Minuet looked up with a start from her knitting as Hebraun burst into their parlor with a small globe and a huge grin. He held out the tiny orb.
“Here! Talk to it,” he said, parking it in her outstretched palm. “Ask it to play your message.”
Minuet hesitated, having not actually seen such a thing before. “Please deliver your message,” she said.
The ball lit from within and directly Lukus appeared with a huge grin. “Congratulations,” he declared. “You are the grandparents of a fine healthy grandson. Soraya and I have named him Daniel. You are also the very fortunate grandparents of the most beautiful baby girl that has ever been born. We have named her Ariel.” He stepped aside for them to see Soraya sitting up in bed, radiantly holding forth first one baby then the other so they could have a good look. Lukus stepped back into view. “Grandfather and Rose will be home before long. They’ve much news to bring you. Soraya and I will not be returning to Niarg for a bit yet. We’ll let you know when we do. In the meantime, I’ll say that you have yet another happy surprise coming, though I’m not at liberty to tell you what it is. We love you and miss you. And you must set down this globe so that it can fly back to King Neron. Goodbye.” The image in the globe vanished. Its glow faded out and Minuet set it down, still astonished by it, as it rose and flew like a shot out the window.
“Twins Hebraun! A boy and a girl!”
Hebraun smiled and put his arm around her. “Guess you’ll be needing both the pink and the blue layettes after all, dearest.”
“Of course,” she said as she spun ’round to look up into his face. “What do you reckon Lukus meant by, ‘at least one more happy surprise?'”
“Can’t imagine,” said Hebraun. “But at least it’s going to be pleasant, and we can use all the joy we can rake in. I think it may be a good long time before we have much more.”
“I know,” she said. “We’ve got bad times ahead.”
“We knew this was coming,” he said, squeezing her hand.
“Yes, but I kept hoping that somehow the Elves were wrong, for once.”
“I’d hoped it, too,” said Hebraun, hugging her as they stood at the window, gazing into the starlit night as the newborn hope for their world slept in their mother’s arms across the miles in the Jutwoods.
Ch 30, Stone Heart
Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps