The morning was blossoming pink over the treetops and the birds were singing high as Alder Leigh stretched beneath the warm quilt. He smiled as the first rays of sunlight warmed his face and threw back the covers. He had a meeting with the new resident after lunchtime. He didn’t know much about the lad or his family, but he knew there were more people in that little cabin than would be comfortable. If all went well, he’d have a new project commissioned by supper time.
As he dressed, Alder heard his children milling about in the other room and he hoped Caroline was preparing breakfast. The thought of fresh eggs and hashed potatoes made his stomach rumble lowly.
When he entered the kitchen, he found both Caroline and Dane sitting at the table waiting for him to eat. The potatoes weren’t hashed, but fried in little pancakes that he liked well enough. The children chatted about their plans for the day and he nodded and smiled and frowned when necessary. Dane commented on how quiet the village was with the Wayfarers and all their lot gone, and Caroline got a wistful expression on her face that make Alder shake his head and sigh.
Alder’s apprentice, Bran Bullrush, knocked on the open window and grinned at them from outside. As Dane greeted the young man, he waved and walked out of view only to reappear after a few moments, inside and taking a hearty helping of potato pancake for himself. The gathering ate merrily, enjoying the slow morning and each other’s company.
Once dishes had been cleared and washed, Alder bid farewell ’til the evening to Caroline and Dane as he and Bran headed down the well worn path toward Ruby Lake. The fisherman’s cabin – now the Tenorbekk Cabin – sat low between two high cliffs with its back yard running right into the water. The elder brother, who bought the property right out from Oendir Arrowheart, wanted another room added to accommodate his siblings.
It would be a big project and there hadn’t been a wall raising in a while. The challenge would be where to put it, but that’s what he loved about the project. No repairs. No restorations. Creation, something that would blend in with the landscape and the current structure. And then, building the furnishings, unless the moneyed Dalish lad had all they needed beneath that beat up tarp covering the equally beat up wagon in his yard.
The meeting was shorter than he expected. The young man was brisk but not rude. He simply knew exactly what he wanted and had a good idea of how the structure should be added on to begin with. He built his house in Esgaroth, he said. His own hands had carved the dragon into the headboard of his wife’s bridal bed.
He didn’t have the time with his brother and sister, he said, to do it again. But Alder heard something else in the man’s tone. He didn’t want to do it again.
Alder had heard he lost his wife, just as he had lost his so long ago.
Bran took measurements (that he covertly double-checked) and together they bid the young man farewell. The sun was still high and he and his apprentice returned home. On the way, they ran into Nancy Thistle on an afternoon walk with her son and Alder paused to smile and chat with the boy. Tipping his hat to Mrs. Thistle, he led Bran back to the shop.
Bran sharpened the chisels and saws while he sanded several miter cuts that had torn out. They joked and counted nails and then Caroline came home with a basket of fresh biscuits from the shop up at Ravenhold. Though she smiled, Alder could tell she missed Maludir and Maggie and Sage.
Dinner was hearty and the family sat out on the lawn counting stars as they came out. Dane nodded to his sister and his father and trotted off down the lane. The young man had plans and Alder knew better than to ask.
When the mosquitoes started to eat them alive, they turned in and called it a night. Alder hugged and kissed Caroline good night; he patted the girl’s hair as she turned to her room. In his own, he washed in the basin and ran a comb through his hair. He did some stretches to work out his back muscles before turning in.
As he settled down beneath the warm quilt, he peered out the window at the full moon above.
“Good night,” he whispered before rolling over. “Another good day. Sweet dreams.”