A literary tale taking place in the late Mesolithic Doggerland an area, now submerged, between Britain and Denmark.
“Well, since you ask,” Aren said, “you could lose a little weight.”
Bekah was not particularly fat. She scowled and returned the compliment: “You're a little too fond of the fish cake yourself, Aren.”
There was no love lost there, even though she was his mother. She had tattoos: dotted wavy lines, with spirals around her wrists. He was a disappointment, in her eyes. She didn't like his father much, either. Aren who, like her, had brown hair and greenish-blue eyes—he was their only son.
He was not looking forward to his upcoming man-faring, the excursion—the grand tour—that every young male of the coastal village had to make in order to be considered adult. He knew he had to go; his father, Deccan, was losing patience.
Years ago, Deccan and his companions Kroli, Ani, and Aber, had arrived at Bekah's village by the sea, after escaping from the Arkenesai encampment with her assistance. The two had wed, over her objections, but not those of her kin. Her children, Hu and Yar, needed a father. It was no surprise that she had returned pregnant, given her brutal mistreatment by the Arkenesai, the people who had held them captive. She called her first-born children her little soup-cakes.
Deccan and she were not happy; they slept separately.
“Why do I have to go at all?” Aren asked, tracing the spiral pattern on the arm of a crudely-carved wooden chair, with his finger. “I don't trust Yar with Rhyl.”
“You keep saying that,” Deccan got up and began pacing. “It's high time you got out from underfoot. I can take care of Yar.”
Aren repeated his objection. A little fat and lazy, he wanted things to stay as they were. He'd prefer to stay home with his friends, especially with Rhyl. He really liked her.
“And you thought I would change my mind?” Deccan continued. “Interesting notion.”
“I'm a man and able to make my own decisions, aren't I?” Aren frowned and folded his arms across his chest. The tallow-filled clay lamps spilled light into the room.
“Technically, not yet. It's immemorial tradition,” his father said. “I can't—I won't—alter it.”
Deccan had been chief ever since Bekah's parents had died. A thankless task. Everyone wanted something.Aren, while sickly as a child, had grown up to be quite manly in appearance.
“You act like a bird with a broken wing,” continued Deccan. “You want the best of both worlds without taking responsibility for either. I'm disappointed.”
Aren jumped up, knocking his chair over backwards. He swore and stormed off.