Baxter smiled at Kesianna as she scurried around the house, preparing to go to school come fall. She’d finished with the local village school and now was ready to either apprentice or begin working. Their mother had laid aside money for each of them to continue schooling however. Kesianna would be going to Brightfalls Bardic Academy and he was still investigating what he planned to do.

Plans have a way of getting changed however and generally when it is most unfortunate that they are. The siblings were in town gathering supplies when they were summoned by a forester. The man had found the body of a woman who’d apparently been ravaged by a wild animal. Baxter arrived at the man’s hut a moment before Kesi did and pushed her back before she saw the gruesome sight.

“Wait out here,” he said firmly. Then he entered the hut completely and shut the door. A healer was already in attendance but it was obvious the woman, their mother, wouldn’t make it. She had already lost far too much blood.

“Is this your mother?” the healer asked. He sighed at Baxter’s answering nod. “Sorry, lad,” he said. His voice carried sympathy but also a certain weariness. “Looks like tenglers got her,” he said. “I can make her comfortable but not much else.”

Baxter nodded. He waited until the healer had covered her in a light blanket to get Kesianna. “It’s not good,” he said softly.

They waited by their mother’s side until she breathed her last, then Baxter left Kesianna with the forester’s wife so he could make preparations. He was the man of the house now. He knew there would be no further schooling for him. That didn’t mean that Kesi’s dreams of barding were dashed however.

She would go to Brightfalls at the start of term. He would see to that. Meanwhile, he would need a job. He asked around town to find if anyone was hiring. His steps took him to the edge of town. A small bright inn had grown from the rubble of a ramshackle tavern. Perhaps they would need someone to tend bar.

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