Ch 12.6 — Janine Looks in the Book
Janine opened the old leather-bound book. It held the family records: births, marriages, deaths, and most importantly, the pronouncement of gifts given by their magical allies. She ran a finger down the lists of names.
Old Bob looked over her shoulder. “You know, these gifts always seem like such a wonderful thing on the name day, but later they usually go wrong. Your brother, for example. Derrick was promised that he would marry a woman with a beautiful singing voice. No one could have foreseen that Ariel would turn out to be a mermaid or that the evil sea witch would attempt to take over the kingdom.”
“Well, they’re happily married now.”
Janine found her name and read her list of gifts aloud.
Ch. 12.7 — Janine’s Gifts
“From Queen Timora of the Fey — the gift of Beauty.” Janine rolled her eyes. She had been a beautiful baby. For a few months.
“From Perrin of the centaurs – She will be fast.”
Janine and Old Bob looked at each other. She had been able to outrun Paul tonight. Just barely.
“From Marin of the elves — wisdom.” The elves liked to give wisdom. It kept the surrounding kingdoms from doing stupid things like attacking them.
“From Winky, king of the gnomes — Intelligence.” Janine felt an unexpected warmth toward the gnomes. She had begun to read at age three and hadn’t stopped learning since.
“From MaQuire of the Werewolves — She will be Kind.” Princesses weren’t often given kindness. It made them too soft-hearted when it came to ruling. But she didn’t have to worry about that happening.
“Hmm,” said Old Bob. “That’s an unusual gift for a werewolf to give.”
“From Brimhold the dwarf – She will be strong and hard working. Hmmph.” The dwarves expected their wives to be strong and helpful.
“From the mermaid queen – she will have a happy marriage to one who will love her. Ha! Like that will ever happen.”
Next was a gift from the giants. “She will judge fairly. Well, that will come in handy if I ever become a judge.”
Janine shook her head. “From Bernice of the witch guild – the ability to communicate with animals.”
Old Bob nodded his approval. “She outdid herself there.”
Janine agreed. She loved being able to talk to the animals. The only bad thing was that it forced her to become a vegetarian – after all, she couldn’t eat someone she could talk to. Just another thing for her family to make fun of her about.
The list ended there. There should have been at least one more gift. Janine was, of course, familiar with the oft-repeated story of what had happened when Wizard Colin had sneezed on her.
Ch. 12. 8 — Decisions, Decisions
Janine sat for a moment thinking, her fingers ruffling the dog’s ears. She closed the book and set it on the table.
Felix laid his ears back again. “I suppose you want me to take it back tonight?”
“No,” said Old Bob. “I think I’ll do a little browsing first. I want you to accompany Janine until she is safely beyond the borders of this land.”
Felix sighed. “Oh, very well. If you insist.” He jumped off the table and sauntered to the door.
Janine wrapped the coat around her, buttoned it, and then shouldered the knapsack. Freddie stood and stretched, and then went to stand beside Felix. He looked back at her and wagged his tail.
Janine felt lonely and scared. After all, she was a little girl, and it was the middle of the night. Not to mention the fact that a man with an ax was still out there hunting her. She took a deep breath and went to the door. “Which way to the Tulgey Woods?”
Old Bob knelt and gave her a hug. “You are the bravest lass I’ve ever known. I never got to give my gift to you on your name day.” He kissed her forehead. “May all magical folk protect you and help you wherever you go on your journeys.”
Janine hadn’t realized that Old Bob was anything but a man who cared for and trained the dogs. Now she noticed that he had pointed ears. With tears in her eyes, she hugged him back. “You’ve always been a true friend.”