TimeHe wasn’t sure how long he spent in the shaman’s cave. She had given him something to drink and the pain had numbed; somehow, without the throbbing and burning, time seemed to become meaningless. After a while there was no longer the drip, drip, drip of blood from his ear so even that small measure of seconds passing vanished; all he had now was the blurring of her lilac light as she moved around him. Her movements were so careful, so delicate, that it seemed that perhaps time was standing still.
The young shaman worked quietly - he thought young, though in his memory the doe with mother-of-pearl eyes was older than him, and he could not say why. He could only really see where she was by the glow from her body paint and the gentle shine of her eyes - that and the occasional chattering of the squirrel - but once or twice he caught a glimpse of her face and thought he could see her brow creasing with pain, and a slight sheen of sweat across her coat.
Until she had begun to he
To the meadowMindelan
Sleep was a blessed thing. It washed over her in a matter of minutes and, thankfully, was dreamless. She missed the slight rustling of feathers of N’noi’s return and the scurry of Nanny’s claws on the stone floor. The two settled onto her hip as per usual and they stayed that way in the ambient lighting of the teardrop caverns for hours. When she finally did awake she was surprised, for a moment, to find Isk still there. The memory of the night before came back to her in a hazy blur of lazy thoughts and images but it did come back to her. She smiled to him and turned to use her nose to dislodge her friends from her body. N’noi hooted and rotated his head as he glared at her and took to the wing. Nanny chittered and bounced up and down in fury.
Mindelan chuckled at her friends and shook her head. “Nanny I am sorry but I can’t wait for you to wake up on your own. Come now old friend, today is a busy day.” She pulled herself
Letting her grieve”No,” he murmured.
Mindelan had not said who she was, how she had died, but from the look of the Oracle’s wounds she had come up against a big cat. Only a jaguar or a panther could leave a fawnling like that and if she was who he thought… no squirrel could survive the onslaught of a jaguar’s teeth and claws. Even a young squirrel could only have hoped to skitter away up a tree. Nanny was old; had been old. Her red fur was greying and her little legs were not as quick as they had once been. She would not have stood a chance.
”No,” he repeated again, folding his legs and pressing his body against the doe as she wept into his shoulder. He arched his neck over her protectively, his tail swept around to encompass her and he became a still, solid body of warmth around the grieving Oracle.
He let her weep, let her stuttering words ebb away until there was nothing left before he tried to speak. He had no words for her, nothing he could s
The scrying poolIsk dreamed.
He dreamed that he had gone to the Teardrop Caverns to be with the Oracle. She had called him there, but when he arrived the caverns were dark and empty; somehow the caverns were open to the sky and the moon and stars were hidden by clouds.
The stag had walked towards the centre of the main chamber to Mindelan’s scrying pool. He would scry for her he thought, but when he reached the water it was thick and dark. He peered into the pool but there was no reflection; the water was as slick and black as oil. He dropped his nose to the surface and a ripple slipped away from him, coiling like an eel across the pool. The ripple glistened red.
Suddenly, the clouds had parted and there, in place of the moon was Gealach in all his glory. The ethereal stag was laughing, howling with laughter at the confused old captain below. He darted down from the sky and his laughter filled the cavern and the walls were suddenly bright with moonlight so strong it was almost solid.