. Their mother served up the food. Alcasia was joyous to see the potatoes in a ceramic bowl at the center of the table. Alcasia’s mother had clearly found a little oil. Alcasia was starving, but she kept her discipline. She watched Alishana and Lysander get their plates and start eating. Their mother waited and then slowly filled a plate for herself. Alcasia watched her mother. Deliberate movements. Keeping her composure and control of the situation. Her mother placed her own plate down and then looked about to ensure everything was set before she started to eat. Alcasia knew this was the mark of a woman who grew up with a father who hunted and then married a hunter. She did not escape it with her oldest daughter. There was always the fear the hunter would not return. Brontars have always been dangerous. The control, the reserved spirit, it was all a mask to feel like she was actually in control of her world and her loved ones.
Once her mother took a bite, Alcasia allowed herself to take her first bite. It was exquisite. All the wonderful tastes of being safely home. The food was warm and wonderful. She did not wolf down her food. She demonstrated a sort of control like her mother. It was more about not giving in to her instincts. She wanted to maintain full control over what she did and when she did it. Hunger and fear could make you make mistakes. She wanted to control herself totally. Discipline.
“I’m going to Riven with Robyr. Just a few days. I want to look around the market,” said Alcasia, breaking the silence.
“You only just got home. What could you possibly need that can’t wait?”
Lysander and Alishana stayed out of this conversation. This was going to be something where they did not dare take sides with either Alcasia or their mother. Best to just keep eating.
“I want to see Robyr selling the brontum. I want to see what the prices are in the bigger markets. I might also look around to see if I can find another steel blade.”
There was no change in her mother’s stance, but there was a small change in vocal tone. “And Riven is as far as you are going?”
Alcasia held her face like stone. No need to give anything away. Alcasia had mentioned some time ago that she wanted to get all the way to New Harbor. Alcasia wanted to get to the largest market in southern Rhentsia. It would help to know what the finished brontum sold for, it would help her negotiate with the artisans. Also, she could get an idea what the High Families were looking for when buying their wares.
“Where else would I go?”
“Does the world end at Riven?” The sarcasm was very thick.
Jonathan E. Barnett grew up in Stevens Point, WI. After spending a year in a seminary in St. Paul, MN, he transferred to UW-La Crosse. He graduated with a Bachelor's in History and a minor in Economics. Upon graduating, Jonathan was commissioned as an Officer in the Wisconsin Army National Guard and deployed twice to Southwest Asia. After his second deployment, he graduated from University of Wisconsin Law School. Jonathan is now a practicing attorney and author in Central Wisconsin.