My medieval fantasy world of Tiaera has similar seasons to Earth. And just like Earth, spring is a great time for the blooming of flowers and the birth of animals. Traditionally, Tiaerans often celebrate by giving out bouquets of flowers, decorating and crafting, and attending community services to remember the fallen heroes who could not be revived. All the races of Tiaera observe the season in some way, and the gnomes of Seacastle Bay are no different.
Missing Tavisan, who was away on a far off quest, Audrey Swifter decided to go ahead with their family tradition of painting dozens of pinecones and acorns. It would keep her mind busy as she cared for her two children at home. Besides, she still had her faithful and handy brother to help, if she could keep him out of the local taverns. Sitting in her kitchen with Azunna, she dabbed the pine cone carefully, trying not to get any paint on her fingers. Azunna got a pinecone to paint for herself.
“It’s done!” Carlyn burst into the kitchen dressed in his work clothes, his faced smudged and sweaty.
“Aye, Mamma! We did it!” Emmert, Audrey’s little son, was dressed and dirty like his uncle. The young gnome loved spending time in the workshop with him, learning all about tools and machines. “Oooo! Cookies?”
“Aye, but not until you two wash thy hands… and faces, if you please. Did you wipe thy feet afoe walking into the house?”
The two gnomes pouted and checked their shoes, then nodded respectfully.
It was all Audrey could do to keep from grinning at the sight of Carlyn and Emmert. “Well, bwutheo? I do hope thy contwaption is not inside the house. Weemember what happened in the past? I had to weepaint the sitting woom and weeplace the wugs because it exploded when you last twied to demonstwate it.”
Carlyn’s face turned red. “Nay, Sis. We brought it not. ’Tis back in the shop. Nonetheless, we think ye shall like what it does. Behold all those acorns and pinecones on the table. Our new invention shall paint all those in less than half the time, and mayhap even better.”
Emmert nodded enthusiastically, then got distracted by his little sister painting her pinecone and enjoying some hot tea and cookies.
Audrey looked down at her half-painted pinecone and pouted. “But ’tis so amusing and….”
“And boooring, Audrey!” interrupted her brother. “Every year you sit hither and paint these acorns and pinecones. Wish you not to put an end to this chore more quickly or mayhap make many more in just half the time? Methinks I would rather be done with this so I can get back to my fishing or brewing.”
Audrey took a deep breath, refusing to argue in front of the children.
Azunna broke the silence. “I like painting, Mama. Lo, mine is all but finished. Does it not look like a pretty flower?”
Audrey picked up the pinecone her little girl had been painting. It was a chaotic mess of colors. Her tiny fingers smudged the paint on the surface. But Audrey only saw the beauty of her daugther’s artistic effort. She looked down at Azunna, still holding the paint-laden brush, smiling proudly. Azunna was little now, but one day she would grow up and leave home; so will Emmert. Spending time together at home was precious. Like the passing of one season to the next, this was a time to make memories.
“Can thy new machine do this?” The gnomette lifted up her the multicolored items and gestured to Azunna, the paints, brushes, cups of hot spiced tea and cookies at the table.
The kitchen was warm and the candles lit up the room in a welcoming glow. Audrey and Azunna began to sing softly together and resumed their painting. Audrey glanced at her brother, hoping he understood what she was getting at.
Carlyn and Emmert looked at each other. The kitchen scene before them was so sweet and endearing; they lost their excitement and grew thirsty. The uncle and nephew stepped closer and eyed the plate of cookies on the table. Handing her back the pinecone and acorn, Carlyn smiled and sighed. “Nay, I supposed it cannot do all this. And these are true treasures because my little niece did them.”
“Mayhap we can alter the machine to do something else,” added Emmert. “Mama? Can I have some tea and cookies too?”
“Aye, after you wash thy hands, my son. You ah so like thy uncle indeed,” Audrey said with a giggle.
The boy and his uncle quickly did as they were bid and after receiving their tea and treats, went back to work on their inventions.