"I am Leala. The Good One changed my name to Leala when he saw my faithfulness."
Mara's brow rose. "What do you mean you've been waiting for me?"
"I've been here every day for sixty long years waiting for you. After my husband went to meet with the Good One, I came here to seek Him daily, and here I've remained ever since."
"Who is it you think I am? And how could you know I would come here? Even I didn't know until recently."
Leala smiled and shook her head. "No, it's not you exactly whom I've awaited." Her voice quivered with age.
"What do you mean?"
"We've been waiting for the little one."
"We've? Who is 'we've?' And the 'little one?'"
"Her!" Leala exclaimed as she pointed toward Reigna. Then she cocked her head to the side. Her brow furrowed. She turned her gray eyes from Nina, who held Reigna, to Adele, who held Eden. "Waaaait," she whispered, a question in her eyes. "Her?" she asked, nodding toward Reigna again. "Or . . . her?" she asked as her gaze moved to Eden.
Mara stepped forward. She grasped Leala by the forearm. "Explain yourself."
"I don't understand."
"You don't understand what?"
"I know you're the right Oathtaker, and that one of those infants is right, but . . . But I . . . Which—"
"What do you mean that I'm the right Oathtaker? What Oathtaker do you seek?"
"Why you, of course." The woman poked her finger at Mara.
"And what Oathtaker am I?"
Leala's smile moved from her lips to her cheeks and then landed in her old gray eyes, making them glisten. "The Oathtaker to the seventh seventh of course!"
Mara pursed her lips. "What do you know of a seventh seventh?"
The old woman looked at Nina and Reigna, Adele and Eden. Her gaze did not return to Mara until Jules stepped forward, cutting off her view.
"Now, that's where I'm confused," she said slowly. "I'm sure she's here, but I know not which . . ." She looked away, lost in thought for a moment. Then she exclaimed, "Oh, gracious Ehyeh!" Her eyes flashed wide, her face lit up. For a moment she looked twenty years younger. "The seventh seventh 'who is but is n—'"
"Shhhh!" Once again, the Oathtaker looked around the room. Fortunately, notwithstanding the old woman's apparent agitation, they'd not attracted any unwanted attention.
Leala could barely contain herself. She squirmed, a question in her eyes.
Mara glanced downward. "You are correct, Leala," she looked back up to meet her eyes, "but I'm sure you can appreciate that I will require your silence."
"Oh yes! Yes, of course. We won't say anything."
"We! Who is 'we?'" Mara asked for the second time. This time her voice sounded hard and demanding.
At just that moment, an elderly man approached. Dressed impeccably, he carried himself as a man of nobility, a man of means. His age-spotted shiny head reflected the candlelight in the room. His cheeks, clean and pink with good health, practically shone.
In anticipation of danger, Mara again reached for Spira. She was surprised to find Leala's hand upon her forearm urging her not to take action.
The old gentlemen stopped. He bowed from his waist. His cloak fell forward. When he stood back up, he moved it back behind his shoulders.
YOU ARE READING
An Oath Sworn. A Struggle Engaged. A Sacrifice Required. When Mara, a trained Oathtaker, is drawn by the scent of the Select to battle underworld beasts summoned by powers of evil to destroy the guardians of life, she swears a life oath for the prot...