In Chapter 84, while Dabwick meditated, three visions of their earliest days in Cassomir were revealed:

***

The first was of a halfling couple. They are huddled against each other, wrapped in layers of blankets, walking briskly down an alleyway.

The fella looks up at each door for a sign as they pass. His face is young, serious but kind, and the young lady, yes, she’s carrying a very wee bundle that she can’t take her eyes off.

They arrive at a small door, a halfling door, with Truwell’s Orphanage painted in stately letters on a small plaque above the door frame.

The young man gently touches the young lady’s chin and she looks up, sad but not unhappy, determined. She speaks first.

Desna tells us that a star cannot see its place in the sky. Remember this, Finn. We must keep running, but Penelope’s got a real chance here.”

“I know it, Love.” With a warm smile, one hand on her shoulder and his other hand on the child’s head, Finn turns his face to the New Moon shining above Cassomir and says, “Thanks to Thee, Lady of Dreams, for leading us into the deeper mysteries of the heart. Be with us now and always: Finn, Lilibet, and our Lucky Penny.” He kisses the baby’s head.

And Lilibet’s voice doesn’t quaver when she replies, “Blessed be in the hope we are born again and rekindled anew. We hang our hopes upon your silvered wings and dream of new beginnings.”

They nod in unison, he holds the door for her, and glances in both directions before following them in.

***

Then Dabwick’s Understanding shifts, and now they see the back of this building, which, like all the neighboring buildings, is butted up against the back of another tenement on the other side. It is a similar moonlit night. In fact, this second snapshot feels like it might as well have been the very same night, if not soon after, and it’s a quick, brutish scene: the shape of a man is at the second floor window of the building behind the orphanage, backlit by candlelight. There are others in the room with him. And he’s reaching out the window with a pole towards the back of the orphanage, and coming back with tiny bundles on the end of the stick, one at a time.

Is that a wee fist we see poking out the side of one of the little blankets?

***

This last snapshot is inside a stonework tunnel of some sort, built of brick and mortar, dappled sunlight filters through a grate 30 feet above us and there’s a space here, about 15 feet in diameter, that is mainly dry, a thin rivulet across one side. There’s rats enough scurrying hither and yon, sniffing and chittering, back and forth, that they are simply a feature of the environment.

Entering in a heavy swagger and crossing center stage, as it were, is an enormous dire possum. She grunts as she hefts a brood of fat, pink, tween pups clinging to her back and mewling in deep raspy voices, showing their needle-point teeth. The family plods past us noisily and disappears from view just before we hear a tumbling of staggered steps and a very small, skinny toddler with pointy ears and wispy red hair pops in. She’s walking with the support of a thin stick and has that low center of gravity new walkers do. Plenty of scrapes and bruises and what looks like a wicked case of pink eye, but the kid’s muscled in their scrawny shoulders and their teeth are looking good.

Penny stops after a few steps forward and raises their stick, shouting in a squeaky babble some indignant command, before they stop-start “walking” with help from the stick, following the rodent stage right, babbling in frustrated grunts almost to themself as they go.

***

Dabwick opens their eyes, smiling a little at that. Plucky kid, they was, and Old Mum was a fierce teacher of self-reliance if nothing else.

In a moment of desperation, two young people placed their hope at the feet of the Goddess of Dreams and entrusted their child to her watchful eye. They could not foresee the dangers and disasters that would shape Dabwick’s life, but they believed that Desna’s luck and watchful eye for the travelers of the world would keep their Penny safe.

First Reference: Chapter 84
Other Notable References:

 

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