In the deep mid-winter, his parents’ blood bright on the snow, Herensuge bundled the children and set each on Halcyon’s broad back. “Farewell ‘til the far Awakening,” he said to the silent wood clearing. To his siblings, unquiet at a leaving without their parents, he softly whispered, “Tears freeze in the winterling, my sisters. Our parents would not want you as ice on a winter solstice day.”

Thus, began the sisters’ journey – through seasons and landscapes – seeking special places known only to him. As each moon plumped, one sister or another became excited – anticipating that night when their brother placed each one them in turn alone on Halcyon, and walked them into a near-by town’s square. As the sun tickled the moon out of the sky, the pair returned. At first, the sister was a bit different – quiet, kept to herself. But soon, she was all giggles and smiles like her sisters – unaware of what had laid behind them in the snow.

Then came the Dragon’s Moon – huge and blood red – Ledda, the eldest thought she understood their journey, and Herensuge’s worried and frantic search of the last few days. Six of the human children brought back. Six of the changelings reclaimed. She sought to ease his concern, “It is fine. I am aware,” she said.

He looked over at his other sisters, deeply asleep. “Are you really? I have searched for you but I can not find. Let me show you but a glimpse of that which you are so sure.”

He opened her eyes to his non-human form and thus gave Ledda a vision of his world.

“Tis fine,” she said. “They will need caring and minding as Mother did for them. They will need protecting and teaching as Father did for them. They will need love. Let us head home, Herensuge.”

For the first time since that dark day, Herensuge smiled a snaggly-toothed smile and puffed a bit of brimstone. He had hidden his human sisters well when the warriors came looking for their children. But his parents paid the price. As they lay dying, they gave him explicit instructions about the human changelings, and said, “Ledda is the wisest of humans. Herensuge, always remember, the wisest.”

Jane asked us this week to explore the John Bauer illustration:

“Who are the children on the white horse? Who is leading them and why? Are they searching for something or escaping? Tell me a story to fit John Bauer’s magical illustration”

{It’s taken me almost 350 words to tell my tale, and I suspect it is unclear as to who the children were and are. All critiques welcome!!!!!!}

Words in italics have been added, I hope, to make the story of the exchange of the changelings clearer. Thus, a stand alone fairy-tale. I could continue the tale another time and tell of human Ledda raising the nestlings with her brother Herensuge which, by the way, is olden Catalan for dragon. And sometime why dragons are like cowbirds in nesting practices. I lost a comment stream that suggested the story needed clarification and maybe continuation.

(c) Lorraine