Far Horizons: Tales of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror. Issue #13 April 2015 - Page 148

fume stung her eyes and she raised a hand to scratch at it. Elvienne caught her hand, and laid it once more in her lap. “I need you to make a song.” Onelle heard her moving around; the sudden crackle of the fire as if something had been added to it. “Onelle, I need you to look inside your head and think of your mother, to compose a lament for the injustice done to her. And it needs to be ready for the dawn; you must sing it at the candle ceremony.” “I can’t sing when my daughter’s going to be burnt!” “Then she will die, and you may as well remove the blindfold and go home.” Elvienne’s voice was full of reproach. “It’s not a great thing I ask you, to compose a lament for your mother, but if you don’t think -” “No, no, I’ll do it!” Onelle clumsily laid aside the plate. “Can you guide me to the harp?” “Here.” The old woman helped her up and placed her hands on the instrument. Onelle plucked a string, and the sound rang out sweet and true. She smiled to hear it, for all that her heart was heavy. So Elvienne wanted a lament for her mother? Onelle would make her a song, a song to bring tears to the eyes of men, to make them throw out the hated candlefire and let her daughter live. She cleared her throat, and, in the darkness, she began to sing. # And Elvienne, sitting so quiet and still beside the fire, began to change. Now she wore the face of the twelve-summer-old Onelle of thirty years ago, who had played in the long grass beside her laughing mother, weaving spring flowers into each other’s hair. And now she took on the appearance of the mother, full of fear as she raced back to the village. Onelle again, crying and bewildered, as the older version of herself weaved a song telling of her loss, and Rosleen, going calmly to her fate beneath the White Tree. # “Your hands are bleeding.” Onelle winced as Elvi- enne applied the astringent to her lacerated fingertips. “Do you have your song?” “Is it dawn already?” She was forced to whisper, her throat raw with singing. Every muscle in her body ached, and her eyes watered under the cloth. “Can I look now?” “Not yet. Come with me, and bring the harp.” Onelle heard the creak as the door opened, and felt the warmth of the sun as Elvienne led her down the path, walking slowly lest she stumble in her blindness. Even before they reached the village green, she could hear the excited, angry buzz of the crowd, and it was all she could do not to tear off the blindfold and flee. Elvienne read her thoughts. “Courage, my dear,” she said softly, her mouth close to Onelle’s ear. “Keep thinking of the song. Let nothing distract you from that.” Onelle felt a shadow fall cold across her, even as the healer’s hand on her arm told her to stop. She flinched at the voice of her daughter’s husband, come to mock her in her pain. “What’s the matter, Onelle?” he jeered. “Can’t stand to watch? And you’ve brought a harp, how sweet. Are you intending to play a tune for your whore of a daughter as she goes North?” Onelle, running the words of her lament over and over in her head, could not speak, and Elvienne’s grip prevented her from striking out. The old woman replied in her stead. “Get out of the way, Hawn,” she said, with a touch of impatience. “I don’t want to have to tell you again.” He moved aside, but only to put himself in a position where he could take hold of Onelle’s shou