But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
The chamber was blissfully quiet. Noesh sat contemplating a small model of a boat sitting before him on the solid oak table. He was confident Sem could handle their latest design but he was out when the water beasts were most active and he was alone with Amis.
Noesh pulled at his beard. This was the first visit from his sister-in-law, Queen Norea, since the Arcans had spurned his warning to consider their corrupt way of living. Norea, a powerful leader in her own right, had stood by as Noesh and his family were driven from the city. He sprang to his feet, the memories flooding him with heat. Their lands had been given to others and now they lived crouched within the walls of this magnificent, yet isolated fortress.
He paced up and down the room considering the losses he had willingly borne for the sake of the Other.
Around the edges if his teeming thoughts came a slight buffeting sensation, as if something were trying to get in. He had learned long ago to recognise it but this day he was preoccupied. He shook his head trying to follow the paths of thought but the pressing sensation came again.
A small rushing sound began. It burgeoned into a great groundswell of noise. The room was filled with a mighty crashing wind. Noesh, along with tables and objects, was flung to the ground. He blinked. He noticed, oddly and in sharp detail, a small spider high up on the wall, clinging to the middle of its vibrating web.
“Noesh,” a small whisper spoke in his mind, “Noesh!”
“I’m here,” he barely breathed his answer.
“You have lost nothing. It will all be destroyed. The hour is coming. It draws nearer,” the voice sounded louder and very clear, ”Proximus is close.”
He flinched at a sudden loud knocking upon the locked door. He struggled but could not move. The knock at his door was louder now. Someone was trying to lift the latch.
He made a great effort to rise but a living current held him immobile.
“Noesh, the hour grows near. You must keep building the vessel.”
“Ehyeh, I hear,” he whispered.
At once the vibrant current lifted. He clambered to his feet white and shaken. He took several deep breaths.
T’ajar’s voice sounded at the door. She knew he was often deep in meditation, unseeing and unhearing, his spirit soaring with new wonders and mysteries.
“Noesh! Its urgent!”
“Just a minute,” hastily he straightened his light, flowing robe and strode to the door.
His wife, T’ajar, looked more rattled than he’d seen her in many a long day.
“Dearest, what is it?” he clasped her hand in concern.
Her frequent bouts of illness caused him great anxiety. As yet he hadn’t found a cure for it. He wondered if she was sensing the onset of another debilitating episode?
“Its Sem and Amis,” she blurted, running a hand distractedly through her rumpled hair. She winced at the sudden tightening grip on her hand.
“Are they alive or dead?” he demanded.
“Y…yes…no,” she answered dazedly, “they are very much alive.”
Her voice lowered in a dramatic hush, “but they’ve brought strangers here.”
“Whaaat!” he said in astonishment.
“Yes, strangers. Two young women, girls really.”
Noesh began to feel slightly amused.
“Now where did Sem manage to dig up two girls out here?” he drawled, not quite believing the news she was telling him.
“Did he fish them up out of the lagoon along with the rest of his catch?”
“I don’t know. Yes…sort of,” she clung to him, shaking in fright, “you don’t think Proximus has found out where we are and sent them, do you? Oh, Noesh, I’m scared.”
“What did Sem tell you?” he patted the thin hand clutching his.
“He just said that he saved them at the lake. A marauding masark nearly got them. He wants to see us in the library.”
Noesh locked his study securely as he left, taking care that T’ajar didn’t see the mess inside.
“Where is Sem now?”
His wife took several calming breaths before answering. She no longer clung to him. She neatened her hair with a small ivory comb. In moments she was the picture of dignity and quietude.
The corners of his mouth twitched and his heart swelled with fondness for her.
“Sem went to wash and change and to see what Amis is doing.”
“What about Amis?” he enquired, his voice laced with irony, “Is he coping with his mother’s descent upon us without warning and bringing a whole entourage with her?”
She shook her head and gave no answer.
“He should have sent word to us, T’ajar,” Noesh voiced his disappointment, “I’m disturbed that he went along with his mother’s plan, knowing how vital it is that we keep Tetrahin’s location a secret. Our very lives depend upon it–” he broke off, the unspoken thoughts too painful to utter.
T’ajar gazed at him, thoughtful and concerned. It had always been important to herself and Noesh to provide their nephew, Amis, with a loving, extended family. That he would callously betray them made no sense,
“Perhaps he didn’t know until they were on their way,” she ventured.
Noesh shook his head, a hint of sorrow at the back of his eyes, “He’s not a boy anymore, T’ajar. One day he will rule the Bashani people instead of Norea. That alone could turn a man’s heart.”
T’ajar looked worried, “I just hope our boys won’t provoke him.”
“I hope she won’t make a long stay.”
A pained expression crossed T’ajar’s face. Although Noesh and T’ajar were still reeling at her nonchalant compromise of Tetrahin’s hidden location, T’ajar loved Norea and believed her story of needing to visit her sister on the way to Arca.
Noesh’s thoughts were racing. He made a great effort not to appear agitated in front of his wife. It spoke volumes about the state of her own agitation that she failed to notice. How did this all fit together, he wondered. In short succession he’d experienced an unearthly visitation, was reminded of his foster son’s dangerous temperament and learned that two female strangers were under his roof this very moment. His brow furrowed. He hoped a vain hope, that Amis wouldn’t tell Norea about them. She and her people were lingering. For what purpose he didn’t know.
“What are they like?” he said, after a short silence.
He and T’ajar walked steadily toward the library, hand in hand. Other than her blindness about her sister, he had great faith in her insight into people. She’d pinpointed things time and time again. Things he’d missed.
“The young women? Well, it’s quite hard to tell,” she said, “one, I am almost sure is a girl of the old nobility: dark colouring and truly beautiful. The other, well she’s got an unusual look: fierce and fragile and very fair. There is a fineness about her but I can’t place it.”
“Do you think they are Earthborn?”
She gave him a heavy look and sighed, “There really isn’t a sure way to tell amongst the females is there?”
He shook his head, “Only when the children come along.”
They both sighed deeply.
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