I removed Anaira’s washing from the basket. A reclusive Silky had moved into the new house about two months ago. I thought she may live behind the washing machine although I have only seen her fleetingly from the corner of my eye. She happily picks up after us all and takes any dirty washing that makes it into the basket next to the stairs. At dawn she puts it, clean and ironed, back into the basket. I leave little treats like dates and cranberries for her on top of the washing machine for you cannot employ a Silky. They have to come of their own accord and never stay out of duty. I am exceedingly grateful she chose to join us.
Noticing Anaira’s bedroom door ajar I pushed it with my foot and peered into the room. She was sitting on her bed leaning against the headboard her eyes closed. She was talking telepathically to someone. I knew instinctively it was Mundanim. I backed away my heart hammering in my chest. They were working together again. Had they planned it from the beginning? Was I a pawn in their elaborate game for power and had the lionesses and the voice been only a figment of my imagination? I felt hollow and close to tears dropping the clothes back into the basket. The last few months felt like a sham now as I realised how eager I had been to believe that the new way of doing things was effective.
Assennav and the sceptical members of the community had never trusted Anaira but she had fooled me completely. I stumbled downstairs to my laboratory. Assennav was still in her room and the lab was dark and empty. I bumped my shin against a chair that jutted from the table and cursed. I sat in the dark and allowed the tears of frustration and betrayal to fall briefly. Then I wiped my face and lit a candle. It would not do to be discovered like this and Assennav could arrive at any moment. I closed my eyes and focused on Davalast.
“Esereht what is it?” He sounded perturbed. We did not usually speak telepathically.
“We need to talk. Meet me down at the river in twenty minutes.” I disconnected before he could say anything more and conjured a thin beam of light from my hands. I walked rapidly out of town trying unsuccessfully to subdue the growing dread in me. Another voice was trying to break through my clamouring thoughts. It was Ruatnac. “What is it friend?”
“We have a problem Esereht. Mundanim has been recruiting the seas. He has Octrovarios the giant octopus asking awkward questions. You know we have been mortal enemies since the Battle of The Seven Sea’s? Zuthermariner has never confided in her. Nevertheless she has some powerful allies this side of the reef although she dare not come herself. The Razorbacks are skittish and notoriously difficult to control. I fear another war beneath the waves.” He said ominously. “I need to go now. We will speak again soon.” He disconnected.
The Battle of the Seven Seas took place long before I was born but it was still spoken of in awed tones. Many sea creatures lost their lives and countless ships were tossed to the bottom of the Ocean never to be heard of again. It was suspected that great cities were swallowed as well but those that know refuse to speak of it. They leave those that do not know, to speculate.
Davalast was pacing the banks of the river. I hurried over to him and we sat hidden by the reeds and spoke.
“Do you really think Mundanim and Anaira planned it all along?” He said running his finger repeatedly along the inside of my arm. I pulled away irritated at first nodding and then shaking my head.
“I don’t know but whether she did or not they are definitely working together again. Mundanim has caused a stir with the ocean creatures and Ruatnac fears a war.” Davalast gawked slack-jawed.
“A war?” He said in disbelief. I nodded. He put his arm around my shoulders and pulled me against him. “We need to stop them without them knowing that we are aware of her treachery.” Said Davalast. He helped me up and we walked together back into town. The common was already bustling with people and the smell of breakfast made me realise how hungry I was. Anaira was sitting alone and Davalast squeezed my hand. I understood and we plonked down next to her.
“Wow, I’m hungry.” I said grinning at her. I hoped it didn’t look like the grimace on Davalast’s face.