The First Girl Child by Amy Harmon Read Online (FREE)
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Adyar: AD yahr
Alannah: a LAH nuh
Alba: AHL buh
Banruud: BAN rood
Bashti: BASH tee
Dagmar: DAG mahr
Dalys: DAH lis
Desdemona: dez de MO nuh
Dolphys: DAHL fis
Dystel: DIS tahl
Ebba: EH buh
Elayne: ee LAYN
Ivo: EYE voh
Joran: YOR uhn
Juliah: YOO lee uh
Leok: LEE awk
Saylok: SAY lawk
They shouldn’t have climbed for so long, but they’d been convinced that if they reached the top of Shinway, they would be able to look out over the sea, all the way to Eastlandia. They thought they might spot their father’s sails—the sails of all the warriors of Dolphys—returning from raids on distant shores. Their father always brought them something, even though it often wasn’t what either of them wanted. He gave Dagmar swords when he’d rather have scrolls. He brought Desdemona trinkets when she’d just as soon have a length of rope or a clever snare. Still, they watched for him, waited for him, and they’d climbed too high.
“It’s going to storm, Des,” Dagmar worried. “The fog has settled on the water, and we won’t see Father even if he’s almost ashore.”
Desdemona scowled and kept walking, scrambling up the rocky path like the goats they kept and should be returning to. If Father did come home, he would wonder at the empty cottage and the hungry animals, the cow that hadn’t been milked, and the wood that hadn’t been gathered. They’d left at dawn, and it was midday, though the thickening clouds and the gray light made it seem much later. They had played along the way, collecting treasures only to discard them for new finds. They’d stopped for berries and climbed a towering oak that had lured them in with low-hanging branches. Now it was growing late, and they’d been gone too long.
“He isn’t coming home today,” Desdemona said, dismissive. “Yesterday, old Hilde asked the sea, and it gave her five shells in a pile on the sand. She said it would be five more days until the warriors return.”
Mistress Dunhilde was charged with their care when their father was away, though she was drowsy and doddering, and Dagmar felt ofttimes that he looked after her more than she looked after them. But Hilde was rarely wrong about such things.
Dagmar stopped walking. “Then why did you insist on climbing to the peaks?” he asked, exasperated.
“I was weary of the cottage,” Desdemona said, shrugging. She tossed him an impish grin and tugged at his hand.
“We need to turn back, Desdemona,” Dagmar demanded. “A storm is coming and we’ll be caught on the cliffs.” His younger sister was constantly getting them into trouble, and she never listened.
“Don’t worry, Dag. I will protect you,” she reassured him, pulling her long blade from the leather sheath at her waist. She launched it with both hands at the unassuming pine tree directly in their path.