Monday, February 27, 2012
Arriving at the Grove of Tears, Star is suddenly tongue tied, whether from the serene beauty of the place, her overwhelming sadness at the task ahead or being so far away from home, she wasnt sure. Inari dismounts first and moves to speak with a taller blonde fae who stood waiting, her head bowed and hands clasped loosely in front of her.
Erik jumps down and takes Star around the waist, helping her off her horse. Inari approaches and introduces the fae woman and explains that it is her family that has tended the Grove as far back as anyone could remember. The woman offers her sympathies and asks Star if she would like to privately view the burial site and approve of it before the ceremony. Star nods, her eyes changing from inquisitive yellow to gray with sadness. The womans eyes go a bit larger at the sight but she doesnt act as if anything was out of the ordinary as she calmly leads Star towards the river that runs through the Grove.
Tears fill her eyes and slip slowly down her cheeks when Star sees the spot Inari had chosen for Ghaunts final resting place. The sapling had been planted and its small trunk supported by stakes and twine until it took root. Star could see the river from the small grassy rise and hear the birds and countless other small creatures that made the Grove their home.
As she turns to leave she sees the fae woman suddenly go to her knees. As Star looks up she sees Titania, in a regal gold and blue flowing dress but barefoot and smiling at Star.
“I hope you dont mind, but I wanted to say hello in private, so we dont have to go through all the formalities...” As she speaks she waves for the fae woman to rise. “How is the little one? I hear you have brought him with you...?”
Star bows her head and smiles. She likes Titania, but she knows from conversations with Inari that she can be ruthless when need be. “He is fine, growing a lot and says a few words now..”
“You must be so proud, and I hear he looks like you...” Titania and Star walk slowly away from the river and towards the main entrance to the Grove.
“I am... he is amazing... His eyes are like mine, but he will be a big man, like his father...” Stars eyes sparkle with happiness when she talks about her son and her husband.
Titania nods, enchanted with Star. “Have you given any thought as to Ruarcs education? I mean other than sword play which I am sure he will have ample instruction and example...”
Star hesitates, knowing that it was custom among the fae to send their children to boarding type schools and she had no intention of doing that to Ru. “A little... we have friends with little ones too... he seems so young to be thinking about schooling...”
“After the ceremony there is someone Inari and I would like you to meet... and I think he is excited to meet you too..”
As they approach the entrance Star sees Inari speaking with an older fae man and they both seem overjoyed at seeing each other. Her attention is abruptly changed when everyone in Titanias entourage turns to her and kneels. Star stops dead in her tracks, not sure what to do.
Titania chuckles, “Annoying isnt it? Its a wonder anyone around here has knees left to kneel on.”
Star quickly suppresses a giggle and the Queen notices how embarrassed and uncomfortable the girl seems. She leans close, “Just wave your hands” , she makes an upward motion with her hands, “like this...”
Star smiles gratefully as everyone stands and she looks for Erik, her anchor. All the attention of the past days has her feeling confused and a little frightened. Her smile widens as her eyes fall on him, holding Ruarc, and she feels reassured by his presence.
Titania nods, following Stars gaze. “And there he is.” She turns to Star, “I know this is all strange and new to you. Dont be afraid to ask if you have questions. We will do all we can to help you and the young Warrior...” As Erik approaches Titania asks, “May I hold him?”
“Of course...” Star doesnt hesitate, knowing that everyone would see this as a sign of the Queens protection.
Ruarc looks at the Queen curiously and reaches for a large blue stone on a chain around her neck. Titania laughs and unfastening the clasp she hands the medallion to Ruarc, who promptly sticks it in his mouth. Before Erik and Star can object, the stone obviously worth a great deal, Titania waves her hand, “Let him have it. Its too big a piece to be attractive on a woman anyway, and I have others...too many others. The young Warrior should have a remembrance of his first trip here.” Titania turns and notices one of the fae from the Grove stands silently at the edge of the clearing. “I think they are ready for us... Star? You should go first since there is no family present...”