August 2019 Newsletter
THE BLACKSMITH QUEEN
Coming August 27, 2019!
“It’s like she expects me to forget what she’s done! But I’ll not forget. I’ll never forget!”
It took some time, but Caid was starting to think that this woman was talking to him.
Maybe she wasn’t.
He looked around at the others. Laila was chatting up the nun, trying to find out what she was doing here. He knew his sister’s way of thinking and in Laila’s mind it would seem strange that the nun should suddenly appear when she’d been gone for so long. But Caid also got the feeling the nun was chatting up Laila in the hopes of finding out what they were doing here. Unlike Keeley, though, he didn’t think this one or the cousin knew what they were.
He glanced behind him and there were Farlan and Cadell. For some unknown reason, Keeley had suddenly handed them each a sword from her shop. “I just finished these yesterday,” she’d said before they began to walk through town. “They’re a bit nicer than what you have and will serve you both well.”
She’d been right too. The swords she’d given them were definitely superior to what they had, which was why they were both busy examining their new weapons and discussing them rather than chatting with the blacksmith who’d created them.
And then there was Keran. The cousin. She was bringing up the rear . . . and seemed to be talking to herself because no one was around her. Whatever conversation she was having, though, she seemed to be enjoying it.
So what did all that mean?
He glanced down and to his left. Aye. Keeley was talking to him.
“What are your thoughts?” she asked, a baby lamb draped over her neck like a fur cape.
“I . . . I honestly don’t know because I didn’t know you were talking to me.”
“Who else would I be talking to?”
“Anyone?” Caid gestured to the world around them. “Literally anyone.”
“But I like talking to you.”
“I haven’t been listening.”
She shrugged. “That’s never stopped me before.” She studied him a moment before asking, “Does no one talk to you?”
“Why? You’re very pleasant.”
“No,” he insisted. “I’m not. Ask anyone. My own sister will tell you . . . not pleasant.”
“Are you not pleasant on purpose?”
“If I’m pleasant, people will talk to me.” He leaned in a bit. “Understand?”
“Of course! Some people . . . they never know when to shut up. But what can you do?” she went on. “Life is full of talkers. People who can’t help themselves. As a blacksmith, though, I have to talk.”
“Oh, yes. I need to know exactly what people want, when they want it, how they want it. And often they won’t say unless you ask them specific questions.”
“Sooooo, you’re saying there’s no way to get you to stop talking to me?”
“Well . . . I’m not speaking to my sister. Ever. Again,” she emphasized. “And when Keran talks to herself, that’s not a conversation you ever want to interrupt. But you’re here, so . . . No. There’s not.”
Suddenly, and without warning, she linked her arm with his and leaned into his side as they continued to walk to her parents’ farm. The baby lamb even rested its head against Caid’s shoulder, like it belonged there.
“But isn’t this lovely?” she asked.
“It’s been a beautiful day and it’s turning into a beautiful evening. You’ll get a hot meal and some good wine and a roof over your head for the night. What could there possibly be for you to complain about?”
“You talking to me?”
“You might as well get used to it, Amichai. Because if you think I talk a lot . . . wait until you meet me da.”
Keeley handed the baby lamb off to Keran and then threw herself into her father’s outstretched arms, letting him lift her off her feet in a big hug. She knew at some time he would become too old to do that, but until that time came, she was going to enjoy the way her father welcomed her home.
“How was your day, my little Keeley?”
“Interesting.” She leaned in and whispered in her father’s ear, “Amichais, Da.”
“What?” He quickly lowered her and turned to face the Amichais standing behind them. “By the gods,” her father sighed. “True Amichais. It’s been decades.”
Grinning, her father grabbed each Amichai’s hand and shook it. The Amichais didn’t shake hands, so they only seemed confused and slightly offended.
“True Amichais on my farm! What a blessing from the gods! Names,” he ordered. “Names.”
“I’m Laila.” She pointed at her brother. “Caid. Farlan. Cadell.”
“Nice to meet ya, lads. I’m Angus.”
“Good morrow, Uncle!” Keran greeted in passing as she headed toward the house with the baby lamb over her shoulder.
“Keran, girl. Ale’s in the cupboard,” he added, stepping away from the Amichais. “And who is your friend here?” he asked, turning toward his second oldest daughter.
Keeley heard his quick intake of breath when he recognized Gemma.
“My dearest girl,” he said, arms wide open as he moved toward her, but Gemma quickly caught his hands, not allowing him to hug her.
Keeley could see the startled pain on their father’s face and she wanted to beat her sister into the ground for hurting him.
“Father. It’s so good to see you.”
He nodded, holding in tears. Unlike their mother, their father tended to cry a lot.
“I see you joined an order,” he noted, sniffling.
“Well . . . we’re all very proud of you.”
“Despite how chunky a life of piety has made you,” Keeley remarked, walking between her sister and father so that Gemma could no longer hold his hand.
“And you have shoulders like a man!” Gemma shot back.
Keeley spun around, ready to slap her sister and those ridiculous white robes into their neighbor’s farm several leagues away but her father stopped her.
“None of that, you two.” He nodded at Gemma. “Your mum will want to see you. Go.” When she walked off, he focused on Keeley. “And Big Bart is having problems with his back again. Go fix it.”
“Is he really or are you just saying that to make me stop fighting Gemma? Because I’ll never stop fighting Gemma!”
“Be a girl, Keeley. Try. For me. Because if you two don’t get along, I’ll have to hear about it from your mum. I don’t want to hear it from your mum. Understand?”
He leaned down, kissed her forehead. “That’s my girl.”
Keeley started off toward the stables but said to her father, “Da, could you take care of our guests for me? They helped me today, so I owe them.”
“Of course! It’ll be my pleasure.”
“I’ve told them a lot about you, and Caid, there,”—she pointed—“he has been dying to talk to you. To hear all your stories!”
Her father clapped his big hands together. “And I’ll be more than happy to tell him everything.”
Unable to help herself, Keeley looked over her shoulder at Caid. The Amichai was glowering at her through that shaggy hair he refused to push off his face and she struggled not to laugh at him. He was so annoyed, and she knew her father would only make it worse.