Naradra, pt. 7

The waves are lapping gently on the shore. The cloudless night illuminated by the full moon. Out beyond the edge, the water is peaceful, disrupted only by an unnatural glint of moonlight on metal. A lone figure is wading quietly towards the shore, face covered, but determination evident in every step.

. . . . . “She comes…” a whisper is carried on the gentle night breeze.

Stepping onto the beach, the figure stops. Placing a hand on each side, she lifts the helm, and shakes the water from short cropped raven tresses. The moonlight falls gently on her face, lending a cool softness in opposition to the hardness of the shell protecting her. Taking a deep breath, she begins her first of many steps, moving towards the distant tree line.

. . . . . . . . . .“She comes…” a second whisper replies.

At the edge of the trees, she stops. A path winds before her, as she knew it would. She closes her eyes, lips moving in a silent mantra, and when they open she hesitates only a moment before pressing on. The branches bow slightly in her passing, as if acknowledging her presence. She pays them no heed, focused only on what lie before her.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . “She comes…” a third voice says, stronger than the others. “Born of the sea, and clothed in steel. She comes seeking.”

. . . . . “Seeking what? That which may free her, or the land of those people?

. . . . . . . . . . “Seeking answers, I dare say. Answers to questions better left unasked.”

. . . . .. . . . . . . . . . “She comes…”

The moon’s light filters down through the tree branches, causing the shadows to writhe and dance. Ahead on the path, a glow moves in time to her steps leading her forward to the clearing. At the center, it rises waiting until she is standing below then disappears.

. . . . . “She does not have it with her.”

. . . . . . . . . . “Yet I can sense it. It has touched her.”

The whispers once leading her on, now surround her. They seem to come from everywhere and nowhere, all at once. She tilts her head slightly, as if listening for direction.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . “And in touching, tainted.”

. . . . . . . . . . “Tainted.” They hissed.

. . . . . “And what of her companions?”

. . . . . . . . . . “Also tainted.”

“Enough!” Her first words a sharp crack through the night. “You know why I am here.”

Stepping from the shadows, a few paces ahead of her, a woman in her middle years frowns down at her. “Always the impertinent one. Always expecting in immediacy. Has your time amongst these people taught you nothing of yourself?”

“It has made her worse, if you ask me.” The stooped woman with the wizened features stands back, leaning against a supportive tree. “She should not have been allowed to come here. It is too soon.”

“She is seeking guidance.” Speaks the other, not turning her frown away. “Is that not what we are called for?”

“She does not want our answers. She only comes to us in fear. In desperation.”

“So do many. That is the way of it.” The woman’s frown eases as she silently regards the visitor for a moment. “Your companions are not to be trusted. But then, neither are you. Each seeks their own ends, the means are only of convenience. Only one’s heart is pure, but that too may be tainted in time. You may still be his downfall, and the doom of those remaining.”

“Lies!” Her hand moves to grip her sword, pulling it mere inches from its sheath when another hand, soft and smooth, stops it firmly in place. Turning her head sharply she finds she is looking into a face younger than her own, the eye’s ancient light betraying the nature of her soft smile.

“Gently now.” The warmth of her touch loosening the fingers. “That is rarely the best solution. You knew that once as well. But you’ve forgotten”

“Yes, forgotten.” Says the eldest.

“You come to us to know what is right.” The voice now purring in her ear. “But you need to seek what is in your heart, to know what that is.”

The middle woman steps forward, placing a hand on her armored shoulder. “Once you have learned that, return to us if you still have need. Until then, we can be of no help to you.”

She closes her eyes, and feels the hands release her. When she opens them she is standing again on the beach, the moon lower in the sky.

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