Looking at her daughters radiant smile, Ana felt refreshed and blessed. Alice was different from other children her age, who only knew how to get into trouble and question their parents teachings. The always cheerful and calm Alice loved learning new things; she never found the words of the older ones boring.
Alice was smart enough to understand the importance of hard work. She was also sensible when it came to her limits; it wasn until this year that she asked to be in charge of the special herb fields. Ana still remembered how surprised she was when Alice came to tell her about it, especially the payments the village chief had promised.
It wasn that Ana didn understand either; her beloved daughter seemed to have a natural gift for agriculture. Since Alice started participating in the fields, the yields have only improved, especially the special herbs.
Normally a mother would be worried that her daughter would soon have so much money on her hands, but that was not the case for Ana. As Alices mother, Ana understood her daughter best, she could guess exactly what her daughter would do with the money she earned.
The word pride did not finish describing what Ana felt for her daughter, in addition to love, of course. As such, Ana had put a lot of effort into todays food. Cooking for her daughter was one of the few tasks she could still do to felt necessary for her daughter.
With maternal love filling her entire being, Ana spoke to her daughter, who clearly needed a bath. ”Come home, Alice. Its time for you to take a break. You can continue when the sun becomes less intense. ”
The notion of even turning down her mothers suggestion never crossed Alices mind. She just nodded with quiet joy, a little expectant of what her mother would have made for lunch today. However, Alice loved her mother for a thousand reasons. How delicious her food was certainly high on the list.
Seeing Alice leaving the field early, other farmers nodded and wished her a good rest. Who would have the heart to demand that delicate girl to work as hard as they did? The answer was nobody.
At this time of day, the woodcutters and hunters began to return from the outskirts of town, greeting the mother-daughter couple. Because it was not safe to stay too late away from town, hunters and woodcutters were in the habit of leaving early in the morning to return early. Before sunset begins to summon dangerous shadows in the forest.
Alice greeted everyone who passed by with a soft, natural smile, giving a small cheer to anyone who caught sight of her smile. For the adults, this was fine since they only looked at Alice for what she was, a cute and adorable girl. The youngest among the hunters and woodcutters were different; each one of them seemed to have lost their soul for that smile.
Eager to get the girls attention, some of the young hunters tried to gift Alice with their quarry, but she turned them away with an apologetic expression. Her mother had taught her long ago that she shouldn take things from others just because she could. Only her hard work would give her rewards that would bring her satisfaction.
Seeing the hunters defeated, it was the woodcutters turn to want to show off. Being more intelligent than their predecessors, the woodcutters did not attempt to give gifts or direct approaches to the matter. Alice only chuckled slightly as she found it funny how her friends tried to carry pieces of wood that were too big and heavy for them.
Ana smiled bitterly at the antics of the young men and how dense her own daughter was. As evident as it was that these boys were trying to woo Alice, she didn seem to notice at all.
Alice took a couple of steps out of nowhere, approaching the lumberjack carrying the largest piece of wood. The boy almost felt his heart jump out of his chest. He couldn believe that the most beautiful girl in town was coming towards him. ”She surely fell for how strong I am. ” he thought.
The poor boys expression became very hard to see as Alice walked past him to talk to the adult woodcutters watching the show from behind while sharing a few laughs. As expected, Alice came over to discuss the bed she wanted to order for herself and her mother, a request that the woodcutters were more than happy to comply with.
Leaving behind an order for her new bed and a dozen broken hearts, Alice followed her mother home with a slightly more cheerful expression than usual. Completely oblivious to the suffering caused to her friends by how dense she was, Alice was very happy thinking about how she could do something for her mother.
As it had become routine last year, Ana turned a blind eye to those precocious boys chasing after her daughter. Since her daughter didn seem the least bit interested, Ana was in no hurry to bring it up. She wanted to enjoy her daughter as much as possible before Alice reached marriage age.
Little did Ana know that Alice would likely remain single for much longer. This was made evident by the fact that she would be thirteen the next day, only two years shy of the age considered suitable for marriage in the empire. Still, she had yet to show the slightest interest in romance.
Arriving home, Alice first put the basket of herbs to the side of the entrance before running to wash her hands and face. She knew that her mother would not let her sit down to eat at the table in its current state.
Accustomed to her obedient and conscientious daughter, Ana was not surprised. When Alice returned, the table was already set. The rich, creamy aroma of the stew immediately whetted Alices appetite. The sensitive-sensed girl immediately picked up on the presence of venison, a favorite of hers.
A gleam of genuine emotion filled Alices blue eyes; she loved her mothers food too much. For that matter, Alice simply loved to eat, even though she didn have a big appetite due to her petite frame. Ana smiled sweetly when she saw how excited her daughter seemed. She always found it adorable how Alice appeared to enjoy the little things in life with such intensity.
Mildly amused, Ana sat her daughter in one of the chairs and sat in the other. ”Make one of your favorites. Lets eat; I don want to have to clean your drool off the floor. ”
With a childish pout, Alice responded. ”Im not drooling. ”
Little banter at mealtimes had become commonplace, but mother and daughter never got tired of it. Such was life in the country; they enjoyed the little things, the tranquility, and stability. Of course, some days were slightly more memorable than others. That was the case the next day, which would be Alices birthday.
Birthdays weren much of a cause for celebration in the empires culture. Yet, these were remembered and commemorated in some way. But these were rarely the cause of a big party or anything like that.
There were certain exceptions, but these were associated with age rites. Usually, birthdays every five years were celebrated with a little more enthusiasm. Being the fifteenth birthday is quite significant for young people as it marks their entry into adult life.
However, there was a tradition regarding the thirteenth birthday, which was as old as or older than the empire. No matter what kingdom or continent you belonged to, no matter your race or religion, the thirteenth birthday was incredibly important. The importance of the thirteenth birthday was related to one of the worlds most mystical and strange aspects: magic.
Legend has it that thousands of years ago, in a dark age when mortals struggled to survive, the mother goddess gave mortals the gift of magic. The goddesss gift came in the form of a grimoire, an artifact hidden in the hearts of mortals.
Those truly akin to this gift will experience the awakening of their grimoire on their thirteenth birthday. An event where they gain access to their grimoire. Then, the doors to the wonders of magic are opened for them.
Alice and Ana, mother and daughter, didn overthink it. To them, magic was too strange, wonderful, and alien. At least Ana hadn met anyone who had awakened their grimoire.
Magic sounded like something too far away for the mother-daughter pair, who live a comfortable country life. Something they would only see portrayed in the pages of fairy tales.
They couldn be blamed for thinking like that either; the town had almost two hundred inhabitants. They were already the fourth generation of settlers, and, as far as Ana knew, the town of palo verde had never seen the birth of a magician.
Still, to pass the time, Ana asked her daughter how she thought her first spell would be. Although magic was quite unknown to Ana and Alice, there wasn a single person in the entire world who didn know about the grimoire and the first spell that came with it. It was like not knowing that the sun was warm and the sky blue, something so strongly linked to the gods was common knowledge.
To her mothers question, Alice gave the same answer that she gave each time. ”A spell that makes you happy. ”
Even honey was not as sweet as the sincerity that Ana could see in her daughter, but she still insisted a little more. ”Come on, Alice, what if you woke up a Grimoire and got some weird magic? Is there really nothing you would like? ”
Alice thought a little more under her mothers insistence and remembered an old fairy tale, something more like a legend from the dark ages. A combination of longing, admiration, and curiosity sparkled within Alices blue eyes as she recalled a certain scene. ”I would like a spell that would allow me to meet an angel, like those who in the legends came to save us all in the dark age. ”
How could Ana not know of her daughters fascination with such things? Not just angels, Alices curiosity ranged from the extremely dangerous dragons to the peaceful but not very social elves. Alices curiosity about all sorts of magical beings and events betrayed how much the girl was interested in magic, despite what she tried to pretend.
Alice avoided sounding too excited or talking too much about it because she knew how unlikely it was for her to awaken a grimoire. Alice just didn want to get her hopes up too much, the world of magic could be interesting, but her life in the fields was more than enough for her.
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