Atop the plateau against the Carilan Mountain, Tehila straightened her back and grimaced as she rubbed a painful spot. She smiled at her work approvingly: neat rows of newly sewn vila roots showed their tiny green foliage. Come summer, there would be an ample supply of vila-root to stock her medicine cupboard.
“Tehila, you should have let me plant the roots. I can see such hard work pains you.” Kyle shook his head despairingly at the woman.
“I am not too old to take care of myself, young man!” Tehila told him primly. “You should see to your own chores instead of watching me do mine. Besides,” she continued, glaring at the young man, “my mother could sow a whole field of roots in one day when she was twenty years….”
Tehila froze to the spot, a look of disbelief on her face.
“Tehila, are you all right?” The airy tone had disappeared from Kyle’s voice and he looked at her in mild alarm.
Without paying Kyle attention, Tehila’s gaze drifted to the west as she muttered, “It cannot be!”
Kyle walked over to where the woman stood and softly touched her arm. “What cannot be, Tahila?”
Slowly Tahila became aware of Kyle and her surroundings but the shock was still visible in her pale complexion and her absent-minded pat on Kyle’s arm.
“I must have been mistaken, my boy. I thought I felt….”, she shook her head resolutely. “Never you mind, Kyle. Perhaps you’re right and I do need to take things easier. I’ll get some rest now.”
She smiles his way but her eyes hardly seemed to notice him. Kyle looked at her retreating back, a frown of worry on his face.
Once inside, Tahila’s attitude changed dramatically. Determined she walked towards her medicine cupboard and opened one of the small drawers. Taking its contents out hurriedly, she felt with her finger inside the drawer until it touched a little key. Loosening it gently, she took it out of its hiding place, restored the drawer’s content and opened the two doors at the bottom half of the cupboard.
Its shelves were stacked with boxes, cloth and various attributes she used for her healing. At the back of one shelf, she found what she was looking for. Carefully she lifted the wooden box from the cupboard and placed it on the table. She fiddled around with the key until she heard a distinct click and opened the lid carefully.
“What is that, Tahila?”
Kyle had followed her into the house, hoping to provide her with a cup of tea while she rested. But Tahila’s frantic actions had stopped him short. Not wanting to interrupt, he had kept silent, standing in the doorframe.
“It is … a book.” She took it out of the box reverently.
Intrigued he walked over to her. “I had no idea you could read, Tahila.” He looked as she traced the letters that where pressed into the leather binding with her finger. It spelled a single word: “Vandaren”. Traces of the gold inlay that once had given them a royal shine were still visible in some corners.
“What’s Van-da-ren?” Kyle pronounced the name hesitantly.
“This Kyle, is a history of my family.” She briefly smiled at him while she opened the book on its first page. “That is all we have left, you see: history.”
Kyle looked at the book in awe. To him books were magic and even though he could barely read, he was fascinated by them.
“It mentions all my grandsires and grandmothers of old. See!” She gently turned the pages. In curly letters, name after name dotted the pages. Numbers and symbols filled up the rest and they looked so mystical, that Kyle was convinced that Tahila possessed a magic book.
“Do you see this symbol here?” She pointed towards an upward pointed triangle, bisected with a horizontal line. Kyle nodded breathlessly.
“It is the symbol for air. A powerful symbol for air.”
Kyle looked at the page and saw that the symbol was drawn beside some names but absent with others.
“But what does it mean, Tahila? Why is there?”
“It means,” she hesitated, giving the man a quick apraissing look before continuing: “it means that some of my family had special powers.”
Kyle looked at her awestruck.
“Are you … magicians?”
Tahila laughed. “No foolish boy! Magicians are nothing more than tricksters. I’ve never come across a magician with real powers. No… it is a power that makes use of air.” She frowned, not satisfied with her own explanation. “Actually it is ‘air’ that gives us a little power to use.”
“Can you eh, use that power?” Kyle looked at her as if he was seeing her for the first time. His eyes betrayed, besides his excitement, a touch of fear.
Tahila smiled wistfully. “I could … once perhaps. All that is left to me now is the sense of it. I can no longer touch it, only sense it.” Her finger traced the symbol lovingly.
Then she straightened once more, her back pain intruding on her pensive mood.
“In fact Kyle, we wield this power no more. I am the last of my line. The power, or what I have left of it, will die with me.” She gave him a sad smile.
“You really are a special person,” Kyle told her and there was a sense of pride in his eyes as he gave her a quick hug. “To me you will always be a special person.”
Tahila gave him a grateful smile. She was about to lock the book away once more but as she turned the last of the written page, Kyle stopped her.
“That’s your name! Look, I can read your name.” He pointed towards the name he had recognised. Below it, was one other single name and he bent closer to spell it out “Ve – lin – ith” he ventured. Wrapped up in his effort to read he missed the look of pain that came over Tahila’s face.
“Velinith,” she said softly and the name held an infinite sadness as she once more repeated “Velinith.”
Before he could ask, she continued, “she was my sister.”
Resolutely she took the book from Kyle and closed it. Replacing it in its box, she put back the lid and locked it.
“I’m sorry, Tahila, I did not mean to upset!” Kyle looked distraught when he had noticed her expression.
“Do not fret, Kyle. You have not upset me. Velinith was lost years ago. It is all in the past.” She placed the box back in the cupboard and slipped the key in her apron. “The power liked her very much and gave her a great deal of it. But such power means little if it cannot even save your life, is it?”
She shook her head as if to discard her family’s history from her mind. “It was merely the tiredness that made me see ghosts. Or rather, felt them.”
The smile she gave Kyle was warm. “I will take my rest now. Make me a nice cup of tea, lad. We have done a good day’s work.”
Kyle hurried to the kettle as she sat down in her chair next to the fireplace. She felt foolish for overreacting as she had but she could not disregard the familiar feeling that had brushed passed her as she stood in the field. Not could she ignore the words that had accompanied it on the air.
“Fareth is coming!”
She would wait and watch and listen in the village for any word on “Fareth”, whoever he may be. Only if he should prove reality would she consider the implications of what she had felt.