Miriam was the riverkeeper’s daughter, abiding near the coastlands, when raiders engaged by soldiers of Westernesse sailed upon their homes upon the banks, slaying and netting as beasts those determined to end not as carcasses sent downstream, polluting and gutted. Yet in their time these raiders were themselves attacked by a host of Orc, fleeing from the grey stone halls of spiders engorged, a horde escaped in madness, slaying as they went. Now scattered, the remnant of her clan – she being but a girl child not yet come to maturity – was consumed by wastes in the wilderness, and thus was she collected by men heading northward, and thence sold as a servant, again and over, again; until she was purchased (or stolen) by men-traders from the north, who moving as a party southward, were raided by descent of the sinister dragon image, and scattered. It was then she fled into the mountain, where coming, was taken captive.
Hidden among the hoarded daughters of those lands, and indeed any collected thereabouts – as the daughters of Izilba had been – she gained by subtlety the heart and alliance of lesser men spending their youth in guardianship of these captives; and though some guessed her state with child, this they concealed in fear of her slaying, and of the thought [of] “pollution” upon other girls, from which cleansing, purging unto burning, even til death, may come among them; little was spoken, though she learned “the fifth,” indicated by a palm out, a hand of five fingers, “Kgresh-ti.”
For it was by fives indeed that they were boarded, and introduced to the breeders of the lines held to have promise of noble births, forthcoming.
It was if by strange fortune or chance, perhaps, that she – being greatly altered in the light of her days with Izilba and the new love of Zilpharon, like a father become for Pagag – concealed while at markets to fetch grain and green-harvest to render back to the concealment of caves among a beach of hills near the Inland Sea – that she heard the familiar voice of Doral; though herself much disfigured, and in the light of Zhera’s fathering, also softened in heart, yet still expansively courageous and spirited. She passed behind Doral, while the woman was speaking to a merchant or trader, concerning passage of goods through valleys southwest, if there be ways through the hills nowadays in safety; and also, stopping to listen, of the temper and tenor of the folk of those lands; that stooping now, as one stricken by a malady needing remedy purchased nearby, she heard also rumor of the recent ban-breaking thither, that guests had been given quarter contrary to decree of Nazgul; and that of this breach came great destruction of the lands of that realm called Kiliath; and yet also, it was said that prisoners in bonds of Hell, among them seven noble daughters had sprung forth of captivity, and went flying it was said (with a smirk and a wink) up to the lights of Heaven.
At the rumor, Miriam gasped, and let out a shriek as if in pain of sudden onset of childbirth; and startled, Doral turned and stooped upon her, and knew the woman’s eyes, each one unto the other. They embraced, and weeping through laughter, said and told – when safely away from any hearer – all that each had suffered, endured, hardship and gladness. Content in their discovery of one each feared lost, or worse, held yet in the mountains; they rested and took counsel: whether to lead their kindred unto Kiliath, risking all evils and misfortune by entering upon the southway into that hidden land in the cut; or whether it was better to wait, and tell nothing to Izilba nor Zilpharon.
While thus contemplating the ends of each choice, and the fruits of wise decisions thus far received, a hawk or phantom of one, flown over high up, descended in a swoon, and landed, wrestling a many tentacled sea-creature. When come upon by the women, curious to discover such an odd thing (as one) from the sky fallen, to vapor they turned, being blown away west upon a breeze, as if running to the falling sun thither. Of the eight tentacles, but seven were seen to remain, and the wing of the bird was broken, clipped and tangled in a mesh.
As Miriam led Doral to the secret camp along the western edge of the hills that scraped the beach of that sea whose gates would soon be opened when the fashion of the world was altered – as they walked, much was said of the sign, or omen, earlier envisaged.
It was decided by them that all things were now entangled, good and evil; the sick afflicting the well, and the healthy unwilling to depart the plague-houses for quarantine, that either course – to land upon Kiliath in arms, concealed but ready for battle; or to wait out the tales, until reconciliation of rumors was achieved, and further wisdom sought by turn to crystal, even at great risk of discovery or deception; either course was enmeshed with deceit, violence, and a likely fall.
So honesty was availed, and all was told to Izilba, and to Zilpharon, with Pagag and Dyacôm upon his knees. At hearing the story of Doral, and the recovery of her sisters, their designation as honored daughters of Izilba, she was received into the latter’s arms, and her neck wept upon. And the heart of Zilpharon, growing dreadful in the learning of Doral’s passage, and escape, as it seemed, from the man Zhera’; his heart was lightened of its secret burden, and he repented for the evil surmised of his brother, now revealed as one truly worthy of Izilba’s affection, and fathership of Dyacôm growing daily into an image of the mighty men of old, yet without being feared, or self-admiration. And it was now that he too unpacked his heart, and repented, and though his secret kept stung the heart of Izilba, she forgave him, and greater love now increased, for the face of Doral was as a glass filled with a fire, and spirit to do all that was right in the sight of her lord, revealed to her by Zhera’ as the name Eru, his story yet unfolded. What was decided, was to seek out Zhera’ in those lands unknown, but approached south; and of Ifariel u-Hazad, Doral spoke not, trusting her father, his wisdom, and cunning to escape all snares and traps, to him always laid bare.
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