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Horselords Part 2

This is the second part of the story of Kimi and Davrael from The Wolves of Vimar Series.

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Kimi shivered as she contemplated her fate. These men were not going to kill her. That was not what they wanted or they would have done so already. Did they want a hostage to ransom? That was not the style of the Tribes. They simply came and took what they wanted. Horses mainly. They did not use money and they measured their wealth by the number and quality of their animals.

Her musings came to an end when she found herself pulled roughly from her horse. Someone untied her feet so she could stand, and a tall man came over.

‘Who is this?’ he queried in a booming voice.

‘She’s a settler.’ one of her captors replied. ‘She came after us so we ambushed her and brought her here.’

The tall man circled Kimi, looking her up and down as if she were a piece of horseflesh.

‘Not much to look at, is she?’ he said. ‘Plain face, and small. Still, she’s got nice eyes, and lovely, thick, brown hair. I’m not sure how she’ll be at bearing children, though.’

Kimi’s eyes opened wide as she realised what this man was saying. They were going to use her as breeding stock, just like a mare. Something snapped in t he girl’s mind and she kicked out at the tall man.

‘I’m not a mare to be put to the stallion,’ she responded, eyes blazing.

The men all laughed, and the tall man called another young man over, who was looking the stolen horses over. When he arrived, Kimi saw a likeness between him and the tall man and concluded the younger one was his son.

‘What do you think of this girl?’ asked the tall man.

The younger man looked her up and down as his father had done and said, ‘She’s very plain, and a bit small. She may not be able to bear children successfully.
His father frowned. ‘She has spirit, though. That is what we need in the tribe. None of your submissive women. That’s fine in a woman, but not if she breeds children like herself. We need women with spirit. I like this girl. You will marry her.’

With that, he stalked off. leaving the young men all staring at Kimi.

The chief’s son, for the tall man was the tribal chief, told the others to take her to a tent and to make sure she could not escape. Struggle as she might, Kimi was not strong enough to break the hold of t he man holding her and she found herself thrust into a tent. The man then tied her to the tentpole by her wrists.

Kimi struggled to no avail, only succeeding in chafing her wrists. Then the tentflap opened and the chief’s son entered.
‘What’s your name?’ he demanded.

Kimi made no reply, but turned her head away. The chief’s son grabbed her chin and turned her head back towards him.

‘Answer me when I speak to you.’

Kimi spat in his face and received a blow across her cheek for her insult.

As he wiped the spittle from his cheek, the young man stood.

‘We have your best horses now, and you, so we’ll be leaving in the morning. My father says we must be married, but that won’t happen before we get far away, back to our own territory, the territory of the Prowling Lynx. I will have my tattoos done to show I’m the son of the chief and then we’ll be married.’

He started to leave the tent, but turned and kicked out at Kimi, landing a kick on her left leg.

‘You’re not what I’d have chosen. There are plenty beautiful women in the tribe who would jump at the chance of marrying me. Still, my father says I must marry you, so I’ll do so. Those other women will still be anxious to be my lovers.’

He laughed as he left Kimi alone to consider her fate.

Kimi could not help it. She tried not to, but tears pooled in her eyes, and try as she might, they overflowed and fell onto the tent floor.

During he next few days Kimi had some relief from the taunts of her husband-to-be as he was busy erecting and taking down tents before moving off, or herding the horses, who tried constantly to turn back to their old home.

It started again each evening. though. The young man came to her tent and insulted her, or kicked and hit her. Kimi determined not to allow him to make her cry. At least not in front of him. but once he left for his own tent, she allowed the tears to fall.

How long would it take to reach the lands of the Prowling Lynx tribe? She hoped it was a very long time, She prayed that her father could raise some of the settlers and come after her. Then she prayed they would not, because many would be killed in the fight that ensued.

Eventually, she decided she would be co-operative in order to lull this raiding party into thinking she had become resigned to her fate. Perhaps she could manage to spot an opportunity to escape.

Horselords

Kimi and Davrael are two of the group who call themselves The Wolf Pack. I have been serialising some of the earlier stories of these friends on the first Tuesday of the month. so far I’ve done Carthinal’s parents and Aspholessaria, known as Asphodel.

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Kimi woke to hear sounds of horses whinneying. A gate creaked and then she heard galloping hooves. She quickly jumped from her bed and went to the window of her small bedroom. There, in the darkness, she could just make out a herd of horses disappearing across the plains.

She ran to her parent’s bedroom and woke them.

‘The horses have been stolen,’ she called as she turned to her brothers’ bedroom.

Her father leaped out of bed and ran to his window. This looked out over the back of the ranch where there were two corralls of some of the best horses on Vimar. He saw that these had not been touched, but these were not his best animals. The one Kimi’s room overlooked held those.

‘Are you sure, Kimi?’ he called to her as she woke her two brothers. He knew she would not have made such a mistake, but he felt he had to ask.

The girl came out of her brothers’ room, followed by the young men,Yeldin and Olias. The boys were older than their sister, Yeldin being the elder at almost twenty, and Olias was eighteen. Kimi would be seventeen at her next birthday in two months’ time.

‘Of course I’m sure,’ she said. ‘I heard the gate creak, then galloping. I looked and saw them galloping off over the plains.’

Olias looked at his sister. ‘Are you sure they didn’t just jump the gate, or otherwise break it themselves. Did you see anyone?’

Kimi looked at her brother and sighed.

‘I’m not an imbecile, Oli,’ she told him. ‘The gate was open. Unless the horses have now developed a way of opening the gate, someone did it for them.’

‘The Tribes,’ said her father, pulling on his trousers as he came out of the room he shared with his wife. ‘It must be one of the Tribes. Thieving scum that they are.’

The family was one of a number of settled folk living close to The Barrier, the range of mountains that cut off the Western Plains from the rest of the continent of Khalram.

Once they had been of the Tribes themselves, following the herds of wild horses that roamed the plains Several generations ago, some of the people had decided they could rear better horses if they had more control and so they settled in one place. There had been enmity between the Tribes and Settlers ever since.

Kimi looked hard at her father.

‘Not all the Tribes are thieves, Dad,’ she told him. ‘Some are, yes. They are jealous of the progress we’ve made in breeding, but not all of them.’

‘A Tribe member is always a thief,’ replied her father in a tone that said he could not be convinced otherwise. ‘Get dressed quickly, pick up your weapons and come with me. We’ve some horses to get back.’
Soon, Kimi and her brothers were cantering westwards after their animals, alongside their parents. All carried bows, and the men were also armed with knives. The tracks were easy to follow. The thieves had taken around twenty of the family’s best animals and they left plenty of signs of their passing.

Then the tracks split into three. Kimi’s father pulled his horse to a halt.

‘They want to confuse us so we don’t know which way to go,’ he said. ‘We’ll need to split up to find them.’

Kimi’s mother pulled her horse nearer to her husband.

‘Do you think it’s a good idea to split?’ she asked him. ‘We’ve no idea how many there are. It might be that there are too many for a couple of us to take on alone. Perhaps we should just go after one group and get those horses back. At least we would have some of our stock.’

‘These are our best animals,’ said Kimi’s father. ‘We need to get them all back. If we allow the thieves to gain even one, they’ll spread the word that we’re easy and keep coming back till we’ve no horses at all.’

The argument went on until Kimi, ever practical, pointed out that while they were arguing, the horses were getting further away. They took a vote, and all voted with their father and so the group split into three.

Kimi found herself with her elder brother, Yeldin. They followed one set of tracks to the south west.

‘Any idea how many are in this lot?’ he asked her. Kimi was a good tracker and she descended from her horse and studied the tracks.

‘I’d say there are nine horses here, but how many are ours and how many are being ridden by the thieves I couldn’t say.’

Yeldin smiled at her. ‘Well, little sis,’ he said, ‘I’m sure we can take them on. Let’s get going.’

They had ridden for several miles when they spotted dust on the horizon.’

‘There they are,’ called Yeldin from ahead. ‘I’ll circle round from the east and you approach from the west.’

Kimi pulled her pieballed horse round and galloped of in a westerly direction. She had her bow ready to fire at any enemy who approached, but she was not prepared for the five warriors who came from out of a stand of trees and surrounded her. They quickly pulled her from her horse and bound her hands and feet, then put her back across her horse so she could only see the ground below as they cantered southwards towards their camp.

What will become of Kimi, captured by one of the Tribes? Find out next month.

 

An Interview with Kimi. The Wolves of Vimar.

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Me: As you know, I have interviewed your husband,
Davrael. He told me something of the life on the Plains.
Perhaps you can tell me something about how you two met.

Kimi: Of course. It will be a pleasure. As you know, Davrael
is from a nomadic family. One of the Tribes. They travel the
Plains following and herding the horses that roam across
them.

Me: The horses are free then? Don’t they belong to the tribe?

Kimi: Yes, each tribe calls particular herds their own, and
they brand them when young to show their ownership, but
most of them are wild and free. I am from the settlers. We
once roamed the Plains just like the Tribes, but our
ancestors decided to settle in order to have more control
over the breeding of our horses. They thought that they
could breed better animals that way.

Me: And did they?

Kimi (smiling): There are still arguments about that.

Me: How did you and Davrael meet then?

Kimi: One day I was out riding with my brothers when we were attacked by a group of Tribesmen.

Me: Was one of  them Davrael?

Kimi: Oh, no. It was an enemy tribe of the Swooping Hawks. They are called the Howling Coyotes. The Tribes have never liked the settled folk. They think we have abandoned tradition and the settled folk think that the nomads are primitive people, so there was no love lost between us. Anyway, my brothers tried to fight them off but there were too many of them and they took me with them. I think they wanted to marry me to one of their men. They did raid sometimes for both horses and women.

Me: Where did they take you?

Kimi: They took me to their camp several days away. It wasn’t their main camp. In fact they had strayed into the territory of the Swooping Hawks. That was why the trouble began.

Me: Trouble?

Kimi: Yes. A band of Swooping Hawks came upon the camp and a battle began. I know little of that battle because I was tied up in a tent, but I could hear the noise–shouting and screaming. Then it suddenly went quiet. I heard a voice commanding the capture of all the horses and a search of the tents. After a while, a man came into my tent. I was petrified. He was an imposing-looking man, although not really handsome, with long hair held back by a braid around his head. What was the most terrifying, though, was the tattoo of a hawk on his face. I tried to hide, hoping he wouldn’t see me and that I could somehow escape, but he was too observant and saw my little wriggles behind a bed. He lifted me out and said, ‘What have we here then? A little mouse trying to escape the hawk?’ He laughed at my frightened expression and continued, ‘Well, it seems the hawk has caught the mouse after all.’

Me: This was Davrael I assume.

Kimi: Yes. He freed me of my bonds and told me that I would be well treated. He asked me where I had come from and what tribe I belonged to. I told him that I was not a tribeswoman and where my family were settled. He agreed to take me back to my family if I could assure him that they would pay in horses for my return. Coin has little meaning for the Tribes. They count their wealth in their horses and trade by barter, you see.

Me: Did you give him this assurance?

Kimi: Yes. I was confident that my father would pay him whatever he wanted.

Me: So he took you back to your family?

Kimi: Not immediately. Davrael and his men were out searching for some horses that they suspected that the Howling Coyotes had stolen. They were some of his best animals. Beautiful golden horses with silvery manes and tails they are. Come to think of it, their manes and tails are almost the colour of Randa’s hair!

Me: Where did he take you?

Kimi: Well, I rode with them for quite a long time actually. Some of the horses had strayed a long way, and some had even been taken to the territory of the Howling Coyotes. There were a few battles, but eventually he got them all back. Every evening he would come into the tent he had said was to be mine and we would talk. Gradually I learned that he was not the fearsome warrior I had thought, but was, in fact, quite a gentle perso, although he could fight well when required. He was kind to me and I gradually began to fall in love with him. I was surprised when he told me that he reciprocated my feelings.

Me: There were problems though I understand.

Kimi: Yes. This is quite painful for me to relate. Davrael took me to his father and told him that he wanted to marry me, but his father flew into a rage and said that no son of his would marry a settler. We the went to my family. They were delighted to see me as  they had given me up for dead or worse. When Davrael and I eoldthem of our love, my father said that there was no possible way that he could allow it. He offered Davrael two of his best horses if he would go away and forget about me.

Me: He didn’t, of course.

Kimi: No. We met in secret for a time, but then decided that it was impossible to live like that and so we decided to elope.

Me: You went to Grosmer then.

Kiki: Yes. We went to Grosmer. If all that had not happened, or if either of us had obeyed our fathers, then we would never have met Carthinal and the rest of the Wolves. I wonder what would have happened then?

Me: Thank you very much, Kimi.

 

Please leave a comment on this post.

Kimi is one of the main characters in The Wolves of Vimar Series. If you would like to find out more about her and the other characters, follow this link to The Wolf Pack, Book 1 of the Woves of Vimar Series.

http://mybook.to/thewolfpack

or click on the book title on the sidebar.

 

The Wolf Pack Chapter 6 Horselords

First Tuesday of the month again, and time for the next episode of The Wolf Pack. Here we meet a couple of Horselords from over the Western Mountains. They will come to play a big part in the lives of Carthinal and his friends.

If you have missed earlier parts and would like to catch up, the story began in June.

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CHAPTER 6

HORSELORDS

Kimi crept silently out of the house. She paused to listen with bated breath as the outside door creaked slightly as she opened it, but the house remained silent, her parents and brothers fast asleep. Carefully, she closed the door, hoisted her pack onto her shoulders and slipped away into the night.
Once she had reached the enclosure containing the horses, she opened the gate to allow the animals to run free. She regretted doing this, but it would delay any search for her as the horses would need to be caught first, both to mount a pursuit and for the safety of the animals. She offered a prayer to Grillon, the god of wild things, to keep his creatures away from the beasts during the time they were free. The animals seemed reluctant to leave the enclosure, so Kimi got down from the fence where she had climbed and whacked the lead stallion on the rump. He whickered in indignation, but at another whack, he galloped through the open gate, followed by the mares, geldings and foals. Only then did Kimi turn her attention to leaving. She looked at the house that had been her home for all her seventeen years. She was sure she was doing the right thing even though her parents had told her it was wrong. Davrael was an honourable man, and his father was a chief, not that that would mean anything now since his father was as adamant they should not marry as were her own parents.
Kimi had met Davrael six months before when he had rescued her from the war party of an enemy tribe who had abducted her from her home. He had returned her to her parents, who were very grateful, but not before the pair had fallen in love. Unfortunately, the settled people, who were horselords that had decided they could rear better horses by settling in one place, were mistrusted by the wandering bands, and vice versa. So both Davrael’s father and Kimi’s parents refused permission for the couple to marry. In fact, they went further. Both groups forbade the match and told the pair that they would disown them if they went ahead. The lovers managed to meet as frequently as possible in secret, a difficult task when Davrael was wandering the plains following his tribe’s horses, and eventually they had agreed that the only way for them to be together was to leave the land of their birth entirely. They had planned to meet a mile from Kimi’s home in the forest clearing where they had so often met before.
Kimi had never been able to really believe that Davrael had fallen in love with her. She was not pretty, but she had glossy, dark brown hair worn long and in two braids over her shoulders in the manner of the horselord women. Her eyes were hazel and her nose small. She always felt that her mouth was too large for the rest of her face, but it was well shaped and always ready to smile. She was a tiny girl, barely five feet and slender as a reed with small, neat breasts and boyish looking hips. Davrael on the other hand was a handsome and fierce looking warrior of the Swooping Hawk tribe. As the son of the chief and the probable next chief, he had, tattooed on his face, the image of a hawk. Its wings swept over his eyebrows with its fierce head along his straight nose, looking down at its prey, its feet spread ready to pounce, on his cheeks. At first glance, he was a frightening sight, but those who looked closely could see a kindness in his brown eyes. He was about five feet ten and had a muscular figure with broad shoulders and narrow hips. He was carrying no fat at all and his muscles were hard as iron with the life he led as a nomadic herder. His hair, a dark brown, similar in colouring to Kimi’s but a little lighter, was worn loose about his shoulders and kept from his eyes by a leather headband. Both wore leather leggings and fringed leather tunics over woollen shirts in a similar brown colour. Davrael had a dark green cloak and Kimi a brown one.
The couple had chosen this night to elope, because the moon, Lyndor was three quarters full. Ullin, although just past full, had set by the time Kimi left. There would be sufficient light for them to see their way, and thus travel more quickly, but not so much that they would show up too clearly if they were followed quickly. The omens were good too, for full moons meant good things to come. If either of them were concerned by the fact that Ullin was in truth just beginning to wane, meaning that there were good things, but passing and transitory, they did not think of it. They were just too happy that they were at last going to be in each other’s company forever.
Kimi approached the forest clearing cautiously. At first, she could see nothing, and she felt a moment of fear that Davrael was not there. She knew that if he did not arrive, it would be because something had happened and her heart seemed to falter in her breast at the thought. Then she heard a soft jingle of harness and the gentle harrumph of a horse. When she looked to her right, she saw, in the shadows, someone holding the reins of two horses, a bay gelding and a dappled grey mare.
Davrael. She breathed a sigh of relief, and at that slight sound, the man turned and, letting go of the horses, ran towards her and swung her up in his arms before kissing her soundly.
Kimi laughed with pleasure at seeing her beloved, but there was no time to waste. Davrael quickly fetched the horses and the pair leaped on to them and set off at a steady canter towards the west. They headed for the pass through the mountains the Grosmerians called the Western Mountains, but the people of the plains called The Barrier, since it kept the people from the east away from their lands. The horselords rode bareback, eschewing such things as saddles. They also had no use for bits on their mounts’ bridles, considering it a violation of the horse and a symbol of slavery for their beloved animals.
They rode on until it was nearly dawn, through wooded land that slowly began to become hillier towards the east. Soon they decided that enough distance had been put between themselves and any followers so they stopped by a stream, and tended to their horses before anything else. Only then did they run into each other’s arms.
As they sunk down onto the grass, Davrael said, ‘We can’t stay too long in one place, little Mouse. They’ll have found out you’re missing by now I expect, or will do very shortly. We have about six hours start on them, that’s all, and they’ll be on fresh horses. If we sleep here for long, they’ll be on us. The horses need to rest though, and I needed to hold you, if only for a short time.’
Kimi smiled at her lover. ‘I think they may be longer than you think in mounting a pursuit, Davrael. They’ll have to find and catch the horses first.’
‘You let the horses out? Clever girl. But we must still limit our time here. I couldn’t bear to lose you after all we’ve been through.’
‘Nor I you, my darling,’ replied the girl.
They spent the next few days travelling ever eastward until they came to the pass over the mountains, and here they slowed. The passes were treacherous at the best of times, and it was winter still. Snow sometimes blocked the passes, and they both hoped they would be lucky and get through. The skies were leaden above them, heavy with more snow. Snow lay on the ground and banked up on the windward side of rocks and trees. The mountains of The Barrier towered over the pass through which they rode. The horses were gallantly plodding their way through the snow of the high pass, obedient to their riders’ demands. Davrael and Kimi were also cold. Very cold. It was the month of Majordar, which was the middle month of winter. Winter had begun with the solstice. Only now did Davrael think that maybe their haste had been ill considered, and wondered if they would have been better to wiat until spring arrived.
‘Davrael Swooping Hawk! Don’t you ever think such a thing,’ Kimi told him angrily when he ventured to say this one very cold night. ‘I would prefer to die here with you than live a moment longer in the comfort of my own home, if it meant I was living without you. I love you, and want to be with you all the time, no matter what the discomforts and hardships.’
Davrael sighed at her reply. ‘I’m sorry I said that, Mouse,’ he replied, ‘But I hate to see you so cold and hungry. I love you too much to bear the thought of you dying, even if I were to die with you, and I can’t live without you.’
So they clung together for warmth, and snuggled nearer to the fire, covered with furs and endured yet another night of cold.
The next morning, the pass began to descend towards Grosmer, and as they came to lower lands, they began to feel a little warmer, the bitter wind seemed blocked by the mountain range, and there was a little less snow. After a couple of days journeying, they found themselves at the walls of a town.
Neither of them had seen a town like Eribor before. There were few towns in their lands, and those that there were, were more a conglomeration of wooden huts, rather than true towns. This town, however, was built of stone. There were stone walls surrounding it, and a large stone keep. As they passed through the gates the guard stopped them. He demanded they state their business. They were under suspicion as Davrael’s tattoo of a hawk stooping on its prey, which he proudly wore on his face, marked him out as a Horselord of the Swooping Hawk Tribe, and one of some rank too. Kimi was also dressed as a woman of the plains in leather jerkin and trousers and with her hair in braids.
‘What brings the Horselords over the mountains?’ the guard demanded of them. ‘You lot are rarely seen this side of the range.’
They looked at each other. Both had managed to pick up a little Grosmerian, but Kimi, having been a settler, had managed a little more than Davrael since her family had traded from time to time with the people of Grosmer. The couple had decided that she would do most of the talking, but what should she say? If they said they were fugitives and outcast, they would undoubtedly be thrown into jail and thus separated if only until the law could run its due course. Then again, if they said they were running away from their parents to get married, they may be detained and returned. A consideration they could not contemplate.
‘We are on an important errand for Davrael’s father, the Chief of the Swooping Hawk Tribe,’ Kimi told them. ‘We are taking a message to Hambara for him.’
Kimi said the name of the only other town she knew of in Grosmer. Many years ago, her grandfather had travelled to that city, but Kimi could not remember why.
‘Do you have a copy of this message to show me to confirm this?’
‘Horselords no writing,’ Davrael put in, in halting Grosmerian, but looked at the guard with his most haughty expression. He truly did look like the son of a chief at that moment, and the guard quailed before his gaze.
‘Well, I suppose it will be all right to let you in. You look as if you need rest and food. There’s an inn just on the right, about fifty yards from the gate. It’s clean and not too expensive. It’s called the Invisible Mage. The sign has a picture of a mage on it.’ he added, remembering that the Horselords did not read and write. ‘He’s perfectly visible, even though the inn’s called the Invisible Mage, but I suppose it would be difficult to draw an invisible person, wouldn’t it?’
He laughed at his own wit, and opened the gate to allow them entry to the town.
As they entered, Davrael turned to Kimi. ‘I think we’ll have to sell one of the horses, Mouse,’ he said. ‘We’ve no Grosmerian coins and we’ll have to pay for somewhere to stay and we have to eat too.’
‘Oh, Davrael,’ exclaimed Kimi in dismay. She knew just what it would mean to him to sell one of his beloved horses. Horselords lived for their animals, and measured their wealth by the quality and quantity of their beasts. He was right, though. They had no money. In their land, all marketing was done on a system of barter. In the end, they decided to sell the gelding and to keep the mare as long as possible. If they could manage to keep her, they could use her as breeding stock once they got settled.
They led their horses through the streets. Sure enough, as the guard had told them, there was the Invisible Mage, but more important, right opposite was a livery. Davrael turned and led the horses through the gate.
‘We would like to sell this gelding,’ Kimi said to the man.
He turned to the horse and looked it over. He gave it a thorough examination to ensure himself it was sound, then turned to Kimi and said, ‘He’s not worth much, you know.’
Kimi understood about bargaining. She had seen the gleam in the man’s eye when he looked at the animal. It was a fine creature. One of the best the man had seen, she did not doubt, although not one of the best of Davrael’s father’s horses she knew. To take one of his tribe’s finest animals would not be Davrael’s way. So she bargained with the man and eventually got what she considered too low a price for such a magnificent animal, but it was obvious the man was not going to go any higher, so with money jingling in a pouch, they made their way over to the Invisible Mage.
They spent a couple of nights in the town, and were excited by all the new sights and sounds and smells of the place. However, they eventually decided they were not far enough away from the border where a pursuing party might come when they decided that the couple must have crossed The Barrier. They would be easy to find, as they were so distinctive. They decided to continue in an easterly direction towards Hambara.
They had few solid plans, but Davrael thought they might have more of a chance of finding work in a larger town. They walked and rode for the next few days, taking it in turns to ride Moonbeam, as Kimi had named the dappled mare, and resting either in inns or friendly farms when available, or sleeping rough when not. They paid with the money they had obtained from the sale of the gelding, and were forced to consider the possibility of having to sell Moonbeam. Kimi had become very fond of the mare on their journey and regretted they may have to sell her.
One day, as the couple was travelling through wooded country and it was getting dusk, they found themselves in a clearing, so decided to rest for the night. It was the last night of Majordar, and bitterly cold. An easterly wind was blowing from the Mountains of Doom, bringing a promise of a freezing night. There was a spring in the clearing, turning into a small stream which gurgled its way through the trees on its way to join the Avrimar, the river that passed close to Eribor, and hence to the Inner Sea by way of the Mistmere. They lit a fire to try to keep some of the cold at bay and to cook the last of their provisions, bought from a friendly farmer the previous day, and then settled down close to the fire to rest.
Suddenly, Kimi became aware of a growing light in the clearing. She opened her eyes, thinking that it could not possible be dawn yet as they had only just got to sleep. The clearing seemed to be filled with a soft golden light, and a feeling of peace and calm stole over her. She felt Davrael stir at her side, and then sit up and look around. The voice came then, soft and gentle.
It was a deep male voice, and it said, ‘Kimi, Davrael, my children. Do not be afraid, but approach the spring.’
They looked at each other and stood. The voice, although kind and gentle seemed to command their obedience so they walked hand in hand to the spring, which now seemed to look more like a beautiful fountain to their eyes. They did not see the figure at first, but then he spoke again.
‘You are blessed, my children. Love such as yours is a wonderful and rare thing. You have both given up much to be together, and you will be rewarded. I believe you wish to be committed to each other for the rest of your lives?’
‘Who are you?’ they both said at once. ‘And how do you know who we are?’ Kimi added.
‘That matters not,’ the voice replied. ‘Do you wish to vow to each other eternal love and fidelity?’
The shadowy figure stepped forward and they saw a man dressed as a scribe, carrying a scroll and a pen. He had white hair, but his face did not look old, and he was wearing a purple robe, the colour worn by the clerics of Zol, the god of learning and the consort of Kassilla, the chief deity.
After exchanging a brief look, the young couple replied in the affirmative.
‘Step forward to the spring,’ commanded the cleric.
This they did, and he asked them to speak their promises to each other.
‘Say whatever is in your heart,’ he told them, and I will record it on the scroll. Davrael began. He looked deep into Kimi’s eyes and said, ‘Kimi, my little Mouse, I promise you that I will always love you. I will give my life for you if that is necessary. I will never love another. You are my reason for living, and without you I am incomplete. This I swear before the gods themselves.’
Then Kimi replied, ‘Davrael, my one and only love, I swear before all the gods that I have never loved anyone else the way I love you. I will remain faithful to you for my entire life. Even if you should die before me, I will remain faithful to your memory, and if I should die before you, I will wait for you beyond the veil until we can go on or be reborn together.’
Their promises made, the strange man then said, ‘Enter the fountain together, and be bathed in its waters.’
After they had done so, the scribe smiled at them both, then became more serious. ‘Your promises have been noted and are irrevocable. You can now consider yourselves married. Your lives will not be easy my children.’ he went on. ‘You will face tragedy, but you will also know great happiness, and as you share your great love, you will also come to know great friendship too. You have a task before you. It will not be easy, but you have each other’s love to aid you. Go in peace, my children.’
With that, the figure disappeared. Kimi thought she heard glorious music for a while, but then that too faded. The pair looked around and to their surprise, the winter glade had become transformed by a profusion of spring flowers, which were definitely not there before. The newly married couple then returned to their bed by the fire, silently wondering exactly what had just happened.
The next morning, when they awoke, Kimi related a strange and beautiful dream to Davrael. Oddly, he too seemed to have had the same dream. They rose and went to wash in the stream. Half way there, Kimi stopped and silently pointed to their surroundings. There in the glade were hundreds of spring flowers.
‘Could it have been real, Davrael?’ she whispered. ‘Who was that man?’
Her new husband put his arm around her and hugged her to him. ‘I think, my little Mouse, we have been in the presence of one of the gods. I think that Zol himself has married us.’