by S. L. Bickley
Even after seven years living out in the country, Palfi didn’t know how to sense the seasons. But she knew the autumn equinox had not come yet, for she’d had no visitors in a week or so. People always came flocking when the seasons turned.
Autumn and its pilgrims could stay away forever, for all she cared. She didn’t need donations: she already had plenty of shelfbread, and plenty of wine, and a good store of donated silver which she had few opportunities to spend. And the only things a visitor might give her, apart from bread and wine and silver, were irritation and trouble.
She sat at her devotions nonetheless — partly because someone was sure to arrive the moment she abandoned her façade, and partly because the grove was a pleasant place, and Ieia, the goddess statue, was better company than most real people.