The circle and the bow (Talia, p. 73)

She walks alone at the edge of the meadow. Shade filled trees beckoning to her. Over her shoulder, the red haired woman smiles reassuringly and waves, watching from a distance but coming no closer.  “I will be here if you need me.” and the warmth infuses her. She is not alone, never alone. Turning back to the trees, she takes a deep breath and then her first step…

…the branches surround her, hovering just above her skin. She feels their pulse, their life, rising from the depths of the ground below and straining towards the heavens. Always reaching, they sway to the winds that buffet them, but for now, they are quiet. Reaching her hand up they part before her, showing a path, one of many into the wood. A step forward…

… at the edge of a clearing. Bathed in the silvery light of the moon. The trees are silent here, their pulse fades. At the center of the clearing is a ring of stumps… the remains of once proud trees. She walks through the ring. A sense of familiarity tickles the back of her mind. She knew these trees… and with certainty she knows she has never been to this clearing before.

Resting she sits, removed from the circle. Time passes, clouds drift across the night sky, the moon obscured and shadows dance, partaking in the night’s rhythm… 

… and he is standing there, silent, pale and faint, on the far side of the ring. He looks at her with sad eyes. She looks back, at him… through him… seeing the trees beyond. Behind him, to either side, more figures appear, paler still, echoes of the memories of another. Some are shorter, a few stand taller, all are slender, their faces indistinct. Each holds a bow in their hands, the curves and lines precise. They hold the same bow, and she sees he does as well. He nods slightly, otherwise unmoving.

“They share a legacy.” The voice comes from the side, at the edge of the ring. “Each one bound to the acts of those before them.” It is a feminine voice, as soft as the face she sees before her. The woman is also pale, her black hair a sharp contrast, but she is less faint than the others, nearly real enough to touch. “Their legacy continues on, ” those cold eyes turn to focus on her, “what has become of mine?” In her hands she finds the bow, smaller than that held by the others, less regal, but finely crafted all the same. “With what have you done with it?”

She looks down. The string taught, vibrates with an energy of its own. “It has protected me, it is my defense.” She swallows, nervousness evident in her voice.

“I’m sure it has… but that is not its only purpose.”  The woman steps forward, her voice softer the closer she comes, until it is barely a whisper, a warm breath on her ear. “To truly wield the bow… you must follow its destiny. When you have done that, you will be worthy to carry it. If you cannot, you are nothing. Nothing to the bow but a courier, delivering it to its rightful home.” A hand rests on her shoulder.  “I wanted more for you than that. That is why it sought you out.”  And then the hand is gone.

The figures across the clearing are gone, the circle empty again and she is standing… in the moonlight… alone… except for her bow.

Talia, p. 72

What do I want? What is it I seek? I spoke with Vorel. She was bothered that I avoid my dreams… avoid ‘those’ dreams. She speaks as if that one is still waiting for me, impatient and perhaps angered that I would now shun contact. I don’t know myself what I would hope to learn from it. I am happy, yet I can’t help but feel something is missing.

Shara reminded me of the words of another. Of trust… given & lost. She is right… she has the wisdom of years I have not, but still I wonder. And then, before she left again, she asked me… if there were a way… would I have a family? I had never considered. My path had seemed set at an early age. I told her I would think on it.

I went to the market then, passing through when I saw her. My first friend in Arabel… memories of the past overwhelmed me then and to both our surprise I embraced her in my arms, a hug of pure friendship. I spoke of my troubles, of feeling lost… then she told me. She is to be married! The joy in hearing that washed the rest away. She is happy, I am happy for her. It will be a special occasion! I’ve already begun work on the finest gown. It will be a work to surpass all my others, for I could give nothing less to her.