Ancestors of Avalon | Chapter 30 of 33 - Part: 1 of 8

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

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Nineteen

033

After the Omphalos Stone was laid to rest, the Tor seemed to glow with rays of light that swirled like red and white dragons twining in a ceaseless dance. Waking, Tiriki could feel them; asleep, they sometimes haunted her dreams. But those dreams were better than the nightmares—the twisted shadowy figures who followed her, only to corner her at last and reveal the leering face of . . . Micail.

After the third night in which such dreams robbed her of rest, she took refuge with Taret. Before Chedan and the others she still thought it best to pretend confidence in Micail’s good faith, but keeping her doubts to herself was plainly not helping. Taret was close enough to care about the outcome, but not immediately involved. And the old woman was wise. Another such night, she thought grimly, and I’ll be raving like AlyssaCaratra rest her.

Leaving Domara in the care of the nursemaids, she started up the path, pausing once to note the condition of her favorite patch of wild garlic, and a little farther on, to pluck a spray of wild thyme. She also offered her respects to the old oak tree, thinking even as she did so how surprised Micail would be to know that she could even identify such things. Here I am like Deoris in her garden, she thought with a sad smile. If only we had her here. Destiny be damned! I should have grabbed her and dragged her down to the ships. She could have done so much good . . . And she had so much more experience with Temple politics, and for that matter, in dealing with nobles.

Prince Tjalan had made it quite plain that his goal was nothing less than continuation of the civilization of Atlantis, and Micail had not seemed to question that. It had not occurred to either man to ask if Tiriki supported that goal. Even two years ago she might have agreed, she thought, as she passed the yew trees that flanked the pathway to the Blood Spring. But from the moment the Crimson Serpent had arrived here, the lack of resources had forced them to forsake their old way of life. Only by learning from the marsh folk had they had been able to survive.

Was she only making a virtue of necessity? Happy as she was here, she had to admit there was much about the old world that she still missed, and she knew that there were others in the community at the Tor who longed for lost customs far more than she. But Tiriki could not help feeling that those who persisted in clinging to the goals and ambitions of a vanished empire were only wasting their efforts and their resources. Even so, she would not have strenuously objected if any of her followers had chosen to leave the Tor and live as Tjalan thought best. But the prince had not offered them any choice at all.

The thought that this peaceful place might be invaded made her shudder. That is the only argument for giving in to Tjalan’s demands. Then at least they would leave the Tor alone . . . But that, she realized suddenly, was wishful thinking. Whatever the virtues of their intentions, Tjalan’s priests were power hungry, and even without the Omphalos Stone, the Tor had been a place of considerable power. The new currents that writhed about it now would call like twin beacons to Stathalkha’s sensitives. If they had ignored it before, they would not do so again. One way or another, there would be a conflict between what they wanted, and what she had come to believe she was destined to do here.

But even that certainly brought her little reassurance. Something Chedan had said the previous night had reminded her that the truest destiny was not a thing to be worked out in a single life, but a greater purpose that arose again and again throughout many lives. What she had begun here was right and necessary, and ultimately its promise would be fulfilled; of that she was no longer in doubt. But that fulfilment might take three days or three thousand years.

She found the wisewoman sitting on a stool before her house, using a flint knife to scrape the outer rind from water lily roots. She turned her head as Tiriki came up the path.

“The blessing of the evening be upon you.”

“The Lady give you rest,” Taret replied, with a slight smile. “I had thought you were keeping talk-fire with your people.”

“The council fire is lit,” Tiriki said with a sigh, “but nothing is being said that has not been discussed seven times since breakfast.” She sank down beside Taret and took up another flake of flint. “So I shall help you pare these roots. My mother used to say there is comfort in such ordinary tasks, an affirmation that life will go on. I did not listen to her then. Perhaps it is not too late.”

“It is never too late,” said Taret gently, “and I shall be glad of your help.”

After a few moments had passed, and she had cut several roots, she said, “I suppose that I have really come to apologize.” She admitted, “For I fear we have brought disaster upon you and your people—and that is poor thanks for all your kindness. I have warned the villagers, but they will not leave. Will you go to them and lead them out of danger?”

“This is the place where the Mother has planted me.” Taret smiled. “My roots go too deep to pull them up now.”

Tiriki sighed. “You don’t understand! Alyssa’s vision led us to move the Stone to the cave within the Tor, but if she saw how it would help us afterward, she did not say, or I did not understand. We cannot all take refuge there—even if our minds could bear to be so near it, there is not room for us all!”

“You look at the Stone. That is good. Now, look at the Tor.” Taret sliced through a root and reached for the next.

Tiriki stared at her in frustration. “But—how?”

“You can no longer go to one and not be in the wind of the other.”

Tiriki closed her eyes, wondering how her own language could be so hard to interpret.

The old woman did look up, and her eyes sparkled as if she was restraining herself from laughter. “Sun Girl, Sea Child, you ask too much of an old servant of the sacred waters. But there is one who knows all its secrets. She has blessed you before. Perhaps She will do so again . . . if you ask her nicely.” Taret chuckled. “Maybe She has some housework for you to do.”

Tiriki sat pensively, remembering. She did indeed have reason to know that the Tor was a place where the many worlds drew very close together.

“Yes,” she whispered, and made the gesture of a chela to an adept in the old woman’s direction. “As always, Taret, you redirect my eyes to the wisdom that lies in plain sight. That was the mistake we Atlanteans made, perhaps—to fix our eyes on the heavens and forget that our feet, like the earth on which we stand, are clay.” She set down the flint and stood up. “If any come to seek me, tell them I hope to return soon, with better news.”

034

Once, Tiriki had walked this way by chance, and once, by following the winding ways within the Tor. This time she walked the maze on the surface of the hill with the setting sun behind her, passing between day and night as she sought, for the first time by intention, the way between the worlds.

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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