Before he spoke Rafel looked out at the river, letting the rushing water help him to focus his thoughts on something other than the young woman sitting beside him. He cleared his throat, and looked to Tirena again. “We’ve told you a little of your parents, of Dom Talven and your mother Eiren, haven’t we?”
“Before you were born, the clans were warring with the humans whose lands border ours. The humans wished to eradicate us, calling us abominations of Nature. Your father was leading a pack against the village of Marona, and your mother, Jes keep her, would not be left behind even though she was very much pregnant.” Rafel paused then, frowning. “My father was part of that pack, and told me this story many times until he passed three winters ago.”
“Even full with child, with you in her womb, Eiren was a formidable sorceress. She did not have the shifter blood, but her magical skill was without question equal to a witken’s strength and fury. She fought alongside your father, pushing the humans back from the forest – which belongs to the witken – until they reached the village. It was there by the well the tide was turned.” Rafel paused again, and drew an arm around Tirena. “They had enlisted the aid of a dark sorcerer, who caused a silver rain to fall upon the pack. Of course Eiren was immune to the rain, and she tried to protect her family, but without the pack to protect her she was vulnerable, and the humans rushed her. She wasn’t quick enough and was captured, dragged screaming into the village while the pack could do nothing but retreat from the sorcerer’s vile storm.”
“The well …” Tirena spoke in a whisper, but Rafel heard her and nodded.
“The very same one where we found you. A blessing from Jes herself, no doubt.”
She smiled at that, and leaned her head against him. No wonder she felt so comfortable with the clan, she thought. They truly were her people, she needed no more proof now.
“The pack retreated to the forest, and Talven tried many times for several weeks to rescue Eiren, but there was no way to reach her with the sorcerer protecting them. He did not leave until …” Rafel’s voice caught and he shuddered. “… until Eiren’s body was found, left on the edge of the forest. It was obvious the baby she’d carried,” he murmured, looking to her steadily, “was taken from her. Mercifully it appeared they allowed her to give birth before they murdered her.”
Those words made Tirena angry, and she growled. “They told me my mother had been killed by beasts.”
“She was.” Rafel’s voice was steely.
Beginning to make connections, Tirena continued to speak aloud. “They never wanted me to go into the fields, or near the well, because they feared I would learn the truth somehow. They kept me inside because they feared I would change, or be found by my clan. My memory losses are, well, they’re probably from times I did change, and they kept me from learning of it.” She gasped then. “Magic. I can do things. I have done them.”
Rafel smiled and kissed her temple. “If course you have. It’s how we knew you were by the well and not in the village. We felt you using magic.”
Laughter bubbled up within Tirena then. “The guards. I was cursing them for being so stupid and careless. Did I actually curse them somehow?”
“Probably. They probably lost some trinket they loved, or developed some minor illness. Have you used magic before?”
A thoughtful expression caused her brow to crease then. “I have, I think. They always said strange things happened when I was angry, which I imagine was a problem when I was younger. No wonder they kept me locked up and others wanted nothing to do with me.”
He laughed at that thought. “I imagine your tantrums were dangerous, lesha.”
She laughed too, and smiled up at him, then her expression sobered somewhat. “Did they take my mother’s body home? Is she buried here?”
Rafel sobered as well, but seemed happy to reply. “She is. I will take you to her tomb later if you wish. We didn’t want to overwhelm you.”
“I would like that.” Tirena nodded, then breathed in and out slowly. “Thank you Rafel. I always felt something was strange about my birth, and what they told me happened.”