Sechra stopped just below the hill-crest. She didn’t know what might wait on the other side, and she’d be foolish to meet it with her breath ragged and her heart pounding from the steep climb. She breathed deeply. The smell of ripe blackberries rose warm and sharp from the bramble thickets. Winter would be on them soon, whether or not she was here to know it. She didn’t know how long it took to find the hidden spring, or whether, having found it, you could come back.
Well, and she didn’t know if she would want to come back to her aunt Rena’s house, to the Dunlin villagers who looked with wary curiosity at the outlander’s orphan, to days filled with spinning and milking and gardening and small gossip. She had liked it little enough when she thought she had no other choice. But since she met the old woman yesterday, since she knew she had a choice, she had been aware of something wild and sweet in the world around her, something she might miss.
Sechra finished her climb, then went down the other side of the hill. She pulled aside a clump of bracken, and there was the spring! Beside it, blackberry vines half-hid the old woman's still.
"Back for more already?" The old woman had appeared seemingly from nowhere.
Sechra smiled. Yep, she thought. Winter in Dunlin will pass a lot faster with a few jugs of Old Lolly's Wild and Sweet Blackberry Homebrew on hand.
Opening: Joanna.....Continuation: Batgirl