Kira Lee Seedsdigger

In this campaign, all the characters are (although they don’t yet know it) half dragons (and half various other races), brought together for secret training after an evil dragon slayed, enslaved, or minion-ized the rest of his kind. Destiny says it’ll be the hand of a half dragon who will bring down the evil dragon emperor, and as such, the parents of these youths hid their identities from their birth.

Kira Lee Seedsdigger is a half-human, half-silver-dragon sorceress, born in the farms of the province of Achalan.

The Seedsdigger Brood:

Ma- 31

Pa- 39

Kira Lee (15)

Danny and Durain (twins) (14)

Lori Aine (12)

Ziki Lu and Zani Dale (deceased in infanthood)

Axam (9)

Roab (deceased)

Orlea Mae (5)

Aliette (deceased) and Kadi Lu(3) (twins)

From the diary of Kira Lee Seedsdigger:

“Well, I had just turned fifteen, ‘roun yon when I left home. I’m the first of seven livin’ chilluns, though two jus’ died a couple years back when the flu come round, an’ I’m not countin’ any ma had after I left. So I been raised raising nine little ‘uns. And it weren’t easy, let me tell you! Pelor bless his poor lil’ soul, Roab was always tryin’ ta eat him something or another, an’ never even stopped ta think iffins it was poisonous or not! I turn round, and he’s got somethin’ or another in his mouth agin… That one was a handful.

“But I git ahead of me-self. Me ma and me pa, they own a farm up in Achalan, one which grows corn an’ sheep. We also gots us a kitchen garden, two cows, three sheepdogs, one horse, who knows how many barncats, and Lori Aine got a goat for her eighth birthday present. We almos’ had a prize-winnin’ pig, too, but then it died, an’ lucky for me, too! But that comes later. Since I was the eldest, it was my job to keep all the littles out of trouble and teach them to read and figure. Aunt Anreeca learned me to read when I was little, and taught me some math, too, so’s I was supposed to pass it on to all the others. And I did, too! Ain’t none of us that cain’t read. In fact, my little sisters and brothers read better than I do! I’m awful proud of the lot of them. But you know, none of them likes doin’ chores. Ma never could git Danny or Durain or Axam to do their chores, and she could git Lori Aine to do hers only if she promised her somethin’ in return fo’ it. That’s how Lori Aine got that goat, you know. Ma promised it to her iffins only she’d learn how to dye real good. An’ though she’s just 12, there ain’t no better dyer near her age around! By the time she gits to be my age, I bet she’ll be better than Missy Claire. Missy Claire’s real famous round our parts, you see, ‘cause she just so good at dying things. She even has a shirt she claims is saffron! It’s yellow, or sort of yellow anywho, and she says saffron is a yellow color, so I guess it might even actually be saffron colored. How’m I to know? But if I ever git me-self rich, I’m gonna buy me-self somethin’ indigo. Missy Claire says indigo is a purple-blue color, real pretty-like. No one round here ever seen it, on account of it grows too far east and costs too much.

“Anywho, it never seemed real likely that I would git rich. Unlike Lori Aine, alls I do is make clothing. When pa and the boys go shear the sheep, they brings back all the wool, and then ma and I card it and spin it and weave it and Lori Aine dyes it, and then I sew it into clothing for everyone. I’m purty good, too. Danny and Durain learnt from pa how to make looms for me and ma – the hand loom I’ve got is one Durain made. Them boys also know how to fix anything that gits itself broke. I was always jealous of them for that. I done made Danny teach me, but I only learnt how to fix a few things at the time.  It wasn’t til later, after I was ten, that I started gittin’ real good, and I don’t even think that really counts.

“You see, when I was ten, I started seeing weird things in the air sometimes, looking like shiny pieces of thread. Since I know thread real well and all, as I make it, I didn’ mind at first. Was kinda fun to see them floatin’ around everywhere! An’ I found that if I touched a thread, sometimes I could see something about the thing attached to it, like if it were poisonous or not. Considerin’ that Roab always had somethin’ or another in his mouth, that were real useful, an’ I got awful good at it. Ma was always scared for him, though, so I tried to tell her what I was doin’, and she looked at me real funny and told me not to tell anyone that ever agin. I didn’t listen to her, though, which maybe I should’ve, but then again maybe not, since that’s why Greyham asked fer me… Well. I done told me friend Willa Mae ‘bout seeing things in the air, and next thing I knowed, everybody’s looking at me queer from the corner of their eyes. Willa still stayed me friend, and nobody was mean to me like, but they didn’t spend as much time with me and none of the boys came courtin’. In fact, mosta them boys startin teasin’ me somethin’ awful. Varin, he was the worst, all snooty and unkind. Then Danny and Durain went and beat him up, and he stopped makin’ fun of me. The twins were real good boys, always trying to take care of their sisters.

“Well, I kept on seein’ things, but everyone was nicer to me after Danny and Durain started punchin’ up anyone who said somethin’ mean. An’ I still spent a lot of time with my friends, and on account of me not bein’ bad-lookin’, some of the boys’ fathers would try to git their sons to come a’courtin’. Meanwhile, I found that if I used some of the strings when I told stories, I could git the littles to do their chores and go to bed. Like the time Lori Aine wouldn’t milk the cow, so I told her the story ‘bout the girl who never milked her cow, and the cow’s udder got bigger and bigger and bigger until it burst and killt both girl and cow, drowin’ them in milk. Then Lori Aine run and milk that cow real quick! An’ also, sometimes when I’d see twins or Axim and Lori whisperin and mischief-makin’, I could talk real quiet from where I was without havin’ to git up, and they’d hear me and look over and see me watchin’ them and stop whatever it was they was doin’. An’ when things broke, I could sometimes see a lil’ bit of the thread around it getting’ knotted and lumpy, and by stickin’ the thread back on a drop spindle, I could straighten it out. That made whatever it was that was broke git better. But I’m purty sure that don’ really count as fixin’ things, not like Danny and Durain do it.

“When I got to be 13, Varin’s pa told my pa that his son thought me awful good-lookin’. Boy, was I surprised! Varin had stopped makin’ fun of me, but he was a regular know-it-all and was always braggin’ ‘bout one thing or another. Since he was always tellin’ us all ‘bout things his papa’d seen, we all thought he was fair smart. I never woulda thought he liked me that way. His papa, you know, was the guy that traded all our stuff for us, usually goin’ several leagues away, even to the North! Varin was the one that done told me ‘bout elves eatin’ babies. ‘Course now I knows better. Elves eat monkeys, not babies.

“Varin’s pa offered me pa their best pig, which was well known as the very best pig in all the region. Me pa told him he’d think about it. Everybody thinked he was crazy for not saying yes right away. But pa, he come home and take me aside where no one else can see, and askt me iffins I wanted to marry Varin! I didn’t like Varin real much, so I told him no, and then he went back and told Varin’s pa no. Then everybody think him real crazy. Ma was sho’ upset ‘bout it, too! I was afeared that they’d all make me marry that boy anywho, since there was no good reason that pa could give them. But then a week later the pig up and died, and instead of thinkin’ him crazy, everybody thought him real smart. Boy, was I relieved when that piggy kicked the bucket.

“A few months later, the flu came through. That was real sad. All of Mama’s children had lived, ‘cept the twins which was born early and even the Midwife said they wouldn’ last long. But first Roab got sick, and then lil’ Aliette and Kadi Lu took it from him (but Kadi Lu didn’t git it near so bad as Aliette), and then Axim got it, and Danny got it but not Durain. Pa wasn’t home on account of he had some things to do dealin’ with his life before he married ma. Nobody never got sick when he was ’round. Well, I tookt care of everybody ‘til they was better, but Roab, who’d survived all those crazy things he ate, and lil’ Aliette who was too small to really fight it off, they never got better. Pa and the boys made them a nice big grave marker and put them in the cemetery with all the other folk who’d died. Everybody was real sad that year. And Kadi Lu, she was always lookin’ around, like she was lookin’ for something she’d lost. They says that when one twin dies but the other lives, the live one’s never quite right afterward. I think maybe Kadi knows a piece of her is already dead. But maybe she’ll grow up okay after all, since they were just babies at the time and Pelor is probably keeping Aliette safe for Kadi Lu.

“After the flu things got real quiet for a while. It wasn’t ‘til I was just past mah fifteenth birthday that things got interestin’ agin. This fellow, he came in from the city, sayin’ he was supposed to take up residence in Achalan after he finished his studies. He was well about twenty years old, but everybody knows they keep them in school real long in the city. The man’s name was Greyham, and when everybody askt him what he was doin’ coming round these parts even before he finished his schooling, he says he was a-lookin’ for a wife.

“You see, he’d bin told in the city that we farmer-folk start early, and if he wanted a wife of his own from the area, he’d better start lookin’ now. So he came on down and askt lotsa questions about the girls. Then one day, he comes down to our farm an’ knocks on the door. When ma answers it, he tells her he wants to talk with me for a lil’ while. So I go and talks to him. An’ after a few minutes, askin’ ‘bout the threads I can see and all, he tells me I’m really doin’ magic. That’s when I first learned the threads were magic and not just some crazy-thing in my head. He tells me he’s learnin’ to be a wizard, an’ that it would be real useful-like to have a sorceress – a girl who can do magic without book-learnin’ – in the family. He tells me to think on it but not answer yet, and instead shows me a couple of other tricks to do with the threads, in case anyone ever tries to attack me. Now even I could tell he was real sweet on me, and I rather liked him myself, so even though we both knew I’d probably never have use for that kinda magic, I didn’ mind him takin’ the time to show me.

“A couple of days later, he asks me in private if I’d thought about what he’d said. Of course I had, so I says yes, and then he asks me if I would want to marry him. Well, I liked him so well before he done that, that I’da said yes anywho, but I liked him even better after he askt me! So he goes and asks me pa if he can marry me. Pa says he’ll think ‘bout it, and seems real reluctant-like, so I said, ‘Please, pa! I really like him!’ But pa hemmed and hawed a little more, and of course ma is watchin’, ‘cause marriage is a family business, and ma asks, ‘And what you offer for her bride price?’ Now don’ go thinkin’ ma was in it for the money – she wanted to see me happy just as much as pa did – but she knewed pa might give in if Greyham offered a good price. So then, you know what Greyham does? He takes a purse off his belt, one that’d been hid real good in his robes, and plunks it on the table! He says, ‘Sir, since I’m still learning to be a wizard, I’ll need to wait a few years before getting married. But in three to four years, after Kira’s turned 18 and I’ve finished my schooling, I’ll come back to marry her. I offer now a bride-price of two hundred gold pieces, that she marry me when I return.’

“Well I don’t have to tell you that no girl on an Achalan farm has ever gotten a bride price like that! Maybe, maybe some of them Khatari soldier families in the cities get prices like that for their daughters, and everybody knows Lairds pay even more for their Ladies, but considerin’ I ain’t a Laird’s nor a soldier’s daughter, that were downright amazing! I knewed then I was a-gonna be marrying a rich man! Not even pa could turn down an offer like that – specially not with ma glaring at him like she’d kill him if he said no.

“But pa always was an honest man, and he was reluctant to take all that money from this stranger, so he says, ‘Son, there’s no way I can refuse an offer like that, not when my Kira so obviously likes you so much. But three years is a long time, a real long time, and a lot of things can happen between now and then, especially on a farm where the people are too poor to pay for good city healers. So I give you this instead: give me 50 gold here and now, which you know you won’t get back, to show you really mean to return, and if nothing to prevent the wedding comes up between now and then, pay the other 150 when you marry her.’ Ma looked like she could kill pa for that right there alone, but 50 gold is still the biggest bride-price we’d ever heard of a girl gettin’, so she couldn’t be too mad. After all, it was the honest thing to do. Soralle down the road had died before her marriage, and she’d only had a month between the engagement and the would-be wedding! And Greyham seemed to like this, too, ‘cause he counted out fifty real pieces of gold, right there in front of us, and handed them to pa. And then he had to go, ‘cause his school master wanted him back real quick like, so I walked him to his horse. He lookt at me and laughed dryly and said he felt sort of like a pedal file, gettin’ engaged to a girl so young, but that he’d feel better when he came back in a few years and I was older. I asked him why anyone would want a file made just for pedals, ‘specially since a regular file would work perfectly well, and he laughed at me at that, which I didn’t like too well, but I figured it was probably just some city thing. Anyway, he then wished me a fair few years, and I said I hoped his schoolin’ went well, and then he rode off. And I ain’t seen him since.

“Two days after he left, pa grabbed me away from sewing Lori Aine a new dress an’ told me I was leaving. He gave me only enough time to pack a change of clothes, some soap, and the hand-loom Durain’d just made me, then handed me the purse which held the bride-price Greyham had paid for me. All of it, completely untouched! Pa told me to pick up a couple of things at the market to travel with, like a bedroll and a waterskin, and then to go south. He wouldn’t say nothin’ else, no matter how hard I asked, and just kinda shoved me out the door. But before he closed it, I took a little of the gold outta my purse and give it back to him, tellin’ him he had to keep somethin’ to take care of ma and the littles. He wouldn’t let me give him more than a little, so I kept the rest and headed to the community market. It was real queer, him makin’ me leave like that, what with me just gettin’ engaged and it bein’ almost harvest and all. Harvest! No one leaves home near harvest! I’ve been thinking real hard on it, and I’ve started to think that pa might never have meant me to marry Greyham after all. That would be one of the reasons why he wouldn’t let Greyham pay the full bride-price early. And I knowed they’d agreed that no matter what happened, pa wouldn’t pay the 50 gold back, but if I know Papa he’s gonna try to do so anyway. Well, I hope he at least finds him another nice girl to marry. It’s a shame, really. I kinda liked that city-boy.

“Well, you know the rest of what happened. I’m here now, and so’s everybody else, even the lemur-monkey. And if I ever git back, I’m gonna tell Varin he was completely wrong about elves, ‘cause Eli don’t eat babies, and neither does the bubble-elf, and they’re both real nice. So is everyone else, for that matter; even Dirk has stopped hiding in the corners all the time. The Laird-fellow is exactly like I always heard Lairds act, even though he claims he’s no noble, and the druid knows all about herbs and things without me having to tell her, which is nice. And I’ve even started teaching her how to sew! In fact, most of us are teaching each other new and useful things. Eli is learning to weave wool, and teaching me to weave baskets and rope, and Lithnia has asked a little about sewing, too. Even the monkey is trying to learn! We even made him a little hat and walking stick, and he looks sooo cute in them! He makes a real good pet, ‘cept sometimes you gotta eat your pets. I hope real bad we don’t have to eat him. And that leaves the wizard, who doesn’t remind me at all of Greyham, though she’s real smart like him. She doesn’t talk much, and is kind of scary when she scowls, but she seems polite enough when she talks to me. She always talks slowly, though, like she thinks I’m real dumb. I’m not! I was well known to be fair intelligent back on the farm! But I guess that’s what city-learnin’ does to folks. I woulda doubted her and cleric and the Laird could survive two days on a farm, iffins I hadn’t seen them learnin’ to weed Reverend Mother’s garden. Well, it’s bin a long day, so I’m a-gonna git me some sleep. Maybe I’ll finally think of something else to add to my staff besides the little sheep I carved to remind me of home.”

In this campaign, all the characters are (although they don’t yet know it) half dragons (and half various other races), brought together for secret training after an evil dragon slayed, enslaved, or minion-ized the rest of his kind. Destiny says it’ll be the hand of a half dragon who will bring down the evil dragon emperor, and as such, the parents of these youths hid their identities from their birth.

 

Kira Lee Seedsdigger is a half-human, half-silver-dragon sorceress, born in the farms of the province of Achalan.

 

The Seedsdigger Brood:

Ma- 31

Pa- 39

Kira Lee (15)

Danny and Durain (twins) (14)

Lori Aine (12)

Ziki Lu and Zani Dale (deceased in infanthood)

Axam (9)

Roab (deceased)

Orlea Mae (5)

Aliette (deceased) and Kadi Lu(3) (twins)

 

From the diary of Kira Lee Seedsdigger:

 

“Well, I had just turned fifteen, ‘roun yon when I left home. I’m the first of seven livin’ chilluns, though two jus’ died a couple years back when the flu come round, an’ I’m not countin’ any ma had after I left. So I been raised raising nine little ‘uns. And it weren’t easy, let me tell you! Pelor bless his poor lil’ soul, Roab was always tryin’ ta eat him something or another, an’ never even stopped ta think iffins it was poisonous or not! I turn round, and he’s got somethin’ or another in his mouth agin… That one was a handful.

 

“But I git ahead of me-self. Me ma and me pa, they own a farm up in Achalan, one which grows corn an’ sheep. We also gots us a kitchen garden, two cows, three sheepdogs, one horse, who knows how many barncats, and Lori Aine got a goat for her eighth birthday present. We almos’ had a prize-winnin’ pig, too, but then it died, an’ lucky for me, too! But that comes later. Since I was the eldest, it was my job to keep all the littles out of trouble and teach them to read and figure. Aunt Anreeca learned me to read when I was little, and taught me some math, too, so’s I was supposed to pass it on to all the others. And I did, too! Ain’t none of us that cain’t read. In fact, my little sisters and brothers read better than I do! I’m awful proud of the lot of them. But you know, none of them likes doin’ chores. Ma never could git Danny or Durain or Axam to do their chores, and she could git Lori Aine to do hers only if she promised her somethin’ in return fo’ it. That’s how Lori Aine got that goat, you know. Ma promised it to her iffins only she’d learn how to dye real good. An’ though she’s just 12, there ain’t no better dyer near her age around! By the time she gits to be my age, I bet she’ll be better than Missy Claire. Missy Claire’s real famous round our parts, you see, ‘cause she just so good at dying things. She even has a shirt she claims is saffron! It’s yellow, or sort of yellow anywho, and she says saffron is a yellow color, so I guess it might even actually be saffron colored. How’m I to know? But if I ever git me-self rich, I’m gonna buy me-self somethin’ indigo. Missy Claire says indigo is a purple-blue color, real pretty-like. No one round here ever seen it, on account of it grows too far east and costs too much.

 

“Anywho, it never seemed real likely that I would git rich. Unlike Lori Aine, alls I do is make clothing. When pa and the boys go shear the sheep, they brings back all the wool, and then ma and I card it and spin it and weave it and Lori Aine dyes it, and then I sew it into clothing for everyone. I’m purty good, too. Danny and Durain learnt from pa how to make looms for me and ma – the hand loom I’ve got is one Durain made. Them boys also know how to fix anything that gits itself broke. I was always jealous of them for that. I done made Danny teach me, but I only learnt how to fix a few things at the time.  It wasn’t til later, after I was ten, that I started gittin’ real good, and I don’t even think that really counts.

 

“You see, when I was ten, I started seeing weird things in the air sometimes, looking like shiny pieces of thread. Since I know thread real well and all, as I make it, I didn’ mind at first. Was kinda fun to see them floatin’ around everywhere! An’ I found that if I touched a thread, sometimes I could see something about the thing attached to it, like if it were poisonous or not. Considerin’ that Roab always had somethin’ or another in his mouth, that were real useful, an’ I got awful good at it. Ma was always scared for him, though, so I tried to tell her what I was doin’, and she looked at me real funny and told me not to tell anyone that ever agin. I didn’t listen to her, though, which maybe I should’ve, but then again maybe not, since that’s why Greyham asked fer me… Well. I done told me friend Willa Mae ‘bout seeing things in the air, and next thing I knowed, everybody’s looking at me queer from the corner of their eyes. Willa still stayed me friend, and nobody was mean to me like, but they didn’t spend as much time with me and none of the boys came courtin’. In fact, mosta them boys startin teasin’ me somethin’ awful. Varin, he was the worst, all snooty and unkind. Then Danny and Durain went and beat him up, and he stopped makin’ fun of me. The twins were real good boys, always trying to take care of their sisters.

 

“Well, I kept on seein’ things, but everyone was nicer to me after Danny and Durain started punchin’ up anyone who said somethin’ mean. An’ I still spent a lot of time with my friends, and on account of me not bein’ bad-lookin’, some of the boys’ fathers would try to git their sons to come a’courtin’. Meanwhile, I found that if I used some of the strings when I told stories, I could git the littles to do their chores and go to bed. Like the time Lori Aine wouldn’t milk the cow, so I told her the story ‘bout the girl who never milked her cow, and the cow’s udder got bigger and bigger and bigger until it burst and killt both girl and cow, drowin’ them in milk. Then Lori Aine run and milk that cow real quick! An’ also, sometimes when I’d see twins or Axim and Lori whisperin and mischief-makin’, I could talk real quiet from where I was without havin’ to git up, and they’d hear me and look over and see me watchin’ them and stop whatever it was they was doin’. An’ when things broke, I could sometimes see a lil’ bit of the thread around it getting’ knotted and lumpy, and by stickin’ the thread back on a drop spindle, I could straighten it out. That made whatever it was that was broke git better. But I’m purty sure that don’ really count as fixin’ things, not like Danny and Durain do it.

 

“When I got to be 13, Varin’s pa told my pa that his son thought me awful good-lookin’. Boy, was I surprised! Varin had stopped makin’ fun of me, but he was a regular know-it-all and was always braggin’ ‘bout one thing or another. Since he was always tellin’ us all ‘bout things his papa’d seen, we all thought he was fair smart. I never woulda thought he liked me that way. His papa, you know, was the guy that traded all our stuff for us, usually goin’ several leagues away, even to the North! Varin was the one that done told me ‘bout elves eatin’ babies. ‘Course now I knows better. Elves eat monkeys, not babies.

 

“Varin’s pa offered me pa their best pig, which was well known as the very best pig in all the region. Me pa told him he’d think about it. Everybody thinked he was crazy for not saying yes right away. But pa, he come home and take me aside where no one else can see, and askt me iffins I wanted to marry Varin! I didn’t like Varin real much, so I told him no, and then he went back and told Varin’s pa no. Then everybody think him real crazy. Ma was sho’ upset ‘bout it, too! I was afeared that they’d all make me marry that boy anywho, since there was no good reason that pa could give them. But then a week later the pig up and died, and instead of thinkin’ him crazy, everybody thought him real smart. Boy, was I relieved when that piggy kicked the bucket.

 

“A few months later, the flu came through. That was real sad. All of Mama’s children had lived, ‘cept the twins which was born early and even the Midwife said they wouldn’ last long. But first Roab got sick, and then lil’ Aliette and Kadi Lu took it from him (but Kadi Lu didn’t git it near so bad as Aliette), and then Axim got it, and Danny got it but not Durain. Pa wasn’t home on account of he had some things to do dealin’ with his life before he married ma. Nobody never got sick when he was ’round. Well, I tookt care of everybody ‘til they was better, but Roab, who’d survived all those crazy things he ate, and lil’ Aliette who was too small to really fight it off, they never got better. Pa and the boys made them a nice big grave marker and put them in the cemetery with all the other folk who’d died. Everybody was real sad that year. And Kadi Lu, she was always lookin’ around, like she was lookin’ for something she’d lost. They says that when one twin dies but the other lives, the live one’s never quite right afterward. I think maybe Kadi knows a piece of her is already dead. But maybe she’ll grow up okay after all, since they were just babies at the time and Pelor is probably keeping Aliette safe for Kadi Lu.

 

“After the flu things got real quiet for a while. It wasn’t ‘til I was just past mah fifteenth birthday that things got interestin’ agin. This fellow, he came in from the city, sayin’ he was supposed to take up residence in Achalan after he finished his studies. He was well about twenty years old, but everybody knows they keep them in school real long in the city. The man’s name was Greyham, and when everybody askt him what he was doin’ coming round these parts even before he finished his schooling, he says he was a-lookin’ for a wife.

 

“You see, he’d bin told in the city that we farmer-folk start early, and if he wanted a wife of his own from the area, he’d better start lookin’ now. So he came on down and askt lotsa questions about the girls. Then one day, he comes down to our farm an’ knocks on the door. When ma answers it, he tells her he wants to talk with me for a lil’ while. So I go and talks to him. An’ after a few minutes, askin’ ‘bout the threads I can see and all, he tells me I’m really doin’ magic. That’s when I first learned the threads were magic and not just some crazy-thing in my head. He tells me he’s learnin’ to be a wizard, an’ that it would be real useful-like to have a sorceress – a girl who can do magic without book-learnin’ – in the family. He tells me to think on it but not answer yet, and instead shows me a couple of other tricks to do with the threads, in case anyone ever tries to attack me. Now even I could tell he was real sweet on me, and I rather liked him myself, so even though we both knew I’d probably never have use for that kinda magic, I didn’ mind him takin’ the time to show me.

 

“A couple of days later, he asks me in private if I’d thought about what he’d said. Of course I had, so I says yes, and then he asks me if I would want to marry him. Well, I liked him so well before he done that, that I’da said yes anywho, but I liked him even better after he askt me! So he goes and asks me pa if he can marry me. Pa says he’ll think ‘bout it, and seems real reluctant-like, so I said, ‘Please, pa! I really like him!’ But pa hemmed and hawed a little more, and of course ma is watchin’, ‘cause marriage is a family business, and ma asks, ‘And what you offer for her bride price?’ Now don’ go thinkin’ ma was in it for the money – she wanted to see me happy just as much as pa did – but she knewed pa might give in if Greyham offered a good price. So then, you know what Greyham does? He takes a purse off his belt, one that’d been hid real good in his robes, and plunks it on the table! He says, ‘Sir, since I’m still learning to be a wizard, I’ll need to wait a few years before getting married. But in three to four years, after Kira’s turned 18 and I’ve finished my schooling, I’ll come back to marry her. I offer now a bride-price of two hundred gold pieces, that she marry me when I return.’

 

“Well I don’t have to tell you that no girl on an Achalan farm has ever gotten a bride price like that! Maybe, maybe some of them Khatari soldier families in the cities get prices like that for their daughters, and everybody knows Lairds pay even more for their Ladies, but considerin’ I ain’t a Laird’s nor a soldier’s daughter, that were downright amazing! I knewed then I was a-gonna be marrying a rich man! Not even pa could turn down an offer like that – specially not with ma glaring at him like she’d kill him if he said no.

 

“But pa always was an honest man, and he was reluctant to take all that money from this stranger, so he says, ‘Son, there’s no way I can refuse an offer like that, not when my Kira so obviously likes you so much. But three years is a long time, a real long time, and a lot of things can happen between now and then, especially on a farm where the people are too poor to pay for good city healers. So I give you this instead: give me 50 gold here and now, which you know you won’t get back, to show you really mean to return, and if nothing to prevent the wedding comes up between now and then, pay the other 150 when you marry her.’ Ma looked like she could kill pa for that right there alone, but 50 gold is still the biggest bride-price we’d ever heard of a girl gettin’, so she couldn’t be too mad. After all, it was the honest thing to do. Soralle down the road had died before her marriage, and she’d only had a month between the engagement and the would-be wedding! And Greyham seemed to like this, too, ‘cause he counted out fifty real pieces of gold, right there in front of us, and handed them to pa. And then he had to go, ‘cause his school master wanted him back real quick like, so I walked him to his horse. He lookt at me and laughed dryly and said he felt sort of like a pedal file, gettin’ engaged to a girl so young, but that he’d feel better when he came back in a few years and I was older. I asked him why anyone would want a file made just for pedals, ‘specially since a regular file would work perfectly well, and he laughed at me at that, which I didn’t like too well, but I figured it was probably just some city thing. Anyway, he then wished me a fair few years, and I said I hoped his schoolin’ went well, and then he rode off. And I ain’t seen him since.

 

“Two days after he left, pa grabbed me away from sewing Lori Aine a new dress an’ told me I was leaving. He gave me only enough time to pack a change of clothes, some soap, and the hand-loom Durain’d just made me, then handed me the purse which held the bride-price Greyham had paid for me. All of it, completely untouched! Pa told me to pick up a couple of things at the market to travel with, like a bedroll and a waterskin, and then to go south. He wouldn’t say nothin’ else, no matter how hard I asked, and just kinda shoved me out the door. But before he closed it, I took a little of the gold outta my purse and give it back to him, tellin’ him he had to keep somethin’ to take care of ma and the littles. He wouldn’t let me give him more than a little, so I kept the rest and headed to the community market. It was real queer, him makin’ me leave like that, what with me just gettin’ engaged and it bein’ almost harvest and all. Harvest! No one leaves home near harvest! I’ve been thinking real hard on it, and I’ve started to think that pa might never have meant me to marry Greyham after all. That would be one of the reasons why he wouldn’t let Greyham pay the full bride-price early. And I knowed they’d agreed that no matter what happened, pa wouldn’t pay the 50 gold back, but if I know Papa he’s gonna try to do so anyway. Well, I hope he at least finds him another nice girl to marry. It’s a shame, really. I kinda liked that city-boy.

 

“Well, you know the rest of what happened. I’m here now, and so’s everybody else, even the lemur-monkey. And if I ever git back, I’m gonna tell Varin he was completely wrong about elves, ‘cause Eli don’t eat babies, and neither does the bubble-elf, and they’re both real nice. So is everyone else, for that matter; even Dirk has stopped hiding in the corners all the time. The Laird-fellow is exactly like I always heard Lairds act, even though he claims he’s no noble, and the druid knows all about herbs and things without me having to tell her, which is nice. And I’ve even started teaching her how to sew! In fact, most of us are teaching each other new and useful things. Eli is learning to weave wool, and teaching me to weave baskets and rope, and Lithnia has asked a little about sewing, too. Even the monkey is trying to learn! We even made him a little hat and walking stick, and he looks sooo cute in them! He makes a real good pet, ‘cept sometimes you gotta eat your pets. I hope real bad we don’t have to eat him. And that leaves the wizard, who doesn’t remind me at all of Greyham, though she’s real smart like him. She doesn’t talk much, and is kind of scary when she scowls, but she seems polite enough when she talks to me. She always talks slowly, though, like she thinks I’m real dumb. I’m not! I was well known to be fair intelligent back on the farm! But I guess that’s what city-learnin’ does to folks. I woulda doubted her and cleric and the Laird could survive two days on a farm, iffins I hadn’t seen them learnin’ to weed Reverend Mother’s garden. Well, it’s bin a long day, so I’m a-gonna git me some sleep. Maybe I’ll finally think of something else to add to my staff besides the little sheep I carved to remind me of home.”

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Find out Kira Lee’s father’s story (less humorous)