The town crier roused me in the deep of the night. I could not hear his words, he rung the bell with such vigor that its sound blotted out the words.

I rubbed my old and battered crystal, once discarded by a customer of the tavern, and smiled when a small light tentatively burned in the center. I held the crystal on the palm of my hand, and ran through the kitchen into the common room.

My aunt already stood in the doorway, her long and thin frame lit by a large crystal. Soft gusts of wind moved the thin shawl around her shoulders.

Her voice could prick through skin, “Anwen, the mages ride out at sun up. I pray they don’t call upon you. I can’t spare coin for the orphanage.” She turned towards me and smiled in a way the tavern’s cats seem to smile before they catch a mouse.

I shuddered, and stayed silent. The wounds on my back still hadn’t healed from the lashes I received for dropping an egg.

I turned and walked away, her laughter followed me all the way back to the kitchen. I rolled up on the straw bag and prayed to the great Ur that the mages would call on me.

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