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Pearson Mary E, “The kiss of deception”, public translation into English from English More about this translation.

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Berdi and Pauline were among them.

It was the same procession my mother had led in Civica—that she would lead there today. The same procession that I had walked in just steps behind my mother because we were the kingdom’s First Daughters, blessed even above the others, holding within us the strongest gift of all.

The same procession, sometimes immense, sometimes attended only by a handful of the faithful, was taking place in towns, hamlets, and villages all over Morrighan. I scanned the faces of the First Daughters lining up, the expectant, the confident, the curious, the resigned—some supposing themselves to have the gift, others knowing they didn’t, some still hoping it might come, but most taking their places in the middle of the road simply because they knew no other way. It was tradition.

The priests made a last call for any other First Daughters to join the rest. Gwyneth stood wedged beside me in the crowd. I heard her sigh. I shook my head.

And then the singing began.

Morrighan’s song rose and fell in gentle humble notes, a plea to the gods for guidance, a chorus of gratitude for their clemency.

We all fell in step behind them, dressed in our own rags, our stomachs rumbling because it was a day of fasting, and we made our way to the Sacrista for holy sacraments, thanksgiving, and prayer.

I thought Rafe and Kaden hadn’t come. Since it was a day of fasting, Berdi hadn’t put out morning fare, and neither of them had stirred from the loft this morning, but just before we reached the Sacrista, I spotted them both in the crowd. So did Gwyneth. Heads were bowed, voices only lifted in song, but she sidled close and whispered, “they’re here,” as if their presence was as miraculous as the gods leading the Remnant from destruction. Maybe it was.

Suddenly Gwyneth surged ahead until she was in step with little Simone and her parents. Simone’s mother’s hair was a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and her father’s was snowy white, both old to be parents of such a young child, but sometimes heaven brought unexpected gifts. The woman held Simone’s hand, nodded acknowledgment over her head to Gwyneth, and they all walked together. I noted that even little Simone, always so impeccably dressed when I had seen her on my errands in town, had managed to find rags to wear. And then, walking just a few paces behind them, I noticed for the first time that Simone’s bouncing strawberry curls were only a shade lighter than Gwyneth’s.

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