The pounding of a mallet against a wood join drowned out the knocking on the door for quite some time. It wasn’t until her rhythm broke that Regine stopped and listened to be sure it was not her own work causing the ruckus.

“Eh? Come in!” she called out. “Door’s always open, ya know!”

It was only the stiff breeze blowing across the fields that made her keep the door shut. Wood dust and shavings would fly around the room, and into Regine’s eyes, if she kept it open. A shame, too, on such a beautiful autumn afternoon.

The door opened and a girl of about fourteen slipped in, her rough field clothes rippling in the breeze.

“Ma’am, there’s an old woman here to…” The girl stopped mid-sentence and changed tack as Regine raised an eyebrow at her. “I mean, there’s a traveler here to see you. She just showed up out of nowhere. Hasn’t been a transport for days.”

“For me? I’m not expecting anyone. Odd, that. She at the guest house?”

The girl nodded.

“Okay, just a second and we’ll go over. Unless you need to get back to your father.”

“No, ma’am,” the girl replied. “It’s lunch.”

Regine nodded as she took her apron off. The wood dust that was stirred up when the girl opened the door was slow to settle and would be agitated all over again when they left. But that was a mess for later. Right now Regine needed to make herself presentable to whoever it was that had come to the middle of nowhere to see her.

As she tided herself up, she saw the girl looking around the workshop. She didn’t touch anything, but Regine saw her reach out as if she wanted to. She noted it wasn’t just the finished pieces that the girl was admiring, but the tools as well. After letting her take a good look at everything on the front workbench, Regine raised an eyebrow at the girl, who looked down at her feet sheepishly.

“Come on. Take me to this traveler and let’s see what she has to say.”

They walked together in silence, but the girl by her side wasn’t much of a talker, something Regine appreciated in her companions.

The air still held the last bits of late summer warmth and carried the smell of fresh cut grain on the breeze. A few wisps of white hair escaped the loose binding Regine had trapped it in that morning and she realized she hadn’t checked the mirror while she was busy getting the dust off her clothes.

“Elisha, is there dust on my face? Forgot to check the mirror before I left.”

The girl looked at Regine’s face and shook her head.

“You sure? There’s a fair number of wrinkles there. Might’ve gotten some stuck in the cracks.”

With a laugh, Elisha checked again. “Yes, ma’am. No dust. Just wisdom and skill.”

Regine hrumphed at her, but gave her a wink as she replied. “Cheeky.”

The town was large enough to support a market, part of the reason Regine had set up shop there, and with a market came a guest house for the folk that came a longer distance to sell their goods.

It still charmed her that the village was so removed from the rest of the goings on of the Diot that everything about living here was a deliberate act. From the market to the furniture to the food they made, hand tools weren’t uncommon and there was a sense of self-reliance at the foundation of the culture here.

Unlike the technology-laden central planets, there was only a transport a couple times a month. Beyond that and some of the bot-driven harvesters, there was little in the way of automation here. Having left Acking and its excesses behind a long time ago, Regine appreciated the simplicity. Here she could think with a clear head, fewer people meant it was easier to control her gifts. No more pounding headaches and confusion about who was talking to her and who just had a busy, distracted mind.

When they entered the guest house Regine’s eyes took a moment to adjust. When they did, she found herself staring at an ancient-looking woman sitting by herself in the common area. Despite her apparent age, the woman sat erect, her posture straight and eyes bright as they approached.

“Aye, there ye be,” the woman addressed Regine. “This young one ‘ere was quite a help in finding ye. Saved these old bones some searching, she did.”

Before Regine could reply, the woman stood smoothly and gestured to her. “Come now, we gots work to do you and me. Grim work it is, too. Best be getting on with it.”

“I’m sorry,” Regine held a hand up. “Do we know each other? Have we met? What are you talking about?”

The ancient woman sized Regine up, then turned to Elisha. “Thank ye for yer help. Best be getting back to your da now. ‘E’s got more work with yer mum being in the family way, yes.”

Looking very confused and a little upset, Elisha replied, “Uhm. Yes, ma’am, but…my mum’s not having a baby. She’s… she’s been gone eight cycles now. The plague took her.”

“Ah,” the old woman frowned. “I gets the dates wrong from time to time, me. Must’ve been you in her belly I was seeing. You just go along then.”

Elisha nodded, a wary look on her face as she left the two older women on their own.

When the girl was gone, Regine turned to the woman. “Okay, I’ve got work of my own to do so what is this all about? Who are you?”

“Best we walk and talk, m’dear. Back ta the workshop. You’ll be needing yer tools.”

With that, the woman headed for the door, turned north, and started walking towards Regine’s place without missing a beat. Throwing her hands in the air, Regine followed her, struggling to catch up. The woman moved fast for one who appeared so frail.

Once she caught up, Regine grabbed the woman by the arm, intent on stopping her. A shock ran up her arm and her eyes filled with a vision of her own life, jumping from moment to moment. Her youth, then middle age, followed by a moment from childhood. Thalia appeared, at first looking as she did the last time they were together, a colorless vision of loss. Then they were young again, falling in love, the memory brilliantly saturated in color. Other memories took form, her parents, that fancy party on Acking with a well-to-do young man, her gifts manifesting, deciding to leave with Thalia no longer there to hold her in place.

When she let go of the woman’s arm, she could not tell how long it had been since she grabbed it in the first place.

Out of breath as if she had been running, Regine paused in the middle of the street and stared at the woman, who smiled gently back.

“Ah, dearie, tha’s naught to be messin’ about with. But ye’ve learned yer lesson ‘aven’t ye?”

“Who…who are you?”

The woman shrugged. “Some folk call me fancy names, legend and such, but ye can jes call me Grannie Hella.”

Regine gave her a confused look, but Grannie Hella didn’t offer any more explanation, instead turning away to continue down the road. Now more curious than frustrated by her interaction with the older woman, Regine allowed her to lead the way back to the workshop.

As they walked, Regine kept an eye on Grannie. There was something about her that felt, for lack of a better description, doubled. It had been decades since Regine had used the skills the Hanturri had taught her, but she did her best now to remember them. A few slow, deep breaths later and Regine had a few clearer words for what she felt around the older woman. It was as if Grannie was two people at the same time, though the second person felt like they were next to her, rather than within her. It was baffling, but it did not feel dangerous, only sad.


The sun was bright, the afternoon warming as the breeze of the morning slowed enough so when they arrived Regine was able to leave the door open to air out the bit of stuffiness that had accumulated while she was gone. Grannie Hella took a quick glance around as soon as she crossed the threshold.

“For now, ye’ll be makin’ a box. Do it up in some kind of wood that smells nice and won’t rot easy.”

“Could have just said you wanted a commission. No need to come all the way out here for me to take your order.”

“Ah, I’ll be waitin’ fer ye ta finish it this afternoon, see. Then we’ll take it and a good sturdy shovel outside of town.”

“Outside of town? Where? What are you talking about?”

“I’ll know the spot when I sees it. And as fer what I’m talkin’ about. I’ll tell ye a bit more when the box is done.”

“Why should I do this? Why’d you come to me, of all people? Plenty of better woodworkers out there.”

“Ah, good smart questions. Yer not like some I meet, all youth an’ bluster wit their ‘eads in the clouds.”

Grannie paused, placing a gentle hand on the bag still slung over her shoulder.

“Tha gift ye’ve got, tha’s wut brought me to ye. Tha special piece of ye whats let you see folks’ thoughts? Aye, I know ye gots it. No use tryin’ to cover it up wit me, lass.”

Regine sat down hard on a nearby work stool. “I… no one knows about that except… did the Hantirri send you? I’ve kept a low profile, just like we agreed.”

With a gentle smile, Grannie shook her head. “Twernt them dogmatic fools wut brought me here. No. They’ll have a reckoning, but that’s a long way off now. Either way, I’ve naught to do wit them and they wit me.”

“But my gift brought you here? How? Why?”

With a twinkle in her eye, Grannie asked, “Worth the price of a small, sturdy box ta know the answer?”

Taking mental stock of her current work, Regine glanced around the room. There were a few orders in progress on the workbenches around the shop, but the most urgent one was in a gluing rig and work couldn’t continue on it for at least two days. Everything else was ahead of schedule and after all, it had been some time since Regine had the chance to work on something small and quick and fine.

Even more than that, there remained the question of that second presence and Regine was truly curious what that was about.

“Alright,” she replied. “I think it’d be worth it. What size does it need to be?”


Sawdust floated through the air as Regine ripped boards down to size, soon followed by the satisfying scrape of a planer bringing them into true. The sweet smell of cedar filled the air as she worked.

It took a little while nowadays for her hands to warm up and her joints to relax in the work. She did not know how many more years she would be able to run the shop, working on her own as she did, though she was reluctant to give up her independence and the quiet solitude she had found here. However, the deep purple bruise on her hip from dropping a heavy board last week was harsh reminder of her age and though the wood she worked now was smaller and lighter, she was more careful than she once was.

Grannie Hella’s request was simple: a plain box, hinged, with a sturdy latch. Without allowing the rest of the design to run away with her, Regine made perfect, pretty dovetail joins to hold the box together that also fulfilled Grannie’s request that it be self-contained and not need any glue. There was no carving or edge decoration to be done and the final box was elegantly simple.

As Regine worked, Grannie made tea and knitted on some small project she pulled from a pocket. She also hummed to herself, occasionally rambling quietly under her breath, but nothing she said made any sense to Regine. It was all nonsense and seemed to be about events long past and, possibly, events yet to come. Yet oddly enough, Regine could sense nothing of her thoughts. Grannie’s mind was the quietest she had ever been around.

There were rumors when Regine still lived on Acking. Running with a dangerous crowd there meant you knew folks from the lower levels of Torant City and it was only her gifts manifesting that had saved her from a dark and dangerous fate. Before she had to go to the Hanturri for help controlling her gifts, she knew people who frequented the black market underground and they brought back tales of an old woman whose electricity never went out like everyone else’s. She and the house, and the alley cats she fed, were all neat and tidy amidst the grimy deterioration and it was said that she had lived there for centuries.

Of course Regine had blown the stories off as fantasy. Even with the Hanturri’s seemingly miraculous powers the idea of someone living for centuries was the stuff of legend. Now though, with Grannie Hella here in her own workshop and having felt the strange and ancient power flowing through her, Regine began to take those old rumors to heart.


When the box was complete, Regine lay it on the workbench where Grannie Hella had placed her bag and knitting. The ancient woman, though having spent an afternoon in her presence Regine now doubted she was actually human, picked it up and examined it carefully.

“Aye, this is fine, fine work. T’will do nicely, I thank ye,” she said with a gracious nod.

“I’ve held up my end of the bargin, fair and square…” Regine began, but Grannie held up a hand to silence her.

“An ye’ll be wantin’ to know why I came ‘ere and to ye.”

Nodding, Regine took a seat on the opposite side of the workbench, her legs tired and hands aching. Fine work like that made her realize her hands weren’t what they used to be.

Grannie pulled her bag closer and undid the large buckle holding it closed. As she did so, Regine could feel the air shifting in the room, as if there was a storm coming and the pressure had just dropped.

As Grannie pulled a bundle out of the bag, she spoke gently to it, her voice sad.

“’Tis alright now. Ye’re almost at rest. Jes a wee bit longer. If ye have the strength, ye can surface for a wee bit. ’Tis safe here.”

A moment later Regine heard the sound of someone waking from slumber echo through her mind. The presence of a young woman expanded outward from the bundle and Regine could almost see her standing next to Grannie Hella now, posture straight, a woman of power and grace. She also noticed Grannie was watching her reaction.

“Aye. ’Tis the Bright One ye’ll be seeing now. Lovely girl, bit of a fool.”

“Grannie, I was no such thing. I could not abandoned my destiny any more than you could have changed it.”

The voice now in Regine’s mind was clear and commanding, though she could not place the accent. Grannie sighed at her words.

“True, true, girl.”

“Who was she?” Regine asked Grannie and then realizing that, unlikely as it was, the young woman could hear her, corrected. “Who are you?”

“The daughter of a long line of women who are bound to that sword.” She replied, pointing at the bundle.

Grannie pulled back the covering on it, revealing the brilliantly white hilt of a sword. It gleamed and glowed almost as if it generated its own light. However, around it was wrapped a disembodied hand, cut off at the forearm, old blood dried into the cloth that enclosed it. Regine sat a bit further back on her stool at the sight.

“It’s mine, you know, that hand,” the young woman explained as Grannie covered it up again. “I fought a horrible, destructive man and defeated him, but it cost me my life.”

“Aye, lass. It did,” Grannie smiled sadly. “The Ilandu are defeated fer now. Can’t say I’m pleased wit the cost, m’self. But wut’s done is done.”

“For now?” the Bright One turned toward Grannie, an intense look upon her face. “Do not tell me they will return. What was all this for? I died so my daughter will not be tied so to my own fate. I broke the curse.”

“Ye did, and ye didn’t, m’dear.” Sitting up a bit straighter, Grannie placed the bundle back into the bag and picked up her knitting again. “There’s more to come, but ’tis not yer burden now.”

“You knew.” The young woman balled her hands into fists. “You knew and you did not warn me. This truly was all for naught then. What will happen to my daughter? Is she to be the next sacrifice? If not her, my granddaughter yet to come?”

Making a calming motion with her hand, Grannie did not meet her anger. “T’werent for naught and ye know it, girl. Ye bought a century of peace for the galaxy, at the least, and tha’s no small thing.”

“But my daughter, Grannie. And her daughter after, and the one after that. What will happen to them?”

“They’ll be heroes, t’same as you.” Grannie shrugged and picked at a stitch that had not set cleanly.

The Bright One sighed, her shoulders slumping. “Yes. I know they will. Just as my mother was and hers before her.”

“Aye.” Grannie replied with a matter-of-fact tone, though Regine noted the look on her face betrayed a deeper sadness and resignation. “’Tis what it ’tis, m’dear. Naught we can do ‘about it. Though ’tisn’t all bad, is it?”

The young woman smiled. “Indeed. There is good in all this as well.”

A moment later, Grannie cocked her head to the side, as if she were a dog listening for some far-off sound. “We best be on our way. There’s work yet to do.”

She turned her attention back to Regine. “We may be needin’ ta sleep out overnight. Ye’ve got supplies fer tha?”

“I…overnight? I might. Got an old tent. We’d need to bring a cart to tow it all. Don’t think I’m hale enough to carry a pack anymore.” She paused, realizing what she was saying. “How far are we going?”

Grannie shrugged, a look on her face that appeared she was making a wild guess and had no real idea. “Depends how long it takes ta find tha place wot feels right.”

“Feels right?” Regine asked. “Feels right for what?”

“To put the Bright One at rest.” Grannie replied and there was such sincere sadness in her voice that Regine stopped asking questions and rose to gather what they would need for the trip.

The weather report looked good for the next day or so. No rain forecasted and the temperature wasn’t due to get too low either. Regine was able to quickly rig up the little cart she used to collect downed branches into something serviceable for carrying their supplies.

She climbed up into the attic to retrieve the tent, pleased to find it intact. Along with that, she found a box containing a small camping cookset and fire-burning stove. Thalia had bought them for her as a birthday gift when they were still struggling and Regine realized the memory made her smile now, rather than cry.


The cart was soon loaded up for an overnight trip, including three days of food and water because Thalia would have Regine’s head otherwise, were she here. The woman was always over-prepared for everything, even to the end.

The cart had handles, but also a harness so it could be pulled along while the hands were kept free. Grannie offered to take the first shift after gently tucking the bag containing the sword bundle in safely. After Regine had asked three times if she was sure, Grannie grabbed the harness from her hands and marched off, heading further from town. Regine smiled and shook her head, following behind.

Despite the work she had already done that day, Regine found she was enjoying the walk. Early autumn was just right for this kind of journey. The travelers were neither too hot nor too cold and the smells of the fields and stands of trees were deeper and drier than they were in the spring. The land was preparing for slumber at the end of a cycle of life. Regine knew how it felt, though she didn’t feel quite ready to lay down all her burdens just yet.

They walked mostly in silence, but for Grannie occasionally murmuring to the sword bundle and the quiet whisper Regine heard in her mind. The Bright One was still with them, though Regine could feel her fading quickly.

Dusk came upon them as they reached a wooded area no farmer had claimed as their own. It was a sheltered, quiet place to make camp. Between Grannie and Regine, the tent went up quickly. Dinner was simple and warm and they made a bright little fire to pass the time until bed.

The Bright One had been quiet for the last few hours and Regine wondered if she would see the young woman’s face again or if she had gone too deep into whatever rest she found in her limbo state. Yet while they sat watching the flames, Grannie pulled the bundle out from the cart and placed it gently near the fire.

“One las’ time, my girl. ’Tis soon time fer rest, but ye’ve got ta stay wit us fer now.”

Once again Regine could hear the sound of someone waking. It wasn’t like stretching or yawning, just someone coming awake after a peaceful slumber. All in one moment there was a wakeful presence that had been sleeping before.

When she spoke, the woman’s voice was strained. “Grannie. I cannot hold on much longer. I must be released or I will be trapped.”

“Ach, dear. I know. But ye’ve got strength in ye beyond wot ye know. Ye can hang on a wee bit longer. On the morrow, ye’ll be free to join wit Tir once again.”

Feeling that she may be intruding by listening to the conversation, Regine made herself busy stoking the fire. As she walked around it to avoid a fresh billow of smoke from a too-damp log that smoldered, she came to Grannie’s other side and the bundle that held the sword and the Bright One’s severed hand. There was a palpable energy around it that drew her in, like a child with outstretched hands begging to be picked up.

“Can I… Can I see the bundle for a moment?” she asked, the two women turning their attention toward her as if they had forgotten she was there.

Squinting at her as if probing for some elusive answer, Grannie nodded. “Ye may, but be gentle there. All must stay as it ’tis.”

With a nod, Regine put her hands out to gently lift the bundle of cloth.

It still surprised her at times, to see the wrinkles on her hands. The battered nails were no shock, carrying the scars of her work was a badge of honor. The signs of age didn’t truly bother her. Thalia often teased her about her lack of vanity, to the point of farce, she would say. It was more that the passage of time came as a surprise, though the number of shelves and dressers and baby cradles she had built in the last twenty years should have served as a solid enough reminder.

Gently lifting the bundle, Regine was surprised at how light it was in her hands. The sword hilt had to weigh less than it should have for its size. As she held it, she tried to open her mind to follow the paths of connection the Hanturri had taught her to see, though it had been so long since that time she wondered if those doors were still open to her.

A faint image appeared in her mind’s eye of a woman who looked very similar to the visage standing before her. She wielded a sword in her hand, the same as the one wrapped in the bundle in Regine’s hands. That image was soon replaced by another, then another, the connection going back further and further, each image a woman looking similar to the one before her, each holding the same sword.

Eventually losing count, the images continued for some time until at last there was an explosion of white light before her eyes and their cozy little camp came back into focus. Grannie was giving her a hard stare.

“Ye saw the genesis then. The place where tha sword came to be here in the All That Is.”

Regine nodded and placed the bundle back down. “So many women. Mothers and daughters, on and on…”

She looked up at the visage, still present, watching her.

“What is it like, to be part of such a legacy?”

Hard eyes met her own. “To know that my lineage is tied to a fate not of our choosing? It is a burden.”

Nodding, Regine looked down at the bundle. “I have no lineage of my own… no one to take the mantle after me. I’ll leave nothing behind. I often wondered…”

The Bright One’s hardness softened. “I…it is not a curse, to tell the truth, simply a burden. I am sorry if you feel you have given nothing to the world, but I am sure that is not true. Grannie would not have trusted you otherwise.”

Looking up, Regine focused on Grannie Hella. Something about the ancient woman’s calm demeanor rankled her. “Well? What have I brought the world? A few bookshelves?”

Grannie remained implacable and shrugged. “’Tis not only what ye make with yer hands that gives ye value to the world.”

She met Regine’s eyes and the woodworker felt suddenly overwhelmed, her emotions rattled and confused. She shook her head.

“I wasn’t a mother. Never wanted to be. I loved an amazing woman, came here and learned my trade. When I’m gone, all that’ll be left is the work of my hands.”

Grannie shrugged, unshaken by Regine’s terse reply. “There be one at least who’d carry on when yer gone, if ye’d let ‘er in.”

Elisha. The girl eyed her tools every time she came in the shop. She often visited and seemed to make up reasons to stop by, running errands for folks she had no cause to meet with in her regular tasks. Something about her reminded Regine of Thalia and so she had kept her at arms length.

“Perhaps,” Regine admitted.

With a pat on the woodworker’s arm, Grannie stood and turned toward the tent. “Think on it, m’dear. Plenty ‘o time. Plenty o’ time.”

Regine’s sleep was fitful that night and she woke unsure what she had dreamt or how many dreams she had other than knowing Thalia had been in every one.

Grannie was already up tending to the cart, and Regine make quick work of heating the little woodstove to warm their breakfast before they headed out.

Still unsure of where they might be going, the morning was spent wandering the edge of the wooded area. It was past Midday and after a brief stop for lunch when Grannie pointed across an open field.

“Tha’s the spot. Ha. Knew I’d remember it when I saw it.”

A craggly, old tree stood at the center of the fallow field, long ago abandoned for farming by someone who had moved on elsewhere. As they approached, Regine once more felt a pulsing energy, this time coming from the tree.

“Ah, ’tis a good protector, this one. T’will make a fine spot fer the Bright One to lay down at last.”

The mood of their little group shifted unexpectedly. As Grannie pulled the bundle out of its bag, Regine felt her throat tighten. Following the ancient woman’s lead, she retrieved the box she had made just the day before from the cart as well. Had it only been a day since she met these women? They had become like family to her so quickly and quietly she hadn’t noted it until now.

Grannie lay the bundle on the ground next to the tree and Regine lay down the box along side it. Next they retrieved the shovels from the cart and, with Grannie indicating the correct spot, they began to dig. The ground was soft and it did not take long to have a hole waist deep.

After cleaning themselves up from their work, Grannie and Regine knelt side by side before the box and bundle.

“Right, child. Time fer ye to rest a’ last.”

Grannie gave the bundle a tender stroke before placing it in the box. Feeling a tear break free from her eye, Regine was overcome with a sadness she had not felt for many years. She had seen this young woman’s lineage and knew things of the galaxy’s darkest corners that she could not unknow. The loss of the Bright One became her loss as well and when they began to bury the box she had to pause repeatedly to wipe away the tears that blurred her vision.

When the task was done, they quietly packed the tools back onto the little cart and headed back towards home. Their progress was slowed by Grannie stopping occasionally to make notes on a map, though the few glimpses Regine caught of it looked nothing like any map she had ever seen before. It was full of winding paths they did not take and landmarks that did not exist.

Their conversation started up again slowly the further they walked.

“Ye’ve got tha thinkin’ face on m’dear. Me, I knows tha look a wee bit too well.”

Regine nodded. “Just considering a few possibilities.”

“Aye.” Grannie grinned, the first smile she’d cracked all day. “Would it be yer legacy ye’d be thinkin’ about now?”

With a nod, Regine realized that without her noticing it, she had decided to offer an apprenticeship to Elisha.

“Of all the strange things to happen in this odd journey, that was the last thing I was expecting, if you ask me.”

The decision brought a lightness to Regine’s heart. They talked more as they walked, about motherhood and choices and children of the heart.

Each time they paused for Grannie to mark her odd little map, Regine would ponder what she was going to say to Elisha and wondered if the girl truly wanted to learn from her or if there was simply some novelty to the tools in her workshop. That thought made her a little nervous.

Dusk was coming on when the workshop came into sight. Her stomach did a little flip flop when Regine saw Elisha, dressed in rough work clothes, sitting on the wooden bench outside with a book in her hand. Taking a deep breath to settle her excitement, Regine chastised herself for acting like a feather-headed girl and tried to remember that she was an elder and a respected member of the community.

“Not home with your father then?” she asked Elisha as they approached.

The girl shook her head, looking a little nervous. “Harvest is done and he said I could do as I pleased. Is it alright that I sit here? This is my favorite bench.”

“What do you like about it?” The woodworker asked her.

Placing the open book face-down on her lap, Elisha thought for a moment. “It’s well made. Solid. The wood doesn’t fade in the sun. I like the dips that don’t hurt my tailbone.”

Regine chuckled. “Anything you’d change?”

Elisha sat up straighter before answering. She seemed unsure what was going on, but answered with clarity.

“I would put a low little back on it, just enough to give some support.”

With a nod, Regine turned to Grannie. “What do you think, Grannie Hella?”

The ancient woman patted her arm, though this time the contact did not come with any visions.

“M’dear, ye know me thoughts on things. Ye just go wit yer gut and it’ll be jes fine.”

Regine nodded and turned back to Elisha. “Alright. Inside with you and we’ll chat about a few things after I see Grannie here off.”

The girl stood and gave them both a little half bow before going inside and shutting the door behind her.

“She’s a good ‘un. Ye’ve made a fine choice there.” Grannie smiled at Regine as she grabbed her bag off the cart. “I’ll be off, me. Don’t think we’ll be seeing each other agin for a bit, so ye take care now.”

Regine nodded, a sad smile on her face. “Thank you, for…for everything the last few days. Come by again if you can.”

Grannie nodded and gave her another pat on the arm before heading down the road toward the village center. When she turned a corner out of sight, Regine headed into her workshop, setting her shoulders as she opened the door.

“So,” she said, letting her voice boom with confidence. “Let’s talk about the tools you’re gonna need to make those changes to the bench.”