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Marai had known for years,Author's Notes
since she lost her hearing to snow-fever,
that she would become a domestic.
She didn't mind that; she preferred
the quiet comfort of village life
to the inconvenience of wilderness travel.
Although she enjoyed the summer gathers,
she was always glad to get home.
She just wished that
she knew what to do with herself.
Several of her age-mates had
already chosen specialties,
even though they just became adults
at last summer's gather.
Inama was a crafter,
her clever hands quick at making things.
Adraveil was a ranger,
her steady feet good at sneaking up on prey.
Dlameda also declared as a ranger, technically,
but his growing crush on the healer Matilth
now led him to study healing as well --
surely a useful skill on the trail.
Marai was ... just a domestic,
available for whatever everyday chores
needed doing at the time.
Plenty of people did that.
Further specialization was not required.
At their age, even a declaration
between domestic and ranger wasn't;
only a third to half of new adults
decided even that much immediately.
Today Marai went to the craft-house
with her age-mate Inama.
The carvers were working new wood.
Marai sometimes volunteered to help polish
the implements after they were shaped,
because she had such patience.
How do you know what to make?
Marai signed to Inama, who was
quite adept at interpreting the gestures.
Inama pointed out several variations
in the blocks of wood they were considering,
then looked to the beadmaker Befark for help.
Marai watched closely, reading Befark's lips.
"It's just a matter of finding the beauty in the flaws,"
Befark explained, "looking at each piece of wood
to understand whether it wants to become a cup
or a bowl or a bead or the handle of a tool.
An interesting swirl of grain might become
the front of a bead carved like a cloud,
or a knothole might become an animal's eye."
Inama pointed out a long split in one piece
as Befark deftly used a wedge to divide it.
Marai realized that, while you wouldn't want
such a split inside a handle, the rough bit
of bark it enfolded would make an excellent grip
on the outside of the two handles
that could be carved from the halves.
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