Lollanna moved closer to her husband, Rangee, and slipped her strong arms around his waist. They stared at the children playing Stones in the open area at the center of the village.
Even the youngest of the children, who was seven years of age, was able to lift respectable size rocks and hurl them at the others. He had guts, too. Unlike several of the teenagers, the young boy wasn’t chewing any JuJu berries. He’d feel the full bite of his bruises, lumps and cuts until playtime was over. An effective decision, since his reflexes weren’t the least dulled, and most of his rocks had scored sound hits. As Lollanna and Rangee watched, the boy pegged a ten-pound rock off the head of thirteen-year-old girl, who let out a yelp. The others laughed of course, and she quickly quieted, embarrassed at her display of pain. She tried to return the rock, but the boy had dodged away out of range. She looked for another target, found one, and lofted the rock. It missed.
“She’s letting anger get in the way of her concentration,” said the man.
“Rangee,” said Lollanna softly.
Her husband said nothing, but she knew he had heard. She took his arm and tugged gently. “My love, I want you. I want your children. Come with me now.” She tugged again in the direction of their sleeping mat. “There are none who would disturb the chief of the Snow Wind tribe.”
Rangee shook his head. His head was turned towards the children at play, but his eyes were unfocused as considered matters much more distant.
“You are chief,” she continued. “There is peace between the tribes, and all the lands to the south fear and respect us. There is food to spare. You love me, I love you. We have shared our minds, and I know you want a child as much as I. Let us share our bodies.”
He turned to her and touched her face gently with a thick calloused finger. “We have to wait, Lollanna. The time is not right.”
“Will it ever be right?” she complained. “You do not even share with me the reasons for your decision.”
Rangee sighed. “Share what, Lollanna? Snatches of dreams? Murky visions? A growing uneasiness? That’s all I have. Nothing tangible. Nothing rational.” The chief paused, a troubled look on his face. “But I trust my feelings. Something powerful, something of great importance, is on the horizon. For good or ill I cannot tell. But it is something that will affect our lives. And many other lives, I think. The world may change because of it. I will not bring children into an uncertain future.”
“There is always uncertainty,” she replied softly. “The gods keep secrets, Rangee. If people had to ferret all of them out before raising families we would be extinct.”
Rangee didn’t answer, and she grew angry.
“It’s the Prophesy again, isn’t it?” She pulled away from him. “Rangee, the Taka Shema is only a legend. A legend. The Elves are dead and the Crystal promises nothing.”
Rangee frowned, and Lollanna knew that he was remembering her suggestion that the truth of the Prophesy might be revealed by making yet another prophesy. That had been years ago, but the wrath he had brought down upon her still stung today. Some of the other chiefs might be a bit lax, but Rangee strictly enforced Rauder law, and prophecy was against that law. With exile as punishment.
“It may be more than legend, Lollanna,” said Rangee. “I have heard from my spy in the Wizards Guild. Today two strangers were brought to the guild tower by magic from far away. The name of one of the strangers is Taka Shema.”
“No, I am sure that your man misheard. Perhaps the unfamiliar sound of a strange name made him hear what he wanted to hear.”
Rangee did not speak, and she sighed. She would cease to argue. He believed in the legend, and she would not let her more rational mind drive a wedge between them. She squeezed his hand affectionately. They were young and healthy. There would be time enough for family in the future. She loved him so much. There had to be time for children. There had to be. Taka Shema be damned.