TITLE: Song for Aino
GENRE: YA Fantasy
Sixteen-year-old Aino turned toward the fur merchant’s table, wanting to cover her head with a silver fox pelt and disappear. Sure, the old wizard who’d just stepped into the town marketplace was the most lauded in the land—said to be the most powerful magical singer ever born—but did Aino’s mother have to be so embarrassingly girlish at seeing him? Would to the gods the wizard would go away—or that her mother would suddenly go blind or mute. Either option seemed a reasonable solution.
“Look, daughter, oh, do look!” Her mother, Leena, patted Aino’s sleeve incessantly. “It’s Väinö. Väinö, I say!” Other women acted just as foolishly, falling over themselves to catch a glimpse of the legendary wizard. Their behavior seemed disgusting and coarse to Aino.
“Yes, Mother, I see him.” She obediently peeked from the fox pelt, face hot with humiliation. Forty paces away stood an old man with a gray beard as big as a bush and likely as scratchy as one. He stood beside a booth piled high with fruit. The old man took a handful of blueberries and popped them into his mouth. No one, including the merchant, said a word about payment.
Adoring villagers surrounded him, all begging for one just one of his magical songs. Leena grabbed Aino’s arm, rather rudely working their way through the jostling congestion.
“Make my sister howl like a wolf,” a young man called, gesturing toward a girl about Aino’s age. The girl’s eyes went wide.