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The Singer Elizabeth Hunter 2022/7/22 11:38:28

Ava tried not to laugh. Was there anyone less dove-like than Sari?

Orsala was smiling at her granddaughter before she spoke again. “So, Irina speak our magic in the Old Language as the Irin write it. But we also have other gifts. Again, no one knows why. I’m assuming you haven’t heard any of our songs?”

Damien said, “Our history. Most of the books we have written—like the one Malachi showed you when you first came to the scribe house—are written records of Irina songs.”

Orsala waved a dismissive hand. “Written songs are not songs. There is no way of capturing the true nature of our history on the page. It must be heard to be understood.”

Damien smiled indulgently and turned to Ava. “This is a very old argument.”

“It’s true,” Sari added. “The songs were never meant to be written. The act of writing them diminishes the power of their meaning.”

“I’m not going to get into this argument, my dove.”

Sari slapped her hand on the table. “Stop calling me that!”

Orsala barked out something in Norwegian that made both Damien and Sari sit up straight. For a moment, they both looked like chastised children, then Orsala switched to English.

“So, while I am working with Ava and teaching her beginning spells, you two will continue to research her background. We have records, too. And you can speak to Candice.”

Sari’s jaw had clenched. “But—”

“Candice’s father was a historian and genealogist. One of the first in the Americas, so it’s possible she might know something about the families that Ava might have come from. Once I get a feeling for her blood, you’ll have more to go on.”

“And you want us to work together?” Damien asked quietly. “Are you sure?”

“I am quite positive,” Orsala said. “Why don’t you both finish your tea and start right now?”

“Together?” Sari seemed limited to one word answers forced out between clenched teeth.

“Yes. In fact, just take your tea with you and leave Ava and me alone.”

Damien couldn’t hide the pleased expression on his face as he rose and held out his hand. “Shall we, my dove?”

Sari was muttering under her breath. She ignored her mate’s hand and put her cup on the counter, then without a backward glance, she walked out the front door.

Damien turned to Orsala and smiled. “So good to see you again, matka.”

“Don’t thank me yet, Damjan. You have a long way to go.”

“Will they make up?”Ava asked after they’d finished their tea and been left alone in the cottage. The fire crackled in the hearth, and Orsala added wood to the flames before she settled in the chair across from Ava.

“Yes. There was hurt on both sides. They both made mistakes, and I understand why Sari feels the way she does. But now?” Orsala shook her head. “It is time. Damien is a different man than he was during the Rending. Sari needs to learn that some Irin grow from their mistakes, and that forgiveness isn’t something to be withheld from your mate, not even in grief.”

“Was it that bad? Really?”

Shadows flickered in Orsala’s eyes. “Yes.” Then the old woman shook her head and asked, “Are you ready to listen?”

“Do I need to take notes?”

Orsala smiled. “I imagine you’ll be sick of this history by the time we’re done. You have a lot to learn, but everything draws from this, so it will be repeated.”

“There were twenty-one cardinal angels who fell to the earth from above. Twenty-one who defied the creator and took humans as mates. Had children. Many of them. Seven returned. Seven were killed. Seven remained. Others followed them, but they were the first. The seven who returned, we call the Forgiven. They are the fathers of the Irin race.”

“The ones who left their children,” Ava said.

Orsala cocked her head. “They were not creatures of this world. They had no business here. Sometimes leaving is the right thing to do.”

Ava ignored the twist of anger in her belly and asked, “And these seven gave their power to their children.”

“Uriel gave us the gift of life. Male and female, we can harness his magic to extend our lives. Gabriel gave Irina the gift of hearing so that we might hear the souls of the world around us to aid in their protection. The other powers are more specific and more rare.”

Orsala nodded. “Chamuel gave a few of his blood the gift of empathy and influence. Rafael gave others the gift of healing, and also the ability to read the history of objects.”

“You’re talking about touch telepathy?” Ava was starting to get excited. It was real and unreal at the same time.