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

Chapter Six: The Day of Remembering


W
ake up Thairyn! Thairyn, wake up!”
“No... that’s the wrong biireo...” Thairyn moaned incoherently, “...Valii took it... it wasn’t me, I promise...” Her voice was so soft and guileless that, in spite of the incoherence of her defence—whatever defence she was making—Neyhira almost believed her. For a few seconds, all was still. Thairyn thought that Neyhira might have lost interest in her. Then, suddenly, her entire world started rocking and shaking violently! That fiend was bouncing on her! Stubbornly, Thairyn held fast to her blankets and did not move.
“Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!” Neyhira’s voice was hushed, but excited enough that Thairyn could not for the life of her ignore it.
Thairyn groaned and cracked open an eyelid. The room was still dark! With a more determined groan, she pulled the blanket over her head. “Leave me alone, Neyhira. The Kiir isn’t even up yet.”
Neyhira stopped bouncing.
But there was still a problem. Thairyn could not sleep. If brains could be ticklish, Neyhira had certainly gone and tickled Thairyn’s. She waited a moment longer, however, just to prove that Neyhira had not “won”. Then blanket flew off her head and she sat straight up. “Why are you awake?”
Still sitting beside her, Neyhira smiled. “Shh!” She put her hand on Thairyn’s mouth. “Come on, we’re getting ready for Valii’s party! It’s going to be a surprise.”
Thairyn felt her heart start racing. Could that mean—she looked at Neyhira’s face and saw her beaming, as happy as she had seen her since—oh, yes, perhaps it could! She hopped out of bed, caught Neyhira’s hand, and the pair of them hurriedly (but quietly) made their way out of the room, up the hall, and out of Grandmama’s teiami. Thairyn paused there. Looking out over The Way from the branches before the ladder, she saw a small gathering of people under The Cira-anu, illuminated by blue lamps. Everyone was busy, setting up tables and decorations—but the figure that both caught and held Thairyn and Neyhira’s attention was one who sat still in a wickerwork chair in the grass…

****

A dusty beam of Kiirlight leaked into the Gem Matron’s dim room via a small round window very near the domed ceiling. Valii was as comfortable as a little child could possibly be, nestled down in the soft, warm fibres of her Grandmama’s nest, safely wrapped in her own puffy blankets, enveloped in familiar scents... few things could make her happier. Her feet had that puffy-sleepy feeling in them which made her blankets feel that much softer, and for a few moments she rubbed her toes together enjoying the cosy sensation. She would have stayed there much longer, rubbing her tummy with her palms and curling her warm tail around her ankles, had she not been drawn up from her plush comfort by an odd feeling...
Slowly, ever so slowly, for the nest was still warm and the blanket pulled up under her chin and around her cheeks were still so soft, Valii opened her eyes. She saw the ceiling of the teiami, and that made her happy. Then she stretched her wings and ruffled the blankets. Cool air passed over her face and the effect was soothing.
Valii sat up, blinking her eyes and looking around. She saw the Kiirlight, and if her face was not so sleepy she certainly would have smiled, because it made her feel content and quite sure that today was a good day. It did not take much to be so, nor did it really need to stay that way, for she lived in the moment. To Valii, the morning Kiirlight was the promise of wonderful exciting things to come; a chance to see each loving face of her family and play grand games with her siblings in some amazing land of their own making! The anticipation of such adventures before it all began was a good, quiet feeling, which filled her whole heart. But as she sat there, looking very groggy but feeling very pleasant, she suddenly found the source of that odd feeling she had before... Mama was not in the nest. She was not even in the room, and everything was very quiet.
This seemed very peculiar to Valii, if not somewhat unnerving. She remembered that she was in Grandmama's room, and that she had been sleeping with Grandmama ever since Mama had been sick. Now she felt solemn. When she remembered this, she knew she would not be able to go back to sleep, and knowing that she was alone made the warm embrace of the blankets less inviting.
Without making a peep, Valii slipped out of the nest and touched her toes on the floor. There she waited a moment, wondering if anyone would hear her. But as no one seemed to be around to do so, Valii let herself down and very quietly went to the room entrance. Again she paused, this time to look out the room entranceway and see if anyone was waiting for her, or if anyone was talking in the rooms upstairs; then she might be able to make a decision as to join them or go back to bed and wait for someone to come get her. She wondered, and hoped a little, that ciraanc was being prepared and that she would find her family gathering to eat, but there was no sound to indicate that was the case.
Feeling a tad bit more anxious, and a tad bit more curious, Valii left her Grandmama’s room. She was not really meaning to sneak, but she was being exceptionally quiet as she listened for familiar voices.
She made her way up the stairs and peered into the main room, never hearing a voice or seeing a face. So she went a bit further and peeked into the kitchen, to see if anyone was up or if there was any food to be found. But she only found more silence and more loneliness. Valii wondered if she had not woken up very

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