Chapter 1 - Homestead

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Chapter 1, Homestead

"I come, clothed in red.

I alight the mind like flame.

I show the past, the future, and the present."

- 7th Verse from the Feast of Sorrows

Seven Months Later

The sweet smell of pastries tingled Iltar's senses. Baked furnapel always evoked reminiscent memories of his childhood, especially when he smelled them here in his family's home. He strode down a hallway toward the kitchen where the tantalizing aroma grew stronger. For a moment, he thought he was a child again, peering around the corner to spy on his mother's cooking. Those were fond days. Days that were decades past.

His gaze was drawn to a short portly man sitting in a wooden chair beside a table. He was a groomsman named, Hegdil.

Hegdil was staring across the kitchen with an admiring grin. "That smells so good, Belsina!"

"None for you!" a woman's voice sternly scolded from the kitchen. "That is, unless you chop so'more wood."

Hegdil frowned, and then noticed Iltar. "Good morning, Master Iltar." He sounded chipper, despite Belsina's sternness.

Iltar nodded and entered the kitchen. It hadn't changed much over the years. Cabinets and countertops lined the walls to the left. They were made of light brown wood. A wood burning stove was between some of the cabinets, where Belsina was removing a cast-iron cooking sheet.

Belsina turned, gently setting the sheet on flat stones atop an island at the kitchen's center. Her hair was a dull brown, tied back in a pony-tail. She wasn't a beautiful woman by any means, but she wasn't ugly either. She was plain, to say the least. Belsina never wore make-up. Iltar didn't know why, he paid her enough to afford such things.

She smiled at Iltar, and the wrinkles around her eyes became more pronounced. "This is just the first batch," Belsina motioned to the cooking sheet. "I can also make some tangrils. Delrin brought some brandleberries from Cornar's orchard last night. I can make a batch of those if you'd like."

Iltar raised his brow. Brandleberries for children? How absurd.

"You can make a batch," he said, reluctantly. "But the brandleberries will be for us." He shot a glance to Hegdil, who rubbed his hands giddily. Though the man was in his forties he acted like a child when it came to food. Especially good food.

"Okay," Belsina rolled her eyes. She moved to another part of the kitchen, grabbing uncooked pastries and placing them on another cast-iron cooking sheet. "Are they here yet?"

"No," Iltar shook his head, putting his hands on his hips. "They're late. Hopefully Pagus didn't get distracted."

"The boy's got a mind of his own," Hegdil said frankly. "He's a bit of a rebel. I can see why his family wanted you to teach him."

Iltar shrugged. Hegdil had a point. Pagus was a spoiled brat, but he was doing better. But what else would you expect from a Sarn royal?

A faint whinny reached Iltar's ears. Both he and Hegdil turned toward the hall. Trotting noises echoed from the home's side door.

"That sounds like them," Hegdil grunted. "I better tend to Filly. Poor guy has probably been worked hard today." He stood and walked past Iltar, disappearing down the hall.

"When do you want me to serve these, Master Iltar?" Belsina asked, putting the uncooked pastries inside the stove.

"When those are ready," Iltar replied. "They'll need some energy for this morning's exercises. And we'll break for lunch at the usual time."

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