Warm sunbeams touched open fields and wood fences in the village of Lambahvras. The river Pehm, sleepy in this stretch of its journey, flowed west along the southern edge of the village, sparkling in the morning rays. Spring ice; thin, clear, and delicate hugged the edges of the riverbank. In a rapid sequence of cracks, one piece broke free from the mainland and floated with the current for a few yards before becoming one with the river again.
Up the northern slope of the riverbank, at the highest point, sat a weathered stone cottage, its windows set alight by the sun’s glow. Every sunrise, no matter the time, no matter the weather, no matter her health, Maska Rue Knottswood stepped outside her cottage’s red front door as she had done for the past seventy three years to take note of who failed to appear for Sungreet.
Sunlight may have brightened the scenery, but Rue still felt the spring chill in her thin-skinned hands and in the stone beneath her thin soled slippers. Her shrewd eyes noted with glee that Meadow struggled to coax her young son Thaw through the door of their house.
It was a different story with Sky and her four boys. The oldest, Volcano, erupted from the house on a dead run, trampling the brittle grasses that had struggled to survive in the frozen yard. Thunderhead moved more slowly, brooding with his dark eyes downcast and his hands in the pockets of his worn trousers. The youngest, Whirlwind, zoomed in random circles while making odd humming noises that unsettled their two skinny goats. There was something wrong with that boy, thought Rue, although for all his oddness he seemed happy enough. But where was Downpour? It wasn't like him to be late for Sungreet. Oh, wait, there he was, stepping out from behind a newly dampened tree, hitching up his britches.
Opening: Amanda Barrett.....Continuation: JRMosher