Chapter 15 The High Council of Imerel

15

The High Council of Imerel

The landscape was cold and wet, with slippery slopes. Lilly struggled to stay standing but her feet slipped away from under her. The wet ground of grass and snow had no friction so Lady Haggart slipped as well and fell on her back.

“Are you alright Lady Haggart?” asked Lilly trying to stand up.

“Lilly, I’ve told you to call me Ceira. It makes no sense to be slipping around on this hilltop with you speaking like I’m too dignified to be doing so.” She smiled as she crawled towards a small ridge of rock.

“Sorry . . . Ceira,” Lilly struggled with the name but it seemed to please Ceira.

“You couldn’t have landed closer to the bottom could you?” Ceira shouted to the Dragon who let out a loud cry that echoed across the valley below. They proceeded to slip, slide and skid down to a stream in the valley basin. Lilly was enjoying the adventure but the darkness was hurting her eyes as she had to strain to see the ground. Her beautiful dress was muddy and stained but Ceira took no notice of her clothing. She just laughed and joked about how dangerous their trek was. Lilly felt the air lighten as the skies cleared and the first grey wave of dawn peered over a mountain.

As the light grew so did a sound on the horizon. It rang in Lilly’s ears and echoed around her on the hills. It was a murmur that hit low notes of a string symphony. The voices began to become clearer and sounded like male throats debating in hollow halls of secrecy. Lilly looked around to find their origin. They were similar to men of court; important and bold but were not visible.

“Halt were you stand!” A strange man had appeared from nowhere. He held two arrows pulled taught in a bow aimed at the two women. His sharp blue eye on the right contrasted with the mild brown one on the left. He wore skins and furs of animals and had a painted face to match a young wolf that bounded to his side. His messy, ashen blonde hair was mixed with twigs and moss and his boots were encrusted with mud.

The voices stopped the moment the man had spoken and all was peaceful except for the growling beast low to the ground. Ceira bowed without fear unlike Lilly who stood rigid.

“It’s alright Lilly,” she whispered.

“State your business here!” the man cried. He was fierce and bared his teeth to the strangers. Ceira remained calm despite the volatile behaviour of the armed individual.

“Calm down, Trist.” She placed a hand on the arrow head pointed at her and looked firmly at the she-wolf on the ground which dropped her tail between her legs and stepped over to Ceira’s outstretched hand. She whined and began to wag her tail while the man lowered his bow and smiled.

“Sorry Ceira. I didn’t recognise you.” He ambled forwards and hugged her.

“My dear, Tristan. You have the best eye sight in the world and you didn’t recognise me?” Tristan laughed and looked guilty. “We have come to speak to the council.”

“They are waiting. Gone on ahead.” Ceira bowed again and passed without another word. The world began to lighten with the grey sky of morning and Lilly could see the outline of Reagel sitting high on a mountain peak watching them. A forest bloomed up in front of them with thick oak and birch trees that quivered in the wind. There was little snow but the cold woods were barren and empty with only a few birds chirping cautiously in the branches and a bubbling, brook to disturb the silence.

As they entered the trees the nearby stream hushed and Lilly could hear her own footsteps thumping on the ground. A twig snapped and the crack crashed through the trees in an attempt to echo. She trod carefully over the rich turf and dead leaves as every natural sound was very distant but every noise of Lilly and Ceira’s approach was amplified.

Ceira stopped beneath a huge oak where she removed a necklace from her throat and called to the earth, the trees and the sky.

The words were in a shrouded language that didn’t seem to have words, more of a continual call of vowels with the other letters missed out. Ceira called to the High Council and they replied. The voices of deep thought rose again from the silence. A rip appeared in the earth and a line of light drifted out. A tree opened to release another thin string of light. More emerged from the air and ground about them and crowded round the great oak tree.

The strands were like shots of lightening and rays of sun, each varying in brightness and colour. Hundreds of lights floated in the still air of the winter forest. Their voices chattered and told each other what they knew. The large crowd were faceless and bodiless: simple strands of light that wriggled in the air. Lilly held Ceira’s hand and stared wide eyed at the strange beings. Two moved forwards and flashed brightly. Ceira bowed and the chattering ceased and all fell quiet again.

“I have brought an, Ice witch, to see you, my lords.” Ceira gently shoed Lilly forwards. An immediate chit-chat rose up from the crowd. Lilly stood alone in front of the beings feeling vulnerable and exposed.

The middle two beings backed away and two others floated towards her. Lilly noticed that they moved symmetrically from opposite sides of the circular crowd. She was inspected by these lights that circled her and observed her every movement. When they returned to the group Lilly turned to Ceira who cautioned her to stay where she was. Four beings collected in front of her and shone brightly. A warm haze of mist blew off them and made Lilly feel safe and more comfortable.

Then they spoke.

“Little girl, you have found your power at an inappropriate age. You were first enlightened to it when you were younger we think.” Lilly shook her head and played with her skirt. Another voice spoke. A kind elderly woman;

“It is all right Lilly Mare.”

“Ice Witch of Hawes.” A deep man’s voice boomed.

“Daughter of Taybale.” A child’s voice peeped out from the voices.

“Shh.”

“You do not remember the night when your sister was born?” Lilly shook her head again. There was more discussion from the crowd. Lilly thought hard and tried to remember. “You spoke with a man that stormy night. He pulled you out of the cold waters of the ditch.”

“You giggled childishly when he tapped your nose.” A spiteful young man’s tone called out with this bullying remark.

“You were wrapped in a blanket when Eric picked you up and carried you home.”

Lilly couldn’t remember any of what being described to her.

“How do you know this?” she asked. The voices grew louder. Some laughed others wept. Lilly was afraid of the voices that echoed round her head.

“Do not be alarmed Lilly Mare. We mean you no harm.”

“We are here to help you.”

Old cheese.” The last message seemed strange but Lilly thought she must have misheard it.

“You have not been tutored with your magic as there have been many years without you knowing of its existence.” A joyful man laughed heartily in the group.

“It has grown unstable and needs to be corrected otherwise the damage may be fatal.”

Lilly listened carefully to the different voices and the different pitches. Each unique voice hit her ears like scented oils and dried flowers. So pleasant a sound that it sweetened her hearing to their fine song.

“You have great power if you can harness it.”

“Simon.”

“Simon?”

“Simon Mearad is tutoring her.”

“Simon is dead.”

“He lives.”

Oh when you see Lord Hairden give him a wink from me . . .” Sang a voice out of the group followed by a confused silence.

Suddenly there was a scream.

“You are being hunted!” A voice shouted in fear.

“Simon Mearad, Son of Jonathon.” The child’s voice seemed undisturbed.

“No the other.”

“A Sariff!” This voice sounded like it was crying. Lilly was afraid, but part of her puzzled by a semi audible voice saying random statements and songs. Reagel called to his mistress from overhead and cast his great shadow over the High Council.

“You must let yourself be taken.”

“She must not let herself be taken.”

“You must seek guidance from Dantoor.”

“Simon will fall.”

“Not now.”

“Not Simon. Sariff.” The voices continued their serious and at times frightening debate until a loud yelp blurted out:

Someone stop this bloody bird from nesting in my ear!” All the voices fell into silence. A few giggles were muffled then more gibberish followed.

Does anyone know the way to Tealby? Why is there a hand on my arm?! Oh never mind, it’s just my own. What were you saying? Who is this girl? Oh no the pond has flooded again, quick fetch the sand bags. Who said that? What?

A snort of an attempted restrained laugh filled the odd atmosphere. The High Council seemed to have lost their edge.

“We apologize for the distaste of one of our number. It is unfortunate that minds although stronger than the body can become weak.” The voice was of a man with serious intent however in the back ground Lilly could distinctly make out repressed laughter.

Behold the greatest chip in the world!

“My dear child, is there anything you wish to ask us?” A kind voice of a definite mother spoke quickly as she was obviously trying not to laugh.

“What is a Sariff?” Lilly quietly requested an answer from the group. A man’s voice repeated the question and then answered.

“Not to be discussed now.”

“Not her business.”

“Hush.”

“She has a Polt.”

“Doltamear.”

“Not hers.”

“She has no Polt.”

“You slumbered in the night without a care for your life.”

“No. She was dead.”

“She drowned.”

“She is alive.”

“Why is she alive?”

“Doltamear.”

What the hell are you all talking about?

“Why have you called her here?” The spiteful man’s voice questioned the committee on Lilly’s behalf.

“We wish to inspect her to see if she if healthy and is training herself appropriately.”

“Which she has not.”

“She was in fever.”

“She was dead.”

“She is healthy now.”

“She left her magic for years.”

“She neglected the power.”

“She was unaware of it.”

“Why didn’t we find her before now and protect her and make sure she did all that was required?” asked an accusing voice.

“Complications.”

“Complications affected our lawful intervention.”

“Your thoughts dwell on your father?” asked an elderly mans voice.

“I do not know my father,” Lilly answered.

“Taybale. Son of Grayfell.” The child’s voice had a tone of an adult.

“Prince.”

“Silence!”

“Think.”

“That tale is not to be told yet. Perhaps another day in your future.” The voices settled and then debated amongst themselves. All the voices had separate emotions, sexes, ages and . . . states of mind, so it was interesting to hear who would speak next.

Roughly how many feet should I have? I mean to the nearest decimal place.” One of the voices lost the struggle to stop herself from laughing and burst out in uncontrollable giggles.

This isn’t what I ordered!” Several others joined in the laughter but one of the lights flashed so brightly that the world disappeared for the second then flicked back with little black and purple dots in front of Lilly’s vision.

“Some control please”

“Agreed.”

“Yes.” Even with the voices behaving serious again Lilly heard one last snigger.

“Lilly?” Lilly was surprised to hear a question asked of her by a child.

“Yes, my lord.”

“Are you happy with your magic?” The council moaned in approval of this question and waited patiently for an answer.

“Yes, my lord.” The voices spoke quietly amongst themselves and left Lilly alone for a while. Ceira stepped forwards and held Lilly’s hand who clenched it tightly.

The High Council changed to their own tongue where they discussed other matters. Lilly was allowed step down and rest against the tree trunk. As the sun rose, turning the sky yellow and pink, the voices grew quieter. By the end of the meeting it was decided that a man named Dantoor would meet with her to ascertain how she would be dealt with. As the disappearing shreds of light seeped back into the ground, trees, water and sky they each whispered to her.

“Welcome to the magic.”

Though some were not as pleased as others by the fact. The last voice Lilly heard was fading quickly but clearly stated:

Praise me, for I can stand on my head!


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Synopsis
Ok Chapter 15 puts you into the reality of how the mages are run. One body of intelligence keeps them in check but when I say intelligence . . . well you will understand when you read it.
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