“I can bear you the rest of the way,” said Lladdwr. “But first…”
“Yes,” said Ceidwad, giving herself a thorough shake. “We’ve been putting off telling you something…”
“Koude hit to wayten?” he said as he motioned for Lladdwr to let him mount.
“No,” said Ceidwad. “This may be nothing at all. And then again…” She paused under the rattling aspen leaves to sort through some feathers. ”
“Wel thanne what?”
“Mother Celeste and her sisters are now quite aged,” she said with a deep bob of her head.
“So? Thou dost knowe that weo on erthe sithence the byginnynge of al memory han ben, righte? No thyng a-lyve beth eldre than Ich am.”
“I’m sorry,” said Ceidwad with a snap of each wing before fixing her gaze upon him. “My attempt to be gentle has simply undone things. I have no choice but to be direct and I apologize for having delayed telling you. Razzorbauch turned our mothers into old hags when he made them prisoners of Mount Bed. They still have endless lives, but not endless youth.”
“That’s what we’re saying,” she said. “And we had no idea how someone who has always had eternal youth would face having his lover be gnarled and aged, so we didn’t speak up when we probably should have. Have we made you upset with us?”
“Up-sette with thou? Fithel-stikkes!” he said, tramping about in distraction. “Alacke! The oonly way to chaungen hem bakke is with the Grete Staf of Power and the Cristal Herte. And evene thanne, weo myghte neede the Ffirst Wysardes grimoire.”
“Our mothers have accepted their fate Meri, and they hold out hope that the Elven Prophesy is true. If that be, then perhaps they will indeed be turned back, and eventually will only have been old for a mere moment in your time. The question is, how are you
managing right now?”
“Mother Celeste has longed for you these live-long years. Will your shock at the sight of her upset her?”
“O!” he said, stopping short at the sight of how it all was. “Ich see. Wel my derre Celeste wol alwey the moost bryhte sterre in the hevenes ybe. That beth al she by the lok in myn eyn wol gete.”
“Well then,” said Ceidwad, rising to her feet with a shake of her feathers. “Are we ready?”
Meri gave her a sudden hug and a pat, did a handspring and hopped astride Lladdwr as he rose to his feet.
“Finally off his swyving toute!” croaked Ocker from somewhere overhead.
Ch. 15, The Reaper Witch
Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps