Without a word, Arwr, Lladdwr and Ceidwad sped away, pat, pat, patting over the leaves with Tors galloping furiously to keep up. Arwr lead them single file along the beginnings of a creek that was soon flanked with rock outcroppings which before long formed a deep hollow. Without the slightest hesitation to puzzle over landmarks, he took them directly to the foot of a huge sheer faced bluff of slate grey rocks which formed an overhang several rods long. At the back of the overhang a small cave ran in under the rock. In short order they had Razzmorten and Mary laid out on pallets of leaves.
Lukus knelt by Razzmorten and laid his hand on the old fellow's forehead. He closed his eyes and quickly set about calming himself as he had been taught in order to ready his magical energies to flow into his grandfather. He let these drain away until he began feeling the inevitable exhaustion which signaled where he must stop. He had no choice now but to rest before going any further. He opened his eyes and studied Razzmorten for any sign of success. He shook his head in weary dismay as he looked up at the hopeful faces gathered 'round him.
"I see no change at all," he said. "I'll have to eat and rest a bit, before I can try again." He stood up on wobbly legs and clenched his teeth. "I can find nothing wrong with him at all. I wish I could read his mind. Then he could tell me what's wrong."
"I can do that for you," said Ceidwad, lowering her head to peer into the cave.
"You diatrymas read minds?" he said, suddenly thinking about what she was saying.
"But why didn't you say so long before now?" he said before realizing that he just might sound as though he were making accusations.
"Why? said Lukus. "Is it dangerous?"
"Not done right, no."
"So you have a certain expertise?" he said, glancing at Rose.
"I'd not attempt such a thing without being confident. Of course, I'll only proceed if you wish."
Lukus looked at Rose. She turned aside to Fuzz and Myrtlbell who each nodded encouragingly.
"Please do, Ceidwad," said Lukus. "We'll never know unless you do."
"Then please carry him to the mouth of the cave," she said, "we never go inside."
As soon as they got him moved, she slowly settled onto her keel, fluffed her feathers and gently laid her huge ebony beak across his forehead. After shifting her head a little, this way and that, she blinked a couple of times and then closed her eyes. Hubba Hubba leant so far forward on Rose's shoulder while watching that he tumbled off and landed on the cave floor with a feathery plop. Pebbles flew down beside him as he picked himself up and gave a shake of his feathers. Taflu snickered, but sobered at once at a look from Fuzz.
"Generally only the hens amongst us," he said softly. "They listen in on the dreams of our eggs and thereafter they keep track of the chicks in dead silence in the face of danger and while they forage."
"Then her mind reading won't heal?"
"I'm afraid it doesn't, at least nothing beyond the reassurance it gives. But Ceidwad will be able to tell you what ails them and find out what needs to be done."
At last, Ceidwad stood up and turned to face everyone, singling out Rose and Lukus.
"Your grandfather will survive and will indeed wake up in due time," she said, "but I've no idea at all how long that will be. Those bolts from the sorceresses were much like lightening. If one is struck by lightening, he either dies right then and there or he's left in a coma for who knows how long. Could be just a few hours; could be days. They got big jolts. Your Grandfather believes that they are both very lucky to have survived. They should be dead. In fact, he wonders if Demonica and Spitemorta deliberately let them live for some reason. So there's no damage, but I'd allow that he'll be asleep for some time to come."
"Oh thank you!" said Rose, as she hugged Ceidwad, muffling a sob in her fluffy neck feathers "You've spared us so much worry."
Ceidwad rattled her beak through Rose's hair as Hubba Hubba hopped onto Razzmorten's chest and walked up his beard to point one eye at his face. He stood there for a moment, then trotted back down his beard and flew to Lukus's shoulder. "He doesn't look any different at all, Lukus."
"Righty-o!" he said with a proud flap of his wings and a whistle. He shook his feathers. "Now you're catching on."
"Absolutely," said Lukus.
Ch. 19, Stone Heart
Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps