Saturday, February 6, 2016

The King's Challenge #204 and #205

TKC 204 and 205

A press of people await us in the first cave, warming the space. I am thankful for it, being thoroughly wet from the continuing downpour outside.

“This will not do,” Kay mutters as he shifts past me. “Everyone, listen now! Those with children move into the cave to the back there.” He points to a curved entrance. “Women looking after our young, please go with them.”

The space empties swiftly. Someone lights a rush torch beyond, for amber glows soon flicker in the arch.

“Couples please go left,” Kay continues.

Men and women holding hands move towards an opening to the left. Someone calls back, a man’s voice, “There’s firewood here!”

Excellent. We are able to make more light and cook food.

“Everyone else, take the right,” Kay says in a normal tone, for there are not too many left in the first cave. He grins when a younger man mutters about being put with the old folks.

Hal stands in the entrance, arms folded, legs braced, watching the rain. A sheet of water cascades from on high, but beyond is only darkness. “We need to close this.”

I join him. He is right. The entrance is not that large, but it will be visible to anyone outside. “How?” I ask.

He cranes his head backward, eyes darting. “Marian!”

The Messenger shouts from the cave to the right. “Here!” She steps out and hastens over.

“We need to close this,” Hal tells her as Kay and I glance at each other. What is the meaning of this?

Marian is quiet, staring at the older man. Then she looks at me before flicking one over Kay also. “I don’t know, Hal,” she murmurs.

I understand her dilemma. She has a talent and is uncertain as to her reception if she reveals it. “I am a Healer,” I say. “My brother is a Delver and my sister-in-law is, in my opinion, an Elemental first, although she has more talents than simply one. You will not be judged, Marian.”

Marian nods and finally smiles. “Damin married the lady Lyra, did he?”

I laugh. “Under the stars, yes.” Considering we always say ‘by the stars’ it is somewhat amusing.

“It has more worth,” Marian responds. “They chose each other.”

Indeed. I force myself not to look at Kay. I hear him clearing his throat … and a flush of heat suffuses my cheeks.

Marian winks and turns to Hal. “A rock fall?”

He seems removed from present company. Marian nudges him and he focuses to meet my gaze. “Damin Mur is a Delver?”

Kay steps in. “He is. What of it?”

“I am a Delver,” Hal states.

Clarity infuses my entire being. “You can talk to him!”

He offers a wry shrug and smile. “I can try. It is a fair distance.”

Kay smacks his palms together. “By the sands, now that will help.”

Marian narrows her eyes. “By the sands?” she echoes.

Kay endows her with a cold gaze. “I am from the west. There are others here with us also from the west. Is that a problem?’

I move to stand before Kay, giving both Hal and Marian a wary look. “We are in this together.”

Marian smiles. “We are, and I am relieved we have skills from all over with us.” Hal nods apace to her words.

I deflate. Chuckling under his breath, Kay whispers in my ear, “My beautiful defender.” Again heat overcomes my face. It is as well we are not alone … for … he laughs softly again, and I force my thoughts into obedience.

Grinning, Marian faces the rain-drenched outside. She lifts her hands, fingers open. Staring out, she abruptly clenches her fingers into fists and punches the air. Instantly she opens them again.

Rock and stone tumbles into the arch and darkness takes us.

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