There it was, hidden away under layers of dirt in a hole beneath the her mother’s sunflowers. Right where Livilla had glimpsed a spot of deep, bright red glinting in the sun was a dove made of entwood just waiting to be found. Delicately carved and strung on thin rope that was close to crumbling, yet the dove itself was perfect and smooth, as though crafted the day before.
Dropping to her knees, Livilla leaned forward and carefully lifted the artifact from the dirt. Captivated, she felt the hardness of the rich, red wood, traced the curve of it’s wings, her breath still coming in long strides from her frantic digging. Such an amazing piece! She’d never seen anything like it before, not even at Reena’s shop, she was sure.
Livilla jerked as her brothers voice sounded above her, she hadn’t even noticed him in the yard.
“What did you do? Mother asked you to replant a few seedlings, not dig up their roots!”
“I.. Myron.. Look..” Livilla said in a whisper, barely able to speak, her breaths heavy.
“Did you find gold?” Myron teased, but his chuckling died when he saw what was in the palm of his sisters’ hand.
Myron leaned over and lightly, afraid of breaking it, took the dove from her hands.
“Entwood.” He breathed.
He glanced down at Livilla. She was still, almost a statue, looking up at the wonder Myron held.
Standing up, Livilla barely noticed her mother’s sunflowers, disrupted in their beds by her discovery. Nothing was as important as the dove, at least, not in this moment, but she consented to her conscience. The sunflowers did need to be replanted before she had to go to Reena’s. Reena’s! She’d been so excited and worried about the interview, up until the moment she saw the sun’s rays on her new treasure. She’d worry about that later, though, mother was sought after in her line of work and had enough work to do as it was. There wouldn’t be any time for gardening and as the summer creeped to an end, the flowers needed to be moved.
Seeing that Myron was now examining the dove, Livilla felt a strange surge of possession rising in her.
“Help me with this, will you?” she snapped, snatching the dove from him and stuffing it in her skirt pocket as she plopped back down in the dirt and hastily started planting the seedlings in the holes she had been digging before.
“Hey, give a little warning next time, will you?” Myron glared at Livilla as he sat down to help. “And you might want to be more careful with it, could be worth a lot.”
Livilla looked at her brother and her eyes softened. “Sorry, I just.. Wanted it back. I didn’t mean to be rude.”
“You’re not usually so possessive with your findings,” he gave her arm a friendly nudge with his elbow, “But you’re right, this one is something special,” Myron said, moving on to the next seedling. ”I’ve read about how tough entwood is, but the books clearly don’t do it justice, it’s so well preserved. I wonder how long it’s been there..”.
“Of course it’s been buried a long time,” Livilla finished planting the last sunflower, patting the soil down. “Or do you have any other explanation for it?” She sat, resting against the dark brown planks of thornwood fence that surrounded the garden of their family cottage. Myron joined her and she pulled out the stunning dove.
Entwood was a firm, unyielding wood, almost as tough as diamonds. Special tools were required to chip and shape it. It used to grow abundantly, many, many decades ago, in the forests covering a large part of Heathera and woodworkers made a good living of it. Nowadays, Entwood was as scarce as anything could possibly be, and while it did show up at antique auctions on rare occasion, usually in the form of jewelery, boxes, vases and plates, there were very few in the Kingdom who could boast of owning a piece.
“Strange, isn’t it, though?” Myron mused, “You might ask Reena if she knows what became of the entwood sold to Illara.”
When it became known that entwood trees were soon to be extinct, traders from the Kingdom of Illara offered astounding sums of gold in exchange for it. The pieces that show up now are family heirlooms, passed down from generation to generation by those few who refused to sell to Illara.
“Maybe. If there’s anyone in town who has seen some or heard of it, it would be her.” Livilla said, feeling the smooth, polished body of the wooden dove. But no matter how nice Reena was to her, Livilla hesitated to even think about telling her. As a historian, Reena might worry about such a precious artifact being in the hands of a girl so young with much yet to learn about the trade.
A loud squawk came from the cottage, closely followed by another, sending Livilla to her feet.
“Oooh no, I can’t be late!” Livilla scrambled to her feet, pocketing the dove and rushed inside the front door, leaving Myron in the garden. Morkie, usually frustrating her to the point of headaches, was signaling the time. Today, she was thankful her mother had trained the bird so precisely. He gave the family a warning when it was time to get ready for their daily activities or work. Early morning for mother and father, but she and her brother, thankfully, started their day closer to lunchtime. Though not many, at least there were a few privileges to officially still being kids.
Livilla entered her room and stepped out of her muddy skirts and blouse while at the same time rummaging for a clean set of clothes. She washed her face and hands, put on her best new tan leggings, white, long sleeved tunic and brown, open vest. Perfect for a work day. She’d learned not to wear her usual dresses in the shop. Though rarely, she sometimes got too excited and her swishing skirts would knock over a priceless dish or an old birdcage.