Previously–Elabea, a girl of fourteen summers, witnessed a strange anomaly outside her cottage window. Was it a ghoul or just her wild imagination? Read on to find out…
“Last night, I saw something…or someone…riding out of Hetherlinn.”
“Probably just an Ebonite warrior on a night patrol,” she sighed as she plopped the bowl down in front of Elabea.
“I know what they look like, and he was definitely not one of them.” She picked up a wooden spoon. “He was larger than any man I’ve ever seen, and he glowed blue like the moon.” She dug into the creamy broth.
“You must have been dreaming.” Areall’s voice was overly tired.
“I’m not a child,” she snapped. “I’ve seen fourteen summers and in another four, I’ll be permitted to marry…” In a more sullen tone, “If anyone will have me.”
“Perhaps the moon was playing tricks on you,” Areall interjected, not the least bit interested in the conversation. After all, Elabea’s curiosity could be relentless, like a wolf in winter, desperate for a meal.
“At first, I was frightened, but soon…”
Her thoughts drifted to the eventful night.
“Whatever he was,” she continued, “he was magnificent!”
Elabea twirled her spoon as her imagination began to work. “Is there a Moon King?” she asked.
“Moon King?” Areall chortled. “There hasn’t been a king anywhere since the Dark War and…” Her rosy cheeks suddenly faded to white as if death had touched her flesh. In a serious tone, she abruptly added, “Let’s talk of different matters.”
“Could he have been something of old, something from the Dark War?”
Her spoon stopped twirling as she pondered the next question, one she was certain to get in trouble for asking.
“Mother, could he be from Claire?”
Areall’s eyes widened with fear. “Never mention that nation again! You know the Cauldron’s Oracles ban discussions of things that might be or might have been!”
“I know,” she answered, her spoon spinning again. “But do you really think the Cauldron can hear inside our cottage?”
“Then why hasn’t it seen me at the oak, or heard Galadin and me talking about Claire?”
Areall clasped her hand over Elabea’s mouth. “Shh!”
Elabea looked into her mother’s buggy eyes. She had seen this look many times before. It came with every question she asked concerning the Cauldron, Ebon, the Dark War and the forgotten land known as Claire. It was the look of fear.