|Original Artwork (c) Alessandra De Bernardis
From my WIP, "Truthbearer: Juncture of the Nine Worlds"
There was a knock on the door to the Clark’s quarters at Skystormer Castle. Menta Kai opened the door to find Tessa Chart on the other side with a bundle of maps under her arm.
“Come in, Tessa, and please, in these quarters our names are Connor, Kailee, and this is my mother, Iolena Yaleria.”
“What do you have to show us, Tessa?” Connor asked. Moving to the table, Tessa quickly laid out a series of maps in sequence, tapping each one in its four corners with her index finger, which made the rolled-up sheets of parchment lie flat. Iolena looked at the young woman curiously, and at the tremendous, almost three-dimensional detail on the map sheets. “Tessa, are you by any chance magically gifted?” Iolena queried.
Tessa gave her a slightly panicked look. “My father says that I am not to discuss that with anyone, my Lady. He refers to it as my artistic talent. The truth of the matter is, even if I am able to wield magic, it seems to be only in the area of making maps and charts.”
“Whether it is an artistic talent or a magical gift,” Connor commented, “these maps are absolutely amazing. The detail is stunning.” He looked at the young woman. “I am somewhat of an amateur cartographer, myself. My ancestor was a master mapmaker, and together with another captain, led an expedition that mapped the unknown reaches of my homeland at a time when it was still unexplored.”
“Doctor Wicker showed us examples of your maps, Lord Connor,” Tessa admitted, “and I would classify you as being far from an amateur. Your maps of Gewellyn and the Aerielands are beautiful and very well crafted. You must’ve inherited your ability from the previous Clark.”
Connor ran his hand across Tessa’s maps. “I don’t believe that even my very best work is nearly as good as any of this. It’s almost like you can feel the trees and the water in the streams and rivers. You truly do have a gift, Tessa.” He looked at his wife and daughter, clearly mind-speaking, and both of them nodded in reply. “Tessa, if your father could spare you from the map shop, could we interest you in traveling with us as we journey across and throughout Eldaria? I can promise that you will see things you never even dreamed of, untold beauty and amazing places. You will also come to know hardship, and know it well, for on our journey everyone carries their own weight and does their share. If you can accept that, my wife, Kailee and I would like to invite you to be a member of our party.”
Tessa’s eyes lit up. “I am a hard worker, Lord Connor, and I can paddle a canoe, I can ride a horse, although I don’t have a horse of my own, but I do walk a lot. I’m in excellent health, and also know how to handle a sword and a matchlock. I was going to ask you if there was any chance that I could accompany you on your journey, but instead, you offered it to me. Lordabove bless, I would love to join you.”