The Heart of Sorrow’s Keep
By Brenna Hanson
Date: August 22, 2018
Ch. 66

“It’ll do,” Marcus said with barely a glance at the woodshed. “Still, you’d have been a fair shake more useful if you were a strapping lad or at least one of those sturdy village girls.”
“Or possibly a draft horse?” I asked.
“We could only wish for that kind of luck,” Marcus said. “Although, they do eat quite a bit and my hay supply is low.”
My stomach growled at the mention of eating. The old man glanced at me and shook his head. “Come on then. You’ll have some breakfast. But first, you’ve got to go wash. You smell like the worst parts of old outhouses. There’s a tub of hot water and soap in the kitchen. Mind you, be sure to empty it when you’ve finished. You won’t find me lugging your water again.”
I was too excited by the idea of getting clean to even notice the front room of the house when I finally made it inside. My foster-father showed me the kitchen and then left me to myself saying that he would be in his study and that I could eat anything available provided I cleaned up afterward.
“And make sure all that hair is kept out of the way or I’ll shave it off,” he called from the hallway. “I’ll not have the sheddings of my apprentice ruin important magic!”
I spent a lot of time scrubbing the dirt away. When the water was cold, I dried off and shook out the pile of clean clothes on the stool by the table. Boy’s pants and a long tunic. Both were homespun and course. My skin, so used to silk dresses, itched just at the sight. I put them on anyway and wound my hair around my head, tying it with the length of cloth I had used to dry my body.
There was no food prepared in the kitchen. There wasn’t even a fire banked in the hearth. I decided not to wonder at the hot water of my bath. The mysteries of magic were beyond my understanding but I figured they had been employed so that I could smell better. I found Marcus in his study to ask after food.
“Useless,” he said. “I can’t believe she let you be so useless!”
“Who?” I asked feeling my anger rising like a hot wave. I knew who he was talking about.
“Lily,” he said, confirming my suspicions. “She knew better, stupid girl.”
“Don’t you talk about my mother like that!” I shrieked at him and landed a kick on his shin. “Don’t you ever talk about my mother that way. You didn’t even know her!”
A glow surrounded Marcus the Humble. The next thing I knew, I was hanging in the air with invisible bands making it impossible to move or speak.
“I should know my own daughter and the bad decisions she makes,” he said in a quiet voice filled with hurt fury. I would have run if the air had let me escape. “She couldn’t even be bothered to show her face here when she dumped you off on me. What was it? Did she not like a nearly grown daughter around to prove her age? Sent you here so she could keep playing young and free?”
He loosened the straps of air enough to let me speak when he saw the look of horror in my eyes.
“She’s dead,” I said softly. “My mother. She’s dead.”
The air binding me was gone along with the glow surrounding the old man. My grandfather. He stalked out of the room without a word before I caught the breath knocked out of me when I hit the floor.

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