A Letter from the Mosevin

Continuing the “Letters from Namora” series, in which Fourteen Stoness people introduce themselves and their world.

This is a letter from the archives of Valdena Filtraikas, a woman who rises well beyond her own expectations and will play a pivotal role in the futures of two nations. In this letter, she is a young student (mosevin) at the viduris, the priests’ training school in the Namoran town of Paret. She is writing to a friend during the summer holidays.


Raimaté, mosevin Ribas,

What do you think of that greeting? I hope it makes you laugh; I couldn’t resist it. Dear Ribé sounds so dull, but Peace be with you, fellow student…I like it! And soon – I hope, if we survive the viduris – soon we’ll start all our letters with our official titles. I can see your letters to me. Raimaté, Zhinin Valdena

I can’t send you this letter today; I’m going to have to copy it over tomorrow, and hope my handwriting is better then. Today my hand barely wants to hold the pen. Yesterday, you see, my father said, “Now you’re home from that school, you can make yourself useful,” and he had me spend the day helping him finish all of the shirts he had to have ready for his customers this week. You wouldn’t believe how many shirts! Ribè, I honestly think we must have made one for every single person in Paret. At least one. I’m nowhere near as fast at sewing as Da, he can work so fast you can hardly see the needle, but I basted and hemmed cuffs and collars all day, and I think my hands might never be the same again. Of course I’m glad Da is such a good tailor, but I’m also glad I won’t end up doing it too…that is, like I said, as long as I survive the viduris.

But that’s enough boring business. How are you? How is Lida village? I’ve been thinking about you so much since the term ended – yes, I know that was only a week ago – and I had to write to you today even though I’ll have to write it again. I’ve been thinking about you being back home, and how good it must be to be there again, when I know you were looking forward to it so much. I’m wondering how things are on the farm, and how your mother and brother are, and whether your brother is as much of a handful as ever. I feel as if I already know your mother and Gedrí, even though I haven’t met them. And the farm too: I think I would recognize it if someone took me there and dropped me blindfolded in your orchard. (And wouldn’t it be funny if they did!)

I wish, you know, that I could be as happy about being home as you are. But then, you could say I never really left it to come to the viduris, since Da and I live right here in Paret. And…well, I probably shouldn’t say it, but I think you already know I’d rather be with you and Nila and Matvé and Andrí than at home with Da. Once I got used to things at the viduris, as long of a time as that took, it started to feel much more like home than home ever did.

I miss you, Ribé. And I wish the summer wasn’t so long, and that it wasn’t almost three whole months until Rudua when we’ll all be back. You said I would have to come visit Lida and see everything for myself. I’d love to, but I don’t know if I’ll ever persuade Da. He has funny ideas, and he doesn’t like the idea of me visiting a boy. (It doesn’t matter that you’re my best friend. If you were a girl…but there you have it.) Maybe, if your mother writes to him, maybe she can do something, but I’ll try not to hope too much.

In the meantime, though, you can write to me, and I can write to you, as long as Da doesn’t make me work on too many more shirts. And there’s Rudua to look forward to. It’ll get here sometime.

I should stop for now. Da is calling and I probably have to help sweep out his workroom. After he’s been working all day, you should see the bits of thread and odd scraps and corners of fabric all over the floor, like a snowstorm.

Write to me soon. Yours,



For more about Fourteen Stones, its world, and its people, please visit the book’s page.

You can get your own e-book or print book from my publisher, or if you’re in the US, a signed copy directly from me: email kfaatz925@yahoo.com for details!

Please consider subscribing to the blog to receive future letters and posts.


The Bounds of the World

A “Letter from Namora” video, featuring Galvo Dendraikas, one of Sostavi’s political movers and shakers.

Read the original Letter from the Council

To find out more about Fourteen Stones, and get your own copy, please visit the book’s page. If you’d like regular updates from the blog, please consider subscribing. As always, thank you for visiting!

The Real Sostavi

A reflection on the trip to Spain that inspired Fourteen Stones. My memories of Cudillero, the real town that became Sostavi, capital city of Namora.

The first thing I feel is what I wouldn’t give to do that again. We can’t have exactly the same experience back; if Paul and I were to go to Cudillero again, or to Noia to see the castros, or any of the other places we saw in northwestern Spain, it couldn’t be exactly the same as it was in the summer of 2015. But I can’t help but think that the same magic might still be there to meet us.

Cudillero, on the coast of Asturias. That’s the place we were able to imagine spending a week in, instead of a single night. The town with its houses clustered on the slope that ran down to the harbor. They were like crystals in formation. In the morning, we walked along the narrow streets, too narrow for a car to drive, threading from one level down to the next. The houses were tiny and bright: bright whites, vivid turquoise, raspberry-pink, butter-yellow. There were window boxes overflowing with color. Each of the rooftops made of undulating terracotta tile.

Down at the harbor: the turquoise water, the smell of salt. The sea in Spain seemed wilder and lovelier than it is here, except maybe along the coast of northern Maine. The bustle of the town: shops and businesses open, the little plazas, the voices and footsteps. That morning, Paul met a Romani accordionist and the two of them improvised together, Paul on his clarinet. They had very little common language, between Paul’s English and Alex’s Gallego; my Spanish couldn’t do much to translate. But they played, skirling and dancing lines, the two instruments’ melodies weaving in the bright morning.

The taste of bread. The shops so close together, intimate as hugs. The rich yeast scent of a panadería, timeless with its baskets hanging on the walls and bread piled in bins, modern with its refrigerator offering soft drinks in bright bottles. The long golden loaf of bread with its hard crust and soft white center, poking out of a brown paper sleeve. Tearing off pieces to eat as we walked across the sunny plaza to the nearby church. The shouts of children playing soccer and the ring of the ball against ground and sneakers. The intense whiteness of the sun on white concrete. The cool darkness inside the church.

It was nothing like home. And yet it woke my imagination and gave me dreams that came to life in a story, and to a part of me, it is home. What I wouldn’t give to go back and see it again.

Music-making at Cudillero harbor


Excerpt from Fourteen Stones, chapter 14:

In the sun, Sostavi Harbor was a spread of turquoise crowded with fishing boats and the pleasure craft of the city’s wealthy. Above the water, on the hillsides, the light turned the city’s buildings into clusters of white crystals. Ribas breathed the fresh cold air off the water and remembered why coming here had been worth it. […]

When he was eighteen, he’d had to come to the coast to see for himself what Kenavi had seen, what she had gone out to meet, when she walked into the water to offer herself to the old gods. He had seen the ocean in pictures and read countless stories and texts about it, about gentle Kenavi and rebellious Klaya both, but Ribas had still had trouble imagining those “fields of water” and believing in the power and authority of the gods of sun and wind and water.

When he saw the ocean, he understood. An infinity of water stretching away to the horizon. Waves rolling in, rearing up, crashing against the sand in a heartbeat huge enough to belong to the whole world. The size and power of it all took Ribas’s breath away. He had wondered, many times, what Kenavi had actually felt on the day she decided to lay her life down. The stories all said she did it with pure courage and self-sacrifice, to earn the reward the old gods had granted her. Ribas himself had always thought she must have felt afraid, even if only a little, even if she didn’t want to admit it to herself. When he saw the ocean, when he stood on the sand and let the wind tug at his clothes and rake through his hair, he knew he had been right. She must have been afraid, but she had also given herself to that water gladly. She had walked forward into that enormity and let it swallow her. In that moment, she had felt joy. Ribas knew it because he felt it himself.

Now, after he and Maryut and Gedrin took in the harbor, they went back up into the heart of Sostavi. Shoulder-to-shoulder houses and shops lined the narrow cobblestones streets, so close together you couldn’t see daylight between them. […] Some buildings had third and even fourth floors added: you could see the join work that linked new stories to older ones, like stacking books in a pile. Houses on top of houses, weaver’s shops with grocers above, wine sellers perched above jewelers. The shade of the buildings felt like a burrow.

It was Tretdina, Third Day, which at home would have meant a quiet village square as everyone went about their usual business. Here, people seemed to have time to run in and out of shops, gather in groups to chat, stop to buy apples and roasted nuts and tea from vendors with their carts and baskets. To Ribas, it felt like market day in Lida, except the market spilled into every street.

[For more about Fourteen Stones, including purchasing info, please visit the book’s page. If you’d like to receive regular blog updates, please consider subscribing. As always, thank you for visiting!]

Letters from Namora

These last few days have been a little hectic, so I’m shamelessly borrowing from myself for today’s post. You might have seen some of my recent “Letters From” series, in which some of my favorite Fourteen Stones characters are featured here on the blog, in their own words.

These letters are new content, rather than excerpts from the book. I’m having fun coming up with them every week, spending extra time with the people I’ve come to know so well and sending more “threads” of the story out into the world.

I’ve also been working on turning the letters into short videos. Learning Canva – still a work in progress – has been a good challenge for a media Luddite like me. So today I’d like to share two of the finished products, which I’m pretty proud of.

Please enjoy these two very short trips to Namora. 🙂 If you like them, please feel free to share this page or the video links!

A Letter from the Zhinin

Read the original Letter from the Zhinin

A Letter from the Orchard-Keeper

Read the original Letter from the Orchard-Keeper

To find out more about Fourteen Stones, and get your own copy, please visit the book’s page. If you’d like regular updates from the blog, please consider subscribing. As always, thank you for visiting!

A Letter from the Farmer

Continuing the “Letters From” series, in which Fourteen Stoness people introduce themselves and their world.


Write a letter, my brother says. Letter? I say. Letter about what? I don’t do that kind of thing. Haven’t in years, not since my wife Virta and I got married and she moved out here to the village. She used to live in Paret, you know, which is the only thing like a city around here. Back then, of course, we did write to each other. Now I’m out of practice.

My brother – that’s Ribas, the zhinin, you met him – he says that I should talk about life here in Lida. Anything you want to say, he says. So that people will know why they should come and see it for themselves. I point out he wrote about Lida already. (I saw that letter of his, and you should take my advice: when he says he doesn’t have a gift with words, don’t listen.) He says, Your take is different from mine, Gedrí. Just try it, will you?

When your brother is older than you and used to taking care of everyone, you don’t have a whole lot of choice when he asks you to do a thing. (He’s also a know-it-all, but nobody else had better say so, at least not in my hearing.) You can argue with him how you like – and believe me, I know how to argue – but it slides off him like straw off the end of a pitchfork.

So. My take on Lida.

Well, I’ve lived here all my life. The farm, which belongs to me now, was my mother’s. You’ve met her too. Ribé and I were born there. The old house is where my family and I live, but to me, the fields and orchard are home. When I was a little boy, Mama and Ribé between them could hardly ever get me to sit down and do dull inside things like mending and scrubbing. If there was any outside work to do at all, digging or weed-pulling or fence-patching, I’d be out there in even the worst weather, usually lugging tools practically as big as I was.

I’ve never worried about winter…

I’m not much different these days, grown though I am, with two children of my own. When Virta married me, she didn’t know much about farming life. I’ll tell you, anyone would be proud to see how she’s taken on the work and learned to love the open spaces, the earth underfoot, the rhythms of plowing and planting. Me, I never did imagine doing or being anything else, so you could say she had to take me as I was or not at all. Some days I look at her, in one of her plain working dresses that she’s embroidered with the kind of fine work she always loved, and I wonder all over again that she decided I was worth it.

What else about the village? If you visited here, you’d have to have a meal at the Sheaf and Barrel. That’s the inn, the only one we’ve got, and we don’t want for another. The innkeeper, Seldo, is an old friend. He’s also one of the two best Capture players in the village – as I should know, because I’m the other. Since you aren’t from Namora, I don’t suppose you know how to play Capture. If you did, though, I’d say you should join one of the matches that go on at the inn some quiet winter evenings. People bring their own boards and pieces and play whoever wants to challenge them. The inn fills up pretty quick, with players and those watching the games and passing cider around. Things usually end up with me and Seldo in a drawn-out battle. Those are the best kind.

I’ve managed to go on a pretty long time here. Seems to be enough to satisfy my brother – though now he tells me I might have to write another letter sometime. I’ll tell you, he knows how to make a nuisance of himself.

For now, while I can, I’ll sign off. Yours,

Gedrin Silvaikas

A Letter from the Council

The next in our series of letters from Fourteen Stoness people. Here, a member of Namora’s governing Council introduces himself and Namoran politics.


Galvo Dendraikas, at your service. I am a sventin, one of the seventeen members of Namora’s ruling Council serving our leader, the Tavin. I have been here in our capital city, Sostavi, for many years. You could say that when it comes to the braided, woven, and often simply tangled life of our leadership, I am as near expert at following and parsing those threads as one can be.

You wish me to speak of Namora’s government. On the surface, it’s simple indeed. Our Tavin is the head of Namora, presiding in Sostavi’s Great Circle House. You have heard from my colleague Ribas Silvaikas, who spoke of the life of a zhinin in a small village. As Zhinin Ribas is to Lida’s Circle House, so the Tavin is to Sostavi’s Great House, and therefore to all of Namora. We seventeen on the Council support our leader and assist in all decision-making and intricacies of government.

So far, so simple. But you might be able to imagine that where seventeen come together to discuss and debate, simplicity quickly vanishes into a mist on the edge of memory. Of course, not all of my colleagues would agree. Some would say the term “mist” is misleading. Others would speak of the treachery of “memory.” Still others would contend that “vanishes” is far too dramatic. And so on: I believe you understand.

For me, navigating the dance of Sostavi politics has been a life’s work. I have had little else: no marriage, no family, few real friendships. Once, many years ago, I did have a close friendship I valued very much. My own actions put an end to that, which remains a source of lasting regret. I have shared the details of that with two people only, and will not repeat myself here – at least not now.

I come from Laiva, the capital city of Namora’s Pajura region. The move from that city on the coast to Sostavi, which is the city on the coast, felt quite natural to me as a young man. I believed Sostavi would be familiar. It was not. In splendor, elegance, and sheer busyness of life, no other place can rival our capital. The Great House, which, some believe, is where our Goddess Kenavi lived as a mortal woman, has no equal among the many Circle Houses throughout the country. My first years here were a slow process of finding my footing, while hiding my confusion and presenting the right face to the world. In the end, I was rewarded with this place in government, which is all an ambitious man might aspire to.

At least, it’s all I did aspire to, when I was young and believed I knew what mattered. As I have grown older, I have come to find – often to a return of confusion, and sometimes regret – that life has more shadings than I knew.

Namora is a beautiful place. The most beautiful in the world, many of us would hold. Although, in fairness, many of us have seen little of the world apart from our own towns and cities. Few are curious about what lies on the other side of our little country’s boundaries. There are some exceptions, and I, in my steadily advancing age, am proud to number myself now – I was not, as a young man – one of them.

I wish to know more about the world. I am glad, in fact, to know that there is more “out there” than I once imagined or cared about. I would like to learn about other places and people. Surely, a lifetime of navigating Sostavi politics is useful training for other complex weavings. Many of my colleagues on the Council do believe that the world is simple, in that Namora is the center of it. With however much time is left to me, I wish to challenge myself to see more clearly.

I have spun enough words here for the time, so will close. Yours in the peace of the Goddess,

Galvo Dendraikas


[For more about Fourteen Stones, its world, and its people, visit the book’s page. Please consider subscribing to the blog to receive future letters and posts.]


I know I’ve been posting a lot about my book lately. Today’s post touches on it too (sorry!), but I’m thinking about the bigger question of creativity, and why this particular book, and the process it went through in getting published, feels like a real benchmark for me.

I’m a trauma survivor. Only recently, I’ve started taking ownership of this fact and how it affects me. I grew up in an unsafe environment, and for a long time, I told myself that I just needed to be strong enough to leave all that behind. It “shouldn’t” affect me anymore. It especially “shouldn’t” mean that some things are hard for me, when they might not be for other people. Things like taking care of day-to-day deadlines, managing a tight schedule, and juggling a regular job and home life. For me, emotional overhead can lead quickly to overwhelm and shutdown.

It’s taken me a very long time to realize that some things just are hard for me, and the only way I can get better at them is to honor where I’m starting from. Many trauma survivors deal with a blurry sense of identity. We were often told, somewhere along the line, by someone who had a lot of power over us, that we weren’t who or what we were supposed to be. We had to change and silence ourselves to survive. Then, if we get to place where we’re free, we feel lost. “Who am I really? Is that okay?” When you’re focused on survival, you don’t have as much space to grow. When you’re told you shouldn’t be who you are, you learn to distrust yourself.

For me, writing has been a release, an affirmation, and a survival tool. I was always a voracious reader. Stories and storytelling helped me survive. As an adult, it’s still taken me a while to honor my identity as a writer. When I was first learning the craft, I knew how much I wanted to do this work and how right it felt, but at the same time, I never lost the messaging that this was something else I “shouldn’t be.” Calling myself a writer felt uneasy and shameful. It doesn’t anymore: this is who I am, and I’m glad.

Fourteen Stones, as a fantasy in a created world, is such a pure product of my imagination that it was incredibly tough to believe it might be worth other people’s time. Its journey to publication was another kind of test: finding the path that felt right, as different as that path looked from what I’d thought I “should” want. (Yes, there’s that word again.) It has been amazing to see this story coming into its own, finding readers who are glad to spend time making the trip to Namora and Lassar. The printed book looks so different from my computer-screen original that when I look at the pages, I have to stop and remember that yes, this is my story that I wrote. And…wow.  

That’s why this book feels like a turning point in my professional life. It’s exactly the story I wanted to tell. My publisher presented it as beautifully as I could ask for. Trauma survivors often struggle with owning their voices after learning to silence themselves for so long. It’s hard for us to recognize that we have a right to our truths, and a right to share them when we need to. I still struggle with that every day, but Fourteen Stones has been an important step in recovery.

I’m hoping to find ways to use storytelling to help other people like me, who are reclaiming themselves. Meanwhile, moving forward after Fourteen Stones feels like coming into greater ownership of myself and my voice, and that means a lot.

As always, thank you for visiting the blog. If you’d like to receive regular updates, please consider subscribing. See you next time!

A Letter from the Orchard-Keeper

In which Fourteen Stones‘s matriarch introduces herself. “Orchard-keeper” is only one of her titles, by no means the most important – but she will tell more.


My name is Pelayut Silvenis. You’ve met my elder son Ribas, who is the zhinin of our little village, Lida. He is the caretaker, so to speak, of all who live here, and many who are linked to us by threads of all kinds. In a village this size, where everyone knows everyone else, each of us has a particular place. I am the apple-grower.

In truth, my younger son Gedrin has charge of the farm now. He and his family care for the trees as well as I could; as well, in fact, as his great-great grandfather, my father’s grandfather, who first planted them, and who set each seedling into the ground as gently as an egg into a nest. That was long before I was born, but I remember my father’s stories. The orchard has been our family’s work and delight for five generations. I suspect Gedrí’s children, Raulin and Asira, will make it six.

Time often seems to leave a small place like Lida behind. In many ways, the village looks the same now as it did some forty years ago, when I was a girl coming to the eighth-day markets with my father. The square is unchanged. The Circle House, our place of worship, looks much the same as in my earliest memories; although the building behind it is much newer, built since my son’s time as zhinin. He is the reason that trainee priests now come to Lida: many want to apprentice with him. The rhythm of the village itself is perhaps a little quicker, a little busier, than it was when I was young, but the quiet current of it moves along as it always did.

That isn’t to say that nothing changes here. My memories are full of change. I don’t often speak it, especially of the darkest time when I was a young mother, but when I look back along the path of my own years, sometimes I find it hard to recognize that much-younger woman. She lived through a great deal. I could not survive those things again. I wish, for her own sake and the sake of her boys – Ribas was six then, Gedrin only a baby – that when she saw the darkness coming for them, she could have stood up to it. Protected her children. They deserved it, and so did she.

But she survived it – I survived it – and I am still here. My sons are grown, both of them good men. They are very different, so much so it’s hard to see they’re brothers. Ribas – Ribé – has always been quiet and studious, even before the dark time that shaped him so much. Gedrí is active, eager, rushing. My husband died when Gedrí was much too young to remember him, so he always looked to his older brother as a kind of second parent. Ribé and I had our hands full with him, to be sure, but he was sunlight when we found our way out of shadow.

Now I am the elder orchard-keeper, still at work, though slower than I once was. I live here on the farm with Gedrí and his family. Every spring, as I watch the trees come into fragrant bloom, I think of their strength. How firmly their deep roots grip the soil. No matter how cold and dark the winter comes down, and no matter how their beauty fades and withers with the old year, they stand strong until the sunlight comes again.

Now I will close this letter, with my thanks for lending a silver-haired woman your ear. Yours in the fellowship of the Goddess,

Pelayut Silvenis


[For more about Fourteen Stones, its world, and its people, visit the book’s page. Please consider subscribing to the blog to receive future letters and posts.]

A Long and Winding Road

Last week, I posted about how my book Fourteen Stones arrived “in the ink,” and how I got to see it for the first time. The best feeling.

We did it! 🙂

Book publishing is a strange game. In the writing process, you devote yourself for months or years to something that exists nowhere except inside your own head. Translating it to the page can be exhilarating and exasperating. It can make you cry, in good ways and not-so-good ways. And sometimes – hopefully often! – it can make you smile.

Then, one day, it’s finished. The story exists on paper. Now what?

For so many of us, the answer is publication. What else can you do with something you’ve devoted so much time to? If other people like it, you must have done something good. So you begin to send it out. Rejections come in, in ones and twos and by the basketful. Roadblocks spring up in front of you.

Time to cry over the book again. What do I have to do? Is this really any good? I did that with Fourteen Stones, many times. Friends assured me the book was great. You’ll publish it, don’t worry. And even, When you do, you’ll never have to worry about jobs again. I don’t know about that second part. But I did, after much searching, luck into a publisher who loves the story as I do.

The experience of publishing Fourteen Stones was entirely different than it was with my first book, To Love A Stranger. This time, there was no “institution” signing off on my work: it was just me and one woman, Jax Goss at the Patchwork Raven, on opposite sides of the world. The project moved along gently. We agreed on edits and artwork. We crowdfunded the first print run: a new idea to me, but it makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Jax and I didn’t have to stick our necks (or wallets) out on an investment we might not recoup.

The first boxful!

There was very little fanfare. No hustling for advance reviews. No leadup to a stressful/expensive launch. With support from amazing friends on both sides of the world, we hit the crowdfunder target, the book went to print, and it was produced and shipped from New Zealand. It’s been making its way to other parts of the world ever since.

During the process, I did sometimes get caught up in “what didn’t happen:” the agent I stopped trying for, the way I let go of the idea of a big publishing house and all the possible clout of “the system.” I asked myself over and over if by walking away from all that, I really did the right thing. Sometimes I was afraid that this book was the best work I would ever do, and that bringing it out in this quiet way would mean it would disappear.

But I don’t think that’ll happen. For one thing, I learned so much by writing it, all of which will go into other books (I hope!) and make them stronger. For another, the care and attention that went into the copies I unboxed last week are exactly what this book deserved. Every moment of the writing process, from first brainstorming to final revisions, gave me great joy. In publishing it, Jax wanted to make something beautiful, and that’s exactly what she did.

Templeton gives Mom’s book two paws up.

And I don’t think it’ll disappear, because it now has a life of its own. Readers will visit my fictional countries, Namora and Lassar. They’ll get to know the people who started out as my creations, but who quickly took off in their own directions, with lives and histories and challenges. For me, the most important thing about sharing Fourteen Stones isn’t what I did as a writer, or what the book is like as an object, but how the story can take flight through the imaginations of the readers it finds. I hope the adventure transports them as it did me.

If you’d like to find out more about Fourteen Stones, you can visit the book’s own page. Also, on Thursdays here on the blog, the story’s people will introduce themselves: that series began last week, with this post. If you’d like to stay up to date with future info and events, please consider subscribing. As always, thank you for visiting the blog!

A Letter from the Zhinin

In which my favorite character from Fourteen Stones introduces himself and his home…


Where to begin? I have no real gift with words, I’m afraid. But I’ve tasked myself with these, and so my stubbornness will have to stand in the place of skill.

My name is Ribas Silvaikas. I am the zhinin of Lida village – zhinin, in your language, I think is best understood to mean “priest,” though it isn’t quite the same. A zhinin can be many things. Sometimes we are teachers and counselors; sometimes we’re healers, to the best of our ability. Always, we are listeners.

My village, Lida, is in east-central Namora, just west of the Senai Mountains. You’ll find it on the right-hand side of the map:

Lida is in the region called Kalnu, which in the Namoran language means “forest.” In my little country, you’ll find, we are quite practical when it comes to names. For instance, the name of Pektkampe, the region just south of Kalnu, means “five corners.” Its capital, Pirkampa, is – you may have guessed it – “First Corner.”

Namora itself derives from our word for home. Our faith tradition tells us that for the woman who became our Goddess, home was the most sacred of sacred things, worthy of any sacrifice. Many of us in Namora, whether we are city-dwellers or farmers’ children like me, feel a deep link to the land itself. The Goddess’s presence lives in it and holds all of its disparate people together.

Without spending too many words at once, from my limited store, I would like to tell you about my village, Lida. As any Namoran will tell you, there are many beautiful places in this country. I’ve seen a few of them myself, particularly when I was younger and better able to travel. Lida is where I’ve lived all my life, and where generations of my family lived before me. Of course, I tend to think it’s the most beautiful place of all.

What is Lida, for me?

Sunrise: the mist lingering in the village square; the light fading from deepest blue to silver-gray to rose and cream. The sound of the birds greeting the morning, at first only a single trill at a distance, a falling note nearer at hand, and then as one voice calls to another, more join in until the air rings. Even in the village’s heart, where my wife and I live, you can hear it. On the farm where I grew up, at the village’s northern edge, my mother’s apple trees are full of song.

The mountains: the peaks of the Senai rising into a blue sky. The Senai are low and rocky, very different from the tall narrow peaks in Namora’s neighboring country, Lassar, but they stand above Lida village like sentries. On a clear morning in early spring, you can make out patches of lingering snow on the peaks, the hunched shapes of boulders, the arms of bare wind-whipped trees.

The air: I’ve been to Namora’s northern coast, and the great capital city, Sostavi. I love the ocean. But there’s nothing like the air in the mountains, the crispness and sweetness it holds even through the warmest days of Vasara, our midsummer. In Lida, banks of mint line the roads that lead from the village center out into the countryside. Mint is tenacious. It clings and spreads. When it’s cut back, the scent hangs sparkling in the air.

The farm: earlier, I mentioned my mother’s farm. My brother and I grew up there, as did our mother, and her father before her. The walls of the old house are steeped with smoke from generations of hearth fires. Its beams are as strong as stone. The apple orchard my great-grandfather planted is fragrant with blooms in spring and rosy with fruit in Derla, our harvest month. Every time I go back, I feel my roots settling as deep into that place as the trees into the soil.

And last, but far from least: Lida’s Circle House. This is our place of worship, the heart of the village. As Lida’s zhinin, this is my home as much as the house where my wife and I live. I grew up coming to this House, and I became its zhinin when I was eighteen, taking on both the rituals of the place and the life of the village that my predecessor, Zhinin Odilas, tended for so many years. When I was a boy, I wasn’t certain I could – or should – take on that work, but it was handed to me and in the end I accepted it. That’s a story for another time.

For now, I will close this long letter. In this picture, you can see the shape of a Circle House. It doesn’t show the life inside, the details of the hearth and windows, the prayer stones, the vessels of water and salt, but this is the shape of my village’s heart.

Until my next. Yours in the peace of the Goddess,

Ribas Silvaikas


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