She walked quickly, knowing there was still time to visit her forest temple today. It was there that she sometimes spied gronnvolk in their full form, for only in that eerie place did they slow long enough for her to catch a glimpse: green, with five-taloned feet and the wings of bats. Once, her father had told her that the gronnvolk bridged the world of power to the world of men, and without them, runes would have no meaning. In the land of the gronnvolk all was certain, which is why doubt drew them like moths to a lantern. Gytha knew nothing else about them, except that in her leafy Valhalla they sometimes spoke to her, whispering things barely understood and barely imagined. Read More...
As a baby, he never cried. He started walking and talking much earlier than the nine had. And although they did not fear him, they felt he was “special.” Around age four, he began catching catfish in the Yazoo River with his bare hands. The water would still as he’d walk out and lose himself below its sometimes-muddy surface. Folk said that he had “done been under the water long enough to be dead.” Suddenly the calmness would break and Eustace would emerge with live fish, oftentimes longer than he was tall. When Eustace was about ten, he’d made a makeshift hunting knife and used it to gut snakes and cut the heads off river rats. Laughing, he’d leave the bodies to rot. Fascinated by trappers that came through Crabtree for alligator skin, he’d stolen a machete from their wagon. Directly after, he began to cut the heads off larger animals... Read More...
Betina took care of the house and helped him to raise Isabel, even harvested the coppercorn when he was ill. She answered his questions about ancient Ambisia and taught him better ways to manage the farm. She darned his socks and made him tea from Aragon in the Last Mountains, and until night fell, she was his housekeeper and he was her farmhand. When time trickled through the early mornings, her even, gentle voice was enough, no matter what she said. When Betina went to Tauris to buy provisions, she wore concealing garments and kept to herself, but the neighbors gossiped, and told the merchants and the priest. None of them would speak to Betina, and their wives and children stayed away... Read More...
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