Part Eight

Medowin was afraid and lonely in the many hours before Nine Trees was able to arrive with his new charge. She heard over and over again the wrathful words of the woman she had visited twoscore and ten years before. Thief. Thief. Thief. Locked in her innroom, she wept bitter tears at the thought that Nine Trees would know of his heritage and deem her thief as well. Liar. Witchwoman.

She had not known the woman would remember, had not known that she could have held within her heart the memory of the boy that was taken so long ago. It kindled in her a worry and a jealousy — what if Nine Trees remembered his mother? What if he longed for that family that was aging and would pass without heir, poor estate divided, daughters bought by older men who would provide while the girls bred them strong sons and daughters. What if he knew Medowin had but stolen him? Thief.

When at last Nine Trees had not arrived but her grief was too great to wait longer, she pulled into her lap her harp and began to play, weaving an old melody and singing quietly her lament.

The dawn comes, yet night holds fast;
A bitter morning comes to pass.
All that comes, all foretold,
songs before, through ages old,
This night, this night, this night now ends.
The dawn of morning’s light has come.
War and heart and silence breaking;
This night now ends, and day has come.

The dawn comes, night is no more.
Dreams are sundered, peace is war.
What once held true now lays unmended;
The dawn of war, all peace is ended.
This night, this night, this night now ends.
The dawn of morning’s light has come.
My heart breaking, my love waking;
He goes, he goes, he goes… to war.

Those who sat in the common room below could only barely hear the strains of her music, but it set them into uneasy spirits; those who had come to laugh and talk and drink with friends found excuses to go back home to their families, to hold tightly to their wives and children, and talk nothing of their fear, but think much on what they stood to lose, if for no other reason than they had thought not of it before.

“I am no thief,” she told herself, wary in her heart of the woman who was too near, who might yet see her son and put to death the plans Medowin had so carefully arranged.

Putting away her harp, Medowin laid in her bed and called again to Nine Trees, and was much relieved to hear his answer clearly and close, and instead of resting, she put her cloak about her shoulders and all but flew down the stairs, running out into the fading sun to meet with him upon the road, wherever he might be.

Those who saw her thought of a young girl running to meet her heart’s desire, and all who managed to remember her face could not agree upon her features, but claimed her as the most beautiful creature they had ever seen, and counted lucky (some with jealous hearts, and some with tenderness) the man she must have gone to greet.

Part One — Part Two — Part Three — Part Four — Part Five — Part Six — Part Seven — Part Eight — Part Nine — Part Ten — Part Eleven

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