The Seeress and the Stone 39
Geoff shook Scotch until he opened his eyes. “Is it my turn for the watch?” Scotch asked groggily.
“No, come and see.” Scotch followed Geoff to a small clearing and was astonished to see flames lighting the night sky.
“What is it?” he asked
“Viecity,” Geoff replied. “He is burning the city.”
Scotch thought of the many people he had seen just that morning. He also thought of Larea and his promise to rescue her. “What are we going to do?” he asked.
“Nothing,” came the somber reply. “Celendar’s prophecy has come to pass. Oh what a foolish people we were.” Geoff watched a few moments longer and then turned away and walked back into the trees. “Ellinsha deliver us from this man,” he said under his breath.
Scotch watched his retreating back then turned to stare at the burning city. His home, his life was destroyed. All of the people he cared about were dead or gone. His fists balled up as anger washed over him. All of this because of some all powerful stone that he didn’t really believe existed.
He was more determined than ever to defeat this King and rescue Angelia.
Christiana trailed behind Sparrow, Jord and Naatus. Exhausted and with aching feet, she smiled wryly at the thought that just a few weeks ago nothing could have dragged her into the forest let alone the mountains. Her biggest worry had been what to wear to the next social gathering. Now here she was, surrounded by cold cave walls, walking to an uncertain place that might or might not be there. She wondered if she would ever see her daughter or husband again, she shuddered, or daylight.
“I am a different person now,” she thought.
“Jord, can we stop?” Sparrow asked. She had been drooping for the last hour.
Jord turned back to look at his friend and nodded.
“How far have we come, Jord?” Christiana asked. It felt like days.
Jord thought for a moment. “I think we are maybe a day out from the Cavern. We can rest for a while. We have been going pretty hard.”
Christiana sighed with relief. She rolled out her blanket on the hard ground and sat down wearily.
“How do you do it, Christiana?” Sparrow asked plopping down next to her. “I’m beat. You just look so calm and cool.”
Christiana shook her head. “No I’m just as tired as you, Sparrow.” She pulled her shoes from her feet and began rubbing the sore spots.
Sparrow followed suit. “I would give anything to put my feet in a bowl of hot water.”
“I would give anything to put my whole body in a tub of hot water,” Christiana sighed.
“I want to see trees again,” Naatus interjected joining them on the ground.
“And sunshine,” Sparrow replied.
Jord also sat down offering water to the small group. “I don’t mind the darkness so much,” he began.
“What?” Sparrow asked incredulously.
“I just wish I could see the stars,” he finished.
“Stars would be nice,” Christiana agreed. She thought about the last time she had seen stars. It was just before the attack. She had looked out the window into the garden and noticed Angelia sitting on the stone bench near the gate. She was clutching her crystal and staring at the sky.
“Jord how much further are we going to go?” Christiana asked impatiently. She wanted to go back for her daughter.
“I don’t know. I was hoping we would be through the caves by now.”
“We have been in here for over a week,” Christiana replied.
“It feels like much longer,” Sparrow said with a sigh.
“I guess we could go back to the main group,” Jord conceded. “There don’t seem to be any other passages, but I feel so close to the end.”
Christiana took a deep breath. “We should continue for a little while longer.”
“We’ll rest for a while here. We haven’t had a good long rest since the Cavern,” Jord said thoughtfully.
“We haven’t needed it,” Sparrow replied.
Naatus yawned and lay down on his blanket. Christiana watched as each of them fell asleep quickly. She felt just as tired as they were, but she couldn’t sleep. She leaned against the smooth rock wall and let her thoughts drift.
“Rory, I need you to stay here and make sure no one follows us. I know I can count on you.” Celendar was adamant. No matter what reasons Rory produced Celendar would not let him enter the cave with the small group.
Defeated, Rory agreed though the disappointment was apparent on his face.
Celendar placed a hand on his shoulder. “Thank you. I appreciate your sacrifice. Remember, no one is to follow us.”
Celendar stepped aside to allow French access to the entrance. This entrance was very similar to the one they had found near Viecity. Tall trees grew close to the opening blocking it from view. Large boulders sat like guards on either side. Looking up you could see the steep incline of the mountainside. Jagged cliffs warning all who dared come near to stay away. There was no light coming from the entrance. French had made several makeshift torches for them to carry.
The four explorers stepped into the darkness. The heavy air smelled of damp earth. French examined the walls of the small cavern. They started out rough towards the entrance of the cave and then became smoother the further in he walked. He circumnavigated half way around the room before he came to a passageway, then he continued back to where the others stood. He motioned the others to follow.
“This is the only opening to this room.” The others nodded and then followed him into the passageway.
The smooth floor of the passageway made traveling much easier in the dim torchlight. They continued at a steady pace for a few hours. French ran his hand along the wall as he walked. Suddenly he stopped and Le’Mone nearly ran into him.
“What is it?” she asked nervously.
“There is another passage here.” He pointed at the half hidden opening in the wall. “I did not expect it. The walls have been so smooth as we traveled. I would not have even noticed it, but I felt the break.”
Celendar walked to where French stood and peered into the dark passage. “Let’s stop and rest here for a while.” He let his pack slide to the ground and carefully propped his torch against the wall.
French sat down and leaned back against the wall of the passage. He was ready for a rest, yet anxious to continue.
Celendar took a drink from his water skin and then passed it to the others. He sat on the ground across from French and closed his eyes. Le’Mone sat next to him and put her smooth hand on top of his grizzled one.
“How are you feeling?” Celendar asked her.
“Tired,” she replied. “Yourself?”
“I am tired as well. I wish I could see where we are going. You haven’t happened to have heard what the walls are saying have you?” His eyes twinkled briefly.
Le’Mone smiled. “I can’t hear rock, Old Man. That is your side of the family.”
“What do you mean?” French asked.
Le’Mone patted the ground next to her and French moved over.
“French,” she began, “you know how we listen to the trees.” She gestured to him and herself.
“Of course.” He looked at Jexson and smiled.
“French explained it to us when we were walking down to meet you,” Jexson replied to Le’Mone’s inquiring look.
“We can hear their thoughts and feelings. Our talents differ slightly. I know when there is danger in the woods. I know when someone builds a fire. The trees say many things and I listen. French do you remember the stories Celendar told in school, the stories about Celedand?”
“The history lessons? Yes. Why?”
“Those stories are the beginning. They tell of what happened long ago and they lay the foundations of who we are.” Le’Mone’s voice filled with excitement. The light from the torch cast shadows all around the small group as Le’Mone continued. “When the Ennalkai were scattered they split into three groups. Some became seafarers; they were called the Shonokai, some disappeared into the forests and learned to speak with the trees, the Tellekai. These people were descendants of Celedand, but not directly. My family comes from the Tellekai.”
She motioned to French, “Both your mother and father were very close to the trees, even more than I was. That is partially why the images leap out of the wood you carve. Your father was the same way, but your mother was particularly close to the trees. Sometimes I felt that she could simply disappear inside the trees and then reappear when she was needed, like a nymph. When your mother died I believe a part of her stayed with the trees. They mourned her just as much as I did. When I listen I hear many voices, but hers is always the strongest.” She paused for a moment and crystal tears glimmered in the corners of her eyes. Celendar grasped her hand and squeezed it.
Le’Mone continued, “The remainder of the people lived in the mountains and canyons until they were able to cross the desert and find their way to the Viecity Valley. Those who lived in the mountains learned to work the stone and ore. These were the people we might call the Ennalkai. They spoke to the stone and earth just like you and I speak with the trees. Among those people were the direct descendants of Celedand. You can follow the line all the way down to Celendar and Angelia.”
Celendar interrupted, “But Angelia’s is a true Ennalkai, which means Great Seer or Seeress. Her heritage is very unique. She has been given the power to speak with the stones, much greater than I ever could. She has Celedand’s gift of speaking with Ellinsha, the greatest of all seer stones.”
Le’Mone nodded, “But this is not all, her heritage also includes a very strong line from the Tellekai.” Celendar looked at Le’Mone with only a bit of surprise. Le’Mone smiled. “I believe Meria was Tellekai and so is Christiana.”
“Christiana? Are you sure?” Celendar asked in disbelief.
“Meria and I often talked about our families when she was alive. Meria was a bit mysterious about her heritage, but she was raised in a Tellekai family like mine. Christiana’s heritage is much more diluted. Even so, we both knew that any of Christiana’s children would have talent. I think Meria understood much more than I did.” Le’Mone’s face now had a far off look. “Somehow I think Meria knew that Christiana’s child would be very special.” Her voice trailed off. Everyone remained quiet for several minutes.
Finally French broke the silence. “Angelia is special which is why we must find her and help her.” He stood with determination. “I feel rested. Are you ready to move on?” Everyone nodded in agreement and stood. They relit French’s torch and the foursome faced the open passages.
“What should we do?” French asked. His heart was pulling him toward the side passage and deep down he wanted to explore it.
Celendar sensed his desire and made a decision. “French, will you and Le’Mone follow this side passage? Jexson and I will continue along the main corridor. Follow the tunnel until you come to another side passage, then return. We will do the same.”
“Hopefully they will meet up soon,” French replied.
“Hopefully.” Both Le’Mone and Celendar said together. Celendar squeezed Le’Mone’s hand and then helped her through the opening.
French followed cautiously with the torch. Le’Mone clasped his hand as they began down the dark passage.