Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Kaldmont 27, 997AC: Rowena and Leansethar

Silva looked almost as shocked as the rest of my companions. Even still, we found ourselves going to one knee. All of us, that is, except Elder Ivonov.
“Impossible!” Ivonov snapped. “Rowena and Leansethar is a fairy story. They never really existed. Why… if they did, they would be…. thousands of years old by now. There are barely any dragons that old.”

“There are four,” Aurora said. “Three of which we know personally. Shall we summon them, that they may corroborate my claims?” She made to raise her arm, but Silva — it would be difficult to think of her by any other name — gripped her twin’s arm, holding it firmly by her side.
“Nieah,” she said, with a hard look. “Idanim na’asti, Anuja.”
“There is only ‘now,’” Aurora whispered. “Yours grows shorter with every breath. We cannot waste it in coddling these ignorant barbarians.”
Silva slapped Aurora, hard enough across the cheek to cause the shrike to turn her head with the blow.
“Vadati na, ce zathayati,” Silva hissed, repeating the lesson her sister had reminded her of back at Krakatos. My knowledge of Ancient Thonian was sketchy at best, but I was pretty sure it amounted to my mother’s advice: “It you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
She turned towards the Elders. “Anjua — my smaller sister has…” Silva glanced over to me. “Samaam? You… make it speak how?”
“Sorry,” I coached. I would definitely need to spend quite some time working on the girl’s grasp of Thyatian sentence structure.
Silva nodded. “Yes. That is its sound.” She turned back to the druids, and bowed, yanking on Aurora’s hand to make her do the same.
“We… are..” She began, and paused, searching for the words.
“Humble before you,” Aurora finished.
“Yes,” Silva said, nodding as she straightened. “That is its sound.”
She glanced my way and winked.

Igorov crossed his arms. “So she knows a smattering of Ancient Thonian. She could very well be from one of the sidhe tribes still on the Isle of Dawn, could have picked it up from there. We waste time with these pretenders. We should be discussing the importance of the missing star.”
“That ‘missing star’ is one of the twelve Thrones,” Aurora said. “The third to have fallen since the Remaking.”
“Legends. Again? You have it backwards, dear child. The adults tell their children the tales when it is time for them to sleep. There is no place for fairy stories in this conference.”
The shrike’s fist clenched, the two red stones adorning her wrists kindling to light. Silva hummed a note, and the dragonstones went dark.
“It was the First Throne,” Aurora pressed. “Nothing else explains my sister’s presence here.”
“So the Sleeper wakes,” the Eldress murmured.
“Not you as well, Solorena,” Igorov groaned. “That old song—“
“That ‘old song’ comes to life before our very eyes.” The other Elder, Connor of Riverfork, finally spoke. “Among so many others. Tell me, Igorov, did you not sing Leansethar’s Lullaby to your children?”
The Elder of Achelos sputtered, hunkering down a bit in his robes. “What has that old rhyme got to do with any of this? The stars--”
“Please, sing it for us,” Elder Connor prodded, the ghost of a smile quirking a corner of his mouth. “Unless you have forgotten it.”
Igorov sat up straight, his eyes flashing. “My beard was going gray before you even began growing yours,” he said. “If you think that I’ve forgotten a song in my old age—“
Connor folded his arms. “You stall, Elder.” He looked up at the Eldress, Solorena. “I know you know the song. Perhaps you could refresh our fellows’ ailing memory?”
Igorov flushed red beneath his beard, all the way up past his bushy eyebrows. He practically leapt to his feet. Rather than shout though, he lifted his voice in song, a rich, alto that seemed too large to come from so frail an old man:
Take me away from time and season
Far and away we sing with reason
Prepare a throne of stars above me
As the world once known will leave me

Take me away upon a plateau
Far far away from fears and shadow
Strengthen my heart in times of sorrow
Light the way to bright tomorrows”
Aurora rocked back on her heels, her face gone pale, her golden eyes distant.
“What is it? What has happened to her?” Ana asked, pushing past me to kneel at the shrike’s side.
Silva lifted her sister’s hand, which was slack in her own. “She is safe. The sing, it takes her away to the past. Very deep. Very far.
“She sing it for me, at Father’s house upon the black stone. When I am… not right. Hurting with the fevers. Our mother sing it for us when we were made here.” She rubbed at her stomach. She sighed, squeezing her sister’s hand, and she looked up at me.
“Your words. They are difficult in making. They are not made for that to sing.”

“Now, then, before the two of you come to blows,” Elder Connor said, glancing first at Igorov and then at Aurora, who’d regained her composure, and glared knives at the Elders, “I would have us dig at the root of this intrusion. We have heard your theory of the missing star, and will take it into account in further discussions. You also came to ask a boon of us, feyling. Be quick about asking it that we might get back to our discussion of other matters.”
Aurora took a moment to tamp down her frustration. After several deep breaths, she turned to the Hierarch.
“I would humbly beg this Hierarch to beseech the Callarii for shelter beneath the boughs of one of their Trees of Life for my sister, that she—“
“Nieah!” Silva gasped.
“That she might shelter there until I can find a working Lightning Road—“
“No! No, no no! Chadat’mi tvam abvhani’ya. Gopya’mi tvam abvhani’ya!” Silva slashed her hand in the air, a clearly negative gesture. 
“We kept you asleep, away from this world so it could not infect you!” Aurora shouted. “It has grown worse, so thick that even the dragonstones cannot keep the taint from your blood. If you do not shelter beneath a Tree of Life, you will die. I have seen too many claimed by the Wasting. I will not let you suffer through it.”
Silva’s fists clenched, a ripple of golden light pulsing through the red stone over her left wrist. “I have more… strong than you think. You are not to keep me in the towers like that time. I can fight. I will fight. This world is mine and I will fight for it!”
They stood, backs straight, shoulders squared, eye to eye. It was a long stretch before Aurora spoke.
“You are one of the Progenitors.”
“Atah, uttarad’yitva’mi,” Silva said. “I have … responsible.”
“You endanger yourself. Thus, the entire world.”
“The world has… much dangers already.”
“The long sleep has not made your head any softer.”
“I have had the sleep for.. too much time. I will not go back.”
“Your magic—“
“The dragon’s stones will protect me.”
“They are barely enough. My armament is barely enough!”
Silva drew a breath to continue arguing, but it caught in her throat, and she began to cough again, doubling over with the severity of the fit.
“It is the first of the signs of the sickness,” Aurora said, the edge of irritation gone from her voice. “It will only get worse, without help.”
“The stones—“ The clear stone at her throat shone with a brilliant golden-white light.
“Even those are not enough,” Aurora said. “You need a Treekeeper’s care. Shelter beneath a Tree of Life.”
Silva shook her head. “Nieah,” she rasped, through blood-flecked lips.

“If she will not seclude herself with the elves, there is another way,” the Eldress said.
“No,” Igorov snapped. “I know what you would suggest. I will not endorse it.” He crossed his arms.
“Nor will I,” Aurora said, much to the Elder’s — and everyone’s— surprise. “It is far, far too dangerous. For either of you.” The shrike glanced between Silva and I.
I felt Sera’s confusion, though Gilliam beat her to the question.
“What under Ixion’s sun are all of you rambling on about?” he asked.
Igorov narrowed his dark eyes at the man, but Elder Connor spoke first.
“Our apologies, Son of the Mountains and Sands. The Elder of Achelos objects to the notion of raising druid Thorn to the ranks of the Greensingers. He no doubt has his own candidate in mind for the available position.”
Igorov huffed, shifting where he sat on the stone of the grove’s hillock.
“This could make it so I am not to … how to speak it? Be secret among the treefolk?” Silva asked. 
Ana’s brow furrowed. “I have heard the term, but do not know the details.”
“Like servants of the Flame, Greensingers work to cleanse the world of the demon’s taint,” the Eldress of Dymrak said. “Where your priests work among the populace in the cities and towns, Greensingers do so among the communities of the sylvan folk, where there are no Trees of Life or Treekeepers to slow the spread of the corruption.”
Ana smiled. “It sounds to me like a very satisfying calling.”
“It is a lifetime of hard work,” the Eldress said, nodding. “At once very satisfying, but also saddening. There are so many too far gone, that we simply cannot reach in time.”
“There is nothing more frightening that battling a fey given over to the insanity of the Wasting,” Igorov said. “That is the final duty of a Greensinger: to aid the fey until such a time as to end them, before they can fall to the darkness. If— and I do not say I believe this feyling’s claims — but let us suppose those truly are mythical dragonstones on her wrists. If they— and thus, she— is powerful as the legends claim, you cannot expect this journeyman to stand against such power. She will burn him to cinders without two moments’ thought. We would save ourselves much trouble if we simply— ”
Aurora’s hand tightened on the knife at her hip. The two red stones smoldered on her wrists, the gold in her eyes brightening.
“I will make cinders of any who would threaten the Progenitor.”
“And will you be able to carry out the Greensinger’s task, when the time comes?” Igorov asked, not batting an eye at the very real danger in which he’d placed himself.
“That time will not come. That is why she must stay in the neutral zone beneath a Tree,” Aurora said, easing the grip on the begemmed knife and glaring at Silva.
“How…” Silva paused, frowning as she struggled to piece the words together. “How far is …the road? The path?” she asked. “How much of steps is this journey to the dark places?”

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