Thank Aleda It’s Friday! It’s been a crazy week here, but on Tuesday I promised you that I’d be putting up the (slightly) new version of Aleda’s Story. For those of you who’ve been reading Fie Eoin Friday since it’s beginning, you’ll recognize much of this tale. For the new readers, you’ll finally find out why I call you Aledans, and how Aleda became the Mother Goddess of Fie Eoin’s world. I can’t promise any happy endings, but I can finally promise to continue the story of the Changelings when I’m finished with Aleda’s Story. That one’s called Faye and Tarrin, and I think you’re going to like it.
“We should kill the children before they become dangerous.”
Aleda’s heart clenched in panic as orange and black played over Coyle’s face in the firelight. The tribe of Gaerlom had come together to discuss the problem of the Changelings, and he meant to make his voice the loudest.
Carrick, Aleda’s husband, stood. His dark hair was pulled into a tail at the base of his neck, tied with a leather thong, but the wind coming off the ocean caught a stray piece and threw it in his eyes. “We don’t know that they’ll become dangerous. They’re just children.”
“They aren’t just children.” Coyle turned on him like an animal facing a big predator, although he was larger than Carrick by half a head. “They’ve already killed their mothers. Once they’re grown they’ll feed us to Mountain.”
Carrick put a hand on Aleda’s shoulder. “Not all of the mothers died in childbirth.” She had born a Changeling son three years ago, and she was still alive. One of the few women who survived the birth of the Children of Mountain.
The light of the flames moved over Coyle’s face, throwing his frown into distinct relief against the tight skin of his cheeks. His wife had died at the birth of the Changeling girl who would have been their daughter, if Coyle claimed her as such. To him, and many of the other widowers, Mountain had replaced their real children with winged monsters. Wings weren’t natural. The Gaerloms were the People of the Sea, and these children were born to the Sky.
“Then you were lucky, Carrick, but I lost a woman to these monsters, and so have many here. We should drown the winged beasts now before they can kill any others.”
Aleda stood, her face tight and hands clenched. “You are talking about killing my son. He is no beast. You’re the beast, Coyle, killing innocent children.”
There were few people in the tribe on her side, and an angry mummer went up at her words. “Coyle hasn’t killed any children!” Someone on the other side of the fire circle said.
She turned their way. “He killed his own daughter. Cut her up and let her bleed to death. Threw her body in the ocean to be pecked by the gulls.”
Carrick pushed her into her seat as another angry mummer went through the crowd and Coyle’s fists clenched.
“I did not kill my daughter.” His voice caught. “I tried to save her. I tried to bring her back from Mountain.” He stopped and she remembered the man he had once been. Happy, handsome and proud. Now he was promoting murder. “We cannot take the Changelings back from Mountain—I proved that. We must destroy them.”
The crowd was on Coyle’s side and Carrick shook his head as he sat. Aleda looked at him, eyes wide with fear. “There must be something we can do.”
“We can leave,” he said under his breath. “Take the children with us. If they aren’t here then the tribe can’t kill them.”
“Take them all? How are we going to take care of a dozen three year olds?” She looked around the fire at the angry faces. These people had been their friends and family, and now they wanted to kill her son. Her son who had done nothing wrong, who had never hurt anyone, who was as gentle a creature as a mother otter to her child. They would kill him just because he was born with wings.
“I don’t know, Lea, but Awena will provide for us, and maybe some of the others will come.”
“Where will we go?”
Carrick looked into the darkness, beyond the grey huts of Gaerlom to a skyline that was not visible in the night but they knew by heart. “We will take the Children of Mountain back to Him, and we will live there.”
Aleda followed his gaze and felt a shudder go through her. They were the People of the Sea. How would they survive on Mountain?
Join us again next Friday for the second installment of Aleda’s Story!