Atkin studied the contents of the jar, recognizing a pattern within the grounded up items, without knowing why. The flecks of petals, grains of seedlings and coarse slivers of twigs were all that remained of the original items.

            Wellone secured the rest of the house, made roomy enough for the four of them to sleep around the stove. Smiling, he said, “You have been away too long if you can’t recognize the basics from the springs.” He paused. “Zemi-xerofi, huskberry seeds, and aldenbark. You created the combination.”

            Desmon accepted the jar from Jalem. “Allen, didn’t you make a healing tea from meyod petals, lavender berries and nettle?”

            Atkin’s eyes widened. “Wellone, when you said-.”

            The younger man shrugged. “The advantage of being your krov-cousin. At first, I thought it was the headaches because of how upset I was when you left. Then, thanks to Voba  and Ekati, I realized that I saw what you saw, just trading  out elements of the equations. The melodies, for example, really weren’t that much different from the dances you and I enjoyed at the harvest festivals. Oh, sure, the tempo differed in the slightest, but-.”

            Desmon shook his head. “You mean to tell us that everything Allen studied at the Learning Hall, during the preparatory programs and such…you learned it?”

            The sounds of the howling winds muffled to that of birdsong, the warmth of the room resting at a comfortable level for all. “With complete understanding.”

            “Did this connection go both ways,” Jalem asked.

            Atkin shook his head. “I can’t explain the…the void I had, even with the tchotchke-interior covered shell that I found at the base of the pier that day. All I heard were the songs and melodies of home, nothing more.”

            Wellone smiled. “If I let you know about more, who’s to say you would have stayed?”

            “That’s a rotten thing to do,” Desmon said. “To treat family like that-.”

            “That’s a puzzling remark coming from you,” Wellone challenged. “Family. Ponder that word and then we’ll talk some more.”

            “Don’t talk to me as if you know me, boy.

            Jalem placed her hand on Desmon’s forearm, wrapping him with a soothing scent smell. “Careful. You’re starting to sound like that innkeeper you detest.”

            Atkin’s lip turned upward. “We trusted our three charges with Voba. Quinton knows what secrets and challenges he’ll have them master by morning.”