Ruta looked up at her father, her tiny face slowly contorting into a frown.
"Papa, where did Mama go?"
Her father smiled, his huge, calloused hands gently patting his daughter's mess of soft black curls.
"She...couldn't stay here with us anymore. Her subjects needed her."
Andrievs saw Ruta frown again, this time more deeply.
"Your mother's a queen, you know. A queen of witches. She rides on tree branches, and she'll live for hundreds of years!"
"Will I, Papa? Will I live for that long, too? Will you?"
In answer, her father took her into his arms and cried.