35 Saun, 716
You're worried about something.
Lei'lira turned and stared at her wolf familiar incredulously. Of course she was worried! She was late. It had been twenty three trials since the last time the bandits...Lei'lira shuddered, as a small whimper escaped a throat that was suddenly locked up. Twenty three trials since...then. It was bad enough that it had happened at all. Sleep had become her enemy ever since she'd been captured, because Lei'lira relived those days in her nightmares each night. A good night's sleep had become a memory that taunted her.
And her monthly cycle was nearly three weeks late. At first, she hadn't even noticed. Recovering from her injuries, learning the truth about what had been done to her twin...there had been a lot for her to cope with while she'd stayed at her grandmother's house. But now she was back home, and safe...hopefully, at least. There was more time for her to think, and realize just how much time had passed.
Stress could be causing the delay. There had been a few times in the past where stress caused by a problem with the farm, or by grief over their father's death, and their mother leaving them had been enough to delay her cycle. It was a possibility, and one that Lei'lira had to cling to. Because the alternative...was something Lei'lira couldn't bear to think about.
She needed a distraction; something...anything she could focus on other than the fear that she might be pregnant. Fortunately, she had one. She'd managed to scrape up enough money for a chicken coop over the last season or so. And she'd contacted the son of a nearby farmer earlier in the season to ask him to build one for her. Yesterday, she'd gotten word that the chicken coop was ready, and that he would be bringing it over today.
"You're right, Lei'luna. I am worried about something, but it's too painful for me to be able to talk about, even to you. And since it isn't something I can do anything about, I can't afford to be thinking about it now. The new chicken coop is ready, and they're bringing it over today. In fact, I think they'll be here soon."
With that, Lei'lira bustled about, making sure that she looked presentable. Although she really didn't care about such things, she was painfully aware that she was a baroness...even if she didn't feel like one, or act like one. And while it wasn't something she thought about often, she did understand that people liked to gossip. If her neighbors saw her looking less than presentable, they would talk. It wasn't likely that her grandmother or any of the other members of her family would listen to gossip from commoners, but it wasn't impossible that they would, either. As Lazuli's twin, what she did might reflect back on Lazuli for good or ill. And with the recent reminder that she was a burden to her sister on the best of days, she didn't want to do anything that might reflect badly on Lazuli in some way.
Once her hair was brushed, and her clothes had been checked for stains and tears, Lei'lira headed back out to wait. She didn't have to wait long before a man driving a wagon came up the road. It was the man who had agreed to make her chicken coop, and Lei'lira was happy to see it strapped securely in the man's wagon.
He drove through the gate, and pulled up not to far from where Lei'lira was standing.
"The coop's in back. What do you think? Good enough?"
The man was clearly a man of few words, and that was a relief to Lei'lira. It meant that he wouldn't want to talk to her outside what was necessary to get the chicken coop set up, and Lei'lira was too nervous about his presence to want to talk to him, or let him linger longer than was strictly needed. To hasten the time of his departure, Lei'lira hurried around to the back to the man's wagon so she could inspect her chicken coop.