Preview of Part 6
The Broken Sword
The sun was sliding through the trunks of the White Birches, dressing them in crimson. The song of the birds was dying down and the bush was alive with all the scrambling of little creatures returning to their burrows.
Inlakesh was arguing with a feisty porcupine youngster, who had a quarrel with his mama and wanted to stay for a party, ignoring his mother’s pleas to go with the family to take shelter.
“You must do as mama says, Little Quill,” Inlakesh said with feigned severity, though she had to press her lips to avoid laughing. “There’s no party here anyway. Don’t you see we are busy working?”
Rayna was gathering wood for the evening, but her mind was miles away, with the Elders, with her people, with Lealla. When would they send notice? Almost a week had gone by, it was already new moon, and Red-tail Hawk was nowhere to be found. Had everything gone well? Were they in danger?
“Do you want to help Rayna gather wood?” Inlakesh signaled to the baby porcupine.
This didn’t seat well and Little Quill went back to mama, complaining in a rambunctious tone. Mama Porcupine scolded him forcefully.
Inlakesh went back to washing the clothing in a large basin close to the birdbath. She was sitting on a flat stone at the side of the basin. There was another stone in front of her. Inlakesh rubbed the piece of cloth against the stone and then bang it against the stone vigorously~ which created a lot of splashing.
Little Quill returned, curious about the splashing sound.
He was almost behind Inlakesh when a loud croaking perturbed the dusk, sending black plumes into the crimson landscape.
Little Quill ran to Mama Porcupine so fast that he tripped and some of his quills went flying by and almost hit the Raven who was landing on a branch and protested loudly, while Mama Porcupine ran to Little Quill and got him out of the way, scolding him all the way into the bushes.
“Is this the message?” Rayna came running, dropping the wood in front of the basin, “Is this Red-tail Hawk?”
“Since when do you confuse the croak of a raven with the scream of a hawk?” asked Inlakesh.
“Sorry!” Rayna apologized when she saw Raven preening his feathers up on a branch. “I’ve been so worried that my mind….”
“Your mind better come back right now,” Inlakesh warned in that urgent tone Rayna had come to recognize as a sign that something big, something dangerous demanded her full attention right on the spot.
“I’m all here!” Rayna snapped, in full attention.
Raven suddenly darted towards Rayna, took a hold of the string of her apron with its beak and pulled hard. He flew to White Birch again and perched on the branch, where the apron hung, swinging in the breeze.
The sun painted a burning red circle over the apron.
Raven took the quill that Little Quill had sent its way and pecked into the worn out cloth, until there were 12 tiny holes through which the crimson light was streaking like an Arabian lantern.
Inlakesh followed everything with avid attention, and Rayna followed each movement of Raven, then looked at Inlakesh and then looked again, trying to figure out what Inlakesh was reading into the situation.
Inlakesh stood up very slowly, each muscle alert, as she followed the light that was streaming through the holes. It was illuminating something shiny resting in the elbow of a tree.
“High magic!” Inlakesh cried out. “High treason!”