Small feet in overlarge boots clattered down the hall of the Stormwave family home, breaking the calm of the late afternoon. Mari lifted her head from the ornamental tree she was pruning, watching a blue blur tumble past as her son Turquoise charged through the courtyard on the way to his room.

At first she smiled; at seven years old, Turq was a clumsy little hurricane, and an afternoon stampede was par for the course. But as she watched him leave the courtyard, her eyes caught a few dark red patches in the grass and on the flagstones, and her smile dissipated. Dropping her pruning shears, she misty stepped out of the courtyard into the hallway where Turq's room lay.

"Turquoise?!" she called, rounding into his room. He was flopped on his kraken-shaped bed, chest heaving, sobbing into his blanket. Mari hurried to his side, sitting on the bed's edge and resting a hand on his shoulder.

Closing her eyes, she channeled gentle clerical magic; a soft white glow outlined her hand and passed over Turq's form, taking stock of his condition. No serious injuries, but his nose was badly hurt and there were some scrapes and cuts on his cheeks and chin. Painful, to be sure, but nothing Turq couldn't handle — she knew immediately that the injury wasn't the reason he was crying.

Wrapping her arms around his small frame, Mari hoisted her son up into her lap and pressed his head to her chest as he instinctively flung his arms around her and clung tight.

"That's it, little dewdrop," she murmured, "cry all the sad away."

Turq continued to cry for a few minutes while his mother stroked his hair. Gradually, her calm and her warmth replaced his pain with security. He stayed still and silent after the crying stopped, save for the occasional sniffle.

When he was ready, he lifted his head, face a mess of blood and tears and snot. He looked more scared than Mari had ever seen him, but she managed a smile before kissing his forehead.

"What is it, my little sea turtle?"

"Momma..." Turq began, then paused, chewing his lower lip for a minute. "Momma, how come everyone else is so much smarter than me? How come I'm such a...such a big dummy?"