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Anyone walking in eastern Marndid late after the finishing of breakfast would have heard the shriek. It was the type of shriek that appeared without warning, causing terrible damage to the ears of those who were close enough to encounter it, echoes rushing through the corridors and reaching to the farthest, coldest, and draftiest corners of the house. The shriek was accompanied by delicately gloved hands frantically clutching at wide, swaying skirts and a hasty, rather unladylike gallop backwards that threatened to trample any standing in the unfortunate path.
“Dav? You up?” Ahmis's voice came distantly through the thick door the next morning.
Davin rolled over and shoved a hand into his face to wipe the sleep out of his eyes. His fist came up faster than he had expected, and the suddenness of his fingers striking the bridge of his nose stole a moan from his throat.
“Are you fighting someone in there?”
Davin gently rubbed his sore nose. “Only myself.”
The door creaked open, and Ahmis's blond head popped in. “Oh, good. So you're awake, then?”
Davin stuffed his face into his pillow in an attempt to go back to sleep and give his brother a hint about leaving him alone. “I wasn't.”
“But you are now, and that's the important thing.” The excitement in Ahmis's voice made Davin pull his face out of the pillow. “I want to show you something.”
Near the scarred capital of Marndid, a rusty lion weather vane stood crookedly atop a shabby barn. The battered metal had withstood the test of time, keeping erect in every kind of storm that nature had dared to produce. Hail had beaten down on the regal form of the lion carefully watching over the tiny farm below, leaving it unmercifully bent and bruised. Rain had washed over it, leaving it bitterly rusted in numerous, scratchy patches. Snow had covered it, freezing the iron so that it could not move to point the direction of the breeze. Gusts had tortured it, casting about this way and that so that the lion now sat askew in his position on the roof.
And yet, the vane still stood proudly, a symbol of resolve and endurance. It had been that way for years proceeding to the current time, and it would remain that way for years to come. Jod Mirtruse was certain of it.
Davin took advantage of the stilled page to try to read what had been written. “That's not the main language of Dron.”
“No, it's not. I think it's Vieumot.”
“Vieumot. It's an ancient language, from which our modern tongue has been adapted.” Ahmis responded, slipping quickly back into his old, scholarly self, the boy who had once enjoyed being the toast of the biggest universities in Dron. “At one time, it was the accepted language of Dron, but since then we've had too many immigrants, and the dialects and the language changed drastically. It's hardly used now, except by university students, although it was very popular for the wealthy to read, write, and even speak it once upon a time.”
“Can you read it?”
“No,” Ahmis scowled at the page, as if angered at the thought. “Unfortunately, I had to choose between classes at Stylo, and at the time I didn't think Vieumot was important.”
Davin couldn't deny that his heart grew disappointed. “So, you can't read any of it?”
Ahmis squinted at the page. “Well, I did have a few friends who learned to read and write Vieumot, and I did manage to bribe a few of them into sharing some of their lessons with me. I didn't learn very much, and what I did learn, I forgot most of it. However...” his words trailed off as he turned the faded leaves back to the very beginning of the journal. “There are some words that I keep seeing. They're coming up quite often in the entries.”
“Do you recognize them?” Ahmis was taking way too long sitting over this in Davin's opinion.
“I... wait.” Ahmis plunked his good hand down on the page and ran his fingers over the written phrase under the first date. “This word is the first person possessive pronoun linking it to the following second word which is...” Ahmis bit his lip, his face tightened in thought.
“Is what? I don't even know what you're talking about.”
“It's says my name. Those are the first two words, but the script is difficult to read.” Ahmis drew the book closer to his face. “Trenlam? No, that's an F at the beginning, not a T.”
“An F?” Davin echoed, as a sudden thought rushed into his head.
“Yeah,” Ahmis stretched the syllable out as if the same thought had occurred to him.
Ahmis's hand trembled beneath the leather weight of the book. “It is. Davin, it says My name is Frendan Teur de'Gon. It's our father's journal! We found our father's journal!”
“And you're just going to let them two go off alone?” Grant shot a furious glance at Rodnal.
“I am not the final authority, young Grant,” the storyteller stated evenly. “You are all, I believe, old enough to make your own decisions, and although Père made me the oldest and, for a while, the leader of this group, I am not your designated commander. That would be Davin. If you have a problem with his decision, then you should take that up with him, not me. Furthermore, I am not against them leaving to discover the truth. And they won't be going alone, not entirely. Our loving Creator will guide and protect them each step of the way, and I know His protection is beyond anything that we could ever offer them, even if you yourself, Grant, went with them.”
Now the furious glance was directed at Ahmis. “Never.” Grant said between his teeth, then stalked from the room.