Jerra spent all night studying her mother’s book. It was part diary and part spellbook. Inside the thick leather covers, Jerra found her mother, her true, unabashedly honest self. All of Ambra’s fears, her wishes, her motivations, everything was laid bare for her oldest daughter to absorb.
And absorb, Jerra did. In the single breath that was her mother’s death-day, Jerra learned many of the secrets of Masica magic. She learned how to keep her Buranga facade strong, even in the midst of extreme emotion. She learned how to create the simple magics that would allow her to protect her family from Ravers, from Masica spies, and from her Buranga neighbors.
Jerra also learned the terrible reason her mother had run away from her golden city, so long ago.
When Ander and the twins awoke the morning after Ambra’s funeral, they discovered Jerra, still sitting in her mother’s rocking chair, staring blankly at the open pages of the leather-bound journal.
“Genn, go warm your sister’s bed. Tair, see if there’s still something left in the pot. Quickly, now, go!”
Ander’s barked orders sent his younger girls running. Gently, the big man removed Jerra’s fingers from the book in her lap, closing the covers and setting the book beside the chair. He rubbed her small fingers in his, willing warmth to enter the frigid digits. When he looked to her face, he saw the glistening of tears in her jade eyes.
“Jerra, my girl,” Ander whispered, “if I’d known it would trouble you so… I’m so sorry, my girl.”
Ander was still trying to warm his oldest daughter when Tair returned with half a bowl of hot stew, thick with root vegetables and venison. Together, the pair spooned the hot broth into Jerra’s willing mouth. Genn returned from her mission, standing uncharacteristically silent behind her father.
When Jerra no longer opened her mouth for the offered food, Ander set aside the bowl and stood. He motioned his twins away and then lifted the unmoving Jerra from the wooden rocker, carrying her to her bed, like he’d done so often when she was a small child.
Genn picked up the leather book from the rug where Ander had placed it and carried it into her sister’s room. The young girl tiptoed her way to Jerra’s side, keeping quiet in her fear. When she settled the book onto the bed beside her sister, though, her fear exploded inside her as her father roared at her, tearing the book from her hands.
“Get that thing away! I never should have let her have it.”
The angry man threw the book, aiming for the still-crackling fireplace in the main room of the house, just past the doorway of Jerra’s bedroom. But before the journal passed the doorway, it froze, floating in mid-air, a purple haze surrounding it.
“No, Papa,” Jerra’s voice floated to him, “don’t. I’m fine. Just tired.”
Ander turned stunned eyes on his elder daughter. She was still lying in her bed, still as stone, but her deep green eyes were fixed on him. Never blinking, never taking her gaze from his face, she guided the flying journal back to her bed, letting it fall free from the magic to land on the feather mattress next to her hand.
“Let me rest, please, for just a bit,” Jerra asked her father, including her sisters in her words. “Then, I’ll be fine, all back to normal. Like mother.”
Ander gulped, fear and anger battling inside his chest. He nodded and escorted Genn and Tair from the room.
Before closing the door, he said, “I’ll be back to check on you in an hour. Rest, now.”
Jerra smiled weakly at her father. She waited for him to close the door before sitting up in her bed. She reached for her mother’s journal, flipping the pages until she found the map inside, hand-drawn by Ambra, showing the way from Pason’s Crossing to Hyroma, her mother’s golden city.
It took less than the full hour for Jerra to pack her few possessions. By the time Ander opened the door to check on his half-blood oldest child, she was out of Pason’s Crossing and across the river.