Ch 1-4 ~ A New Friend
She hummed along with the minuet of the mountain pass, soft, spontaneous notes staggering with each quickened step. Rustling shrubs and the crisp crunch of sun-dried leaves crackling underfoot formed an organic percussion to compliment the playful melody, an erratic allegro bouncing against the muffled baritone of scurrying animals burrowing as they sensed her approach.
The oldest and tallest trees, however, led their own subtle hymn in an eerie adagio, minimal and omnipresent. Endless winds sweeping from the mountain peaks conducted the ancient choir, plucking at the old giants’ slender limbs to orchestrate their creaks and groans. The cracking of frail fingers in clasp danced over the softened beat of branches meeting in embrace whilst the ominous creaking of coarse bark played at bass, its dry, broken skin stressed and stretched as they bowed in the breeze.
Gazing up at those ancient frames would always remind her of the respected elders. Not just the wise old men of her native Evergreens, their frail bodies and soft-whiskered faces stooped over staffs of aged oak during daily council at the Palace, but also those mysterious ‘Grey-Beards’ whose sinewy physiques were draped in skin as dark and thick as deer-hide, etched with tales of noble toil. The Grey-Beards, she had always been taught, were the most revered of the Mountain People, shrouded in mystery which caused her skin to prickle in excitement as she imagined them in solemn meditation deep within the heart of Mount Tekna.
Whilst the Evergreen elders were the great philosophers and advisors who maintained peace, law and virtue over both lands, it was the mountain Grey-Beards who bore the history and wisdom of a world long lost to the endless oceans. Their frailty was a façade granted by tireless strength in slender frames, living unnaturally long lives by the grace of Mount Tekna’s mysterious magnetism. And whilst other Evergreen children toyed with tales of sorcery and witchcraft, Aurelia, who knew very different, dreamed of when she might one day stand atop those mountain steps which descended deep into the sacred Temple of the Teknian Sect.