Eleven year old Liannis sat on the sod roof of her parents’ cottage in her night-shift, stroking No-tail’s soft fur, and gazing into the night sky. She loved to sit here to think, but chose to do so only after she was sure her parents slept soundly below. They did not approve, fearing she might fall off and be injured. Liannis knew better. At times like this, No-tail, their small cat, usually followed her and took advantage of the warm nest made by the hammock of her skirt as she sat cross-legged.
As a small child, Liannis had spent many happy days at court playing with Lionn, Lord Gaelen’s son, Sennia, his sister, and Borless, the son of Lady Marja’s maid. But as she grew older, the press of her growing inner gifts made it harder to be among so many people. The impressions of their emotions pressed on her spirit and threatened to overwhelm her. Like Liethis, seer to the court of Bargia, she preferred the isolation of her home outside the city.
At first Lord Gaelen and Lady Marja had been reluctant to have their son and heir come to the cottage to visit with her here, fearing for his safety away from the guards. But Liannis knew he would come to no harm. She told them, with full confidence that nothing would happen to him as long as he was with her. Earth had told her so.
Gaelen had relented only upon assurance from Liethis, official seer of Bargia, that Liannis’ sight was true. From that time on, under the watchful eyes of Liannis’ parents, the three children had visited with her often,. They had occasionally accompanied her in her night vigils on the roof.
Liannis had not returned to court again after her eighth summer. The press of impressions there caused her too much pain.
Tonight, Liannis kept her vigil alone. She considered what her future would hold. When she reached her twelfth birthday, she understood she would start spending the winter months with Liethis as her apprentice.
Liethis had already explained to Lord Gaelen and her parents that Liannis would grow into a much more powerful seer than she was. Liannis’ gifts of truth-reading and her ability to mind-speak birds and animals already outshone her own and had not yet grown into their full strength. But the girl needed other skills that would help her use her gifts to their full potential; how to dampen the press that would drive her mad otherwise, how to deal with persons of influence diplomatically and how to handle unwelcome questions from those whose problems were too small for Earth to be concerned with.
Liannis did not look forward to leaving her peaceful home but she understood its necessity. Already, she found it hard to control the barrage that assaulted her senses, and this would only increase. But at least the summers would still be spent here at home.
Liannis smiled, as she sensed her father reach for her mother and lay his sleeping arm across her waist. Earth had given her special parents. She knew they would never have another child. Seers were always only daughters. Earth never burdened a seer with siblings, as they matured too quickly and felt the emotions of those around them too keenly, to thrive in larger families. They needed a serene environment in which their gifts could grow without constraint.
She dreamily pulled a blade of grass from the sod to chew. Then, stroking No-tail one last time, she smiled to herself, content, climbed down and went to her bed in the loft.