This is a serialized story, Part 1 can be found here
The Castle of Bridges stood on a threshold of light and dark, civilization and wilderness, its keepers servants of dichotomy, wardens of the in-between. The patriarch carried wisdom and foolishness as a double breadth yoke across shoulders that had learned to crave hard work as lungs crave air; a sacred and constant signifier of life. His hands were strong and broad. He had built their castle of bridges deep in the woods on the Northwest border of The Empire, and kept council with men of influence and owls of sycamores. He was a lord of hope and pain, and he had four children. The eldest of these, his only son, an heir to the worldly position and the simmering darkness of his father, and the fathers before them. The eldest daughter was a wild thing, free and changeable as a young vine bending toward the sunlight in a crowded forest floor. The youngest daughter, on the final cusp of her childhood, balanced her ferocity with her compassion and began preparations to leave the keep of her father; she would take the journey they all had, and find home where help was needed. The middle sister stood at the gate of The Castle of Bridges covered in dust, flanked by two strangers from distant lands, exhausted. She was welcomed inside with joy. As the reunited family feasted another traveler was brought in from the wilds and presented to them. The patriarch recognized him immediately, yet kept silent; the eldest daughter met The Wandering Brother’s eyes, and both heard the call of home from the other’s heart. He had come as a dutiful brother, burdened by obligation and guilt. Now he would stay as a guest, as a lover, as a son.