“Is this your potential Lady Rynelle?” Cerys asked him.
Some of the women giggled, and Nashtra just shook his head. “No,” he explained. “This is my mother. Mother, these are the guests that I went out to the city to collect. This is Cerys, and this one is Himeko. The boys are Cerys’s brother Peter, and his beloved, Bayani.”
“They are very young,” Nashtra’s mother noted. “Still, it is an honor to have you among us. Nashtra told me that he was going on a very important quest. Please, call me by my name: Lythii.”
“It is a pleasure to meet you,” Himeko said, unable to resist her instinct to bow slightly to the woman.
Cerys smiled at her as well. “It’s been a fascinating journey so far.” She looked over at her brother, giving him a warning sort of look, as though to say, ‘don’t you dare complain right now.’
Peter and nodded but said nothing.
Bayani Speak instead, his tone friendly. “It is good to meet our new friend’s mother. Should I assume that you had a hand in preparing this feast?”
The woman giggled again. “I’m not one for cooking,” she said.
“My father helps over at the cooking coal,” Nashtra added, “but my mother spends most of her time serving our chief shaman.”
Cerys’s eyes widened a bit. “An honor indeed! How fascinating that you work so closely with him.”
“I am honored myself that he allows me to be at his side,” Lythii replied. “I was quite surprised when he asked me to help him, really,” she added, “since my son wanders the lands outside of the forest. I never expected the chief shaman to ask for me.”
“Mother, really,” Nashtra protested, “I would hardly call it wandering.”
“Yes, son,” she said. “As you say, it is adventuring. Either way, he is aware of our visitors. He will be out soon to join us for the feast.”
“Should we have waited for him?” Himeko asked.
“Not at all,” Lythii replied. “He wants his people to eat first. It is his job to care for us and look after us, not to eat. Do not worry; whatever we do not eat, he will.”