“Such extravagance,” her grandmother tutted as she swept through the house, returned with the rest of the family from town, “You need only have provided sweet iced tea for the priestesses, the rest of their entourage would have been happy with cool water from the cistern.”
“But Grandmother,” Maddalena protested, trotting to keep up, “They’re all priestesses, except for the one. I had to give them all tea.”
“Nonsense!” The old woman rounded on the girl, “Over twenty priestesses travelling together on horseback? Highly unlikely. And you used the last of our ice up for them! My father would’ve had you flogged for such waste, family or not. Then, to cap it off, you let them take over our arbour and herb garden so they can eat their rations and stretch their legs. What were you thinking girl?”
“There are so many of them,” she was almost stammering under the glare of her grandmother’s eye, “They scared me so–so I wanted to make sure they were under hospitality obligation. They didn’t need food so sweet iced tea and somewhere nice to eat seemed the best I could do.”
“When they’ve left you can go through the marks of the priestly orders while the rest of us have lunch,” the family matriarch pronounced, “Perhaps that will hone your recognition skills. Now I’ll get their ribble rabble out of our pleasance.” She stopped at the back door and waited for Maddalena to open it for her.
There were thirty-one women in the herb garden or under the trees of the arbor. The warrior priestesses wore the green of Navira Sharptooth or the black of the Silent Bride. The priestesses of Kevira wore her brown. Priestesses all but one.
“I hope there was an apron over that dress,” snapped the old woman.