rather than laying into Chazd. No one said anything for several moments.
Finally, Jaeron stopped his pacing and returned to sit down across from his brother.
“Father told me another guild was responsible for his death. He said they found out about the necklace job, and that we should sell it and hide.
“That’s why I don’t think it’s that simple. If Father was right and another guild is involved - especially if it is a ‘rung’ guild – we are out of our depth, Chazd. We know what Father was trying to do. Form a guild from scratch, and I’m not sure he petitioned for permission.
“Father told me to forget the guild, to move on and forget his plans.”
“He is… was trying to protect us?” said Avrilla.
Jaeron nodded, but not convincingly. “Maybe he was trying to make sure we weren’t living our lives trying to fulfill his life’s ambition. Maybe he wanted us to find Sarah and see what this letter meant.”
“I don’t know if I can do that,” Chazd said, “It really doesn’t matter though – if it was a guild sanctioned killing, we need to build a guild of our own to protect ourselves. And find out who did this to him.”
The quiet statement surprised Avrilla and from Jaeron’s reaction, it had surprised him too. Chazd was not throwing out a provocation. He was simply speaking from the heart and he sounded uncharacteristically thoughtful.
Jaeron fixated on his clasped hands, focusing on his knuckles as he rolled his fingers across each other. He’s planning. Chazd, let him finish and don’t interrupt again.
“All right, not considering that aspect, is this what we want to do?” Jaeron looked at them. His eyes seemed different to her, as if for the first time he was not looking at them as a younger brother and sister, but something else. Before either answered, he added, “Chazd, you have your music. I’ve never said it, but you are good. Excellent, really. You could make a better life for yourself than wherever thieving may lead.
“And Avrilla…” Jaeron looked down at the floor, flushing a bit and clearly uncomfortable with where the conversation was going. “You could think about courtship, a husband. Children.”
The conservation stopped awkwardly. Avrilla felt the heat rise up her neck, her cheeks blushing. She did not know how to respond. Since becoming a woman and the indelicate conversation with Henri several years ago about her monthly cycle and the dangers of pregnancy, both of her brothers did their best to pretend that Avrilla was not a girl.
“I...” she spoke into the morning quiet. “I'm hungry. Anyone else feel like breakfast?”
She rose quickly and climbed down the wooden ladder to the barn below. Neither Jaeron nor Chazd had stopped her, which was just as well. She was as far from hungry as she could get. She moved under the loft toward the rear of the barn, barely disturbing the animals as she went.
The space under the loft was dedicated to the farmer’s tools. The man was fastidious. Each implement hung in place on well-made wooden hangers. She let her fingers run over the shovel and spades, feeling the smooth slickness of the worn wood. At the left side, the rear door to the barn stood partly open. The door was horizontally split, each half hung with a separate pair of hinges. The lower half was latched, but Avrilla pushed the upper half the rest of the way open to look out over the field and hills toward the sea.
Children. Not more than two years ago Avrilla would have giddily entertained the thought. When she first began working for Lady deChel, she had become enamored with the dress fabrics, the colors, the laces, and the patterns. She still did not grasp the complexity of designing clothes, but she was able to sew together anything from the formal robes of Teichmar Initiates to a simple peasant's blouse. But the gowns were her favorite. Even as she would go through the painstaking process of sewing in the stiff whalebone ribbing into the gown’s
Alana Hart, Ruth Tyler Philips