I, like Janner, love this rare moment of playfulness.
“What’s this?” Nia asked.
“My houndrick.” Leeli clicked her tongue, and the six dogs sat.
“Your houndrick?” Nia climbed down from the carriage to inspect it.
“Thorn and Biggin O’Sally commissioned it from the woodwrightery last month, just for me. It was finished today.” …
Nia mounted the carriage. “It looks solid. Well made. The woodwrightery guildlings did areally good job of it. Now,” she said, making sure the boys were seated, “let’s see how fast it is. Hya!”
Janner and Kalmar nearly tumbled off their seats when the horses lunged forward. Janner looked over his shoulder at Leeli and waved as they sped away. She looked shocked for a moment, and then Janner saw her mouth move and heard the dogs bay. The snowfall was so thick that Leeli disappeared in swirling curls of white as they passed through the gate, but he could hear the dogs and knew Leeli was close behind.
Nia laughed as the carriage careened through the streets. Kalmar whooped and crouched on his seat, nose into the wind, howling at the snow. He looked more like a wolf in that moment than Janner had ever seen him, and Janner loved him for it, because in that moment Kalmar didn’t care a hoot what the Hollowsfolk thought.
The horses were winded by the time they crossed the bridge at the foot of Chimney Hill. Nia reined them in and turned in her seat. “Do you hear her?” she asked, and they all listened. Janner heard nothing but the wind and the trickle of water in the creekbed. Nia’s face fell. “I should go back for her.”
“Look, Mama.” Kal pointed at two parallel lines in the snow that ran over the bridge and up the hill. “She beat us.”
When they rounded the bend and climbed up to the front lawn, they found Leeli loosening the straps of the last dog and scratching it behind the ears. Freva greeted Nia and the boys, then led the carriage to the barn, muttering about how much she disliked snow.
Nia calmly stooped and gathered a pile of snow into a ball. She aimed it at Leeli and let it fly. It hit Leeli in the back and exploded, and she spun around with her mouth hanging open.
“That’s your prize for winning,” Nia said. She threw another snowball. “And that’s for no reason at all.”
—From chapter 26, “Snaphounds and Snowfall.”
Whether you’re following along with us, or are somewhere else in the books, share your favorite passage in the comments! I had multiple favorites this week. If you’d like to read the others, visit the B-sides thread in the forum.