Chapter 1. The Morning After
Oh how fun this was! Jona Samhain woke that morning after the headmaster of his school declared that the four years of higher learning was over.
The headmaster placed the scroll of vellum into his hand, Jona had passed!
Jona laughed, his late night of partying with the other new grads, coming home in the twilight before dawn and collapsed, fully dressed into his bed. It was a good night to start a great summer’s day as he stretched in a lazy sleepy way on his bed, curling up with his pillow.
A summer of fun was coming and his friends were all planning different things to enjoy the summer— All except Carrigan, she had already planned to spend the summer with the Red Witch over in the next valley. Rumors had circulated around that area of the lands of how the witch’s husband had changed himself into a red dragon to save her life during some ancient battle and was unable to change himself back, no one could. Not Jona’s idea of fun.
Not for him, so much school! His path lay with his father’s business. A great business that everyone respected. Last night, so much mead and wine, breads baked by the parents and friends. shredded pipe-leaf cured in honey and smoked rooms of wood chips. He was barely able to see straight as he rode his horse home. One girl named Rook- or something like that- she had gotten so that it sounded like she was talking in different languages that no one understood. The other girls of the bonfire held her hair out of the way as she vomited behind a bush.
Sitting up, Jona sat up into the shaft of light streaming through his window and the light suddenly sparked a blinding headache. The laugh in his heart suddenly turned to a moan of pain, followed by a more careful laugh at himself, perhaps maybe not so much mead later this summer was a better choice.
His family was well off. The elder Samhain was a smiter of iron. Axles, wheels, objects of art— the father was always making something and enjoyed the work. Often when he came home from the smite shop, a mark, once branded on his forearm in the shape of an egg with baby dragon hatching out of it would be obscured by the soot and his father would smell like smoke and metal before he climbed into a copper tub that he had hammered out of a large ingot that he negotiated for.
Often he would have rings shaped in dragon faces, a heart that he called “Dragon’s heart” he forged in such a way that the iron seemed to have scale and muscle on it. It was a good seller for men and women who came to the shop. With a gem for an eye in the heart, the words “A promise is forever” that Aed Samhain had tattooed in his other arm.
Jona lay quietly, smiling, despite his pounding head, his summer lay before him and his dad would let him slide into the business easily when, his mother’s voice rattled through the door of his room.
“JONA! GET UP!”
Pounding on the heavy door, one would think that Jona’s mother, Dearbhail, would have hands made from the iron that his dad hammered on at the shop on the other side of the village.
When he stood up, Jona realized that this was a mistake, no longer laughing, it was all he could do to keep from vomiting as he ran down the stairs outside to get fresh air. The normal smells of his mother’s cooking that would have brought him down with an appetite now just caused his stomach to flip dangerously and as he ran out with his hand over his mouth, Dearbhail laughed at him.
“Eighteen summers old and you think it is all you can do? Lay in bed all morning? Your papa needs someone to pick up peat and take it to him. The peat seller is over in the other village, now take the wagon and get it to your father, he has to forge a set of wagon wheels for the Boaire of the northern lands, his daughter is set to get married this summer.” Mother Samhain said in normal conversational voice, but it felt like drums in his head.
“Ma! My first day of summer! I am going to take it easy for the next few months until autumn!” Raising his voice to a plea as his mother shook her head and pointed to the wagon.
“Go! Your father needs the peat!”
“I won’t go! I am out of school! I will get the peat when I’m recovered from the party last night!” Jona said weakly as he trudged out to the miserable sun-lit day.
It was so unfair.
Summer’s meant to be fun and free.