"Gorim says there's gonna be war."
"Gorim's a doomsayer. He thinks the wind in the trees is the end of the world."
"And what would you know of it Asha? You think the end of the world's an ink spatter," Tavrin guffawed and turned back to the other young men who were his audience. "Gorim knows things. He says its war."
Asha shook her head. "The king's too smart to let that happen."
By all the gods she hoped that was true. They'd had a war not even ten years ago. Valrae would not survive another.
"If there's war," said Van, large and impressive, "I'm going to Orrein to sign up." He puffed out his chest importantly.
"You're too young," scoffed Tavrin.
"Fifteen next month. If that's not old enough to swing a sword, I'll lie."
Asha slammed her hand down on her rickety stall. A bottle of ink tipped over, ruining her stack of pages. "Find some place else to gossip."
She glared as the boys scattered, Van muttering: "Don't know why she cares, no one needs letter writing this close to winter." She watched them go, thin-lipped, and cursed when she noticed her ruined stock.
"It's just talk, Asha," Tavrin offered hesitantly as she cleaned.
"War isn't glorious, Tavrin."
Asha tried to rein in her anger. Here in the south of Valrae the Child's War had been almost mild. Here in the south of Valrae they still had adults over the age of thirty. Tavrin would have been five at its start, perhaps six; Asha scarcely older than he was now.
"When the war broke out," Asha said heavily, "everything fell apart. People died. Entire cities were razed. And everyone had blood on their hands."
Tavrin stared at her with big, wide eyes. "You talk like you were there."