Lisle looked over her shoulder longingly in the direction she knew would lead to her Guardian. She would have to wait to tell Ell of her experience on the mountainside. Resolutely, she turned her head forward even as her feet continued to follow Bryllint. Gran Bryl’s Contracted had accosted Lisle in the tunnelway on her way to find Ell. Her abrupt, “Follow me,” allowed no possibility of argument from Lisle. It was well past midday and their accustomed time for teaching, so Lisle shrugged and followed her to the teaching room.
Once settled in her usual seat, Lisle was quickly caught up in listening to Bryllint’s resonant voice as it filled the room. She enjoyed watching Bryllint draw in the air with her hands as she illustrated her teaching. Bryllint’s energy was such that she paced the greystone floor from one side of the teaching space to the other, her enthusiasm spilling over into Lisle.
Lisle wondered that she could keep up that level of energy, as old as she must be. She didn’t know how old, but the lines on Bryllint’s face told of many changes lived. The soft grey of the hair framing her face, confirmed it. Even so, when Bryllint taught she practically bounced around the room.
Lisle focused her wandering thoughts and listened to Bryllint. She was talking about a Guardian and her Contracted, saying they were two aspects of the same soul. Lisle blinked her eyes. She was astounded by this idea. How could she possibly be good enough to share a soul with Ell? Lisle wanted to object, and yet a tiny voice inside said, wait. So, Lisle held her mind still for a moment as Bryllint explained further.
She said that Guardian’s hold the high-level energy needed to balance light and dark for their Mother world, Gaea. Lisle’s mind hared off again, musing on the fact that she had always thought of their home as Mother. That was what was taught in the Book of One. It was the way Ma-Marn had spoken of their world, sitting at her loom before the fire during the cold of winter, with Mina and Lisle curled up in blankets on the floor beside her, listening. But Ma-Marn had never spoken the name, Gaea. Nor had she taught that Mother home was a being, just as Lisle herself was. Yet that was what Bryllint was saying right now. Well, maybe not a person like Lisle, but so much more than grey rock, trees and dirt. Gaea was alive.
Lisle felt excitement surge through her at this thought. She knew deep within that it was true. Hadn’t she felt that aliveness all around her? Hadn’t Gaea’s music comforted her when she wept? Lisle could hear that music even now. She knew Gaea, though she had never known her name.
Lisle snapped her eyes back to Bryllint, who gazed at her with amusement as she stood before her, hands on her hips. Then her hands leapt up to gesture again and she continued. “As I was saying, Guardian’s hold the balance of light and dark for our Mother, Gaea. There must be at least twelve Guardians to hold the balance, never less. In the past there were many more. But the Guardian wars….”
Bryllint’s voice ran down, bright, black-brown eyes dimmed, and her face fell as she suddenly looked old, cheeks sagging downward. She sank down on the floor in front of Lisle and looked down at her hands. Her voice hushed and she spoke in a whisper, the words almost too terrible to say aloud. “Guardian killing Guardian.”
Lisle’s brow furrowed. “Wh…Why?”
Bryllint heaved a deep breath in and sighed it out. She lifted her head, her eyes shining and wet. “The Others.”
Lisle studied Bryllint’s face as if she could read the answer there in the wrinkles at the corners of her mouth and eyes, the gleam of light on tear-filled eyes.
Bryllint continued, her voice low, seemingly reluctant to say the words. “They hide in the dark of the Pathways, insatiable in their desire for power and control. They have no bodies in which to live in this world. They are powerless, so they insinuate themselves into the thoughts of humans and even Guardians. Worst is that their words sound like our own thoughts, thoughts of fear, hatred, anger, greed and jealousy.”
Lisle was struck with understanding. “Th..The Dark G…G…Guardian?”
“Yes. There's no doubt he is a victim of their manipulations.”
Uncharacteristically, Bryllint was silent after that, looking again at her hands, studying work worn palms.
Lisle waited. She could feel Bryllint’s need to work through what she needed to say.
Bryllint took a deep breath, still staring at her hands, then held them out towards Lisle. “I carried his egg in my hands, just as I did Ell’s.” She swallowed with a gulping sound, and the tears fell now, running down into the furrows of Bryllint’s cheeks. She made no move to brush them away. Her hands dropped into her lap. “He was Bryll’s own, even as Ell is.”
Lisle was shocked, horrified. Her breath came in short gasps. It was too terrible to absorb.
“He tried to k…kill his own f…family?”
Bryllint took a deep breath and nodded as she exhaled. “He didn’t know that the thoughts which goaded him into such a crime were not his own. He didn’t understand that he served their dark purpose.”
“How could he?” Lisle leapt to her feet and ran from the room. She felt like she might explode with rage if she stayed, her anger bubbling up and spewing out like the fire mountains in the Book of One. Her feet flew unerringly down the tunnelway, carrying her straight to Ell.
In case you missed a post, or if you've just tuned in to Lisle's story,
here are links to previously posted chapters to save you scrolling all the way through.
Introduction Prologue Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5
Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13
Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16 Chapter 17 Chapter 18 Chapter 19 Chapter 20
Chapter 21 Chapter 22 Chapter 23 Chapter 24 Chapter 25 Chapter 26 Chapter 27
Chapter 28 Chapter 29 Chapter 30 Chapter 31 Chapter 32 Chapter 33 Chapter 34
Chapter 35 Chapter 36 Chapter 37 Chapter 38 Chapter 39 Chapter 40 Chapter 41
Chapter 42 Chapter 43 Chapter 44 Chapter 45
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