Elena daughter of Lena hummed softly as she worked. The brittle bones in her hands softened at her touch, turned, bent and became rigid at her desire. A man took shape in front of her. He stood, legs wide set, holding aloft a staff.
"Eat," Triock son of Thuler said to her and placed a plate on the table in front of her.
"Is it good?" she asked him.
"It could use some spices. I'm not the cook your grandmother is."
She shook her head and sighed. "No, father. The statue. Is it any good?"
He sat down opposite her and made a great show of examining it. "It is one of your best."
"Does it look like him?"
Triock shrugged. "It is a Lord."
Elena turned the sculpture slowly. "It is the ur-Lord," she said reverently.
Triock froze, his head tilted to one side. His breath shortened, and he stared at the skeletal construct. "Elena," he said. The word struggled past the emotions in his throat.
"You met him. Does it look like him, father?"
Emotions, as a grunt, seeped out of him when she said "father". He looked closely at the thing again. The hair was too long, the shoulders too broad and the clothing was that of a stonedowner. But the face was a perfect copy. He didn't know how he missed it or how she knew the shape. Perhaps Lena described him in a moment of lucidity. More likely, a moment of worship.
"Why have you made this?"
"It is my gift to you, father."
He pulled back a word he did not want her to hear. "Why do I deserve this?" he asked.
"It is a remembrance."
"A remembrance of what?" he said, too harshly.
"Of me. I've decided to learn the Staff. I'm leaving tomorrow for Revelwood. I don't want you to forget me." Her eyes and face were open, her every word sincere.
"I know of no one who can forget you, Elena." He turned to his food but did not eat. "Why haven't you mentioned this before?"
"You would disapprove, father."
"You think I would approve enough to escort you?"
She lowered her head to hide her smile. "No, father," she said slowly. "I will ride Myrrha."
"Of course." He nodded. "Of course you will." He tapped the table, trying to collect words. "You're too young. Wait a couple of years. You're only—" as old as Lena was.
"They will accept me, father." She didn't doubt her words. Neither did he.
"Why...?" He struggled against that question. "Why not wait a little? Would that be so bad? Or do I bore you that much?"
She walked around the table and hugged him. "You are always my father, Triock son of Thuler." He shuddered at her. "Ask me the question," she said gently.
"Why...?" he began but did not finish.
"To carry on the ur-Lord's work. To help save the Land. It is my birthright."
He turned so fast, he nearly knocked her to the floor. "What?!" he said.
She smiled again. "You thought I didn't know? I'm sorry, father."
"Who told you?" he demanded, standing.
"The Ranyhyn. I thought you knew that."
"How dare they—?"
"They did as I asked, father," she said sharply. "I had the right to know."
"To know? To know what?" he yelled.
"That the savior of the Land lay with my mother."
"Lay with her? He raped your mother! How can you speak of him that way?"
"Do you love me, father?"
"Of course—!" Sixteen years of emotion blockaded his chest. He panted some of it away. "Don't make me choose between the two of you."
"Don't make me choose between the two of you. Father."
"Very well," he said. "You won't go. I won't allow it."
She held herself erect. "I have never disobeyed you, father. I am sorry to do so now. The fate of the Land is more important."
"You're the fate of the Land, now?" he sneered.
"The ur-Lord rescued the Staff of Law, opposed the Render, brought whitegold to the Land and brought me to the Land."
"With violence. All of it." He snapped then stepped back, realizing what he had said.
She didn't react to his words in the least. "Kevin Landwaster saved the Land with violence. It is a tool, father, not a result."
"You took the Oath of Peace, Elena. You did understand it?"
"I will harm no person of the Land," she said.
"That's not what it means."
"The people of the Land learn Staff and Sword to fight the Despiser."
"It's not the same, Elena."
She raised an eyebrow at him.
"There's more to this," he said.
"I know, father. I want to learn what that is."
"Why, Elena?" he begged from her.
"Father, they reared to him."
He lowered his head and nodded. "You need to tell your mother and your grandparents."
"Oh," she said. "You're right. I had hoped you would."
"No, Elena, I will not."
"Yes, father. I will tell them right now."
"No, you will eat first."
In the morning, the four of them watched her leave. Others, friends, waved as she passed.
"She is much like her father," Lena said. "She will be a Lord." Lena's parents guided her home.
Triock placed the statue in a recess in the wall opposite his chair at the table so he might see it every day.