Lys: Heroes

Having thawed herself out to a manageable temperature, Aithne stood and started over to help. Blinking a bit, she reached for the small sack of flour on the table, intending to start a loaf of her own opposite Portia. But somewhere between picking it up and setting it down, she managed to knock it against an empty bowl. She had time to assess the situation, but not to resolve it. It was either catch the bowl or save the flour. She chose the flour.

The bowl went clattering to the floor, hitting the ground with a sound like a sword on stone. At the sound, Cu leapt up and barked his startlement as the shards of clay scattered over the floor.

Aithne set the flour down securely, bending her head over it a moment. Portia rounded the table quickly. "Are you unwell, Aithne? What's wrong?" Aithne raised her head. "Just a little dizzy for a moment. I'll be fine. I should clean up that bowl, though..." She turned to fetch a broom, but saw that one of the other girls had already taken up the task. Portia laid a hand on her arm. "In the absence of Lucretia I am ordering you out of this kitchen. You need more rest, Aithne. You were sick yesterday and you were out in the cold long after dark." Her eyes narrowed. "And I'm guessing you didn't sleep much, either." Aithne could not deny it, so Portia turned her and pushed her gently towards the door. "Go take it easy. We can survive one day without you pushing yourself into exhaustion."

Aithne obeyed, Cu trailing behind, acting as though he thought he was in trouble. He nosed her hand, and she scratched his ears. "Not your fault, Cu. It was all me." She coughed, and coughed again, trying to rid herself of the catch in her throat.

Eventually she managed to get it under control, and moved to the fireplace, where her harp sat covered and warm, but not hot. "Here is something." she said to Cu. Music calms the savage beast, they said, and Aithne thought it might apply to nerves as well.

It was not long before she was sitting by the fire, her fingers coaxing music from the battered instrument. Between Caleb and Cathair, they had managed to get it repaired, but she could still see the places where the wood had stopped the arrows meant for Cathair. Somehow it made the instrument all the more precious, knowing it had saved his life.

She plucked the strings, listening closely and tuning the strings one at a time, until the notes melded into beautiful chords. Some people said angels played harps. She did not know if it was true, but harp music certainly had the air of another world. For awhile she was content to lose herself in it...

...And words came to her. She had thought they might.

Listen! I speak of heroes, not of old
of great men who live, who have not died-
have not yet passed into the realm of Heaven.

Oft you have heard of Ambrosius the Hawk,
Lord Ambrosius, Warlord of Britannia, Guardian of Albion
His fame precedes him far and wide.

Many have heard of Artos the Merlin,
Nephew of Ambrosius, Bear of Britain, Defender of Truth.
Though young, his fame rivals his uncle's.

Hear me as I tell of their deeds, of the dark time,
of danger and fear and valor,
of the time when evil dared raise its head against them.

They did not quake in fear, they did not quail.
The Light of God was with them.
It was for darkness to fear, not the Light...

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