In the Refuge of the Azhemyra
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"While I'm gone, Thraya, it will be your job to take care of your brother and the twins."
Thraya sat with her wrists crossed over her lap. She gave a single downcast nod. She held her eyes on the ground for a moment and then cautiously looked up through her long, auburn hair at her mother.
Despite the length of hair, she hid her features beneath, her brilliant blue eyes managed to pierce through the shadow. Tears had begun to well up, giving her eyes the appearance of shimmering ice.
"Please don't start. It's only two years. It may seem like a long time to you — being so young — but the time will fly and I'll soon be home."
Thraya's mother reached forward from her chair. She lightly grasped her daughter's arm with her left hand, a show of both command and assurance. With her right, she gently moved Thraya's hair from her face and tucked it behind one of her ears.
Thraya raised her chin up fully. A single tear ran down her high cheekbones and over the myriad freckles that adorned her young face. She remained silent and held eyes with her mother.
"I need you to stay an extra year in Neshran. You remember that I told you this, earlier? It's not a punishment, dear. I need you to know that."
Thraya gave another single nod. Her eyes dropped again, as did a few scarlet locks of hair. She gave a heavy breath — a sigh of reluctance with her mother's wishes — but the breath held no sound.
"I don't know if I'll have finished the rituals before you and Serranos head off to Morrthault City for your education. I do hope I will be back before then. It means the world to me, please remember that."
Thraya's lower lip began to quiver despite how calm and resigned she seemed. Two of her fingers crept up to tug on the fingers of her other hand.
Thraya's mother turned from her with a slight groan from her old and worn wooden chair. She made eye contact with the young boy sitting on his own chair beside Thraya.
"You take care of your sister and the twins. You follow what your father says while I'm gone. He is the master of the house."
Thraya's eyes looked up and beyond her mother to her father standing near the entrance to the dining area. He gave a sardonic smile at these words while rolling his eyes. She wanted to smile at her father, but she couldn't muster the energy. Thraya turned her head slightly to look over to her younger brother.
Serranos met her eyes for a moment. His blue-green eyes were always comically magnified, given the large spectacles he wore. She could see his eyes welling up with tears as well. Far more than Thraya, given how young and emotionally sensitive he was.
"I don't want you to go."
The tiny voice was like a faint whisper on the air. Serranos adjusted his glasses with a single hand, letting the tears flow beneath the rims and down his face. He reached out for the gray robes draped over his mother's leg before him.
"We talked about this earlier, Serranos. I have to. It's not just a matter of duty, but..."
Thraya's mother reached out to hold Serranos' hand above her robes. She turned her head to share a look with her husband at the edge of the room. They both nodded to each other, agreeing to some question and answer that was beyond words.
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