All at once Sha’ara forgot about the Hall and what she was about. She forgot about The Dawning, about her brother, about Cryss, in her curiosity about this woman.
“Yes, I am, but how did you -”
“I know a great deal about you child. I know who and what you truly are.”
Sha’ara looked at Bri’nna in disbelief and unbreakable calm, not knowing what to make of any of this. Then as soon as the lady had appeared, she vanished from sight. Just then Sha’ara remembered a part of the other night when she had been brushing her hair. The voice rang in her head like church bells.
You are Shia’din. Now you bear The Mark.
She wondered what the Mark was, what it meant for her, what it looked like and if she could find it. Sha’ara decided that if she did find it, she would ask her father about it. Maybe he had noticed it when she was a baby, and knew what it meant. If not then she would be on her own and no one could help her except maybe Bri’nna.
When she had arrived at the Hall it seemed that half the village was in attendance, wanting to hear the Council’s decision, but she managed to squeeze in and travel the hallways until she stood at the entrance to the Library. She finally found some modicum of peace in a corner, where one might read up on the village history in silence. Sha’ara went through the stacks and aisles in search anything that might help her, and then she sat at her quiet corner and commenced pouring over each book, even a couple times each, until finally something that she saw inside an old, worn volume of Shia’din, Mages, and Wisdoms caught her interest.
Also called the Shia’din Star
All Shia’din are born with this mark on the left hand just below the thumb palm side up. The color of the Star differs and corresponds to the element a person’s power is drawn from.
Sha’ara looked up from the huge book on the honey oak table in front of her to turn her left hand around as to see whether she had this ‘star’ under her own thumb. To her dazzled astonishment, there appeared a bluish five pointed star only an inch or so big under her thumb near the fleshy part between thumb and index finger. She closed the book with a snap, grabbed it into the crook of her arm and made her way to the aisle where she found it, searching for more on the same subject. Which she found, in copious amounts, but they all seemed to say the same things in different ways, and the information was, at best, vague and unclear. So she sought out more stringent histories of West End and the surrounding cities, like Corundias.
Sha’ara came back to the rich, golden oak table with another pile of books, and immediately began pouring over them. About halfway through the stack, which piled high next to her on the floor, she found something that interested her greatly. She was reading through its pages and something caught her eye before she even realized what it was she was reading. The leather book, which was very obviously old, was a large hardback volume with a gold binding and the emblem of their country on the cover. It was entitled Ancient lore and history of Sha’anae Doas.
Sha’ara started to read the book from the very beginning, and with each passing page, grew more and more excited, and more and more confused as to why this history of her own people was not commonly known and all the while it had been sitting right there in the Library, collecting dust until she, of all people, should chance upon it. She read about the name of her country, about what it meant. Read about the race of immortals and of the alliance between them and her people long, long ago, and how the Doors were opened so they could both be free to come and go between worlds. She read about the Kings and Queens down through the ages that were kind to the immortals and vise versa, more than a thousand years before Sha’ara was even born, and how it happened that the Doors were broken and closed, seemingly, forever.
Then Sha’ara read of a prophesy that was told by the Mages and Shia’din alike, that said the Princess, who was the daughter of the last King and Queen to have friendly relations with the immortals, was to be reborn in an age when the history had slowly begun to return to the people, and she would make the Doors whole and restore peace and prosperity to both realms. The huge book was heavy in her hands so she resumed reading when she had the somewhat dusty volume on the table. She turned the page and there was a picto of the Princess with one of the immortals.
She at once recognized him who the book called Moy’rain, whose name meant Abundant Meadow. She could hardly believe her eyes, but somewhere within her soul she longed for him, knew him, with an intimate fondness. Knew the soft texture of that golden hair, knew the deep, bright green eyes which could see the soul and know your truest intentions. The loving, kind eyes that Sha’ara knew she had once gotten lost in. She came to herself and turned her attention to the young woman, who sat on the knee of the man that, at first glance, nearly ripped the breath out of her. The girl looked about fifteen, approximately the same age that Sha’ara was at the moment and upon further investigation, her eyes slowly widened at the mind boggling discovery that the Princess, whose name was Serephia, appeared to be the mirror image of Sha’ara herself. Her head swam with this new information and she closed the book to regain her composure.
“How can this be? Oh, Light of Heaven, how can this possibly be?” She was shaken, at best, and on the verge of fainting, at worst; her head was reeling and she didn’t remember leaving the Hall and making her way to the Oldest’s house.
The Oldest was very aged and her house always smelled like one of the herb ointments that she made herself, which she used to further healing. Xara’may was outside looking after her herb garden with tender care; she never allowed anyone else to tend it. Her papery skin had a golden brown tint with a life time in the sun, and she wore the most elegant and airy clothes Sha’ara had seen in her village, with long drapes of light, soft fabric in vibrant colors of purple, crimson, emerald, and the brightest orange. Sha’ara appeared around the corner when Xara’may sighted her and the way the girl was wavering as she neared the house. She hurried over and put out an arm to support Sha’ara while she led the way inside.
Sha’ara vaguely knew she had entered a house, but she nearly lost consciousness once again and let herself be steered onto a chair in the fragrant kitchen, which, if she had been aware, would have smelled like citrus and chamomile with a slight pinch of cardamom. The airy yellow glow of the afternoon sun flowed in through the windows and gave the air an ethereal feel. Xara’may took a glass from the cupboard over the sink, filled it with water from a pitcher and proceeded to rouse Sha’ara with a small tin from inside the folds of her garment; it emitted a strong scent after opening and the woman put the tin near the girl’s nose. Sha’ara became coherent again, and Xara’may put the glass to the girl’s soft rosy lips. She managed to gulp some water down, but then she started choking and sputtering.
“Here, child,” Xara’may whispered as she held the glass to the girls lips and slowly let her drink a sip. “Not too fast dear. Nice and slow, don’t force it, just one sip at a time.”
By that time Sha’ara had gained strength, and soon would be able to talk. She had come to Xara’may, even if in her unconsciousness, to ask some questions of the beloved lady and share what she had found. The Oldest was one of the very few villagers Sha’ara trusted with this sort of knowledge without them thinking that she was crazy, making it up, or worse, possessed, and serving the Dark One.
“Xara’may I need to make sense out of some things, and I only trust you to help me.” She said, once she had control of her faculties.
“What is it child?” Xara’may asked, “What weighs so heavily on your mind that you passed out?”
“A few nights ago, I remember now only after things happened just today.” With this first sentence Sha’ara started her tale.
She told Xara’may of the voice she’d heard and the images in her mother’s mirror, of the story the voice told her, of her recognizing Moy’rain the immortal, of the events that had happened today; the meeting of Shay and the bumping into Bri’nna, the research she had done in the Hall Library, the book that displayed The Mark and what it meant and where to find it. At this she turned over her hand and showed it to Xara’may, then the gold binding of the book which showed her the picto of the Princess and Moy’rain, and how she trembled because of this impossible thing, of the prophesy of the Princess being reborn and how she looked the mirror image of herself. When she was done telling her tale, Sha’ara was markedly weakened and needed more water.
Xara’may went to a cupboard, took out a small plant, tore a piece off, and fed it to her. Within minutes the girl looked immensely better and could drink her water in bigger sips now.
The Oldest sat there looking at the girl, and seemed to shrink into her chair while muttering to herself, and Sha’ara didn’t seem to notice, being engulfed in her own thoughts.
“The time has at last come, the moment I have been dreading. Oh, Light of Heaven, what can be done to postpone this?”
By that time Sha’ara was coming out of her cloud of retrospection and vaguely heard the last words the Oldest spoke.
“You knew?” Sha’ara breathed, “Please, I need to know if this is real and true, and what must be done, and what I must do!”
Xara’may shifted in her seat at the kitchen table, gazed out the window which was shrouded in buttery yellow light, then turned to look at Sha’ara. Her favorite young person, whom she would’ve done anything to protect, to keep her from fell creatures and dangerous journeys, but in her heart she knew, even though she would have liked to take this out of the girls hands, she couldn’t keep Sha’ara from her own destiny, and therefore there was only one choice: to help her fulfill it.
“My darling young girl, yes, I have known this day would come and I have tried to prepare you for it, even while I hoped it would not, and now I must prepare you even further.”
“I thought 10 generations of Oldest’s did not know about the Doors or the rest.”
“Yes I do know, because when I was young and full of questions about the past, I went to the Hall Library and studied the history. When you were born I knew, I could see the Mark even then and vowed to protect you as long as I could, to teach you things you would need if ever it did happen, and now that it has, I am very fearful for you, but you are strong and intelligent, I trust you can handle yourself. You will not be alone; you have travelers waiting to accompany you on this journey.”
“Do you know who?”Sha’ara asked.
“You will have to find that out by yourself. I suppose they will make themselves known to you when the time is right.” Just then the old woman looked deep into the eyes of Sha’ara, a far away glance filled her countenance, then suddenly, a playful smile took its place and went all the way to her green eyes, which lit up as if she were twenty years younger. “I see you already have met two of them.”
“You do not mean Shay and Bri’nna, do you?” The words fell off the girls’ tongue like air.
“Yes. They will help you to reach your destiny, but they cannot do this thing for you; you must act alone to fulfill prophesy and take your rightful place among the Shia’din.” The old woman’s voice was soft and full of motherly affection, but at the same time was also full of warning.
“Oh Xara’may, how can I do this thing that is asked of me? What if I fail, or do not quite understand what I need to do?” By the time Sha’ara was finished talking, iridescent tears were working about the corners of her young, yet strong cobalt eyes.
“Child, don’t you worry just yet. The time is not yet near, when it is you will be ready to take on anything that comes your way. Always remember to take things as they come, and never ever give up or surrender.” Xara’may finished and took both their glasses and filled them with fresh water from the pitcher, then proceeded to take fresh lemons from a hanging basket, squeeze them, pour the juice into their glasses and add pure sugar. As she walked back to the table she stirred the lemonade with the straws she had put in the glasses.
“Lemonade in autumn, how can I drink lemonade at a time like this?” Still, she took the glass from the old woman, took a sip and sat the glass in front of herself on the table. “I…I do not want this, it is too big! I do not think I can do this, I do not think I can do this! Why me? Can they ask someone else?” Tears were once again working their way down from her eyes, and she had the look of one who might flee the scene.