I took a deep breath letting all the pieces rattle around in my mind, this was going to be harder than I could have ever understood.  How precisely to roll all the stories and myths into a cohesive whole, how to make it make sense, how to press upon her what this meant…would always mean?  Looking out into the valley I allowed my mind to wonder, memories formed a slight smile upon my lips, as the dawning sun sent the dew covered ground to sparkling, and the low lying clouds to glowing opaque and incandescent.  Timid foot fall behind me tore at the moment shattering it as each water droplet fractured the light, then a very telling thought entered my mind “Not unlike what happens to the truth as it passes through the filters of answers”.  Now was the time, I must start or lose my nerve completely.

“To all children, I believe, mist is a magical thing which could hold any number of surprises or adventures, but this quality of mist is often lost to adults who are too busy trying to look past the mist to look beneath it.  There lies the tangled weavers web that is the crossroads.  Whether or not we are honest with ourselves we are each upon those crocked roads making decisions which lead us ever closer to what comes next and forever closing the way to what might have been.”  Llanna’s sudden inhaled breath stopped me in my tracks, another deep breath followed by more rattling and less cohesion; perhaps a softer tone.  “While unsettling it is true even our smallest choice defines us and determines who it is that we are to become; this is perhaps one of the greatest reasons that Odella is who she is, so the story goes.”

“There are no small stories about her as a fussy baby or an argumentative child.  She just is.  Her story is one that starts in the middle nearly fully formed.  None know of the spark or the reasoning that brought her to this point or how it is that she has come to be a strong and unchanging presence across multiple generations, but she has Llanna.”  I stopped unable to control my need to look at her and gage her reactions, however, little more than curiosity was written upon her features as she watched me with rapt attention from her chair.

“As, as I was saying no one could ever quite remember why she left or where she went, but no one has forgotten the day she arrived unannounced in a small milling town.  Rhodes, which falls at a halfway point between the Courts and the Maze Mountains, was and is home to a number of hard working busy bodies, who’s only truly distinguishing characteristic seems to be their constant vigilance of the comings and goings on that well traveled path, and all day long the observant eyes of the locals had been noticing a woman covered from head to foot walking towards the courts who would not speak to anyone nor meet anyones glance.  The unknown woman found her way to the courts where, as it would happen, the Lord’s council was hearing complaints.”

I turned from the railing and took the chaise that faced Llana, but as I still preferred the view of the rising sun to that of her winkled brow I continued to address the sunrise, and while I did not mean it as a rebuke I could sense that my non attention was causing her to chafe uncomfortably.

“Here we can start to see the distortion of time, while we know she sat unmoving except for her rapt and burning eyes which followed each person in and out of the marbled room we do not know how long it is that she waited.  It was however quite long enough that people had begun to talk and to migrate to court to catch a glimpse of the frozen woman, and while the council did their best to ignore and out wait the stranger the buzz of the throng began to interfere with the proceedings.  It came to be that while the room was packed to the balcony none stepped forward to lodge a complaint rather they waited eyes not on the Lord’s council but on the well cloaked woman.  All sat or stood locked in an unexplainable stalemate till the midday hour was announced when those present could refresh themselves before the afternoon’s round began it was at this time that the council called forth the guards.  When the break was over the people returned to find the stranger centered in the room and a guard at every entrance.

A longish man who had been very vocal this court term reclined in his settee and spoke with stifled yawn, “From whence have you come?”  Silence was his only answer.  “Who are you,” he asked with slightly more disdain.

She stood silently staring at the ground never facing the lord who questioned her holding her cloak tight to herself as if she hoped that by not seeing those around her she in turn would not be seen.  He waited for her to explain herself, but found himself becoming more and more irritated as she ignored him and remained as if she had been cast from stone.

“You will tell me who you are and why you are here, I will allow you to set turmoil upon these lands with your secrecy.”

In a quick but refined movement she lifted her head and held him firmly in place with her glance.”

The sun had reached a point where it dazzled my eyes drawing tears, and I faced her at last.  Llana’s mouth was slightly ajar in a silent o of surprise.  “I’m sure you have heard why her glance could stop a person in their tracks,” I asked as she nodded.

“It would be the black eyes,” Llana whispered a trimer in her voice.

“Yes, at this point I’m quite sure the self confident lord was having second guesses about his rash insistence that she answer him.

She smirked and inclined her head, “I am Odella and I have not yet begun.”  With these words she swung her cloak wide allowing it to fall to the floor in a quite rustle that was quickly covered by the sound of sharp in drawn breaths.  Quite unaware of the eyes upon her she lifted her arms wide and held her head high, “I await your questions…if you can bare the answers.”

Not one person moved or spoke they just silently absorbed the image she cut in each mind’s eye for the stranger stood quite a sight to be seen.  She was dressed in a leather jerkin, worked all over in fine stitching, over a linen ridding skirt that hung just past her knees, and upon her brow, neck, arms, and legs hung fine silver chains all reaching back towards the midline of her body.  As she walked in a small circle her eyes searching out any who had a question a musical jangle followed suggesting many more unseen restraints.  Finally she stopped centered once again her eyes only for the lord who was badly concealing his disgust, “Come, and know your truth.  I charge nothing for the answering, but as in all things a price must be paid for while they are freely given, they are rarely easily found.”

As her eyes again fell downward the longish lord found his voice, “You are from here on banished never to return, we have no need of false seers or storm crows, begone, guards?”  She swept her cloak up and over her shoulders turning her back on the council, and addressed the crowd, “I shall return when the call beacons,” and left in a wake of frenzied mutterings.”

“Truly that is all that is known, of Odella” Llana did not succeed in containing her disbelief, “surely there must be more?  Many must have questions which require answers.”

“Only those who have journeyed with her know more, Llana, and I think you’ll find very few people are ever very truthful with themselves about their desire for answers.”  I stood and walked over to the girl thinking that my choice had been made and all would work itself out now for the better or the worse as I softly wrapped her into an embrace.  “For the truth can be a weighty thing, daughter.”