Disclaimer: See chapter 1.

Chapter 2: Settling In

The morning after Tris' return, Daja stumbled into the kitchen to find Tris cooking porridge for breakfast and Briar pruning a shakkan at the table in preparation for selling it. "Good morning, am I up late?" she asked.

"No more so than usual," said Briar with a grin. "Tris just woke early and then I woke early 'cause it smelled like food in here." There was bread rising on the hearthstone, spice cookies cooling at the end of the table, and stew bubbling on the back burner.

Tris put the pot of porridge on the table. "Eat, then. Daja, how's work going with you?"

"Well, I have an apprentice who should be arriving soon," Daja said as she ladled out a bowl of porridge. "I'll get him started on nails today and then I have work to do for His Grace."

"Really? What are you working on?"

"A commission. He wants me to do some of that fancy wrought-iron work for gates in his gardens. With a few spells for good growth and such thrown in. Do you need help with anything today?"

Tris shook her head. "Once I'm finished with the dishes, I'll take a run to the market. I need a few supplies and I should check what food we need here."

"Let the maid do the dishes," said Daja. "It's her job. Briar?"

"I have shakkans to sell to some merchants who ordered them last time they came through. I was going up to Winding Circle tomorrow to visit Lark and Rosethorn and to check on Evvy. Want to come, Tris?"

"Sure. Daja, can I put up a sign to advertise that I can do charms and such?"

"I'll add you to the board," Daja offered. "I'll get it made sometime in the next few days. I'm a little busy at the moment."

Tris' grumpy face relaxed into a smile. "Thanks, Daja." She busied herself with kitchen work, and introduced herself properly to the maid when she arrived.

"Do I need to stay out of your workroom too?" asked the girl.

Which workroom's mine again, Daja? Tris asked quickly.

The one adjoining Briar's. It hasn't been that long, has it? Daja answered, on her way to the forge.

Just wanted to make sure he hadn't taken over it with his plants, she replied. Then she turned to the maid. "The one that adjoins Briar's workroom. Just leave it for me."

"I'll be happy to," said the girl. "I don't like mage things. They scare me."

"Then why do you work for three mages?" Tris asked her.

"Good money, they don't yell at me if I don't mess with their supplies," she shrugged.

"What was your name again?" Tris asked.

"Elya, Mistress," said the girl. "My family's Namornese. Mistress Daja, she likes the Namornese food, she does. Sometimes she pays me extra to cook."

Tris nodded. "I'll be doing most of the cooking from now on; possibly a little housekeeping. You won't be run off your feet. It looks like you do a good job here."

Elya blushed and bobbed a quick curtsey.

"None of that," said Tris, not too sharply. "We're none of us royalty, you know. Are there any supplies that you need?"

The girl started to bob again and stopped herself. "Scouring powder, Mistress."

"Fine. I have to go to the market anyway. They're missing so many basic ingredients in this kitchen. I wonder how they eat."

The girl grinned. "They do all right but I can tell that you're a better cook just by what's here already. There's a reason I been living at a boarding house."

Tris actually smiled. "Then I'd better hurry and get to the market."


While at the market, Tris sought out the services of a soul-healer from Winding Circle who came down to the city to help the poorer people. She knew the woman from her time at Discipline; she was a friend of Lark's.

Dedicate Initiate Heartsease looked keenly at Tris for a moment. "Trisana Chandler. I wasn't expecting to see you this day. What troubles you, child?"

Tris sighed shakily. Heartsease understood people—she knew that Tris would not come here lightly. "At Lightsbridge I was—propositioned—by more than one man."

"Roughly?"

Tris nodded and her eyes suddenly filled with tears. Heartsease traced a sign on Tris' forehead. "Here, breathe this," she said, handing her a damp herbal compress. "I cannot banish the memories, child, but I can help heal the hurt. Time will need to take care of most of it, though."

"I know. I wouldn't have come but Briar said—"

"He has a good heart, that young man. Now, let me do what I can." Heartsease carefully placed her hands on Tris' head and carefully worked her magic to heal the inner wounds.

As she left, Tris handed her a couple of silver coins. Heartsease smiled. "My fee is much less than this, Trisana."

"Then use it to help someone who needs it," Tris said. "I'm not destitute."

"Go and visit Discipline, child," Heartsease called after her. "They are eager to see you again."


Tris arrived home laden with bundles. Briar saw her struggling with the door and went to help. He opened the door and took most of the packages. "Next time, take me with you," he gently chided, adding mentally. You're too young to be breaking your back over these.

Tris scowled at him. I went to the healer's, all right? I'm all better now.

He grinned wolfishly. I think I sounded about the same when I went. Did it help?

She softened for a moment. Yes. Thanks. Now be careful with those packages! She followed Briar to the kitchen. He helped her put the food away and then took the rest of her things to her workroom. When he came back to find her preparing food for dinner, he settled down to chop onions for her.

"What're you going to deal in?" he asked conversationally.

Tris shrugged. "The usual potions and spells. My certificate licenses me to do those. I still do weather-magic," she added at his disapproving look.

"I know. I just wanted to make sure that you knew too. You're a weather-mage, Coppercurls. This is just you needing to prove that you can earn a living."

"And what if it is?"

"Nothing wrong with it. Are you up to meditating later with me?"

"I'd like to meditate in my room," said Tris, as she busied herself with the bread dough from the hearth. "There's more wind up there."

Briar shrugged. "There's vines up the sides of the house. I won't be lacking in plants, if that's what you mean. It's been a while, is all."

Tris raised a pale eyebrow and finally nodded.

Later that evening Briar climbed the stairs to Tris' room and knocked. "Come in," she called.

He entered and sat down on the floor near an open window. He crossed his legs, placed his hands on his knees and waited for Tris to come and sit with him. She sat facing him, in the same position. The two closed their eyes and began breathing.

A long while later, Tris opened her eyes. She'd cast herself on the winds and gone far afield. She came home to see Briar sitting on her floor as though rooted there. He glowed with his magic. She smiled slightly and a sudden, unwelcome thought popped into her head. She pushed it away.

Briar lifted his head and opened his eyes. He reached out and squeezed her knee. "That was nice and relaxing," he said. He lifted himself slowly to his feet, stretched, and held out a hand to Tris. She took it and stood.

"It was," she agreed.

"Tomorrow, same time?" he asked. "I like meditating with someone. Daja always meditates first thing in the morning, and I prefer to meditate in the evening these days, so I've been on my own these last couple years."

Tris nodded. "I'd like that," she said, not daring to say something through their connection lest he suspect what she was feeling.

"Have a good sleep then," he said, and headed down the stairs. Tris felt a stubborn blush flood her cheeks as she prepared for bed. This was new.

G'night, Coppercurls, he said suddenly through their connection.

Good night, Briar, she whispered back.


Tris headed downstairs the next morning and found Briar already making the morning porridge. "Sandry's meeting us for breakfast and then we're going to Winding Circle."

"Already?" Tris said. "I thought it would be in the afternoon? Don't you have work to do?"

"Nothing that can't wait. Daj' won't be coming, though. It's just the three of us."

Sandry breezed in half an hour later and greeted Tris. "I brought horses. Shall we?"

"Did you eat breakfast?" Tris asked.

"I had some fruit," Sandry said. "I was in a hurry."

"Sit," said Tris, setting a bowl in front of Sandry as she pushed her into a seat. "Eat breakfast properly. Neither Briar nor I want to deal with you toppling off your horse because you didn't take time to eat this morning."

Sandry rolled her eyes and obediently ate, knowing that Tris wouldn't budge until she did.

Tris, Briar, and Sandry left for Winding Circle once breakfast was over. They arrived mid-morning at Discipline Cottage after leaving their horses at the stable.

A young man was sitting out on the front step, sanding the pieces of a drop spindle. "Comas," said Sandry, "Is Lark here?"

"She just went to Water Temple. Said she'd be back soon," he stammered.

"Tris, this is Comas. He's one of Lark's students. Are Evvy and Rosethorn here? And Glaki?"

"Glaki's inside," said Comas. "Rosethorn and Evvy are out back."

"Thanks, Comas," said Briar, heading around to the garden. Tris slipped around Comas and went inside. Glaki was studying a lesson at the table.

Glaki looked up and smiled. "Tris! You're home!" She got up and flung her arms around her first teacher. Tris hugged Glaki tightly. "I missed you," said the little girl. "Lark's nice but I like you best."

Tris let her go. "My, you've grown. What's Lark teaching you these days?"

Glaki showed her the book on the table. "Simple runes. She says I'm old enough to draw them now. See?"

Tris looked at Glaki's copybook. "Very good, Glaki."

"Are you home to stay?" Glaki demanded.

Tris ruffled the little girl's hair. She smiled. "Yes, for now. I may have to travel sometimes, but I think I'll be here for a while."

Glaki grinned. "Good. I'd better finish this before Lark comes home." She went back to her copybook.

Sandry walked into the room and caught Tris looking at Glaki with tears in her eyes. She quickly brushed them away. "Missed everyone?" Sandry asked quietly.

"I did. Very much," Tris admitted. "I should go visit Rosethorn. I'll be back in a few minutes."

Even though it was a cool day in late autumn, there was still work to be done in the garden. Evvy was moving some rocks from the soil, and setting up others around the edges of the garden for drainage. Briar had joined Rosethorn and was spreading compost over cleared areas of the field.

"Rosethorn, good morning!" called Tris. Rosethorn glanced up, waved, and went back to work. "Hello, Evvy," said Tris to the young woman. "How are you?"

"Fine," answered Evvy, intent on her rocks. Tris rolled her eyes.

I know, she's like that, said Briar. She only gets talkative when it comes to stones. Ask her about those.

Maybe later, said Tris.

Lark's back, Sandry called. She wants to see you, Tris.

Lark greeted Tris like a daughter. "It's so good to see you home," she said. "I trust all is well?"

Tris pulled out her new credentials. "There's my certificate. I'll be selling simple potions and charms soon."

"I'm glad," said Lark. "Come, tell me about your journey."

They spent the midday and afternoon at Discipline, then returned to Summersea. Briar took a few plants home with him, new hybrids Rosethorn had been working on.

Glaki had hugged Tris tightly and made her promise to come back soon. Tris told her that she needed to come to Summersea for a visit.

It was nearly dark when they arrived at Cheeseman Street. "Will you join us for supper?" Tris asked Sandry.

Sandry shook her head. "I have to hurry home. Uncle's invited some of his oldest friends to visit. Hasn't seen them in years. He wants me to meet them. You're all coming to dinner in two days, aren't you?"

"Yes, of course," said Briar. "His Grace hasn't fired his cook recently, has he?"

"No, she's still there." Briar loves Uncle's cook, Sandry added to Tris. She's very good, but I think it's mostly the contrast between her cooking and Daja's.

Tris laughed. Well, he might change his mind after eating my food for a few days.

Have a good evening, Sandry, Daja called from the forge.

Tris slipped upstairs after supper to meditate. She felt troubled and wanted some quiet. She went out onto her balcony, shut the doors behind her, and let the winds wash over her. She could sense that it would be a wet winter. Many storms coming, she thought. And this storm inside me, well, it'll be best if it doesn't break loose.

It was nearly an hour later before she came back. She was stiff from sitting so long. When she staggered into her room, she collapsed on her bed and lay there, deep in thought.

I can't say anything about this, she thought to herself, keeping those thoughts guarded from Briar and Daja. It would do our circle no good. I'm scared, though. How can I stay here, like this? She stood and went to her desk. She took down a copper bowl and poured some water into it. She concentrated until she could see images in it. She started searching for her own.

"Tris? You up here?"

Tris started out of her reverie. She was confused. All the future images of her she had been able to find showed the same thing, and it was what she least expected.

"Briar?"

"I was wondering if you wanted to join me and Daja downstairs. I was thinking of some reading. One of us could read aloud, if you like."

"Oh, sure," she said. "Just a minute." She tossed a tiny amulet into the bowl, to scatter the visions.

"What were you doing?"

"Meditating," she said. "And practicing some of my scrying. We could read this book." She took one of the new ones he had given her from the shelf. "I've been wanting to read it for some time."

She joined them downstairs and they read until late in the evening. Tris went to bed that night and had a difficult time sleeping. The visions she had seen in her bowl confused her and she couldn't stop dwelling on them.