Lyrian Tales

Book 0, Light's UnWeaving

Confirmation, the Visionspeaker, who was currently known as the pirate Timeshifter’s Storyteller by most people in VokenTrac, thought as he left her fine kept lawns and flowerless gardens, and entered TalgTave—the Pirate’s City. And, he added to himself, just the barest of signs would suffice.

The barest of signs, he amended, other than my own.

In the prophecy called the Song of the Land, the only prediction of the time span between the setting of the destiny and its weaving he had been able to find had been in the Ballad of the Silver Warrior. Its last verse, traditionally a verse of the future, told of a thousand years and one between the last birth of the Silver Warrior—at the prophecy’s setting—and the next birth, which should be, if the Visionspeaker had figured correctly, at the prophecy’s weaving into time.

Though a thousand years and one had not yet passed (there were three years left of Bi’Am’s Weaving, Gift of the Veersasta, Ti’Ah’s Joy) this was the year of the Dark Healer. Surely a healing would mean the beginning of the end of the Dark-wrought despair that gripped his once fair land.

That the ballad of the Silver Warrior separated the thousand years from the one, the Visionspeaker hoped meant that the first verse of the prophecy would be sung at the thousand year mark—next year. For wouldn’t the KeyMakers have to work previous to the prophecy’s weaving? Besides, the thousandth year of the Dark’s reign was the year of the Rememberer— always a year of change, especially when it was also the last year of a god’s Joy.

A scryer was what he needed, and Ylang, VokenTrac’s most talented and famous scryer, was the one he wished to consult. However, she would still be ensconced in the Hall of Kind Arts this early in the spring. Perhaps TalgTave’s newest street scryer would do in her stead; Ylang had mentioned she was considering Dellen for the Hall, that would mean he was already better than the average scryer.

Veering into the alley that ran between two shops and into Pirate’s Way, the city’s main street, the Visionspeaker headed for the heart of the city: the trader’s and scryer’s circles. As he walked, a fine mist settled in his long white beard and dampened his wide, chartreuse sleeves until they clung irritatingly to his arms. The Visionspeaker pulled his purple saffon vest closed and tied it snugly, then slipped his hands into his pockets, which served both to warm his hands and, more importantly, in this city of pirates and thieves, to cover his purse—even an eating dagger, the only weapon allowed by Kalador, was sharp enough to cut purse strings.

The Visionspeaker had established himself as Timeshifter’s Storyteller because he was sure, if anyone was the Key To Time the first verse, The Verse of the KeyMakers, of the prophecy mentioned, it must be she. There had been no one in all of O’Et’L’s last Promise that could shift time so precisely and flawlessly as she. Even the Dark Runemaster had acknowledged her talent.

And, if she was the Key to Time, then he himself must be the second Master Key, The Key to Destiny, the storyteller. The Hall of Kind Arts, as much talent as it held, had yet to produce a storyteller his equal. He wasn’t exactly sure who the third and last KeyMaker was—the Key to the Song—but the Lady Ellieth, though a ghost, was his best guess. Yet, in guessing the prophecy’s turning, he always feared that that in itself would knot O’Et’L the Unseen’s weaving of it.

Mid Pirate’s Way, the Visionspeaker turned right onto Scryer’?s Street which ended in a surprisingly sparsely occupied Scryer’s Circle, and a pastry seller’s booth. The Visionspeaker paused there to scan the area. There were only two reasons people would avoid the circle: a plethora of royal guards or a VokenSheen.

Two of Kalador’s green-grey garbed guards were standing stiffly together on the far side of the circle. A stray bit of sunlight glinted off their battalion of zaex buttons and the tips of their sheathed long swords. That left a VokenSheen.

It was said that a VokenSheen never appeared in public without their telling grey kinlliet cloak. The Visionspeaker was always amazed upon finding someone who actually believed that. However, the VokenSheen in the circle was wearing her cloak—however and whyever the dark patterned priests and priestesses wore kinlliet, a cloth woven of love and magic, the Visionspeaker could not fathom. He hadn’t noticed the ValVokenSheen right away because she was in an unlikely place—at a scryer’s table. Unhappily, the table belonged to the scryer boy Dellen.

The Visionspeaker, barely conscious of the fragrant odor of new baked blue fruit pastries an arm’s length under his nose, clenched his hands together inside his voluptuous sleeves. The fawn-haired ValVokenSheen and the boy appeared to be on uncomfortably good terms. The pastry seller urged a pastry on him. The Visionspeaker took it absent-mindedly.

With a Dark Priestess as a friend, it would not do to approach the boy with questions about the Song of the Land, no matter how veiled the terms he used.

Apparently the gods did not favor him today. Even the barest of signs not his own were denied him—unless he took this as one. He didn’t wish to.

Or perhaps… Perhaps it was the barest of the bare sign he had asked for. This was the Dark Healer’s year. Perhaps the fawn-haired ValVokenSheen was part of the healing. There was no way to be sure… the Visionspeaker sighed inaudibly. He would have to wait until Ylang left the Hall, sometime after the second day of spring, and hope she came, as she usually did, to Saith Naich’s Spring Fest where he could get a scrying from her.

As he turned from buying a second pastry, the Visionspeaker caught a swift movement out of the corner of his eye. A lone russet, pursued by a black hawk, flew above the scryer boy. The russet dove down frantically, and the Visionspeaker found himself holding his breath. Here, surely was his sign, his omen. It was said that to see a lone russet flying was to see the pattern of one’s life.

When the lone russet landed amidst the group of its fellows that littered the rim of the Circle’s defunct fountain, it vanished into them, and the entire flock took wing to soar neatly beneath the scryer boy’s table. The hawk circled once, squalled a protest, then winged away until it was a shadow in the mist.

Contemplating the implications inherent in the pattern of the lone russet’s flight, the Visionspeaker skirted Scryer´s Circle, heading for Midway Gate, one of the three gates built into Saith Sahell’s dragon-height wall which encircled his self proclaimed Naich. Two streets past the Circle, weaving alleys and side streets, the Visionspeaker came to an inn.

A woman with wild, white hair was rocking energetically on the porch and muttering loudly to herself. On a whim, the Visionspeaker pushed through the one-hinged and listing gate.

"You dress like a whore," the old woman hailed him as he came to the steps, then she spat on the floor at his feet.

He greeted her courteously anyway.

"Crazy," she replied with a gleeful cackle, pointing over her head where a cracked, wooden sign creaked in the wind. ‘‘Just like your clothes. Just like the sign says."

He glanced up at the sign which depicted a laughing woman and made no reply.

Inside the inn it was warm, dim, and nearly empty. A scrawny, ill-kept boy with matted, dark curls was leaning over the bar teasing someone behind it who could not be seen.

The Visionspeaker took a corner table and waited to be noted.

The inn was sparsely and crudely furnished, and much of that furnishing was roughly and ineptly patched. Only one of the two fireplaces that sat to either end of the room sported a fire, and that burned low. The only other light came from the three Ti’Ah’s torches—the fourth one being gutted—that were bracketed low on each wall. The floor though, was strewn with piquant efrin tail fern, pungent even after an evident day or two of use.

One of the other four patrons gave a loud whistle and called, ‘‘Hey, Thiel, ’ya got a paying customer, better look lively."

A harassed looking, middle-aged copy of the woman on the porch popped up from behind the bar. The young boy turned and, with a laughing farewell, limped towards the door. The Visionspeaker stared after him briefly. Oddly enough, the boy had the feature-cast of the daevan mael—perhaps a throw back, probably a thief. Certainly none of the true riders of the Red Desert would be in TalgTave.

When the Visionspeaker returned his gaze to the bar, the woman made questioning motion to her taps.

‘‘Brae," he answered.

Pushing limp, dusty brown hair back under a kerchief as worn as her face, she brought the brae to him with a harried smile. He tipped her for the unexpected smile and, when he took a sip, was pleasantly surprised to find it was Ildin brae not the inferior, and all but mandatory, DarVokenSheen Temple brew.

The Visionspeaker settled back, leaning his chair against the wall, his thoughts turning to the tale he had never scribed. To start it here would be to die, for scribing was one of the three things that had been declared illegal at the turning of the Dark, the other two being flowers and music.

It was a tale he had never scribed because he had not been able to face it without hope at hand. The four gods willing, he would do so now, hope—as the russet’?s flight indicated—in the offering as it was after so long.

The Visionspeaker half closed his eyes and willed that, thinking of it here in the inn, he would not weep. It was seen. . . . He would start it that way as soon as he reached home:

It was seen first in the Great Temple of the Dragon Star. . . .


Story copyright Sara Ryan 1989.

All rights reserved. No portion of this chapter may be copied in any manner. Thanks.


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Lyrian Tales

Book 1, Four To The PowerLight

The Visionspeaker, reaching out to touch the lady standing at his side, paused mid motion, for it would do no good. She was not substantial enough to touch; his hand would pass through her. At least, in this late summer´s dusk, she was visible. This last was not always so.

Her hair hung straight, dark-red, lustrous, and loose, and fell well down her back. She was fine-boned, fine-featured, slender, trim, and dressed in a floor-length deep mulberry red over-robe—the one she had died in.

She turned finally, smiling slightly. I´m sorry, she said, without speaking aloud. You know how I forget. Time runs differently for me. I was lost in memories. She sighed lightly and leaned on the wide wooden mantle beneath which a new lit fire crackled. The fire reflected brightly in the double clear clavae doors that led to a covered courtyard, but had yet to take the chill of the late spring evening off the wide, high-ceilinged, elegantly furnished room which belonged to the lady´s manyson. The Visionspeaker tucked his hands in his wide scarlet cuffs and waited patiently for her to speak.

And, to your question, she said finally, I don´t know. With my manyson it´s difficult to tell—though surely he must be the one; it must be time by now. Her dark, bright eyes regarded him as seriously as ever, for she was very much, still, after all these years a daevan mael, though now she roamed the Unseen World rather than the far reaches of the Red Desert.

Under her silent regard, the Visionspeaker fretted at the band of embroidery edging his cuffs, tugging absentmindedly at a loose gold metallic thread, then he fluffed at his long white beard with worn-seeming fingers. "No guess even, Lady?"?

What? she teased instead. Surely you have learned my name by now; you´ve known me, after all, Draithias, well over a thousand years.

"Lady Ellieth," he compromised. She had been dead for most of those thousand years, and before that, in order to be keeper for the Great Sword of Promise, married, at the bidding of the prophecy, the Voken who had taken it—but before that she had been the bride of a prince; he remembered that too.

"Besides, I am being Ra´Vel now," he said.

She relented and patted his arm. He could see her do it, but not feel the touch. Ra´Vel then, she said obediently; As I have each generation, I have given my manyson the key, the words to break the chain of thoughts, but — She moved her hands in the traditional daevan mael finger language, the signs said: only the gods can know the turnings of a man´s mind. The saying was, to the daevan mael, a subtly cynical gesture for Ti´Ah, goddess of fire, known for her capriciousness, ruled the desert and its riders. Then Ellieth added as her eyes unfocused, distant with remembered sadness, If Reven is the one to break the Dark´s hold, he needs do it before his Initiation as DarVoken or he, as all the others, will have no will left to break it with. She leaned her arms on the mantle and stared into the fire. The fire flared as if willfully attempting to burn the edge of her gown. The Visionspeaker, even knowing it could not burn, made a motion to pull her back from the fire. Ellieth looked up with questioning amusement.

He took refuge in adjusting his cuffs again, and asking, "Does he know when they have scheduled it for yet?"

The Hai´DarVokenSheen made a point to tell him at Kalador´s Spring Council—

The Visionspeaker interrupted, "Not the Runemaster?" Ellieth tipped her head a daevan mael negative. The Visionspeaker took a breath of relief; "?That is a splinter of hope then. The Runemaster usually makes it a point to do the Initiations here."

As far as I have heard the Runemaster doesn´t intend to be here himself at all, only his apprentice.

"Apprentice?" he echoed, startled. "I hadn´t realized he´d gained one. . ." He paused, then added, "It doesn´t seem like something he would do at all. Have you heard exactly who his apprentice is?"

Ellieth tilted her face towards him. It is one of the First Princes. She paused. It may be something that hasn´t happened in time yet.

"You can follow his timewalking then?"

No, not that. She paused, but only said, It´s something else. She smiled a bit teasingly. Something that comes with being a ghost.

"Lady," he protested, despite it was technically true, then he returned to their original subject. "It´s hard to believe that Ri-the Runemaster would forgo an Initiation here—especially as Tinsul made a point to tell him, when we saw the Runemaster in Talg winter last, that the old DarVoken had died."?

Late winter? she echoed. I´m surprised he didn´t visit here then; I haven´t seen him since before Crail was killed. She paused, then added, with a laughing look, The Runemaster´s constant visits have been of great help in reminding me that my part in this destiny is important—and not to be neglected.

The Visionspeaker shook his head at her, but managed a slight smile before he prompted, "When was it scheduled for then?"

My manyson, I gather, being in no hurry at all to change his title from SaeVoken to DarVoken, presented excellent excuses against each scheduled date until the Hai´Dar´VokenSheen lost patience; it is set for Fall Fest, I believe.

"Four months," the Visionspeaker mused, tucking his hands into his sleeves. "Four months to worry. . . Perhaps a scrying could tell me."? He tapped his fingers lightly on the mantle and gazed up at the Sword. "It´s a pity Ylang is hiding out at the Hall right now."

My manyson has found an excellent—if very young—scryer, you might try him. His name is Kirle. Besides, Ylang is in the desert helping Eliel looking into some strangeness about her manyson´s Quest.

"You still hear from your sister then?" he asked politely, ignoring for the moment the hope and concern that had brought him here.

Yes, but seldom; Eliel is grown weak of late. Ellieth placed her hands on his arms. I am as impatient as you yourself, Draithias; impatient to see this done, to be done this waiting. I´m sorry, I have no more answer than I´ve given you. I felt hope stir myself, but still . . . She made a wry face. If it does indeed rest with my current manyson, I wonder. There is no one in all the years this Naich has stood that has been more confused or full of fear as he. Yet, mayhap that itself is the hope, nothing else yet has worked to break the Dark´s hold on our land. She let go his arms and, turning, reached up to stroke the ancient sword bracketed above the mantle a single touch, then glanced past him to the doorway. Ah, speaking of hope, here is my very handsome manyson now. Mayhap you can tell if any of my teachings have reached his thoughts; I cannot.

"I will offer him a tale or two to augment your efforts: one with a key, and one to ease his fears."

Ellieth smiled in reply to his offer, but her eyes were on her manyson who had paused in the doorway.

"Ra´Vel." The SaeVoken´s clear masculine voice rang loud in the silence and half-dark. "I hope you have a cheerful tale for me." The young man paused to light a sconced torch in passing, his deep, dark brown eyes flickering, noting, the Visionspeaker did not doubt, that his manymother stood at the mantle. The SaeVoken, however, made no motion to greet her—he wouldn´t in any one else´s presence; it might not be, and generally was not, safe.

As the torch flared, flamelight bathed the SaeVoken Breeve Reven´s glossy black curls and threw features as fine as his manymother´s into relief.

The Visionspeaker moved towards the young man, holding a worn hand up, palm out, in greeting. "SaeVoken, give greetings."

The SaeVoken paused in mid step, his uncertain gaze running between the offered palm and his manymother. The Visionspeaker, resisting the urge to turn and see what the Lady Ellieth was communicating to her manyson, just waited.

The SaeVoken offered a quick, fine smile and met the offered palm, belatedly. "I´m sorry, that greeting takes me ever by surprise."

"One shouldn´t wonder," the Visionspeaker murmured. It was, after all, a greeting of trust given between daevan mael, and, as with much of the daevan mael traditions, both forbidden by the DarVokenSheen priests and, recently, a popular form of defiance towards their strictures and the restrictive heavy-handed rule of Kalador´s royal guards.

"As to a tale, SaeVoken," the Visionspeaker added more clearly, "cheerful it may not be, but if I may substitute hope, then it shall please you."

"If you can give me hope against the darkness of my coming Initiation,"? the SaeVoken answered lightly, "I´ll be forced to make you the Naich´s official taleteller."

"Unfortunately, my services are already spoken for."

And shockingly, too, the Lady Ellieth teased beneath his next words. Storyteller to a pirate—really, Draithias!

Which is where I am headed next, he replied silently. To tell her the tale of the prophecy-destiny— undoubtedly to her great discomfort. But she was taught timeshifting by Eymr´Ryn himself; she has to be a key to this destiny as well.

As well as yourself? Ellieth asked laughingly.

The Visionspeaker, without acknowledging her words, continued his reply to her manyson, "Therefore, SaeVoken, I would have to decline, as much as that would grieve me, for I hear that your Naich is onward to becoming the finest in our land."

The SaeVoken smiled a true smile then. "It is what the Hall people say—though I imagine the DarVokenSheen think differently."

Lady Ellieth added, What he isn´t saying is that the dark priests are watching him particularly closely of late for some reason. The Naich has more of them here—ostensibly to prepare for his coming Initiation—than I have ever before seen.

The dark is not supposed to heed the prophecy, he replied to her silently, I fervently pray that especially includes the Runemaster, then he said to the SaeVoken, aloud, "I hear you have found yourself an excellent scryer, SaeVoken."

"Yes: Kirle. He´s very young though. Still, if you wish a reading, I could call him here for you. In the square the old biddies my father installed harass him so, it´s hard to get any kind of reading, never mind a decent one—even for me."

That is because you are very inept, the Lady Ellieth interrupted her manyson teasingly, at quelling looks, manyson. You need to practice those. You scowl far too prettily to scare anyone into silence—especially an old biddy.

The SaeVoken looked down, a faint blush touching his cheeks, but he neither answered his manymother in silence or aloud.

Taking pity on him, the Visionspeaker waved his arm, scarlet sleeve billowing wildly, and said, "Shall we retire to a more comfortable room, SaeVoken? Then you can kindly insist upon pouring me a glass of Ildin Duer´s very fine brae, and I will regale you with the tale of the children who sailed with destiny to the Harshlands, which is called the Fivelands by those who live there. . ."


Story copyright Sara Ryan 1989.

All rights reserved. No portion of this chapter may be copied in any manner. Thanks.


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Read an excerpt from:  Book 0   Book 1   Book 2   Book 3  

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