Since part one of her trilogy, Curse of the Tahiéra was published, Wendy has been working on the sequel: The Search for Tzanáta.
It was dusk when the Seer came to collect him. Rom had managed to wash and pull his tunic back on without pulling off his bandage.
‘Come,’ she said in a soft voice. ‘The Patáni council is ready to meet you.’
The young Patáni had built a fire in the middle of the ancient courtyard. They were passing along an earthenware pitcher, filling stone cups before handing it over to their neighbours. A hush fell over the gathering as Mýrtynn led him closer, guiding herself by her ears and feet.
‘Caleërte, Riórdirým.’ They spoke as one. Even though the evening was balmy, a chill drew cold fingers along his back. His eyes were pulled to the right, and he caught a glimpse of Elárym. The young Patáni leader’s face was a mask of self-control. Only his eyes betrayed a flicker of emotion. Rom swallowed and let Mýrtynn lead him to his place at the fire. A young Patáni girl to his left handed him a cup, her eyes big with awe. Elárym lifted his cup to the darkening sky.
‘Ayáa caltáno… to freedom,’ and the young people followed his example.
‘Ayáa caltáno,’ they murmured as with one voice before they downed their cups.
‘Ayáa caltáno,’ the voice of the Seer sounded to his left. She raised her cup to the sky, where the first star was peeping out. ‘To freedom.’ She downed her cup and opened her arms to include all those present. Then she folded her hands in her lap and began to speak.
‘This story,’ she said in a soft voice that nonetheless carried far enough to be heard in all corners of the old courtyard, ‘is for the benefit of the Keeper of Storms as well as your own. It is an ancient one. Many of you are part of this story, woven into it like threads on a loom. It is a story of beauty and glory, of sadness and decay, and the only jewels to adorn it are the tears of the Forlorn, and the Ones who still stand to defend them. The Patáni.’
Rom sat listening, his arms around his knees, his senses alert. Night covered the land with its velvet cloak of darkness, and the sounds of its creatures subtly filled the air. Invisible bats whooshed overhead hunting for their prey. It occurred to Rom that though Elárym had opened the Meet, it was the Seer who was in charge, albeit in a more subtle way. Whereas Elárym led the Patáni in matters of arms, it seemed to be the Seer who led them in matters of spirit. They listened to her with undivided attention, the youngest with half-open mouths, their dark eyes glittering, their unkempt hair falling in their faces, like feral children enraptured by the story-teller.
‘Once,’ she continued, ‘the Citadel of Tzanáta was a wondrous place. There was hunger nor fear, and the people danced in the courtyards at night, when the fiery sun had hidden her face and the lofty stars lit the dancers on their path.’ Her flowery style reminded Rom oddly of Yldich. He wondered if all storytellers were attuned to one great storyteller spirit, be they Tzanatzi or Einache. As she was speaking, the sky turned to black and the stars wheeled slowly overhead, glittering like the jewels in her tale.
© Wendy Gillissen, 2019
‘The Search for Tzanáta’ will be published in 2020. Would you like to be informed of its release? Subscribe to Wendy’s newsletter.