Winter – 1012 YD
The village of Gesula was speckled with lantern lights guiding the way through the fog.
In the central street stood a large and popular house.
‘Bed time, everyone!’
The house vibrated with excited feet; the children charged into the bedroom with shrieks of delight. All five crawled into one bed, snuggling up to Ànlisia. They elbowed each other to be closest to the story.
‘Prayers first. Come on, all together.’
‘A big one!’
‘Story, story, story!’
‘Prayers. Quick! You know what will happen if you don’t…’ Each set of enlarged eyes turned to the curtained shutters. ‘If you don’t say your prayers, the Seathedai will come and get you during the night.’
__‘Get me dead?’ asked a very small, very wide-eyed Kesia.
Ànlisia confirmed with a look. ‘You start, Eamon.’
Eamon sat up straight, delighted to be given the honour usually reserved for his father. ‘We thank You, Great Mother, for the gift of today. We thank You for the sunrise and the sunset and for the food You provided us. For the house we live in and for our family and for the safety of our village, we thank You.’
‘And for my blanket!’
‘And for dessert!’
‘Ànlisia made the dessert.’ Mellena, a new neighbour Kesia’s age, frowned at Toran.
‘The other mother gave us the ingredients, though.’
‘Yeah but Ànlisia made it.’
Ànlisia intervened: ‘Alright, that will do.’
Kesia rose from the bed and quickly checked the shutters were bolted. ‘Real Mum?’
Ànlisia smiled. ‘Yes, real daughter?’
‘Where do the Seathedai live?’
Ànlisia exhaled and curled into the fold of the children, eliciting in this simple move a ripple of anticipatory excitement.
‘The Seathedai live in Iuratimo Forest, a day and a half ride from here.’
‘Oh, I know the forest!’ Toran cried, ‘It’s, look, it’s—it’s on the map, it’s right there!’
‘Yes, Toran. There on the map, the Seathedai live, where they have lived for a long, long time.’
Eamon cleared his throat. ‘They live there because everyone in the cities were mean to them, don’t they, Ma?’
Ànlisia nodded. ‘They were slaves in Offenure, Delus, Athere—all the big cities.’
‘Then there was a fire?’
‘Stop, Eamon! Ma’s telling the story.’ Kesia returned to the bed and stabbed his arm with her finger, teeth grit in irritation. The other children cast him similar looks.
‘There was a revolt,’ Ànlisia agreed with her son, ‘and a great many fires were lit one evening. The slaves fled their captors and took refuge deep in the forests. They found safety with the Gold Dragons, and there they remained to build cities of their own, though we do not know where they are, and we are not welcome in them. They care for the dragons and love Lenyol most of all; and their love is jealous, for those who fall from faith are hunted by the Seathedai.’
‘Is that what happened to Breena?’
Ànlisia gave her son a sharp look. ‘It is time for sleep. Your parents return from the Alendae markets tomorrow and you must be rested, or they’ll never entrust you to me again.’
The children folded into the blankets. As Eamon explained the rebellion to Lasair, Kesia and Mellena held hands. Their eyes were fixed on the rippling curtains.
Image courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/uncle-leo/5238858572/