5. Triptych — Adaneth
Gaernath drooped, bending to pluck his goose-feathered shaft from the rusty bracken. "No venison tonight."
"Let me see," Dírmaen said, holding out his hand.
Blood stained the pale wood four fingers from the head; the broad barbed point was clotted thickly with gore.
He handed it back. "A fair shot, within the four quarters. If the blood were clear and bright, or there was some whiff of bowel, the chase might be long." There on the stony crest the noble hart fled, head of sixteen at full still high. "He may run, but he will not run long. After him!"
"The tide has trapped the boys on a rock," Rian gasped, pressing hand to side, "and still rises!"
Down the track they ran; across the machair and, panting, up the dunes. There—on one of the islets at the foot of the tower hill: Hanadan and Guaire waved their arms and cried out, shrill as seabirds.
Saelon stared, then blew in exasperated relief. "They will not drown. See the green beneath their feet? That is samphire, which will not grow where washed by wave. Young fools! If they hunger, let them eat it, and may the fright teach them caution!"
Leaning into the brightest arc of lamplight, Thyrð turned the gem to and fro with louring dissatisfaction.
"What is the matter?" Veylin set aside his sapphire and came to gaze on his nephew's work. Great skill was required to shape moonstone to best advantage. "Have you lost the glow?"
"Not lost. Yet," he allowed, "it is strangely dimmed. Should I buff it smoother still?"
Veylin shook his head. "It is overpolished already. The height of the dome gives the radiance."
"So I have spoilt it."
"Not irretrievably. Here—cut it into four cabochons; they will complement the star sapphire beautifully."
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