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While the two walked through the tunnel, Llana had blindly ran to, Odella smiled softly thinking to herself that perhaps the girl truly might be ready for the first step.  As such Odella’s mood improved with each step.  So much so that softly under her breath she sang the anvil’s song.

Llana did not notice the changes in Odella as she was watching the walls with fascination.  No longer were the stony walls blank and dark now the glowed dotted with silvered light.  The further into the tunnel they walked the brighter the walls became and soon the dark was gone completely and a false twilight prevailed.  This was the only sight until they reached a bend in the tunnel where a tall man stood with a kind of stout strength exuding from him.  As the sounds of their approach reached the man’s ears he turned pickaxe in hand looking them up and down.  Without pretense he dropped the axe from his shoulder and walked up to Odella grinning ear to ear.  The closer he got the more of Llana’s field of vision he seemed to take up.  The large man stopped less than a foot in front of the two and said, “Be welcome ‘Dellia,” in a booming voice at odds with his wide smile.  However, as he took notice of Llana standing behind and to the side of Odella his smile dropped and out of the corner of his eye he took the girl’s measure, “Who’s this?”

Llana, however, did not have a chance to answer because Odella quickly wheeled the man away from her and held him in quiet conversation.  While Llana impatiently waited on the conversation’s end she warily eyed the walls wondering how it was that they seemed to create their own light.  To her they shone like beat tin except in one spot which sucked in any light that ventured in its direction.  She reached out for the dark spot wondering if it was empty; when she felt a liquid warmth rush up her arm.  Startled she stepped back and much to her amazement she held a stone that glowed blood-red at the center of what appeared to be a piece of amber.  She must have gasped in her surprise because the talk in the corner cut out abruptly as they both turned towards her.

“Bless the mist Beorn!  Why didn’t you tell me there was a blood stone in here, I would have come a different way,” Odella nearly shouted hurrying back to Llana.

“I didn’t know ‘Dellia honest.”

“How can you not know?”  She did not even look back over her shoulder as she responded.

“Haven’t been this way since last time you were here, we only took a yard all around.  No one mentioned anything.”  Beorn sounded hurt like a scolded child.

Suddenly the warmth in Llana’s hand started to prick red-hot burning her very soul it seemed.  Only Odella’s harsh words broke through the pain.  “Drop it Llana…now…let it go!”  With the last word Odella struck the girl’s wrist causing the stone to finally separate from young flesh.  When the girl looked up Odella’s top skirt was quickly being wrapped around the stone as the tunnel started to dim back to silver.  The last image girl understood before she sunk to the floor was the oddly shaped mark in her palm.

Beorn was quick enough to grab the child in her swoon and held her lightly as a rag doll turning this way and that.  “Dellia we must be going this is not a good way for you to be discovered, not with what you got under your cape.”  All she had time for was a nod of her head and they were off.

The dark tunnels flew by as they wound their way through scarcely used twists and turns that entered at last into a clearing in the middle of the forest.  “Wait,” Odella motioned to herself a twinkling spectacle with her uncovered chains, “it would be almost as bad to run into the village like this.”

Beorn’s laugh rumbled like summer thunder, “Good point ‘Dellia.  Not sure if you, the stone, or the stranger would cause the most stir, but it’s best not to test those waters.”

Odella agreed.  Setting her cloak on the ground and forcing herself not to let curiosity win out and look at the stone she took the leather jerkin out of Beorn’s hand.  It fit like a potato sack and smelled of wood smoke, but it would work, she wagered, if they kept to the treeline.  “So you think Jira will be happy to see me,” Odella asked with a cocked brow and a half smile.

His only response was more thunder.

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