Chapter 10 – A Change In The Weather
Outside the little red cabin in the Mountains of Morn, Galien was standing in the cart, his arms wide and his eyes closed. He wore the fur cloak round his shoulders fastened with a big bronze penannular brooch, and he was engaged in nature magic, calling up a small, localised rain shower. As Imi watched from her hiding place in the rafters she saw small clouds begin to gather together, nothing remarkable at first but then with increasing speed the sky became grey with patches of rolling cloud. The elf’s lips moved but she was too far away to hear what he was saying. She dared move no closer as the Warlock was directly below her, reading from the big book open on the table, following the strange squiggles and symbols with a gnarled finger.
Outside it grew darker as the grey cloud came lower, so low that it appeared to touch the top of the tall firs and there it stopped, and appeared to Imi to be waiting for something. Galien opened his eyes and looked up at the cloud, gave a small smile of satisfaction, and lowered his arms.
The Warlock looked up from the book and glanced at the elf through the open door but had to get up and step outside in order to see the cloud. Imi moved to the door lintel to watch.
“Yes, Master.” Galien raised his arms again and closed his eyes. The cloud grew darker and heavy with rain.
Now the Warlock began to chant in a horrible, high-pitched voice, making sounds that did not appear to contain words. The cloud swirled, turned purple and began to streak with small sparks of lightning, and in a moment turned from something natural if a little unusual, into something unnatural and malevolent. With a final high-pitched shriek the Warlock appeared to take control of the seething storm cloud. As Galien relinquished control he appeared to shrink in on himself and sank down on the floor of the cart, looking drained. Imi watched with open-mouthed astonishment as the Warlock appeared to order the cloud southward. As it departed, spitting and growling, patches of blue sky returned but the Warlock did not take his eyes off the ill-natured thing. “Go inside,” he said over his shoulder. “Make Horehound tea.”
Down in the west meadow Lady Silvermoon was staring at the unicorn.
- Ride you?
- Only if you wish it, My Lady.
- Of course I wish it but…
- Ah. I forgot. You do not wish your servants to know that you and your husband are not mated.
She smiled at his way of putting it. – I care nothing for what they think.
- Then ride with me.
- I do not know if Lord Silvermoon would permit it.
- You do not need HIS permission! You only need mine.
Dawnstorm moved to stand at the palfrey’s side so that she had only to transfer to his broad back. He waited until she was settled and had taken a firm hold of his mane, then began to walk and then trot round the meadow.
- Do you feel safe, My Lady?
- With you, my prince? Always. Run!
He increased his speed and realised that Lady Silvermoon was a superb horsewoman. The only things that fell were the jewelled clasps that held her dark hair in place and she laughed aloud as they raced round the meadow, her long dark hair streaming out behind her. At least for that moment they were both free.
On the western shore the stand-off continued. Sir Robin could not bear to abandon perhaps his only chance to kill a dragon – the fact that the dragon might well kill him never entered his mind – and Lord Silvermoon’s man-at-arms continued to aim the crossbow bolt at his heart. Neither noticed the sky cloud over.
Imi watched Galien climb wearily out of the cart and go into the cabin below her. He took a spherical pot off a shelf, blew out the dust and filled it from the boiling water in the cauldron. Then he dropped in some leaves from one of the Warlock’s boxes. Imi looked back to the Warlock. He appeared to be steering the black storm cloud with his hand. Where was he sending it?
In the west meadow the first drops began to fall, large and heavy enough to hurt. Dawnstorm glanced at the rapidly darkening sky and was almost blinded as lightning flashed into the woods and a tree exploded. An ear-splitting crash of thunder overhead made every bone in his strong body vibrate, and Lady Silvermoon screamed with the shock and hunched down against his neck. Immediately the sky opened and a torrent of violent, stinging rain pelted down.
- We must return to the castle!
Without waiting for Lady Silvermoon to respond, he turned and raced towards the castle, leaving the grooms to round up the palfey and follow. Lady Silvermoon had no hand free to pull up her hood as the rain fell like arrows in battle, beating on her bare head. Within seconds, the rain was running down her face.
In the woods, all creatures dived for shelter as the water poured down through the trees, tearing off the new leaves, beating down new growth and breaking small branches. The crash of the thunder made the woodsfolk scuttle deep under roots. Even for those used to the ways of nature, this storm was extraordinarily violent. The noise was indescribable.
In his castle, Lord Silvermoon was supervising the stabling of his horses as the storm broke overhead. He noticed the empty stall where the name ‘Dawnstorm’ had recently been painted without his permission. He had meant to ask his horse master about that.
“Where is the unicorn?”
“Lady Silvermoon took him out this morning for exercise.”
“I want to know the minute he comes back in. Make sure he is dried off properly.”
The man-at-arms grabbed Sir Robin as the lightning flashed, pulling him off his horse and bundling him under the hawthorn hedge. “Did nobody teach you that sitting on a horse wearing metal in a thunderstorm is not a good idea, boy?”
Sir Robin, face down in the wet grass, did not answer. The rain clattered off his back plate. The boom of thunder made the ground shudder under him and instinctively he covered his head with his hands.
“Oh no, no, no!” the man moaned.
Sir Robin lifted his head. “What?” he asked cautiously.
“The dragon? The wild beast?” He glanced towards the entrance to the barrow but could hardly see it through the downpour. “What about it?”
“This noise! It’s bound to waken him!”
Sir Robin wanted to say “good!” but the look of absolute terror on the small man’s face stopped him. He did not look like a man who was easily scared – and he was scared now.
Copyright Hilary Robinson 30.3.2010
Galien and the Warlock conjure up a storm that effects everyone in different ways…
The Faerie Tale is protected by copyright and is not in the Public Domain