The children leapt to their feet, surrounding Deloren, pelting her with questions, not wanting the story to end.
A petite, red-headed girl, popped her thumb out of her mouth just long enough to ask, “What’d Ellisle do afta’ that?”
The child glanced shyly over at another woman who stood across the room, leaning back against the greystone wall of the small space within Guardian Mountain which now served as learning room for the children of the neighboring village. Hands clasped over her abdomen, her hair was corralled into a long braid which draped over one shoulder, ashy brown interwoven with faint streaks of grey. Errant curls escaped about her forehead and wisped at the nape of her neck.
Deloren looked over to where Ellisle was standing and saw her cross her arms firmly over her chest. She knew that the child’s question would bring Ellisle’s memories flooding in. She also knew that Ellisle wouldn’t willingly swim in that river today.
“You know the answer to that Youngling,” said Ellisle, lips twitching upward. Ellisle looked up and winked at Deloren.
The little girl grinned around her thumb and nodded emphatically.
“What’d Terris do when the Guardian’s was all ‘aflamin’? Was he scarert?” A small boy asked, staring up at Deloren with wide black eyes crowned by dark brows almost hidden beneath the ebony waves framing his face.
“He weren’t scarert, Tomlin,” answered a slightly taller and otherwise identical version of the boy, crowding in close beside him. “Terris were brave enough to jump offa’ the mountain to save Ell weren’t he?”
Grimy fingers grasped at Deloren’s tunic, “When they gonna’ sing again, huh? Can I hears it?“
Deloren gently unclasped the childish fingers and held them between her own age-swollen knuckles.
“Yes, Younger, you can hear it, though you may have to wait till the next Ritual of the One.”
“Oh,” she said, eyes cast down, long eyelashes brushing flushed, pink cheeks.
“Gran Bryl! What happened to Gran Bryl?” Another child asked.
Deloren looked at the earnest young face crowding in close to her. She focused on the bright blue eyes and curving mouth that reminded her so of her beloved friend, Bryllint.
Meeting the child’s seriousness with her own she said, “With the Day of Rising their work was done. Gran Bryl and Bryllint are playing now on the Pathways of the One.” The child looked satisfied with that, and dipped her chin in acknowledgment.
Another younger, a boy with sparkling brown, mischievous eyes asked, “How’s about Gareth?”
Deloren heard a chuckle from across the room.
“Well you know my Hatchling, just what happened to Gareth,” said Deloren.
“He’s ma’ Farn!”
“Indeed, he is. And your Marn?”
“Marn? Why she’s Mina!”
“And where might you live with your Marn and your Farn, Hatchling?”
“We lives just back ‘a Guardian Mountain,” he said, casting a boneless arm over his shoulder. “In the village. We all lives there,” and he gestured with both arms out wide including all the children in his proprietary response.
A green blur flashed somewhat erratically over the heads of the children, buzzing to land on Ellisle’s shoulder.
“You’re not as young as you once were, Moss. You might slow it down a bit,” said Ellisle, looking askance at the tiny figure plastered to her shoulder, chest heaving.
Not in the least distracted by this, another child piped up, “What about Faltim and Fal? What happened ta’ them?”
“That, my Hatchling is a tale for another time. Off you go now, back to your chores.” Deloren made pushing movements with her hands, herding the children out.
The children scampered, laughing, through the doorway, and Deloren pushed herself slowly to her feet. One corner of her mouth twisted up into a grimace as she said, “These old bones make sure I slow down, and I’ve chores of my own to see to. Remo’s bunions have flared up.”
Ellisle nodded sagely, kissing her fingertips and holding palm out toward Deloren. Deloren smiled, caught the kiss with an outstretched hand and patted her own softly wrinkled cheek, then ambled out the door.
Ellisle! The Pathways are calling. I’m ready to dance! Ell’s words dropped into Ellisle’s mind. It no longer startled her the way it once had. Yet the intimacy of the connection still filled her heart almost to bursting. Her own chores, the endless work of the Eldress, Contracted of Gran Ell, could wait for a little while longer.
Yes, Ell, thought Ellisle. Let’s dance.
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 Chapter 46 Chapter 47 Chapter 48
Chapter 49 Chapter 50 Chapter 51 Chapter 52 Chapter 53 Chapter 54 Chapter 55
Chapter 56 Chapter 57 Chapter 58
StoryTime Read Aloud