Word Count 499
Calm After the Storm
By Sharon Collins
My sapphire daughter is smitten with this wild land called Mynydd Preseli whence everywhere is tilted gray. Truth be told, it is not the gray mountains as much as it is the stones, the bluestones in whose presence she now happily chimes. For this miraculous change in her, I will forever be grateful. The added loss of her Amethyst sister to the purpled Highlands and her Emerald sister to the green Mists, threatened to shatter her. When the time of Second Parting arrived and we set sail southward with the remaining eleven of my people, I feared for Sapphire’s sanity. Thankfully, the waves and weather finally calmed as we sailed the Shallow Sea, for her constant off-key toning drove us nearly mad. The sailors, the eleven, and even I slept on the deck to escape the chilling sound of her grief. When the wild shores of the Cymru came into view, the captain put put us ashore, advising us to either cure her or cast her aside. He cared not which, for in her current state, she was no longer welcomed aboard his ship. He feared her forlorn calls would summon sea monsters from the depths to swamp and devour us. I could no more argue with him than obey him. Sailors, even sailors of our land are a superstitious lot. Setting sail with a woman aboard, let alone sixteen maidens and an ancient priestess, was an act of untold courage on his part. Only the dire circumstances of the Day of Ending could have convinced him to consider such a ship’s company. The endless storms and violent seas we had encountered on our journey, only added weight to the proof of his fears. He wanted us, especially my suffering daughter, off his ship.
Thus, for a third time we waited where the tide meets the shore to be taken before a council of elders. Luckily the wait was not long, as Sapphire’s wailing grew louder and more unnerving as the sun slipped into the sea. My silk cloak, in which she was wrapped to keep her safe, did little to cushion the assault on our ears. Only when we were seated within a circle of hanging stones, did her cries diminish and finally fade away. With relief on their faces, our hosts welcomed us. Twelve hungry mouths blessed their steaming bowls of cawl redolent with chunks of delicious wild goat, seasoned with thyme and a bulbous vegetable called a cennin. The thirst of twelve throats, parched from sea salt and fear, was quenched with bottomless horns of ale fermented from elder flowers. Many ears, abused by Sapphire’s constant keening, were soothed with songs sung by warrior bards to their bent willow harps. We knew joy once more, as did Sapphire whose chimes of delight echoed off the bluestone sentinels surrounding us. In this wild land of deep shadows and secrets, we would end our exodus. Or at least Sapphire and the final eleven of my people’s children would.