Ancestors of Avalon | Chapter 16 of 33 - Part: 1 of 7

Author: Diana L. Paxson | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 24099 Views | Add a Review

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Tiriki clawed her way out of a nightmare in which she was drowning. Reaching out to Micail for comfort in the dark, her fingers closed on cold wool. As she groped, the floor rolled and she tensed yet again, bracing herself for another earthquake; but no, this was too gentle, too regular a rocking to sustain her fear. Exhausted, she sank back limply upon the hard bed, thankful for woolen winter blankets, her eyes half closed again.

A dream, she assured herself, brought on by the cool breeze through the window . . .

For some reason, she had thought that it was spring already, and that the disaster had come—that somehow she and Micail had ended up on different boats. But here we are side by side, as we should be.

Smiling at the foolishness of dreams, she shifted position again, trying to stay comfortable despite a vaguely dizzy feeling and a persistent chill. Something hard through the blankets . . . And then, close by, someone began to weep.

Her own discomfort she could ignore, but not another’s pain. Tiriki forced her eyes to open and sat up, blinking at the dim, recumbent shapes all around her. Beyond them she could see a narrow railing, and the darkly heaving sea.

She was on a boat. It had not been a dream.

As she looked about, someone out of sight, toward the bow, began to sing.

“Nar-Inabi, Star Shaper,

Dispense tonight thy bounty . . .”

As she listened, additional unseen voices joined the song.

“Illuminate our wingsails

As we fly upon the waters.

The winds here are all strangers

And we are but sailors.

Nar-Inabi, Star Shaper,

This night reveal Thy glory . . .”

For a moment the beauty of the song lifted her spirit. The stars were hidden, but no matter what happened here they remained in the heavens, afloat in the sea of space as their ship floated on the sea below. Star father, Sea lord, protect us! her spirit cried, trying to feel in the uneasy rocking of the ship the comfort of mighty arms.

But whether or not the god was listening, Tiriki could still hear someone crying. Carefully, she peeled away enough of the woolen blankets about the curled-up figure beside her to recognize the youthful face of Elis, fast asleep, her dark hair tangled, her eyes wet with unhappy dreams.

Poor child—we have both lost our mates. Tiriki choked back her own grief before it could overwhelm her. No, she told herself sternly, though we shall surely never see Aldel again, Micail lives! I know it.

Tenderly, she soothed Elis into deeper sleep, and only then withdrew enough to stand up. Shivering in the stiff breeze, trying not to let the continual gentle swaying underfoot disturb her stomach, Tiriki tried to will away the lingering tensions of her unrestful sleep and strained her eyes toward the foggy seascape beyond the railing. The wake of the ship glinted redly in the bloody glow that pulsed along the horizon, illuminating a vast cloud of smoke and cinders that roiled the heavens and hid the stars.

It was not the sunrise, she realized abruptly. The raging light was from another source—it came from Ahtarrath, even in its final death throes unwilling to submit to the sea.

As the lurid dawn light grew she recognized Damisa standing by the railing, staring forlornly at the distant flames. Tiriki started toward her but Damisa turned away, her shoulders hunching defensively. Tiriki wondered if Damisa was one of those people who preferred to suffer in privacy, and then she wondered whether she wanted Damisa’s company for the girl’s sake or for her own.


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Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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