A single snowflake, p.1
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       A Single Snowflake, p.1

           A D Tether
 
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A Single Snowflake
A Single Snowflake

  Copyright 2013 Ann D Tether

  A Single Snowflake.

  CHAPTER ONE

  THE MEETING

  The Lady of The Fields and Streams looked out of the open window, and sighed. Before her stretched the winding river, making it's way slowly from the mountains beyond. Winter was approaching and already their peaks were covered with snow, hiding the green leaves of the Cascor trees, a solitary bird flew overhead and gave out a groan, and below a dog and cat sat side by side, cuddling closely to keep warm. If you strained your ears, if everything around you was still and quiet, if you held your breath so the noise of your breathing was silent, if you closed your eyes so nothing around you could distract your senses, then and only then might you hear the wails and screams of a far off World.

  The Lady shuddered and leant forward to close the window, 'Oh Belle and Henderson my dears, I really hope you are up for this, you are our only hope' she whispered.

  A bell from the meeting hall in the street below pealed three times, looking through the now closed window she could make out figures hurrying along the frosty road to their daily prayer. 'My dears prayers are now not enough, I have to take action, the time is getting ever closer' she didn't whisper her words this time, she shouted them as she paced up and down her lonely chamber.

  The Lady's despair was interrupted when the door to her vast chamber swung open, her aide Josie hovered by the open doorway, “ Sorry for not waiting for permission to enter My Lady” Josie mumbled “But I have been knocking the door for sometime, and as you didn't reply, I sort of got a little worried, is there anything wrong?” The Lady smiled and thought to herself 'if only you knew lovely Josie, if only you knew' but she The Lady, the one who had been given the task to take charge, the only one according to Ralph the Mighty who was Lord of All, who could chill the sadness of that distant World, had accepted the path that lay ahead, and she hoped beyond hope that Belle and Henderson, were the right ones to see it through.

  'Are they here' The Lady enquired..

  'Yes, Your Lady, shall I show them in' .

  'Just give me five minutes, then bring them in, we will need some refreshments, orange tea I think, and some of those little spiced biscuits, yes that would be good... oh and make sure we are not interrupted, ' .

  The Lady scratched her head, ' I hope I haven't forgotten anything' she thought.

  Josie was making her way out of the chamber, when The Lady called her back, 'Sorry Josie, I just thought, can we have some of those honey sweets , they will calm my nerves.'

  Please stop reading just for a minute and think, do you ever stop and think about the one who is telling a tale, a story or that book you cannot put down.

  Look I am sorry to interrupt, but sometimes you do really have to stop and think and not take everything at face value. There are some stories that are told by a person that is actually in the story, but that person always has to be in each scene, well that is obvious if you think about it, because how else would they know what was happening; and you never get to find out what the other characters think about that lone narrator; you never hear those whispered comments or criticisms. You know that expression 'If only I was a fly on the wall', well think of me as that fly, seeing every gesture and hearing every word, I can also hear those unspoken words, those in the heads of people who try and hide their thoughts from others, I have to warn you though that sometimes it is extremely uncomfortable viewing. It is my role to tell of events, to pass on histories that otherwise would be lost forever, I didn't chose this life, it was forced upon me by a greater power, but I accepted this onerous task with honour. I have told stories since the dawn of all time, of lands far and near, of places long forgotten in the histories of mankind. I am not alone, there are others of us telling stories and legends of universes so different to your own, but without our stories there would be no stories of hope, of heroism or indeed despair. So read on, there may be times when I will need to pop back into your lives, to explain things to you, so you have an understanding of the way things really are.

  The Lady sat down behind her glass covered desk and looked down at the papers and maps in front of her, a tear rolled down her face which she quickly wiped away with the back of her pale hand. Her thoughts were interrupted as the door swung open and Josie entered the room carrying a large silver tray which bore the much needed refreshments. The lady moved the papers on her desk and turned them over, so they were face down. The papers were so secret that she could afford no chance of anyone, other than the chosen ones, to see.

  'Thank you Josie, see I have made room for the tray, see put it here' smiled the Lady, as she pointed to a empty spot on her desk. ' Now, you can bring in my guests.'

  The Lady stood as Josie ushered in Belle and Henderson, two imposing figures by any account. Belle was dressed in a long blue velvet gown that was trimmed with Gager Lace, the finest lace in the land, that had been spun from the webs of the smallest creatures in the town of Gager. Her long blue hair shimmered in the light cast by the golden lamps that hung from the walls in the Lady's chamber. Beside her stood Henderson, a tall elegant man with short brown hair and eyes that sparkled with goodness and joy. He was simply dressed, a soft warm woollen pink jumper fitted his slim figure to perfection, finished off with black jeans made from the cotton of the best variety of last years harvest. The Lady inwardly smiled, 'They have made a huge effort to impress me' she thought, 'Yes, Ralph the Mighty has chosen well.'

  'Welcome to you Belle, welcome to you Henderson, here please sit down and take refreshments' said the Lady as she pointed to the two vacant seats that were opposite her own around the spacious crystal glass desk.

  Belle and Henderson looked at each other as they took their seats, looks of puzzlement and anticipation, they had no idea why they had been called, but they did know that it must be something of immense importance; as nobody ever got called to see the Lady, unless it was to receive an honour or award, and even then there would have been guards in the room, plus numerous attendants. But this was different, they were alone with her, this had never happened to any Birther or Passer before, and if it had have done, then nobody other than the Lady knew.

  They were even more surprised when the Lady spoke to Josie.

  'Josie, you can have an early night, grab your coat and go on home, we have all we need, these refreshments look so tasty, thank you so much'

  Josie hesitated, this was not like the Lady who normally liked her to stay around until after the Lady had retired to her bed chamber. 'Are you sure my Lady, it is no problem, what if you need something, say what if you need more tea, or .'

  The Lady interrupted , 'I am sure Josie, now get along, have an early finish, and take tomorrow off too, you haven't had much of a break for a long time, you so deserve it, off with you now' replied the Lady.

  Josie knew when to take orders seriously, 'I guess she has her reasons' she pondered, 'Thank you my Lady, yes that would be lovely, so I will see you the day after tomorrow, but if you do need me you can send Clara to get me, and I will be straight back.' With those words Josie left the room smiling to herself, 'Well I wonder what is going on, she doesn't want me around for sure' she muttered under her breath.

  The Lady looked across at her guests and asked them to excuse her as she rose from her seat and made her way across the chamber, to the tall window on the far side. She looked down to the path below, waiting to see the figure of Josie making her way home. She soon emerged, wrapping her long cloak around her large body, making her way slowly to the far gate and into the street beyond. Satisfied that Josie had left, the Lady pulled the curtains shut so nobody could see into the Chamber, and made her way to the small anti room outside the chamber. Firstly she locked th
e doors to the small anti room, and then turned off the communication device that sat on Josie’s untidy wooden desk. The Lady pulled down a heavy blind covering the small window next to the desk, shutting out the outside light, and looked around the room which was now only lit by two silver wall lamps. Satisfied that nobody could now see or hear what was going to take place she returned to her own chamber, ready to meet and get acquainted with Belle and Henderson. 'Be strong' she kept saying to herself, 'Be strong.' The Lady made her way to the desk, sat down on her heavily cushioned chair, and poured herself a cup of the orange tea. Taking a sip she was pleased to see that both Henderson and Belle had both consumed a cup of the tea and were now tucking into the biscuits.

  'Good aren't they' the Lady asked as she pointed to the little star shaped spiced biscuits, 'Josie makes them for us, she is such a good cook and aide.'

  'But you don't trust her do you, well not one hundred percent trust her' intervened Henderson.

  Belle looked at him in surprise, someone was speaking in this manner to THE LADY, does he know what he is doing, she thought.

  The Lady however did not find his remark at all rude ' Well spotted there Henderson, the truth is I cannot trust anyone, if word got out, well if anything was leaked, well I just don't know what the consequences would be, this is just too vital to take risks, so please feel free to ask me anything you wish, we need to be so open with each other, we need to trust each other', spoke the Lady with such earnestness that Belle felt a small shiver run up her spine.

  'I don't expect either of you have met before' questioned the Lady.

  'Well', replied Belle, 'I think I have seen Henderson once or twice, but only briefly, but no you are correct, we have never spoken to each other before, well.. er.. we are from different circles, different work.'

  Henderson smiled at Belle, 'That is true my Lady, we haven't met before, but Belle I have seen you a few times, once seen never forgotten, it's the hair you know, it is so beautiful'

  Belle blushed, what a thing to say, indeed what a thing to say in front of the Lady, who by all accounts was the most graceful and elegant person in existence.

  'But now you have met, and thankfully it seems that you will both get on, that was my main concern, it would be terrible if you had both taken an instant dislike to each other, now wouldn't it; but our great Ralph the Mighty assured me that you would both get on like a tree on fire.'

  Henderson's hand started to shake, did he hear correctly, did the Lady say Ralph the Mighty, no surely there must be some mistake. 'Pardon me my Lady' quivered Henderson, 'but did I hear you say Ralph the Mighty.'

  'Yes, Henderson you did' the Lady chuckled.

  'But I don't understand', Henderson turned to look at Belle, 'no disrespect Belle, but how does someone of such high standing as the great Ralph the Mighty', even know we exist, just how.'

  Belle looked at Henderson and then across at the Lady, cleared her throat with a little cough and replied 'He knows everything there is to know about anything, he knows who we all are, he knows the name of every living thing, the flowers in the fields, the small animals that run through our forests, the birds in the trees and all our people.'

  Such joy thought the Lady, a true believer sitting across from her, and Henderson would soon see too, that indeed Ralph the Mighty was in all truth the wisest being in their land; but even Belle had so much to learn, and the Lady hoped beyond hope that both her prodigies were able to comprehend what she was about to tell them.

  The Lady took a deep breath, rested her delicate arms on the desk and leaned forward.

  'Henderson, I need you to open your mind and heart to what I am going to say, I need you to believe in all things being possible, I need your trust. Can you do that for me?' the Lady said calmly.

  Henderson first looked at Belle, smiled , then looked across at the Lady. 'I am a loyal servant, I was just surprised that our Lord Ralph the Mighty One, knew of my existence, I am a humble being and never prone to egotism; so please forgive me if you thought my remark was in any way seen as incredulous,' replied Henderson.

  'I understand' nodded the Lady, 'Firstly can you both do something for me, can you both be absolutely still and silent, just for a few moments and listen.'

  Both Henderson and Belle nodded their heads and relaxed, hardly daring to breathe, so that they would not even hear the air leaving their own spiritual bodies. Belle moved her head slightly sideways, her brow wrinkled as she strained her ears to listen, there is something she thought, but it is so far away, but there was something. Henderson meanwhile relaxed and closed his eyes, he too could hear something, a sound that sounded like the screams of nightmares, the fears of men, despair of women and the heartbreak of children. The sounds, those cruel sounds were breaking Henderson's tender heart, a tear fell, he covered his chilled face with his long fingered hands.

  The Lady stretched forward and gently removed Henderson's hands from his face, 'It did the same to me, it did the same to me' she whispered.

  Belle brushed her hair from her eyes and spoke ' I did hear something, but it was so distant that I couldn't quite make out what it was, but I felt an overwhelming sadness', she turned and looked into Henderson's eyes, 'you felt it more though, you heard more, your perceptions are greater than mine.' She then turned to the Lady 'What are we hearing and where is it coming from, oh I am starting to feel so very afraid.'

  I'm back, are you getting intrigued yet, is your curiosity getting the better of you?

  A little information might help, I didn't interrupt before as I really wanted to set the scene, give you a chance to settle down, but already I know you need answers. For example what is a Birther and Passer, who is this Ralph the Mighty that everyone present seems to be in so much awe over and why are two apparent strangers bought together. And most important of all, Where are we?

  I will show the answers to some of your questions as I continue with this tale, but a few technical details will help you along your journey.

  Do you honestly think that the place you call Earth is all there is?

  Have you ever looked over your shoulder thinking someone is behind you, but when you turn to look there is nobody there.

  Have you forgotten what you knew when you were first born, don't worry though as most beings of your kind have forgotten.

  Have you ever said to yourself 'Is this it, is this all there is to life.'

  A few thousand years ago, your ancestors knew the answers, I was around to write their stories but mankind laughed and said they were legends, fairy tales for the babies or just stories. Your children still believe, until it is educated out of them, there is no time for fantasy in today's World you say, there are more important things to think about. Get to school, learn your mathematics, learn your science, put down that book of fairy tales, stop being so childish. I have heard many of your fellow men say those words to the innocent ones.

  But I digress, please clear your mind of everything you have learned, and I give you the information you need to continue with understanding what we are seeing and the roles of both Birthers and Passers.

  We are witnessing the start of our journey in a realm that it's inhabitants call Shenka; a place that you would say was both mystical and mythical; but it's very existence has protected your kind since the dawn of time. Shenka is hidden on the planet you call Earth, it has been given other names by those who came before you, is spoken about in children’s whispers and is seen in the dreams of old men wishing for a return to the innocence of their youth. The folk of Shenka can pass unseen from Shenka to your land and back again, but very rarely do your men find their way to Shenka, and only then was it in times passed, not one person or child has visited Shenka in one hundred of your years.

  Shenka was created at the same time as your Earth and was populated by a race of beautiful and graceful people; and those people watched on as your own evolution took place. They noted and recorded how you learnt to light fires, make tools and build communities. There w
ere times when they passed unseen into your World and watched over the lives of some of mankind, the Birthers were there to watch as your children were born and the Passers helped carry the dying to their own particular Heaven. The ones who were chosen to be watched over were selected by the destiny and fate which lay ahead, and in the early days there would be dialogue between the Birther and Earth Person; those Earth People were still innocent and uncorrupted, and could easily see the Shenka Being who was beside them. The Birthers would travel back and forth, and were always greeted with joy when they returned to see their chosen Earthling. The Passers weren't feared, the sight of the Passer only told of another life waiting for the dying, they too were welcomed with hope and anticipation. But that was in the old days when there were less people on the Earth; now much of the Passers roles have been handed to the dying person's Guardian, for they are the ones that are present at the time of death. As for Ralph the Mighty, well read on dear friend and you will discover all the truths.

  The Lady sighed, 'It is the sounds from Earth, it is the despair of the Earth people as they see the ravages of war and famine. Many have lost their faiths and see their lives as futile, without purpose and without hope of a bright future; these feelings are passed on to their own children who wander aimlessly into adulthood. The screams and cries have grown louder and louder, and now it even threatens our own beloved Shenka.'

  'How can that be' asked Belle.

  'The sound is vibrating our home, cracks are already appearing on our borders and it is getting colder, have you noticed the snow has already settled on our mountains' replied the Lady.

  'I have' said Henderson, 'Yesterday I had to light our fires, it was so very cold for this time of year, well I know it is nearly winter, but I cannot remember it being so chilly before the Solstice.'

  'Precisely' acknowledged the Lady, 'The Council estimate that it has gradually increased for nigh on one hundred Earth years.'

  'Has it been monitored then', questioned Belle.

  'Yes, it has' spoke the Lady, 'Well it was first noticed by Garian the Great, he recorded a snowflake falling from the sky as it landed on his yellowcups that were still in full bloom. He thought it was strange but didn't pay much heed, until he heard the first rumblings of a moan, just a small moan of a single woman, followed by the cry of a baby. The following year he saw five snowflakes fall then the year after he saw ten, the wailing was also growing louder. He passed his findings on to Gorus the Lazy, well how he ever became our leader I do not know, however during his ten year rule nothing happened and the records of Garian would have been lost if it wasn't for the diligence of the Keepers of All Records, who hid them away from Gorus's clumsy hands.'

 
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