“Day of the One Lisle!”
Lisle startled awake and blinked sleep-filled eyes open to see Bryllint standing at the doorway of her room. Bryllint was grinning broadly. She held something draped over her arm. Grey on black hair framed her face, falling in straight lines to her shoulders and over her forehead. She held a candle lantern in her hand and the flickering light reflected on Deloren who stood next to her. Deloren rested a hand on Bryllint’s shoulder and a bright-eyed look of delight danced on her smiling face.
“Up you get, this is no time for lying about. Today is your Ritual! You’ve got to get yourself ready and then you’ve got to get Ell ready. Up now!"
Bryllint pushed the curtain aside and stepped through the doorway, followed closely by Deloren. She carefully placed what she held onto Lisle’s lap. Lisle pushed herself upright on her cot, rumpled bed cover wrapped about her waist, and peered down at what Bryllint had brought. It was an olive-green tunic. As she looked more closely, she saw that it was covered in embroidery. Beautiful scallops of red, carmine shading to ruby, sparkled across the fabric in the flickering candlelight. Lisle recognized the colors, the tunic matched Ell, right down to the red tinged edges of her scales. She ran her hand across it, feeling the slight texture of the stitching giving way to the smoothness of fabric. As she did so, Deloren laid out a deep red ribbon across the tunic.
“These are our gift to you, Lisle,” said Deloren. “It is the tradition for the Contracted to wear the colors of the Guardian on the day of their Ritual.”
Lisle was overcome and tears welled up in her eyes. “They’re s…so b…beautiful.” Lisle had never owned anything so fine.
“You’ve worked hard to earn your place among us, Lisle. We are all proud of you.” Deloren’s warm brown eyes looked at her with such kindness and love that Lisle could do nothing else but throw her arms around Deloren’s hips as she stood at Lisle’s bedside, and hug her hard.
“Hey, me too!” said Bryllint laughing and joining in the embrace.
After a moment, Deloren released them both. “Lisle, the Ritual is upon you, and you need to get ready. Come on Bryllint, let’s go put on our own finery.”
Deloren and Bryllint left the room arm in arm, and Lisle stared after them, hardly believing what had just happened. Then she leapt from the bed and held the tunic up in front of her, draping the ribbon over her shoulder. She spun about, twirling the tunic with her, and laughing out loud.
“Our Ritual of the One!” Lisle sang out the piping notes. She felt a fluttering in her stomach, part excitement, part nerves. She stopped spinning as she realized that as much as she had anticipated this day, no one had told her what to expect. She had no idea what would happen, except that she would be with Ell. That had to be enough. She and Ell would do this together.
Lisle slipped the new tunic on over her shift. It fit her perfectly, draping softly over slender waist and hips.
My Ritual tunic! She giggled at the thought. Now, where did I put my leggings?
Lisle took extra care braiding her wayward, nut brown curls into a semblance of order. Despite her best efforts, wispy tendrils escaped, waving in front of her ears and at the nape of her neck. Huffing out an irritated breath she threaded her fingers through the unfinished braid and pulled it all out. I’ll try it with the ribbon, she thought and reached over to her cot for the soft ribbon that lay there reflecting the candlelight with flickering splashes of carnelian.
Her second try went a little better, and Lisle looked down at herself stroking her hand down the stitching over her torso. Wearing the embroidered tunic and the red ribbon in her hair, she and Ell would match beautifully. She was mesmerized by the candlelight reflecting off the ruby-toned threads. Lisle’s heart felt like it might explode with happiness as tears prickled in her eyes.
Guardian’s scales! I’ll not have red-rimmed eyes at our Ritual. Lisle rubbed the wet out of her eyes. Then with a delighted flourish and a sweep of her arm, she flipped back the curtain at her door and skipped down the hallway. She had to get Ell ready!
She found Ell in the Cavern, reclining upon her usual ledge, eyes closed. Her breath wuffled in and out through delicate nostrils. The sun had not yet risen and only a grey light filtered down into the huge space. Lisle could hear a few of the other Guardian’s moving quietly about, claws rasping on stone surfaces. Most were still asleep.
She tip-toed to Ell’s side.
“Ell!” Her urgent whisper sounded unnaturally loud in the early morning quiet. More quietly then she tried again, “Ell.”
Lisle pushed at Ell’s forearm and her Guardian came awake with a loud snort.
Lisle clapped her hands around Ell’s muzzle in an effort to silence any further outbursts. Just then she heard the loud buzz that heralded Moss’s arrival at Lisle’s shoulder. Still holding Ell’s muzzle between her hands, Lisle looked back and forth between them. Then she hummed softly and sang in her sweet voice, “Today is our Ritual of the One,” ending on a quiet, high note.
Ell reared up, eyes wide. She looked at Lisle distractedly for a moment and then hurriedly got down off the ledge heading straight toward the healing pool.
Lisle stared after Ell, then looked down at her shoulder where Moss sat. Moss raised tiny green hands and made scrubbing motions in the air.
“Oh!” said Lisle, and she left the cavern at a trot, Moss buzzing along beside her. They had work to do.
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
StoryTime Read Aloud