The Children of Calm

The Children of Calm by J Michael Smith

Book: The Children of Calm by J Michael Smith Read Free Book Online
Authors: J Michael Smith
months.”
    Tresten shook his head and then looked at Rylek. “Yeah,” he mumbled. He stood up and after a moment walked away. Rylek watched him and knew that what he had said was not what Tresten had meant.
     
    ***
     
    Things were relatively quiet over the next couple of days. Nothing else was discovered of Celek or of his purposes. However there were plenty of rumors that ran rampant throughout the village. It was whispered by some that he had left to rekindle a secret relationship with an old lover from his University days in Maeon. Others claimed the military needed his skills for some confidential mission and had discreetly asked him to reenlist. Still others said he had a falling out with Caenar and was actually told to leave Calm. But in the end it was all speculation, as his house was searched by Faltir and Ronas and yielded no answers or clues.
    Tresten spent a lot of time by himself, often wandering along the lakefront, meandering through the grain fields, or sitting atop The Balcony. Rylek knew his mood would change once they actually left the village for The Finding.
    The rest of the village was meanwhile finishing the preparations for New Year and the children’s birthday. The final touches were put on the decorations; cakes, cookies, and all sorts of confections were baked; gifts were wrapped; celebratory candles were handed out. The little children of the village were giddy with excitement, and could hardly sleep the night before New Year’s Eve.
    Finally it dawned the last day of the year. As the morning progressed, the village air was filled with the scents of all types of food roasting and baking: corn, potatoes, fish, nuts, and bread. Vegetables were prepared, some fresh and some cooked. The aromas of stews and soups wafted along the breeze, and the little ones found their mouths watering as they ran and played in the streets. Caenar had declared a two-day festival of community gaming and feasting, and had tables and chairs set up on the lakefront to serve as a large outdoor dining room, for the weather was immaculate. Lanterns were hung in the branches of the Old Sentinel in anticipation of the night. Some were even talking of sleeping there by the water.
    When evening arrived, and the children felt they could not possibly wait any longer for the feast to begin, the tables were set with all the food. The lanterns were lit and the people feasted, toasting each other with blessings for the coming year. Old stories were swapped, old jokes were retold, and much merriment transpired. After awhile it was announced that Selenor would sing and play for everyone, so nearly three hundred people quieted down to hear her strum her lyre and sing several songs. Some were old standards that she asked the village to sing along with her, others she sang by herself. The ones she sang alone were especially mesmerizing and spell-inducing, and Rylek found chills constantly running up and down his spine and the back of his head.
    Then the village clock informed the villagers it was somehow already midnight and New Year had come. Shouts of “Happy New Year!” and “Happy birthday!” echoed in the valley, along with some blasts from horns several boys were blowing and the barking of the village dogs. Faltir then led Ronas and a few other men in carrying crates of starpods to the shore, where they then handed them out to each person.
    Once everyone had a starpod, Caenar stood between the lake and the people. “Friends and family, it is now time for the Ceremony of First Lights,” he said. “I trust each of us has our own starpod. Now we shall observe a few moments of silence as we offer our prayers to The One for this New Year.”
    After awhile Caenar lifted his starpod above his head and spoke:
     
    “ Out of darkness came light,
    From the spoken word came truth.
    For all that has been given we now freely return:
    Blessing for blessing,
    Trust for providence.
    Grant us grace for this new year.”
     
    Then the people

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