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Stories from the Verse
For Better or Verse
Chapter 20: Brown 62
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Previous chapter: Chapter 19: Slade 49
"Oh, good, you're awake." Lelach seemed to be waiting for him to open his eyes; he was not yet awake enough that he'd have known it himself had she not spoken to him. Morani was also there. "I want you to tell your father what you told me."
Oops. This was a mistake. Now he was in a bind. He had let the cat out of the bag, had let his mother know he was in here, thinking, trying to understand; why? It had been his impatience, his unwillingness to allow himself to be seen growing up slowly when he could be using the time to learn more. But his mother had told his father. Now he had to choose between confirming this for his father, again risking whatever might come of being a freak or worse in the eyes of these people, and letting his mother look like she had lost her mind.
When he put it to himself that way, it wasn't really a choice after all.
I'll try, he thought to his mother. Contact with her had gotten easy over the months of reading her mind; contact with Morani was something else again. What should I tell him?
"I don't know. Tell him about the questions you asked me, or ask him some other questions. I'm sure you can think of something."
"Lelach," Morani said, "you're acting a bit scary here."
Well there was nothing for it. He turned his head, as well as he could, toward his father, and tried to send a thought to him.
It didn't work. His father's skepticism apparently was working to keep him out. It was necessary for him to overcome that skepticism somehow, but he didn't really have any tools to help him in this. He decided to shift to reading the sprite's mind; he had done that before, and it shouldn't be too difficult to do so again. Indeed, Morani was thinking all the things that Derek expected. Lelach was losing her mind, or it was some sort of joke gone too far. Only wizards could get inside your head like that, and sprites weren't wizards. This was necessary. Derek paid extra attention to the feeling of Morani's mind.
He tried again, and this time he made the connection.
She's not crazy, he sent. She's very smart, and I'm glad she's my mother.
"What?" Morani exclaimed. It did not seem a question.
I can't really explain why I can do this; I don't think it will make much sense to anyone. But here I am. Oh, I suppose I should have told Mom this; but I don't really think it would be good for everyone to know that I can do this. Someone might get the wrong idea.
Morani sat down on a stick. This obviously upset him.
"And you--you've been listening to our thoughts all this time?"
'All this time' is a bit too much to say. I have listened to fragments of Mom's thoughts since before she knew I was here, and sometimes fragments of your thoughts after that, but I didn't know who you were--I wasn't even sure you were real--until I was born. There's more that I don't know than that I do.
I don't know a lot about how we live. I know that mom gathers berries and that there are arrows used, I would guess, for hunting. But I think that I'm going to have to learn a lot about how sprites live, what the world is like. I guess every baby has to do that. It just seems strange.
Morani did not take his eyes off Derek, but he spoke to Lelach. "I'm sorry I didn't believe you, 'Lach. I guess I thought it was too crazy to be true."
"That's alright, 'Rani," she answered. "I guess I thought it was a bit crazy, too. That's probably why I wanted to tell you--to make sure it really was happening."
Morani stood, but he was still eyeing Derek. "So, what do we do now?"
"What do you mean, what do we do?"
"We will have to tell the elders. They will want to destroy the child."
"What are you saying, 'Rani?"
"'Lach, the baby is a monster. Something has to be done about it."
"'Rani, this is our baby. We can't let someone kill him."
"They will say it is a bad omen; they will think he is a demon."
"They don't have to know."
"What? What are you saying?"
"When I was little, my grandmom use to tell me the story of Tonathel."
"I know the story; it is in the Holy Writ. I don't know how your grandmother learned it."
"When Tonathel was born, his parents hid him so that the lords of the elves would not kill him. 'Rani, what if our baby, what if 'Rach, is another Tonathel, someone sent to save us now?"
"Tonathel had no magic. The King answered his prayers, and worked wonders for him."
"How do we know that the Writ tells us everything? We know he was a remarkable sprite, that he was perhaps the greatest sprite that ever lived. 'Rach might be the deliverer sent for us, for our time. Are we going to let the elders kill him because he can do something we cannot? Isn't it just possible that The King has sent us someone able to help us because he can do what we cannot?"
Morani turned to his wife. "You're serious about this, aren't you?" The defiant look on her face told Derek she certainly was. It took Morani a bit longer to be certain. "I love you, 'Lach. All I can say is, I hope you're right, for both our sakes."
Great, Derek thought. I get to live, because they think that God has sent me to save them from something--or someone. But even as he thought it, he remembered words he had spoken shortly before he died: I'd like to be the hero somewhere again, the kid who saved everyone. It doesn't particularly matter whether they know, or whether they ever have the chance to thank me. Just knowing that we saved a world, and that I was a part of that, is good. I'd like to save more people. Those were his words. That and, I'd like to know if God really does exist. It seemed his answers might be coming to him in a big way.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with ten other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #164: Versers Proceed. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: