Began to yellow the lives in Gardens and Parks of the City of Falling Stars. Less frequent and quieter became songs of the Forest People, less mischievous and daring have gotten their pranks. Many of the Forest Inhabitants moved into comfortable homes of the City, and, instead of finding their happiness in the tricks and games, they found it in Dar Svet’s undertakings: Creating Laws, Building Palaces, Engineering Flying Chariots and soulless Giant Metallic, Stone and Glass Creatures.
Sad and pensive became Yeva, began he lingering for a long time in the Woods, having put the Skin on, and going there alone. Got worried Mara, started she asking an advise from her Older Sisters, Daughters of Dar Svet. Went they questioning her about the Skins, reminded her the very Yeva’s words that one should not stay in the Skin for long. Does Yeva remain himself , asked they, haven’t the Old Serpent Dar Vilenus possessed him, isn’t he conjuring up devious plans against us, wouldn’t he execute them by Yeva’s hands? Is it really Yeva you gallop with through the Prairies in the Skins, may be it is the Old Serpent who embraces you, were saying they, instead of Yeva? Who was that Incognito Guestess on your Wedding, with whom Yeva, obviously, is very familiar? Where does she live, may be in the Woods, and may be Yeva visit her during his long ventures there alone?
Flared up Mara, closed her ears, ran away. But fell the seeds of their words deep into her soul. One night, when Yeva came home from his lonely voyage to the Forest really late, got off the Skin, crushed on the bed, and momentarily fell asleep, Mara could not have a sleep at all, sitting before the hearth, looking at the flames. Stars began to dim before the dawn, when she finally made up her mind, grabbed Skins of the White Stallion and the Red Mare, and threw them into the fire. Raged the fire furiously, consuming the Skins in a moment. Shouted Yeva right away, like in unbearable pain, thrust himself up, and immediately fell back with no strength left, incapable to move neither legs, no arms.
— What have you done, Mara… What have I done… — whispered him. — I haven’t finished studies under Dar Vilenus… I can create of mend somebody else’s lives, but not my own, as our father asked me about… The Forest was sharing its life-force with me through the Skin, and it was hiding me from the All-seeing Eye of Dar Slovo… There is no place left in this World for such half-taughts like me… We only have time together until the Dawn… Until Dar Slovo launches his Sky Chariot from the Eastern Landing, and sees me without the shield of Skin…
— Give us a minute, Saena, — asked he the Shapeshifter who has appeared in the opening of a window. — But I don’t part you forever, Mara, we’ll see each other again, Dar Veter and Dar Vilenus will help us, and I will finish my studies.
Saena snapped up the feeble Yeva, and carried him away to the Shelter of Dar Veter, while Mara remained alone before the flames of hearth that was no longer warming her.
With trembling hands found Mara the old gift of Dar Vzor – the Silver Comb. It was always cold, even in the hottest summer days. Frost ornaments were slithering across its surface, each time one looks – different. However, now Mara’s fingers did not feel Comb’s chill, and her breath did not cause agitation of the ornaments’ recrystallization. With the resolute gesture put Mara the Silver Comb in her fiery hair, and like a lightning struck her. Her body curved up in a tormenting spasm, fire of her hair began to heating up, turning into a white-blue glow that spread all over her body, the radiance collapsed with a popping sound, and few snowflakes slowly glided to the floor where a moment before Mara was standing.
To be continued…