Sorry that this post is a little late, but hey – it’s still technically the weekend! Here is the fourth installment of The Spring and the River. :) If you haven’t read the first three yet, click here to go to The Spring and the River page. :) These stories are not standalone so it would be best if you read them in order and don’t jump into the middle (that means you 2C). ;)
The air was full of the rich smell of earth after a heavy rain, and the sky was just starting to lighten in welcome to the sun. Lucy leaned out her window and breathed deeply. She had spent the last two weeks with ten members of her village who had instilled their knowledge and wisdom about restoration into her. Finally, the sense that it was time had descended on her and her parents. Knowing that she had little time to waste, Lucy dressed quickly. The small white Springstone that Lucien had helped her pick from the Spring sat on her dresser on a leather cord where it softly but persistently glowed.
Reverently, she lifted it over her head, and the luminescent stone rested against her collarbone murmuring quietly to her.
She left her room and went to the kitchen where her parents and Lucien waited for her. The week before, she had asked the three of them to be her accountability partners. As her accountability partners, it was their duty to help her remain unstained by the River. Today, they would go with her to the Spring and present her with a flask to fill with Springwater.
“Are you ready?” asked her father. Lucy smiled and nodded. Taking her hand, her father led her to the Spring like he had when she was young and did not know the way. Urgency built within her with every step she took – there might not be much time left for Marianne. It was still early enough that they were alone at the Spring.
“Lucy,” her father said, “what you are about to do is of the upmost importance. You are setting out to save a life, but you won’t be alone. We are here to make sure that in the process you don’t lose your own. You have the emblem of the stone, and now we give you the emblem of the flask to carry the Spring with you.”
Her mother stepped forward and gave Lucy a silver flask. “Lucy,” she said, “we are so proud that you’ve chosen to accept the call.”
Lucy smiled, not entirely sure what to say. When she had first asked Lucien about restoration, she had not realized the gravity that it carried. Only a sixth of her village had ever participated in restoration. Many were called, but few answered. Kneeling down beside the Spring – close enough that the cold water soaked her sandals – Lucy took a long drink before filling her flask. Young sunlight warmed her back. As she stood, the Spring whispered to her – encouraging and strengthening her.
“Any more counsel before I officially embark?” she asked.
“Remember your boundaries, Lucy. Don’t ever go farther than you have already predetermined you would,” Lucien said.
“Be humble and alert,” her father said. “Do not compromise – compromise leads only to more compromise and then you’ll be pulled under by the River.”
“Never hesitate to ask for more support,” her mother said. “You can ask anyone who has dealt with restoration for encouragement, not just the three of us.”
Clutching the flask so tightly that her fingers ached, Lucy nodded. Lucien stepped forward and embraced her. “You can put your flask in your pocket for now,” he whispered in her ear. She smiled and dropped the flask of precious Springwater in her pocket. After hugging her parents, Lucy turned towards the east. As she walked through the awakening village, those who had counseled her smiled at her. Their encouragement was added to the whispering of the Spring that she still reached her ears.
The Springfolk were beginning to go to the Spring for their morning refreshment as the colors of dawn faded from the sky. After they had spent some time at the Spring, they would set about their work. Those of the village who had traded the Spring for the River lived in the eastern section of the village. Lucy knew that Marianne had been recently thrown out of her family’s home because of her flagrant and unrepentant involvement in the River. Usually, when someone was expelled from their family’s home, they went straight to the eastern side of the village where they were accepted with open arms.
As Lucy neared the houses of the Riverfolk, her Springstone continued to murmur while doors to different houses opened and people stumbled out and went straight to the River. It did not take Lucy long to find Marianne because Marianne was not as desperate to get to the River as the more reliant Riverfolk.
“Marianne!” Lucy called.
“Lucy,” Marianne said irritably. “Your effervescence at this time of the morning annoys me.”
“Marianne!” a young man called, “Are you bringing one of the Spring bent on restoration into our midst?”
“No!” Marianne shouted back. “Give her a few days and she’ll give up!” Turning to Lucy, she stopped walking. “What do you want Lucy? I’m really not in the mood for a ‘the Spring is good and right and the River is bad and wrong’ speech today.”
“No speech,” Lucy said. “I just wanted to say hello before I go to the fields today.”
“Wonderful,” Marianne said, sarcasm lacing her tone. “From what I’ve heard of those attempting to restore, that means the speech comes later.”
“I will say one thing before I go, Marianne. I won’t be giving up in a few days. I am in this for the long haul.”