The last of the flowers were ready to be dried for the coming winter. Marcia knelt before the flowerbed, pulling out the plants by the root before placing them in the basket. The frost had come early, which meant the snow wasn’t far behind. Her son was playing with a wooden figure his father had made for him; a knight with a sword.
Hearing a pitter-patter of feet behind her, Marcia glanced over her shoulder to see the raven haired girl. Liora sat before Druce, pulling out another wooden figure from her cloak. The girl handed it to the boy, as he lifted the female figure closer to his face before narrowing his eyes.
“What is she?” Druce asked.
“Your father said it’s supposed to be a princess,” Liora gently took the doll back. “See, I have a kazt - that’s princess in Morzi - and you have a kezt - that’s prince. Can you say kazt and kezt?”
“Kaz…et. Kez…et,” Druce sputtered, giving the girl a wide smile. His eyes were closed and his front tooth was missing. “How’s that?”
“Close enough,” Liora beamed. She had the doll walk across the grass while Druce smacked his knight against the doll.
“Gentle, Druce,” Marcia called.
“Here,” Liora handed the doll back before standing to join Marcia near the flower bed. “Do you need any help?”
“No, I’m almost done,” Marcia smiled, seeing the girl’s big eyes look up at her. The girl had been quite helpful since she had arrived. Liora had been there to care for Druce whenever Marcia needed her, and the girl was wonderful with the little boy. “Aren’t yah supposed to be packing, or visiting the prince - or should I call him kezt?”
“Prince is fine… and he’s sleeping. He said he was tired and I’m taking a break at the moment,” Liora sighed. “He’s got a cough.”
“Oh, yeah, that dry one?” Marcia nodded.
“It wasn’t dry. He says he’s fine but…” Liora noticed the woman smile.
“I’ll keep watch of it,” Marcia patted the girl on the head, before the girl stood up and walked over to the little boy.
Liora took Druce by the hand. She tussled his golden curls, like his father did to her. He giggled before burying his head into her hip.
“Stop it…” Druce’s voice was playful and muffled from being buried in her dress. The girl laughed while she moved her hand from his head to tickle his neck, seeing the boy giggle and squirm away.
“This garden is much larger than the one in Morza,” Liora reminisced.
Marcia stopped before turning to face the girl. The girl hadn’t spoken about her home before. When asked, Liora normally dodged the question. What had changed?
“Oh?” Marcia didn’t want to pry. She had wanted the girl to talk about her time in the West. Remembering the good memories was known to help with easing the bad memories.
“My nana would have me sweep the pathways every morning and polish the idols. Spring was my favorite time because everyone in the city would bring a plant to put in the communal garden. When the plants grew the garden was filled with different flowers. The smell was wonderful and the fish were tasty,” Liora could remember spending most of her day just wandering around.
There had been big trees by the idols where she would sit and read. The elders would bring her food and thank her for making the garden so nice. In her care, the garden was healthy and vibrant.
“Fish? How did yah have fish?”
“Oh, we had a stream that fed into a pond. The fish from the river would get washed down into the pond… so we had fish,” the girl shrugged. It was strange not to have fish in a garden. Morza was the only place she had tended to a garden, aside from what little work she had helped with in Demor.
“I grew up on a farm, so whatever we grew was for food,” Marcia softly spoke, moving the basket. “The gardens we had were filled with vegetables or fruits.”
“Was Gil food?” Liora asked, hearing the woman laugh.
“No, Gil was used for milk,” her mother had made soap from Gil’s milk and cheese for the market. Marcia had helped with selling the goods in market and that’s where she had met the Sisters. “I left to join the Sisters when I was thirteen because I didn’ want a boring life as a farmer’s wife and the Sisters of Mercy told me how they helped people.”
“You were a Sister?” Liora couldn’t believe that. Marcia was nice to her, unlike those other women she had seen.
“For seven years. I married Foe soon after leaving and became Detress,” Marcia stood, offering her hand to her son. Liora willingly handed him over. “Darkel knew what I needed and gave me me family.”
“I wish the Gods would help me like they helped you,” Liora sighed, crossing her arms under her chest. They had done nothing but stand by while she was lost. All she was given were these strange visions and bad dreams, but nothing that could help her.
“My girl,” Marcia bent down to look Liora in the eyes, “I was young and didn’ know what else to do. Yah’re young and will go through the same motions as I.”
“Like joining the Sisterhood?” Liora didn’t want to do that, but from hearing the woman’s laughter that didn’t appear to be what Marcia had meant.
“No, maybe not that, but something else. I can see goodness in yah, and I want yah to never lose it,” Marcia placed a hand on the girl’s cheek.
Liora smiled, jumping forward to wrap her arms around the woman’s waist.
“Thank you, Marcia,” Liora’s voice was muffled by the woman’s dress. That was what she had needed to hear.