Author note: This is dedicated to my "mom" who died three years ago tomorrow. I hope you all enjoy it; I would appreciate any comments. I am still working on From the Ashes and Denouement, it's just that I wanted to write something, and this came to mind after it was suggested to me.

---When the Rain Clears---

Silvia whispered a greeting into the darkness outside her rooms. "Kela lumina, Clavila." The sun hadn't risen yet; with the low ceiling of gray clouds lingering above Innail, it felt as if the barrier between the Uncircled Open and her world was completely impenetrable, like a solid wall barring her from looking upon the Paths of the Dead where she knew her daughter wandered. For thirty years, she had greeted her child the same way, awakening each morning before dawn. Now, she would extended her love to yet another, to a Bard who also died before his time. "…e Kela, Dernhil."

It had only been a few days since his death. Her people, the people of Innail still grieved and mourned the loss of such a great man. The usual sounds of the busy marketplace could not be heard. The pleasant songs of spring were absent at their meals. It was the constant, deathly silence, like that of a tomb that made this morning harder than most. Even the heavens wept in sadness, sending buckets of rain down onto the School for days upon days.

Silvia still wore the black mourning gown - Dernhil's death was too fresh to wear anything else. And Maerad...somewhere in the wilderness was the young woman she had grown to love, the girl who had been taken from her too soon, in the same position of frailty. The girl whom Dernhil had died to protect. She hadn't lied to Cadvan when she said she forgave him; he was only helping Maerad fulfill her destiny; he was doing the right thing by taking her to Norloch. But deep inside herself, an old wound had been re-opened, one that seemed to grow each morning Maerad was absent. The daughter she had gained had left, leaving her feeling the same unbearable anguish she had lived through when she had lost Clavila.

"Where are you going, Clavila?" Silvia asked patiently. She watched as her daughter saddled a horse. "You know your father wanted to speak with you."

Clavila sighed, throwing the stirrup over the saddle horn while tightening the girth strap. "About?"

Silvia smiled at her daughter - she had such spirit, even on the blackest of days; it is what she loved most. "Your father thinks it is too dangerous to ride this morning. With the spring rains, the ground will be softer than usual. Perhaps you should wait."

"I know that, mother. But I talked with Celiac and Dernhil, and they said they would go with me. It's fun to ride in the rain. Where's your sense of adventure?"

"Clavila, my dear, my sense of adventure lessened when I had you - there were more important things to tend to than riding, like making sure you didn't get into trouble! The fact that friends travel with you doesn't lessen my worry; you could all be injured, and what then? Besides, Dernhil had his studies to attend to." She stroked the mare's mane.

Clavila walked around the horse to her mother's side. "Then so be it - it will just be Celiac and I. You needn't worry, I promise. We aren't going far - just to the ridge and back." She paused in thought. "You know I hate being inside…"

"The rain will stop soon."

"But it's my Name Day…would you deny me a bit of fun?" she asked, laughter clear in her voice. She knew her mother would not refuse.

Silvia put a hand on her hip. "To the ridge and back? That's a few leagues from here! Can't you wait? I've already started preparing the meal."

"You have my word I'll return before Dinner. And then I'll help you to your heart's content with whatever you wish; just please let me go!" she begged.

Silvia kissed her daughter's cheeks. "Oh, I almost forgot," she said. "I made this for you." She turned Clavila around and tied a silver necklace beaded with amethyst around her neck. "It is your birthstone- it should bring you good luck."

"I'll need all the luck I can get to ride in the rain," Clavila joked. "I tease you - It's beautiful. Thank you!" She embraced Silvia before climbing up onto the horse's back.

"Come back soon!" Silvia warned. "Or else your father will have my head!"

Clavila chuckled and nodded her head in agreement. "When the clouds clear, I'll be home."

Before Silvia could refuse, Clavila clicked her tongue and the horse trotted out of the stable. "May the Light shine on your path, Mother!" she called back.

Silvia shook the memory from her mind and lifted her eyes from the necklace in her hand. Her daughter had never returned home and yet she had let Maerad leave. The guilt Silvia felt for letting Maerad leave Innail, for not putting a ward on Dernhil's door, was reminiscent of Clavila's tragedy. She had failed to do her duty for those she loved, and now it was too late. She heard the door behind her open, but she didn't turn. She couldn't take her eyes away from the horizon. "Haven't gotten any rest, have you?"

"Indeed not," she said quietly. "...Not while the shadow of death still lingers over my bed. I dare not sleep, for fear it will take another I care for."

Malgorn sympathized with his wife's pain. He walked up behind her and slowly wrapped his arms around her waist. Silvia leaned back into him. "Anhil came this evening and is taking Dernhil's ashes back to Gent."

Silvia closed her eyes, trying to forget the sight of Dernhil's body lying on the hard floor, his eyes wide with fear. It was too much to bear. "So I heard," she managed.

Malgorn tightened his grip in encouragement before he released her and walked to the balcony. He remained silent, as if lost in thought. Finally, after a time, he spoke up. "I always thought I would live out my days in peace. Never did I think it would end up like this." He turned to face Silvia. "But despite our losses, I still have hope. The hope that our friends, Maerad and Cadvan, will find the solution to this darkness…these evil times will pass, Silvia. They will not linger; the clouds are shifting."

Maerad. She had quickly become Silvia's ray of sunshine, her glimmer of hope in overwhelming darkness. "Can light be seen without darkness?" she questioned herself. "Would I know Maerad's strength if such trials had not befallen me? No. None of us would see Light without the Dark."

"I believe Cadvan; I really think Maerad could be the One, Silvia. Deep within my Knowing, I feel the change she can bring," Malgorn continued.

"Yes, she will bring change. I can feel it," Silvia admitted. "I just hope she returns to Innail."

Malgorn nodded gravely. "As do I. But for now, I must get some rest. I think you should as well." He kissed her cheek and walked behind her. He shed his clothes quickly and crawling into his bed.

Silvia gazed back out over the Innail Fesse, leaning againgst the wooden doors that closed the balcony off in bad weather. "Where are you, Clavila, my morning breeze? Where has the world taken you? Surely you cannot be far from me...

As if in reply, the rain slowed to a light drizzle and eventually stopped. The gray clouds were thinning overhead and the sun was slipping over the horizon, painting the sky in brilliant pastels. She heard Clavila's voice in her mind. "When the clouds clear, I'll be home." The first rays spilled over the mountains of Annova, and covered her face in warmth. They brought with them a new found hope; Maerad would fight for the Light; she would better the world where Clavila could not. Clavila...

Without warning, the words once denied her fell freely from her mouth. She finally understood that her daughter was not lost; she lived in everything around them, from the air they breathed, to the rising of the sun, to the morning breeze. A part of her daughter lived in Maerad; Clavila still lived. At last, she could finally be free of her burden of grief.

"Remane hir, Clavila," she whispered softly. "Welcome home."