There was something in the goddess’s courtyard that was watching us. I could feel it, and I sensed the young female with me could as well. But being a former human, I don’t think she was aware of what it was she was feeling. We all know humans just aren’t as attuned to feelings like we are.
I’m just not certain if she was the target, or if I was. It was hard to tell.
Oh, it’s so hard to put into words what it felt like! I’m not the writer in the family, after all. Not like Alaun.
Whatever it was, I felt it.
Mak didn’t. Only when I mentioned it did he step closer. His warm hand covered my back. I could feel his heat through the thin, cheap cloth of my gray uniform. I wanted to cuddle close for a minute.
But I’m a Woald.
I can stand on my own two feet.
I gave Mickey a quick tour and filled her in on the legends associated with the goddess and the Dardaptoan creation stories. She was so nervous. Frightened. But very much like a young sponge, listening and learning as much as she possibly could.
I felt for her; I truly did. I wanted to put her at ease, so I told her some of the stories my father had told me, that his father and his father and his father had passed down.
Stories that even Mak, at five hundred fourteen, didn’t know.
I’m not sure how that is possible. I mean…it’s a part of Dardaptoan history, right? Oral tradition? Especially the story of Aerim. That has always been my particular favorite.
Probably because of how much my sisters and I resemble that long-ago ancestress. My mother was a gifted artist and seer; she had painted portraits of Aerim long before I was even born. Or even Ambrea.
It is from Aerim that we get the curls, my mother said.
We walked around the courtyard for several more moments, until Theo found us there.
As I watched him lead Mickey away, I both envied her for having her male and hurt for her how it had happened.
No female deserved to find her male in that way.
I must have sighed. Mak’s hand went around my waist, and he pulled me closer. I wanted to cuddle against his broad chest. “They will find their way. It is the will of the goddess, after all.”
“Perhaps.” The will of the goddess.
Was it the will of the goddess that I am fated to die before finding a male of my own?
At times, I find it difficult not to curse the goddess.
I’m fated to die. Early. How can a female ever get over that?