Happy Friday, Aledans! For those of you new to the blog and the NAMELESS world, Aleda’s Story is a prequel set so far back in the history of Fie Eoin that no one remembers Aleda was a real woman. Instead, she’s their Mother Goddess, and this is the story of how she became deified. You can catch up on the first three installments here.
Carrick looked at the trees as Aleda crossed her arms, hugging them to her chest. “We can’t stay here, Lea.”
“We have no choice. Alaric broke his leg; he can’t walk.”
“I’ll carry him.”
“Erie is sick. Who will carry her?”
Carrick looked at her and she pursed her lips. “And what about the next sick child? And the next? They are three summers, Carrie. They can’t hike through the mountains for days on end. Give them a rest.”
Carrick watched the children playing in the stream that would become the North River. He was a good man, always sensitive to her, but he didn’t like it when he wasn’t in control of a situation.
She touched his arm. “Why don’t you scout for something to hunt?” She realized as she said it that he was used to hunting fish and other creatures from the ocean. “Or build a roof above the fire, so I can keep the tea going?”
It wasn’t raining now, but the clouds that came in off the coast would dump rain so often that the fire went out before the next small cup of tea could boil.
“It’s too close,” he said, but his shoulders drooped and she knew she would win.
Aleda put her hands on either side of his face and looked at him. “There’s a stream, trees to keep the worst of the rain away, and the threat of Mountain to protect us.” She kissed him and let him go without dropping his gaze.
The lines around his eyes and lips softened. He stared into her eyes and touched her cheek, then nodded. “I’ll make you a shelter.”
He made it big enough for two children to lay underneath with the fire, and covered the top with a whale-skin cloak to keep the rain from seeping through. When Alaric and Erie were underneath and the fire re-lit he piled a few piece of wood next to it to dry. Aleda hung her bag of herbs under the roof to keep them from turning moldy.
The tips of her fingers were red and blistered from handling the hot stone cup and trying to keep the fire going. She needed a bigger vessel to boil water in. If only they hadn’t been in such a panic to leave she could have packed properly.
“Lisel, can you tend to the children on your own for a while?”
Lisel was watching the healthy ones play in the shallow caves as she fed the babe. “Of course. Will you be gone long?”
Aleda looked around. Carrick was at the river seeing what fish he could find, and she lowered her voice. “Yes. I’m going back to get more supplies. Food, blankets, something to boil water in.”
“Carrick won’t like you traveling alone.”
Aleda looked in his direction again. “We don’t have a choice. We need more than what we brought.” She turned back to Lisel. “When he asks where I am tell him I’m out gathering herbs. Don’t tell him where I’ve gone until night falls. He won’t leave the children in the dark, and I’ll be back tomorrow.”
Lisel looked from Carrick to the children, to Aleda. “What if you don’t return?”
Aleda was trying not to think about that. Without the hindrance of the children she should make it to Gaerlom by dark. She could sneak into the village while they slept, pack the things she needed, and make it back upriver before dark settled tomorrow. Even if someone saw her surely they wouldn’t try to kill her, would they?
“You know the herbs well enough.” Aleda swallowed her fear. “And Carrie’s a good man—you’ll take care of each other. Don’t let Alaric use his leg for the next two full moons, and don’t let the others climb into the trees.”
Lisel nodded and Aleda brushed the hair from Alaric’s sleeping forehead before kissing him. “I’ll be back tomorrow.”
“Awena protect you on your journey,” Lisel said and rocked the babe.
Aleda smiled. “I think I’m under the protection of Mountain now.”