River Stories

Ari has always wanted to be the one to break free, the one who knows she will be Light and can travel upstream to see where her life takes her. But when the curse of Alvado Falada begins to unfold, Ari begins to discover that life isn't what it seems and sometimes you just need to be yourself.

This is the story of a girl who faces tragedy, love, heartbreak and beauty to get to where she wants to be. Follow Ari on her amazing journey up the river.

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4. Chapter 4

I whipped my head round, searching wildly for the source of the noise. It was late and I was totally alone, not to mention that I should not be out. I should be at home, in my cot, sleeping by the glowing embers with Pa and Ro, my dreams laced with the beauty and goodwill that I hoped would affect my Beckoning result for the better.

The trees murmured, heavy with the secret of someone slipping silently between them. My heart pounded in my chest, hoping that it wasn’t Moyra, the town gossip, come to see me down at the river on my own in the night.

‘Who’s there?’ I called out, my throat dry and my tongue heavy.

Wind whipped through the trees, fanning my hair across my face. I squinted into the darkness, hoping for a better glimpse of the person. The leaves shook on the trees’, the moon glowed palely in the sky, all seeming to be signs of a threat, a danger, a secret.

My heart thumped loudly in my chest, a sound, I was sure, that the person who hear. The river swooped and danced beside me, the wind twirled and pirouetted around me. The night air crackled with sudden electricity. I was nowhere, I was everyone, I was nothing.

Capri stepped out from behind a large aspen tree, her piercing blue eyes reflecting the ghostly moonlight like sun on the water. Her poker straight black hair hung free around her face, reminding me that she did not belong here. We were all marked with the Kildeyern light coloured hair, making Capri stick out like a sore thumb. Unlike me, she was dressed in her day clothes or a deep red tunic and blue leggings, lace edged around the bottoms, a reminder of her Trulik origination.

She came slowly towards me, cautiously like a hunter approaching a wild beast. I could not fathom what she would want with me but I held still, not running away. My mind screamed at me to run for my life but I stayed sat on the floor, my instincts telling me that that was not a good idea.

I dipped my hand into the dancing river, the cool water soothing me and helping me to see clearly. My heart still banged against my chest but I felt calmer and I reasoned that even though Capri was an outsider and a Dark, she still had the right to come down to the river and she was an Elder. I let her coming closer, glancing at her wearily as she sat down next to me, pulling off her leather boots and dipping her feet into the cool relief of the river.

She sighed contentedly, her big blue eyes staring down at the river with a deep understanding that I could not even begin to comprehend. Cautiously, I slipped my boots off as well, dipping my feet into the river.

The water was freezing as it flitted over my feet, washing away the grime and dirt of the day. A small gasp escaped my lips. The water felt amazing against my warm, skin, the feeling of calm and beauty fitting inside me like a piece of a jigsaw that had been lost for years and finally found, slipping into its old place like it had never been gone.

Sharp rocks, waterfalls that sing like a nightingale, people who listen, colourful fish flitting between the weeds.

My eyes flew open and I realised that I had been holding my breath and my eyes had closed. I felt disorientated and new, raw to the world that surrounded me. I had just understood the river speech.

Puling my feet out of the river, I stumbled back a little, pulling my knees up to my chest. As my feet left the cool feel of the river, the beautiful peace that fit in me like a jigsaw piece slowly began to fade away. What had just happened? I had listened to the water speech.  And I had understood.

I glanced up, noticing that Capri was looking at me with wonderment, her eyes wide and her lips pinched.

‘You understood,’ she whispered.

My head pounded with the new knowledge, my thoughts a crazy whirlwind of new ideas and sounds so it took me a while to register the two words Capri had spoken.

‘You… you understand too?’ speaking in hushed tones seemed like a good idea so I followed Capri’s example. No houses were built around the river for the damp ground but nonetheless, sound carries in a small Valley.

Capri nodded her lovely head, her eyes shining with fresh thoughts in the weak moonlight. For the first time, I looked at her properly. I really looked at her, noticing the way her dimple popped out only in one cheek when she smiled, how she eyes were friendly, not cold and mean like we’d all gossiped, how straight her teeth were and how kind she really looked. She, too, resonated friendliness and a kindness that lightened her eyes and gave her face the permanent look of a smile. How had we ever thought of her as a bad nut, an evil spirit? How had I wanted her gone, for our world of near perfectness to go on without her? Capri was lovely and kind and all she needed were friends. In the sixty seconds that I sat there and looked at her for, I decided with firm resolution to be her friend.

As soon as I decided this, my thoughts shifted back into the tight circle of thoughts of water speech. Of course Capri had understood. The river had told me that someone else was listening. People who listen, it had said. The feel of the speech had carried with it the sense of a kindred spirit, someone else who was like me. Were there others who had the river speech?

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