From the Chronicles of Chaydion Pain
This story starts………………………………
Midsummer in the Cycle of Henna
The hawk floated high, riding the currents in the sky, looking far below as the forests give way to the waters of a lake. The hawk watched with keen interest as a small girl made her way along shabby wooded dock houses and boardwalks. She moved with some grace skipping around muddy pools, and slippery planks. Here was something strange the hawk thought. She did not fit the surroundings, somehow a little girl but not! This kept the hawks interest for a while as it circled. Only until it spotted some small movement in the woods. The hawk dove, the girl long forgotten.
Maylin ran across the aged, smooth wood docks as any child would, carefree and happy. The sun was near mid sky as a soft cool breeze wafted in from across Lake Argent. A slightly pungent smell of fish, earth, and fresh water filled the air. She reached the end of a long peer, knelt to brush some imaginary bits of dust and dirt from the boards in front of her, then quickly laid herself down to peer over the edge into the clear water.
She looked at the reflection of the sun as it gently rose and fell, occasionally twinkling in a bright burst. She watched as narrow, silvery little fish darted to and fro, then scatter when a larger fish swam by. A small splash drew her attention away as she spotted some turtles sunning themselves on a log. A small green frog was poking its eyes above the water to have a look around. Then with a plop it was gone.
Barg was first and foremost a fishing village. As such all the fisherman had come in from the heat of mid-day, as the fish were now deeper in the lake. Their morning catches unloaded and taken to the ice houses. Their small fishing crafts cleaned and readied for the evening run. Their great nets were hung on large spools to dry in the sun. Here and there great white gulls sat preening their feathers. They too waiting for the evening run and the occasional fish they might scoop from the decks or docks.
Around these nets elderly men and women sat in small groups mending the rents and tears, talking of the latest news, or recalling their days fishing upon Lake Argent. Most sat with long stemmed pipes in their mouths puffing away on some smelly pipeweed or another. Their skin leathery and tanned from years fishing on the lake. There was a twinkle in their eyes, and a laugh in their voices as they talked among themselves. For the people of Barg were a content, happy lot. More so than most in the land, but that will be left for later.
During the daylight hours this was the quietest time along the docks of Barg. This was the time Maylin could make her way down to the docks to sit in the sun and look endlessly into the water. The sun warmed her back and the bottoms of her bare feet as she lay there gazing into the waters. All in the world was as it should be. Maylin was as happy as she had ever known. And she never wanted it to change!
Morning Maylin” a soft purring voice said to her side. She turned and saw a plain gray and black cat sitting there looking at her. Its green eyes level with hers and sparkled just as the waters did. “May I join you here sitting in the sun” the cat asked. Maylin rolled on her side to face the cat and laughed. “Serra, oh Serra it is good to see you” she replied. “Yes, please join me. We have not talked in such a very long time!”
Maylin again brushed at the imaginary dust to clear a spot for the cat to lay in the sun, then turned her head to look back into the water. “I wonder if he will ever come back”, Maylin said after a short while. She looked as if lost in some far way thought. “Not if he knows what’s good for him!” the cat said with a huff. Well at least it was a huff for a cat. She sighed as the cat curled its tail around itself and sat.
"You know it wasn’t his fault!” she whispered to the cat. “I know that!” the cat whispered back. “But most of the village doesn’t! They’d kill him as soon as they spotted him. Then serve him up for suppers and noon sandwiches!” For of course the “he” they were talking of was a fish. A very unusual fish.
The cat started cleaning the back of its front paw and Maylin went back to staring into the water. Perhaps it was better she thought. Most people in the village wouldn’t understand, nor care to understand. The cat gently purred as it cleaned itself. Somehow that purring was in sync with the gentle waves lapping along the docks and the boats. The warm summer sun, the feel of the worn dock planks, the gentle cool breezes, the smells, and the sounds were all perfect for that point in time. And Maylin didn’t want this moment to ever end.
She had almost fallen to sleep there on the docks when she heard another voice calling out to her. “Maylin? Maylin?” an elderly lady called out from the shore just off the dock. She was a tall lady with long white hair, which she kept brushing from her face. Unlike most of the elderly in Barg her skin was smooth, and as white as alabaster, her gentle face belied her age. She wore an earthy green dress, high brown boots, and a bright orange jacket with pockets in every conceivable place. This was Grandma Heth.
She wasn’t really Maylin’s grandma, or anyone’s grandma for that matter. But as long as anyone had ever known she was Grandma Heth. She had taken Maylin in when the young child appeared in Barg. Without parents, guardians, or anyone who knew anything about her. She could only tell them her name, and that she did not know where she had come from, or how she had arrived in Barg.
“Grandma Heth? I had thought you were meeting with the village council at noon?” Maylin asked. “I have” Grandma Heth replied as she stepped up onto the docks. “There are two more sick children in the village this morning and the council is concerned. They fear it is the waters from the well that is making the children sick.” Grandma Heth went on.
Maylin shook her head slightly. She knew it was not the water from the well for Grandma Heth had checked it just the day before. There was no poison or evil spell upon those waters. Yet something was making the children of the village sick. Grandma Heth had checked the waters of the lake, the fish that were caught, and the small crops grown around of the village. She found nothing to explain why the children were sick.
“Serra”, Heth asked, “what news from Idlewood?” The cat looked up at Grandma Heth and stretched as she sat up. “There are no sick children in Idlewood.” Serra answered. Heth frowned and started to turn to Maylin. “But…” Serrra continued. “There is something wrong in the woods between here and Idlewood. I could feel it as I passed. A silence lays upon the land.”
“No evil creatures stir there!” Maylin stated. “I have been in those woods down to Shimmer Lake some days past. If there were evil present I would have sensed them.”
“I saw to evil, nor felt its presence. Yet something holds silence upon the land. I heard no birds, no rustle of rabbits or squirrels.” Serra added.
Grandma Heth raised an eyebrow as she look down at Serra. “Well I should think not! Certainly not when you are passing by!” she stated with a small grin. “Yes!” Maylin laughed. “A great black panther would cause even the bravest of hunters to be still and silent.” Serra simply gave a huff. “Make fun of me if you wish! It will be a long time before I take such a journey for you again Grandma Heth!”
“Oh Serra” Maylin sighed, picking the cat up and giving it a hug. “What ever would we do without you?” Serra purred and snuggled into Maylins arms as they made their way off the docks.
Grandma Heth picked up the straw basket she had placed in the edge of the dock when she had stepped up from the shore. “We have smoked fish, cheese, and fresh baked bread for lunch today.” She stated. “Let us head home and discuss what were are going to do for these children.” So on they walked, up an empty street, across a small bridge, then south along the river to their small cottage which sat between the river and the woods.
Their cottage sat just off the rivers side, with a small dock where a long canoe rode the gentle river currents occasionally bumping the dock where it was tied. As Maylin approached the front door it opened of its own accord. “Thank you.” stated Maylin as she walked in with Serrra still in her arms. The door stayed open as Heth walked in then silently closed.
I shall try to describe to you as best I can this cottage along the river. It has a small front porch with windows from rooms on either side of the door. A stone chimney sits along the north side of the cottage where just a wisp of smoke rises. On the other side is a large oval window looking south down the river. In the back there is a solid wooden door and a small window on one side. To anyone walking by it is a lovely small cottage of no special appeal. Oh what wonders it holds!
For when you walk inside it is as if stepping into a grand open space. There in the middle of this very large room is the trunk of a huge oak tree, its branches appear as the ceiling as they reach up and out of the cottage. Yet from the outside there is no tree rising out of the roof! Around, and encircling the base of the tree is a wooden bench. Covered here and there with pillows, books, and blankets.
As you walk around the tree you will see beds to one side, and a stone hearth kitchen to the other. Between the two sides sits a long wooden table with bench seats. There are no walls, no rooms. There is but one great living space surrounding this huge oak tree.
Serra jumped from Maylins arms and onto one of the pillows beside the tree. “It is good to be home.” she purred. Then circling around to her left two times, then two times to her right, she settled down to sleep.
Heth placed the basket of food onto the round table sitting next to the large oval window looking out upon the river. With a slight wave of her hand and a nod two chairs slid silently over to the table. Maylin and Heth sat across from one another. Maylin cutting slices of cheese as Heth cut the bread and smoked fish. Neither spoke as they prepared their meal. Then Heth reached across and took Maylins hands. Together they closed their eyes. The great oak tree swayed a bit and creaked. Serra opened her eyes, look up to the oval window, then closed them in sleep. There was peace. In every living thing, in the cottage and around it, there was peace.
“Now!” said Heth, “Let us eat.”
“Yes indeed!” said another voice. A third chair had slid over to the round table and in it sat a stunningly beautiful women with long, raven black hair and crystal green eyes. Elegant green, red, and blue tattoos ran along her neck, down her bare shoulders, her back and her breasts.
“Really Serra!” Maylin said smiling. “So you’ve decided to join us?”
“Of course! When Heth said there was smoked fish I knew she had visited the Centalas.” Serra replied. “There is no better smoked fish than that prepared by Alex and his wife. Though it would have been nice if you had also gotten some fresh Heth!” Said Serra staring at Heth.
“For that I should make you first get dressed before we eat!” answered Heth. “Besides I did get you some fresh fish! If only you had waited a bit for me to bring it out”.
Serra pushed her chair back smiling. “Thank you dear Heth. For that I will get dressed and join you both in a most enjoyable meal.” With that Serra headed around the tree to her gather up her clothes from her bed.
Soon Serra rejoined Heth and Maylin. The three sat, ate, and talked for some time about this, that and the other things. Taking their time to enjoy the small pleasures in life. Before tackling the larger ones.