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SJORIA: Book One|"The Silence Before The Song"|Scroll Down to Begin...

Chapter Two: The Lesson of the Talgonfree

aahhh!!!! No, please! Please, please—Let me go!”
Her oppressor merely laughed. “Is that as loud as you can scream? No one can hear you! Aha ha ha ha!”
The maiden screamed louder and more desperately for help, and still her attacker remained undaunted. “Still can’t hear you! Louder, Valii, louder; Telae’ah will soon face her doom!”
Doom. Doom was a very serious word, and upon hearing it, the maid at last realized the depth of her plight. She jumped up from the ground, cupped her hands around her mouth and shrieked one shrill, blood-curdling note right into the face of her adversary.
“Ow!” Thairyn cried. She pinned back her earfins and covered them with her hands.
“Oh no, I'm sorry! Are your own earfins okay?”
Thairyn glared at her little sister. But she regained both her composure and character in a moment and said, “Of course! A wee scream couldn’t stop the likes of Kahni! ...Although, you shall soon regret injuring his earfins.”
“Nay! That she shall not!” The sisters looked up at a low hanging Tree Kin branch, where stood a hooded figure.
Dramatically this character flung off her cape—sending, too, cascades of her silky blue hair to flow in the light breeze. She leapt down from her perch and landed almost soundlessly on the ground a few paces from Thairyn and Valii. She twirled towards them and struck a heroic pose.
Thairyn was not impressed. In fact, she was insulted. She wrinkled her nose in disgust. “Neyhira,” she said seriously, “You’re supposed to be Manairus. Manairus didn’t wear a gown.”
“Of course he didn’t,” Neyhira said, pinning back her earfins, “But I wasn’t about to put on that ratty old kyntin you wanted me to wear. And what does it matter, anyway? If we can pretend your stick is a sword, I think we can pretend my gown is a—”
Thairyn put up her hand and pointed her nose in the air. “You talk too much, and besides, you’re too late! My victim is already dead.
“I am not!” said Valii, “That’s not fair Thairyn! That didn’t happen in the real story!”
“Well maybe you would have lived if Manairus had shown up.”
“I did!”
“You wasted precious time spinning your silly skirts around,” Thairyn said. “Manairus is my Star-guardian and I can tell you he wouldn’t have come to battle wearing a silly little gown, much less twirl in it!”
“He is your Star-guardian,” Neyhira said, “Therefore, you should play him. I want to be the bad guy this time!”
“Pfft. You’re too nice to play the bad guy. I’d arrive on the scene and cry let her go! ...and then you would—probably with an apology for tying her up in the first place.”
“She’s right, you would,” Valii said. “Do you want to be Telae’ah, Neyhira? I can be the bad guy.”
“You? The evil Kahni—you?” Thairyn laughed. “Let’s face it; I’m the only one scary enough to be Kahni.”
“Ha!” Valii said, “You don’t scare me!”
A light came to Thairyn’s eyes and she smiled unnervingly. “Oh... don’t I?”
Valii let out a shout and fled as her older sister lunged at her. Despite the points of their previous argument, this game found Thairyn once more the villain, Valii again the damsel, and Neyhira the hero.

They chased each other all the way to The Clearing, which was a wide green field that separated the Eastern Side of the forest from the Western Side. It was usually a quiet and peaceful glade, but its tranquillity was shattered when the three princesses came squealing and bounding through it. Several tiny brightly coloured biireos whom had been hitherto hiding in the grasses flew up at once in the girls’ wake, twittering and screeching their alarm at having been disturbed. Thairyn and her sisters took little notice of this however, and went on their way giggling and screaming.
“Ha! Ha! Take that, and that, Kahni! Die by my sword or else by my fire!” Neyhira cried, using a stick she had picked up as a weapon.
Skilfully Thairyn blocked her blows with her own “sword”.
Clack, clack, clack!
“Ah ha ha ha! Manairus, you fool! You shall not save the maiden!”
Valii, meanwhile, slipped away from the two of them to find a place to hide. The grass was so tall that this was not a difficult feat; so she crouched down and hugged her knees. She giggled quietly to herself, waiting for the evil Kahni and her beloved Manairus to notice she was gone.
Clack, clack, clack!
Their duel did not sound as though it would end soon. But Valii was a very patient child. She noticed there was a little hole in the ground under her feet. When she looked closer, she saw the glint of two eyes peering out at her. Valii put her forefinger to her lips. “Shh, we’ve got to be quiet or Kahni will find us!”

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