During the next three years, Lytha grew in beauty and in sweetness. Her curiosity also grew. She learned to walk and talk quite early in her young life. When she was a year old, she nearly had a tumble down a flight of stairs, but for the quick actions of an older child. She would've been in serious trouble at times, but for her true sorrow at learning she had done wrong. She never made the same mistake twice.
She had nimble fingers and a quick mind. If not for her love of exploring, she would have been a perfect child. Onatel and the others who cared for the little ones loved her.
One early spring morning, in her third year, little Lytha skipped from the room she shared with others down the stairs and out of the temple door. She was going to explore the pond. She had thought about exploring the river, but one of the rules was that no little one could leave the temple grounds without a grownup. The pond should do instead. As she skipped down the path, she sang a song she'd made up about the pretty little flowers growing on the mountainside.
Soon enough she reached the pond. It wasn't a large pond, but it should do for her purposes. She thought about jumping fully clothed into the pond, but Onatel had always told her to be careful of her clothes. She had always reminded Lytha that there were other children in the world who did not have any clothes. She removed the brown peasant smock and folding it up with her little sandals, she laid them on the bank. She saw a good sized rock, and placed it over her things, so they wouldn't get lost.
How should she approach the pond? She could jump in, but she'd never done this before. The air was pretty cold. Maybe the water would be a little warmer. She sat down on the lip of the pond, and slowly slid into the water. She wasn't prepared for the coldness of the water. She squealed in surprise. She flailed her arms and legs for a while, finally falling into a rhythm. She would stay hear for a while. She would go back when she was warmer.
Onatel ran, wild eyed and disheveled into the dining hall, where everyone was having breakfast. She stared around the room in panic.
"Has anyone seen her?" she gasped.
Bethan, who was spreading her bread with honey, looked up eyebrows raised.
"What are you talking about Onatel?" she asked.
"It's that child Lytha! She's missing! She wasn't in her bed this morning. I've looked all over for her, and she isn't anywhere!"
"Could she have left the temple grounds?" a young man sitting not far away asked.
Bethan shook her head.
"No she knows she isn't allowed to leave the temple grounds without an adult. We'll find her."
Everyone who could took up torches and blankets and went outside.
"She didn't even wear her coat." Onatel mourned.
Lytha was frightened. She wasn't getting any warmer. If anything, she was getting colder. She tried to climb out of the pond, but the bank was so slippery. She tried again and again until she was exhausted. She moved slowly in the water, thinking about all of the things she would no longer do: like learn how to spin and sew and read. . Then, in spite of herself, she began to cry.
She cried until she grew so weak. Even then the tears came. Something caught her attention. She looked up to se a beautiful chestnut stallion. On his back sat a blonde young man. Before she could blink, she found herself warm and dry sitting before him.
"Hello who you? You see me swim?"
"Hello Lytha. Yes I did see you swim. You were doing rather well. Are you ready to go home now?"
Lytha nodded her eyes wide.
"How you know my name?" she asked.
He gently stroked her amber curls.
"I've known you for a long time."
"Don't know you." Lytha said frowning.
"I'm Eriond." he told her.
Her eyes widened again, and she turned to look at him gravely.
"You magic Erraand. You teach me?"
We'll see." he said gently stroking her brow.
She had lots of questions, but she felt so sleepy. She relaxed and closed her eyes.
As Onatel came toward the main building, she saw Eriond sitting astride his horse with little Lytha cradled in his arms.
"Oh sir thank you for bringing our Lytha home. She's such a little mischief. I'm sorry she bothered you." Onatel cried running forward.
Eriond grinned. "She's no trouble Onatel. She's just curious. I was in much more trouble when I was her age. I was in trouble when I got older too."
Onatel grinned back. As Lytha felt herself shifted, she put her arms around Eriond's neck and kissed him. Then she knew no more.
One fine Midsummer Day, Onatel, Marellen, and Bethan took the little ones to the pond for play.
"Well Lytha since you're the one with all the experience, would you like to show us how it's done?" Marellen asked.
Lytha grinned. She stripped and jumped into the pond. She laughed as she felt the now warm water.
"Come swim Errand. The water's warm now."
"Lytha!" Bethan exclaimed with some exasperation.
There was a sound of laughter in the air. Lytha played all afternoon, until the sky began to turn a deep purple. As Onatel tucked her in, she put her arms around the woman's neck and kissed her.
"Happy Tel?" she asked sleepily.
Onatel hugged her.
"Very happy Lytha." she answered hugging the little girl.
Lytha closed her eyes and dreamed of ponds.
Note: I don't own anything from theBelgariad or the Molorian. David Eddings does.