Lisle reclined on the mountainside looking up into cottony clouds which covered the sky. A warm breeze, redolent with summer’s waning, wafted errant strands of hair about her face and she brushed them aside absently. She was transfixed by the clouds, imagining them to be a herd of many humped, snowy beasts with slate grey underbellies, drifting in stately progress from horizon to horizon. The image was appealing and she pointed them out to Moss who squatted like a delicate, winged water hopper upon Lisle’s bent knee. She laughed and pointed at a cloud shaped exactly like a puller beast elbowing Tim who sat beside her, long legs stretched before him as he leaned back on his hands.
Tim had joined Lisle on the mountainside several times over the past weeks, and even Moss was getting used to him. Lisle discovered that she enjoyed his undemanding company. It provided her with a break from the intensive training she was doing with Bryllint and now Deloren.
Feeling relaxed, Lisle tried to put the image of the cloud beasts into words so Tim and Moss could see what she was seeing. To her frustration, the words stuck in her throat and her tongue tangled in her mouth.
With a huff, she sat up irritably. Moss leapt into the air and hovered in front of Lisle's face, hands on her hips, wings buzzing loudly and chattered at her. Lisle inclined her head in apology and hummed a single note. Then she added in a word, then more notes which became a song, and the words she wanted to say flowed out of her mouth with the song. Tim turned to look at her, eyebrows raised. Moss clapped her hands and chittered in a high, happy staccato. Lisle looked at them both, suddenly feeling shy and ducking her head.
“That was good Lisle. You can say what you want like that.”
Lisle looked up at Tim and nodded, feeling relieved that he understood her unusual solution to the problem that had plagued her for so long.
She saw his face take on an uncertain expression, eyebrows furrowing, as he looked away then and picked up a pebble from the ground beside him. He tossed it back and forth between his hands.
“Lisle, I want to tell you something.”
Tim looked so serious all of a sudden that Lisle sat up, forgetting about the animals in the clouds and looked at him. Anxiety pricked its way into her insides.
“My Guardian, Fal… he’s awake.”
Lisle drew in a sharp breath.
Tim dropped the pebble and turned pleading, pale green eyes to look at her. “I know he’s done terrible things, and…” Tim turned his gaze away from her and looked out at the horizon. He was silent for a moment. “and, me too.” He said in a whisper. Then the words poured out of him all in a rush. “He’s different now. I know he is. I am too. He loves me Lisle, I can tell. He’s not angry anymore, he just feels ashamed, and so do I, and he’s not going to hurt Ell again, I’m just sure of it. I love him so much…” His words ran down and his eyes followed, looking away from her face and down at the pebbled mountainside before him. He scuffed at the dirt with his fingers, picked up another pebble and threw it, hard. They both watched as it bounced and clicked its way down the incline. Then Lisle turned to look at Tim once again. The sunlight shone off dark curls straggling over his forehead, and he glanced at her out of the side of his eye, and quickly looked down again.
She had no idea how to respond. The dark Guardian was awake, Fal, Ell’s brother, who had almost killed Ell. The terrible image of him attacking Ell, shocking in its intensity, filled her inner vision. She felt anger and fear roiling up inside. Then she remembered the dancing blue light, bouncing along the Pathways, and shook her head back and forth. How was she to reconcile the two images?
Her thoughts took a turn then, and she remembered Bryllint saying, “There must be at least twelve Guardians to hold the balance, never less.”
Twelve Guardians, she thought. There had been ten Guardians living in Guardian Mountain. Now, Ell made number eleven. Fal is the only other Guardian that anyone has ever spoken of. Fal is the twelfth Guardian!
As much as Lisle didn’t want it to be true, they needed Fal. She realized that even when she and Ell accomplished the Ritual of the One, they would only be the eleventh pair. Not enough for the Day of Rising. Not enough to create balance. Without Fal and Tim they would fail. Gaea would fall into the darkness of The Others. An involuntary shiver traced icy fingers up her spine as she thought of the spreading darkness she had felt on the Pathways. She couldn’t let that happen.
“You, you can’t really forgive him… or me, can you?” Said Tim.
Lisle leapt to her feet and reached down for Tim’s hand, yanking him upward. He stood, looking at her uncertainly.
“C…C…Come on!” Lisle took off for the tunnel entrance to Guardian Mountain, pulling him along behind her. She heard a loud chittering, as Moss, not one to be left behind, caught up, wings buzzing beside Lisle’s ear.
Lisle tore through the mouth of the tunnel, holding hard to Tim’s hand and not allowing him to stop even when he shied backward at the entrance. They raced down the tunnel, finally skidding to a halt at the entrance of Guardian Cavern. Lisle dropped Tim’s hand as they both bent over, gasping for breath. Lisle was the first to recover as Moss alighted upon her shoulder. She looked up to see Gran Bryl stretched along the ridge at the side of the great cavern, yellow-green scales shining in the sunlight pouring through from the crater above. It sparkled over the walls of the cavern in thousands of flashing pinpoints of light. Lisle looked for Bryllint and was relieved to see her there, sitting at Gran Bryl’s side, her hand resting upon one huge foreleg. Her graying hair was pulled back into a knot at the nape of her neck and a welcoming smile creased her lined face. The air in the cavern wafted about them with the clean mineral scent of fresh-turned earth. The temperature was considerably cooler than outside.
Lisle heard a gasp from beside her and looked to see Tim, green eyes wide and staring, frozen like a creeper about to become a meal for some predatory creature.
She reached again for his hand. “It’s a…alright.” Lisle felt him resisting even as she walked forward so she stopped and pulled him up beside her. She looked up at him where he stood considerably taller than herself, and tried to reassure him with a smile. He looked back at her with fear-filled eyes. Then he clenched his jaw and gave a little nod as if to acquiesce to his fate. His fingers tightened convulsively on Lisle’s and they walked forward together to stand before Gran Bryl.
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
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