Kara reached out and lightly touched the air. It rippled like water. She drew Ada with her into the Long Ago. They merged into the shadows and watched as events unfolded.
“Look,” said Ada. “You can see the Jormuna approaching across the field. There is their leader, Gwyion – tall and proud. His shield bearer and sister, Dian is on his left and his brother, Ollyn is on his right. And there is his compaion and fog bearer, Baylen. Here comes the child warning me of their arrival.”
Kara nodded absently, watching the players assembling. “Watch and listen,” she said.
A dark haired youth ran into the forest. A younger Ada, one with no silver in her hair, caught him. “Easy, lad. What did you see?”
The boy caught his breath, relieved to be found by one of his own clan. “It’s a Jormuna raiding party. Thirty or so of them coming from the east.”
Ada could just make out movement on the other side of the meadow. “Jormuna? You’re certain?”
“Yes. Tall, blond people who move in silence.”
Ada scowled. “How… never mind. Run to the village and warn the others.”
She saw the boy off and settled in to keep watch. The Jormuna eventually came into view, fanning out as they warily approached the forest. She heard the calls and signals of her own people moving into position and answered with a chirp.
A younger Kara appeared beside her. She tucked her shoulder length hair behind her ear and whispered, “Where did they come from?”
She raised an eyebrow and sighed. “I meant what are they doing here?”
Ada smiled slightly. “Oh. I don’t know. Shall I ask them?”
“So difficult.” She tugged playfully at a lock of Ada’s hair. “Seriously.”
The smile faded from Ada’s lips. “They found a way through the gate. I don’t know how; it shouldn’t be possible.”
Kara watched the approaching Jormuna. “What now?”
“We keep them out of the woods. After that…we’ll see. I’ll need to ask Dree.” She quickly kissed her, stopping the tirade usually triggered at the mere mention of the wind spirit. “We’ll argue it later. Tell the others to stay out of sight and attack only if the Jormuna enter the forest.”
After Kara disappeared into the woods, Ada turned her attention back to the approaching raiders. She muttered, “How did they get through the gate?” The wind in the trees had no answers, just sighs of coming change.
Four of the Jormuna were approaching Ada’s position. She crouched down, tucked her viola under her chin, and raised her bow. She held her breath as she waited to take her shot. They were just on the other side of the brush. Three men and one woman, all blond. She recognized them as a group she’d chased off many times from the gate protecting this forest.
The woman, Dian, took a silver sphere from a black velvet bag and held it in the palm of her hand. She brushed it with light fingertips and a shimmering glow surrounded the party. It obscured and muffled all sound within the shield. She gave a nod and the party moved forward slowly and silently.
Ada waited, seeking a weak point. She watched their footsteps and listened for the sound of a leaf crushed under a boot or the rustle of a cloak. Then she heard it, the faintest brush of fabric against a branch. She set her bow against the strings of her viola and struck a pure high note. The sound wave crashed through the crack in the shield. It sliced flesh and shattered bone. She struck a series of staccato notes that hammered at the crack, widening it and breaking the silence.
The party hit the ground. Ollyn whimpered in pain, a bone protruding from his arm. Their leader, Gwyion, looked around warily for the source of the attack and gave instructions to Baylen who took a dark jar from his pocket and opened it. A cold fog fell over the lip and spilled out onto the ground. He blew lightly across it, encouraging more fog to come forth and directing it toward the forest. It roiled across the ground, surrounding vegetation and devouring sound.
Ada saw the fog and cursed. Her words were absorbed by the fog, feeding it so it grew larger. She regretted not bringing a drum or a fan with her; they were about the only tools she had that could turn the silence. She fired off another volley of notes at the Jormuna, hoping they would drop the jar. The man managed to keep a good grip on the jar even as bruises welled up on his fingers. Ada turned and ran into the forest, praying she was swift enough to outrun the fog.
She knew when the fog was at her heels. No sound was behind her, not even her own footsteps. Sounds to the side of her were fading quickly as they were absorbed. She could hear the wind ahead of her. Glancing down, she saw the fog winding around her feet and she ran faster, only to trip over a tree root and fall.
The fog muffled the sound of impact. Ada pushed up as the fog overwhelmed her. It swallowed the sound of the leaves under her, her breath, then her heartbeat. She gasped for air, sucking in the ice cold fog. The touch of winter assured her she wasn’t dead yet. She pulled herself up and stumbled forward. The fog was too dense now to even see her hand in front of her and she ran into a tree. She leaned on it, trying to hear the rhythm of the sap running through the trunk or the skitter of small insects under the bark. Nothing; all the songs and rhythms, the melodies and harmonies of the world were lost to her. The silence clung to her, pressing in upon her and weighing her down. She doubled over in pain as vicious cramping set in and was uncertain if the physical pain or the loss of the World Song was worse. Then darkness washed over her and she slowly sank to the ground.
copyright 2014, Kimberley Long-Ewing, all rights reserved