“You should have told me years ago!”
Sonsee’s father roared in a voice Nanna had never heard before. When he pounded his fist on the desk, Nanna winced and backed away from him.
“My Lord, I was only following Iona’s wishes.”
“Then you both should have told me!”
His face was red and Nanna saw one large vein pop out on his forehead. She feared he would have a stroke, or heart attack, or goodness knew what else.
“My Lord, I apologize, but we must find Sonsee now. I can only imagine the plans M’Lady would have for her.”
Sonsee’s father picked up the amulet and inspected it one more time. “Do you really think Sonsee made this?”
“Yes, My Lord, and smuggled it out for us to see. Sonsee is a smart, resourceful girl.”
“Bring me the tiles,” Sonsee’s father replied, placing the amulet gently n the desk.
“But My Lord…”
“I said ‘Bring me the tiles!’” He glared at Nanna but she refused to move even one muscle. “Now!” he screamed. “If you want to save Sonsee’s life, bring me those tiles.”
“My Lord, they are dangerous if in the hands…”
“Yes, yes, I heard you the first time. Now bring them!”
As Nanna turned to leave the room, she did not know what to do. Men were not allowed to touch the tiles. It would rob them of their power, it was said. Would his Lordship understand that? She was not so sure. Or maybe it was time for them to lose their power. What had they brought to anyone but misery? The King’s greed for the tiles had forced Iona, Nanna, and their families to flee their homeland, and what had that brought them? A ship wreck, all killed but the two young girls unable to care for themselves. Then M’Lady’s greed. Would it never end? They should have been thrown to the sea long ago.
Nanna grabbed the box, now certain they should be destroyed. But first she needed to get Sonsee back. She walked resolutely back to his Lordship’s office and set the box on the table.
“Open it,” his Lordship said, his anger having cooled down.
Nanna poured the tiles on the desk. There was a rumble deep in the earth beneath them. Nanna was relieved to find it was only a short one, not long or strong enough to take notice. The earth rumbled all the time. Surely it did not mean anything.
“May I handle them?” Sonsee’s father asked.
Confused, Nanna looked at him.
“Iona may not have told me about the tiles, but she did say there were many magical things in your homeland that men could not touch. May I touch these?”
“Men have never touched the tiles,” Nanna replied.
“Good. Spread them out and let me see them. Picture side up, please.” His lordship studied the tiles for many minutes before asking, “How do you use them? They are just symbols.”
“You turn them up-side-down and ask a question. One tile will call to you somehow. You turn it over and the symbol will give you the answer.”
“Show me. Ask whether I will get my Sonsee back.”
“Yes/no questions are not easily answered, My Lord.”
“Then ask how I get my Sonsee back.”
“I am not as good as Iona was, My Lord, but I can try.” Nanna turned the tiles over, then gently moved them around with the palms of her hands. “Concentrate on your question, as I will, too.”
Nanna moved her right hand over the tiles. Nothing was calling. She moved her hand closer, now just an inch above them. The sleeve of her gown hit one and it flew off the desk.
Nanna bent to pick it up. “The volcano,” she whispered. “It means destruction.” Nanna could feel herself shaking now.
“How do you know that was meant to be the answer?”
“Because it is the third time I have gotten that tile when asking about Sonsee,” she replied.
“Put the tiles back in the box. It is time to stop this charade. I made a promise to Brachaia. I promised that, if I found the tiles, I would give them to her in exchange for letting Iona go. It maybe too late, but I intend to keep that promise.”
“Brachaia? Who is Brachaia?” Nanna asked fearing the answer.
“My half sister. The Mistress of the temple. You call her M’Lady, but her name is Brachaia.”
“But My Lord?”
“Do as I say. If you both had come to me sooner, this would never have happened. I thought Iona’s death would be the end of it. I see I underestimated Brachaia.”
“Touch the tiles, My Lord. We must destroy their power.”
“No, we need them yet.”
“But My Lord,…”
“If you will not do as I say, leave me,” Sonsee’s father ordered as he pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and swept the tiles into the box.
“But My Lord…”
“My Lord, please listen to…” Before she could finish her plea, Sonsee’s father had turned and left the room, taking the weaver’s box with him.
Desperate now, Nanna turned and left the room, too. She hurried to the smithery and called out, “Gryffud, I need you.”
Just as Gryffud appeared, the earth rumbled again, this time stronger than the last.
An hour later Nanna and Gryffud were on the beach looking up at the Temple’s tower.
“Are you sure Sonsee is up there?” Gryffud asked for the tenth time.
“I cannot tell you how I know, but I know. She is in that room and we need to get her out.”
“If we could scale the cliffs, maybe. But we would need a grappling hook and a very good arm to throw it through the window.”
“We have to try. Tonight, can you get the men together for tonight?”
“I do not know, My Lady. It is dangerous. What if we are caught?”
“Gryffud, please. We have to rescue Sonsee before his Lordship does something he will regret. I know M’Lady. She will stop at nothing to get what she wants.”
“We must wait until the moon is dark. It will take one night to get the ropes in place to scale the cliff, and a second to enter the tower. I will get the men together.”
[CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons