Ada bowed her head. She looked as old as the hills; weariness etched her face and sorrow clouded her eyes. She knew Kara’s question as she had asked it many a time.
Ada said hoarsely, “Very well, beloved. I owe you that at least.”
Kara gently caressed her cheek and focused on a tone, one she had always associated with her. She drew out the bittersweet and melancholy melody within Ada’s soul, singing the notes of her life, until she found the point she sought. The counter-melody that was Dree resisted her at first but Ada added her voice to Kara’s and the flow of time acquiesced. They travelled far into the Long, Long Ago.
Pastels of spring dominated the world as it returned to focus. Pale green leaves were just unfolding on trees in a forest much newer than the one they’d been in before. Fields of wood anemones, lesser celandine, and marsh-marigolds were blooming.
Kara asked, “Where are we?”
Ada pointed to the field of flowers. “There’s where the village will one day stand.”
She looked confused. “But the forest isn’t right.”
Ada took her hand and said gently, “I told you I was far too old for you when we met.”
Kara murmured, “I thought you were joking. How?”
She nodded towards the flowers. “Just watch.”
A young woman, barely old enough to be called such, came running into the field. Her raven black hair was short. She called, “Dree? Where are you?”
Kara paused time. “Wait. Is that you?”
Ada chuckled. “Once, long ago, I was that young. I believe I’m sixteen at this time.”
“I don’t recognize the type of clothing you’re wearing.”
Ada shrugged. “Short tunics woven in that pattern were common enough then.”
Ada didn’t answer at first. Finally, “A very long time ago.”
Kara turned her face towards her. “Must you always answer in riddles?”
“Dirt was a new invention.” Her smile faded at seeing the very slight raise of Kara’s eyebrow. “I lost count of the centuries. I was a small girl when our people first came to this land.”
Kara’s eyes narrowed as she weighed the truth of her words. “Hard to believe.”
Ada pointed at the meadow. “Just watch. It will make sense soon enough.”
“I hope so,” she said noncommittally as she resumed the scene.
The young woman laughed and spun around. “Dree! I know you’re here!”
The wind picked up and playfully blew her hair into her face. As she brushed it away from her eyes, she found a beautiful youth close to her age standing in front of her. “There you are.”
Dree smiled sweetly. “Here I am.” Ze ran a hand down the curve of Ada’s waist. “Have you thought about what I asked?”
Ada asked playfully, “And have you thought about my question?”
Dree kissed her lightly. “You first.”
Ada caressed Dree’s cheek. “Why did you choose me?”
“You’ll be a great leader of our people one day.”
Ada laughed. “If you say so.”
“I do say so. Now answer my question.”
Ada picked a flower and put it in zir hair. “Yes, my Heart, I will be your champion.”
She kissed zir hand. “Forever.”
Dree stroked her cheek. “That is so sweet.” Zir eyes never left her as ze drove a dagger shaped from a thorn into her solar plexus and up to her heart. Dree sank to the ground with her, holding her close. “Shhh, my champion.”
Ada’s eyes widened with shock and pain. Her pulse raced as she fought to hold on to life. Then the pain faded and her eyes rolled up. She felt lighter, at peace. Her heart beat slowed, paused, and darkness enveloped her.
Dree withdrew the dagger and waited for the last of her blood flow out of her. Ze stroked her cheek, smoothed her hair. “It won’t be much longer now.” Zir toes dug into the ground. Silver water flowed up into zir and passed into Ada through zir fingertips.
Ada gasped as her heart beat resumed and pain flooded her body. She tried to move, tried to focus on the strange face looking over her. “What? Why?”
Dree ran a hand down her chest, closing the wound. “You are now my champion. You agreed. Sleep, sweet one.”
Ada closed her eyes and Dree gently laid her back on the ground. Ze turned to wind and was gone.
The world faded around Kara and Ada. She was quiet for several minutes. Finally, Kara mumured, “I suppose that explains many things.”
Ada asked quietly, “Should I have told you?”
Kara shrugged. “I wouldn’t have believed you and that spirit would have prevented you showing me. I am worried that ze has allowed it now.”
“Ze’s reminding me. I doubt ze cares what you know.”
She growled, “I still hate Dree. Perhaps even more now.”
“A strange attitude for a Dreezian.”
“I am dedicated to the Song, not a crazed spirit.” She drew a deep breath to compose herself then asked,” So what’s the end game?”
Ada sighed. “We return to the battlefield. There’s no point in second guessing myself; the only path is forward.”
copyright 2014, Kimberley Long-Ewing, all rights reserved