Heir of Scars I: Parts 1-8

Heir of Scars I: Parts 1-8 by Jacob Falling Read Free Book Online

Book: Heir of Scars I: Parts 1-8 by Jacob Falling Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jacob Falling
council, which she very infrequently watched from a balcony or doorway, she had seen a remarkably stark difference in behavior — shouting, swearing… even once, she recalled, the drawing of blades. She had even heard that in other lands, like Jerusca, it was not unusual for a duel to occur in a council of lords.
    It was difficult to imagine such behavior here, and Adria looked about at all the children, imagining their horror if a disagreement around the fire were to be settled with violence.
    You have seen too much blood already, N á me, Adria thought as she watched the child sleeping upon her lap. She smoothed the girl’s hair, stifled a memory of that day, then turned her attention back to the Runner scout speaking.
    The news they brought was mostly vague, and mostly without surprise. Already there was much talk of war — changes in the numbers and positions of contingents of the Knights of Darkfire, preparations against the few remaining camps and settlements of Aesidhe within reach of their forts and villages. Nothing amounting to an actual order from above had apparently been given just yet. No smoke on the horizon.
    Still, it was already clear that these camps would have to be abandoned soon, and their people brought into the wild to join the inner tribes already flooded with past survivors. The fate of the many current and future refugees was discussed, and the difficulty of surviving the coming winters without sufficient room to hunt and without places for the Mewashemesitibopito farm and raise livestock.
    “ Those who live in the villages grow large families ,” one elder pointed out, his tone factual rather than insulting. “ It is difficult to hunt and to gather food for so many. They can no longer grow their crops in rows, and they can no longer keep their animals behind fences and walls .”
    Many of the younger ones among them, especially the ones who had lived in villages in years before, desired a military solution — an organized union of the Aesidhe tribes and refugees which might take back the lands that had been lost. Some spoke even of the founding of a separate nation, of pursuing diplomatic relations with other lands who might sympathize, who might aid them against the Knights and the Sisterhood of Heiland. The Heiland Aesidhe were not the only Aesidhe left in the world, it was known — nor did all peoples outside the Aesidhe desire their destruction or submission.
    But although those of the elder generations nodded in understanding, and listened with great patience, they foresaw no end to war in Heiland, no peace for their people, united or scattered. They saw in the future what they saw in the past, as each reflects the other through the watery surface of the present moment. One of the wisest among them said, without sadness or regret, “ Life is simply a long defeat .”
    And though few of the younger understood the scope of her meaning, most of the elder agreed, nodding or speaking, “ It is true.”
    The elders do not show weakness, as the young among us often believe, Adria thought, nodding herself with the elder woman’s words. They simply accept death as the re-enfolding of life, and will not change their way of life merely to survive — for this is a worse death. That path led us to Palmill.
    And again, Adria stifled a careless memory, at least for the moment.
    While the scouts delivered their reports and answered any questions posed to them, the rest of the Runners, as was their tradition, said little. Preinon, as was customary for one recognized as a leader of Hunters, and who often spoke for the Runners, simply pledged that the Runners would do whatever was asked of them by the wisdom of the Aesidhe.
    His words echoing Adria’s thoughts. “ We live our own lives half in retreat, and half in battle. We will always protect the People, but we are not an army. We are few, and cannot hope to stand against armies of horsemen on the open plains .”
    A young Hunter waited

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