Oh raptor, oh hawk, oh little birdie, take me aloft on your wings!
~ Tattle’s scribe
Samson of the Mye dropped a hoe onto his foot, but that ache was as nothing compared to the one in his head.
Those hoeing along with him in warm sunshine looked on in some confusion when he ignored his foot to grab convulsively at his head.
Silas tossed farm tools aside. “Samson, what’s the matter?” He attempted to prise the man’s fingers from his face.
Silas and Samson were best friends, and Silas could be trusted to find the underlying cause of a problem. As the others crowded around, they let the man help his friend and did not offer unnecessary advice. Samson was the strong man of their clan; not much could fell him.
Samson was beyond speech. He sank to his knees clutching his head. Strange images flashed through his mind - a land he had never seen, people dressed in a different way and, most potent of all, an image of a well in a forest. Then he covered his ears. He could hear a voice, no, two … many voices, calling, calling, calling … he cried out in pain and fear.
Silas gestured decisively and they lifted Samson and carried him to his mother’s hut with him alternately clutching his head and his ears. Then they waited outside while the herbman was brought in to examine their ailing friend, silently urging the man to hurry.
Sometime later, the herbman came out, shaking his head, and pronounced he could find nothing amiss. No heart murmurs, no head injuries. Shaking his head some more, he muttered off.
Samson’s friends were more worried than ever.
Far to the south, Rayne closed his hand over the Maghdim Medaillon.
When the Mye clan stirred the following morning, Samson had vanished, taking with him a small leather bag, a change of clothes, a water bottle and his faithful sling.
In the neighbouring valley, the San celebrated their Bellwether’s birthday.
There was much merriment and delicious smells wafted into the air. The Bellwether loved a grand merrymaking.
Cristi was in charge of basting suckling pigs slowly roasting over open fires. She was truly shy and thus the task suited her well. She could watch the festivities while having a legitimate excuse not to join in.
Her mother noticed her arch and stiffen. Cristi cried out and collapsed dangerously close to the hot coals. Her mother shouted for help and rushed over. When she got there, Cristi lay stiff with eyes wide. Wailing despair, she dragged her daughter away from the threatening embers, at first thinking her dead, but someone checking her pulse whispered, “She’s alive.”
They carried her to their hut where she slowly regained awareness. Probably the heat from the fires, poor girl, they murmured. Cristi told them to return to the celebration; she would be along shortly, she merely needed fresh air.
Rayne opened his hand once more. The Medaillon glittered in his palm.
Much later, when her mother wondered why Cristi had not yet returned, her daughter was missing, having taken clothes, food, a water bottle and her knife pouch.
Further north still, where snow adorned the mountains even in summer, the Kinna were about daily tasks.
Mordan did not have much to do. He was too old for energy-consuming chores and left those now to the younger ones.
This day the clan was out picking nuts, barring the old couple up on the hillside working the vegetable patch behind their cottage, and thus he sat slumbering under the big fig tree and allowed his thoughts to roam.
A strange expression crossed his face, but there was no one to see it.
After a time, he rose carefully and gathered survival essentials, including his oak staff with its gnarled head and scored grooves. He ambled unhurriedly to the river’s edge where the rafts and rough dugouts were pulled up onto the bank. The sun threw polite shadows onto gritty sand.
He chose a raft, for it seemed easier to handle. The South River would take him to the Forest in quick time; heart somewhat erratic, he set out.
It had been a while since he handled a craft alone on the water.
The Maghdim still lay in Rayne’s steady hand.
When the Kinna returned from harvesting, they did not immediately mark his absence.
Mordan was known to wander off and could often be found under a tree somewhere, placidly surveying the world. It was only later that evening, when the supper call went out and the old man did not show up for his meal, that they began searching.
They could not find him.
In the Great Dividing Forest, Kisha of the Tan halted.
For her there was no pain when a sharp image of a well in a clearing and a sense of urgency imprinted on her mind. The voices did not hurt.
She drew breath and released it slowly. She was called, as she thought when she left her clan many days ago. Shouldering her pack once more, she walked on.
This felt close to a quest, and she wondered what it meant.
Not far away, Rayne returned the Medaillon to Averroes. It took on a dulled gold appearance once more.