His character has grown since I started writing, or rather, I’ve grown and his character comes more naturally to the page. When I started writing Heart of Hope, Goel’s character was the hardest to get on paper. Because of this I was dreading revising chapter two, wondering if he’d once again come out boring and forced. What a surprise and a pleasure when he suddenly broke free of my mind and simply was himself, saying what he knew he would say. He surprised me a few times as I re-wrote, and I can’t tell you how thrilling that was.
And so, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, meet Goel.
He paused, took a breath, closed his eyes and continued in quiet song. Avalyn leaned forward, listening to his soft voice.
“There comes a day drawing near,
When Darkness over Light will tread
An Evil once concealed will roam
A shadow ‘oer the land shall spread.
A people, blind, cry out for peace,
For day is night and hope is lost
They’ve bound themselves in heavy chains
Surrendering despite the cost.
Death will reign with iron fist,
Life will shutter and look for aid
Who can conquer such a foe?
And change the fate that men have made?
Two souls will rise to fight for hope,
And one will come from purest light
A sacrifice, to save the two
Defeating Death, reversing Night.
The Darkness shall be swept away,
Through his sacrifice of love
New life is given, new hope is found
By spotless blood spilled from above.”
Silence fell across the crowd. What could this mean? She had never heard this tale before, or this quiet song. Opening his eyes he leaned forward. His crowd of listeners was held by his gaze and his gentle way of speaking. Even the men and woman who mingled with the children stood in silence, waiting to hear more.
“I am Goel, and I bring you this tale. A prophecy of old, a whisper of the coming shadow none can escape.”
Avalyn glanced around, many of the adults shifted uncomfortably. The atmosphere around the crowd had suddenly changed.
“Heed my words, for there is hope yet,” Goel’s gaze fell on Avalyn. She blinked and dropped her own gaze to her feet. There was something about the way he looked at her, something strange. Was he still looking at her? She snuck a peek at him, he looked away, now eyeing the adults.
“The shadow has already begun to spread, more is coming.”
“What do you mean?” Some in the crowd asked, “We now of the king’s death. Is this the shadow you speak of?”
“It is but the whisper of cool wind before the fury of the storm. This death was no accident, is just the first step in a long-planned game.”
“You know more than you will say stranger,” Isaac, the innkeeper crossed his arms over his barrel of a chest and eyed Goel with suspicion.
Goel tilted his head and looked sideways at the heavy-set man who stood at the railing beside him. “I know wise men may see through a lie, but for fools, truth is veiled from them.” His expression never changed as he spoke, nor did the tone of his voice alter, but as Avalyn watched, his eyes seemed to come alive with an inner fire. But it lasted a moment only and Avalyn wondered if she really saw anything at all.
Isaac stood up straighter and glared down at Goel. Avalyn could see a vain at the side of his neck twitch. “Fools indeed. It is a fool who comes and whispers misgivings in an unfamiliar place. You bring tales of hope than prophecy death and treason? What do you know that gives you the right to bring such whisperings here?”
“Isaac is right,” Avalyn turned and saw Warren, the cooper where he stood in the crowd. “We are a simple people, of no consequence to the politics of Albor. And we have no wish to entangle ourselves with these rumors of murder.”
Goel bowed his head, “We cannot choose what events shall change our curse of life, but we can choose how we shall face them.”
“Riddles of nonsense,” Isaac waved a hand as if brushing the statement away. “I will not have such words in my tavern, nor outside my doors. If you do not wish to bring trouble down on your own head storyteller, I suggest you leave Bryth this very day.” Isaac entered the tavern, followed by a few people in the crowd.
Avalyn looked around as parents gathered up their children and the crowd broke apart. A shiver crawled up her spine. This was so odd. What could this man’s strange words mean? A prophecy? A spreading shadow? Murder? Was this storyteller crazy? Or was Isaac right and he knew more than he would say?
Goel rose to his feet, as he did so, he lifted a travel-worn pack to his shoulder. As he descended the stairs he looked towards Avalyn. She met his gaze, he nodded then turned away. What did he mean? The question still echoed in Avalyn’s mind. She had to know.
“Wait!” She ran after him.
Goel stopped, turned around and waited for her to catch up. As he turned she caught sight of broadsword hanging from his waist. Strange, she wouldn’t have thought a storyteller to possess such a weapon.
She stopped directly in front of him. He wasn’t much taller than she was, though she tall for a girl, she could nearly look him in the eye.
“What did you mean about a shadow? Or how the king’s death was no accident?”
“Truth Avalyn, is hard for some to see. Tell me, are you the only one who desires to find it?”
Avalyn stepped back, “How, how did you know my name?”
“Three questions you ask of me. But which do you really wish to know?” His spoke slowly, as if tasting each word before letting it loose.
She stared at him. His brown eyes seemed to pull at her, becoming for her to search them and find the mysterious hidden within their depths. Who was he? Why didn’t he just answer her questions? What kind of secrets did he keep? What kind of person would know whether or not the king’s sudden death was due to natural causes, or, dare she even think, murder? Should she walk away now and forget about his words? What if they really were treasonous like Isaac suspected?
Her thoughts battled, trying to make sense of the man standing before her. There was something about him, in the way that he spoke; there was gentleness in his gaze, but…
“Who are you?” Avalyn asked, no longer able to win with her thoughts.
“I am who am, though to others, one can be many things. I am Goel.” He smiled.
(c) Laura Jenkins