Snowy Ground: Chapter 1 Part 3

The coast was clear. The courier had disappeared and gone back to wherever she came from and Clemnilshala was free to leave after paying. Clemnilshala went back out to sit on the steps and share the scraps from the kitchen with her great stag who had laid his head down on the welcome mat and dozed off. The mountain whistled its words of warning that there was a storm brewing outside. Any other mountain scouts on their way up from Milgan would have to camp for the night or try to get back down the mountain. The gates of Khalenthel closing soon would mean that there would be no going in or out for at least the next day. Already there was a rush of scouts trying to get to the gate as fast as they could. Among them, the little blonde figure of that painter. He tried to squeeze in amongst them, holding out a hand.

As anyone would find, when trying to convince a mountain scout to go out of their way in a storm, it was harder than it initially appeared. Even Clemnilshala wouldn’t just go traipsing back out in that weather for free. She patted her great stag on the head, who woke with a yawn and a groan.

“C’mon old friend. We better get outta here. We don’t want ma Fellfili tae beat ye with a broom again” She said, bridling her companion and pulling him along. She walked in such a way, so that she could take the scents of passersby, and maybe see if she would be stopped by the painter. Surely she’d help if she were asked, no matter how unenthused she’d be about going out into the cold. It was some remnant of a past life, to never do anything without first being ordered by superiors. Whether they be golden eyes, commanding officers, or just the elderly.

“Don’t look at me like that. It’s just a trip down the mountain.” She reasoned with the stag. “We’ll be back up by the end of the week. Come onnn Rigmol.”

Rigmol, unamused, bunted his head into her back. The tips of his great antlers threatened to put a tear into her nice sweater, with a loud groan and a huff of his nose.

However, the decision was not Rigmol’s to make. Soon enough they’d come to pass the painter, he smelled like seedy oil. Up close he proved to be much younger than Clemnilshala was expecting, she had to take the moment to put away her thoughts on the man. He put up his hands and stopped them in their path.

“Lass! Scout!” he shouted shaking the bag of money, as the loud horns blared through the mountain announcing that the gates would be closing within the hour. “Can ye take me down the mountain? I’ll pay ye tae take me out in the storm”

Yes.’ Thought Clemnilshala before she’d begun to speak. “Of course.” She pulled on a stretched-out piece of her sweater idly before looking at Rigmol.

“Wouldn’t we be glad tae kindly help?” She pulled on his bridle, guiding her companion down to his knees so that the dwarf, could clamber on and hold on tightly by Rigmol’s antlers. Rigmol groaned and got back up, cranky as any stag would be if they were reduced to just a beast of burden and not treated like the wise creatures they were.

“Don’t mind him. He’s just a grumpy old man. Just going tae Milgan right?” She asked over her shoulder, pulling Rigmol along toward the head of the city.

At his nodding, she continued to pull Rigmol along toward the front gate. Once there it would take minutes to change into gear that would suit the outdoor weather. Especially with a storm on the way. 

 Clemnilshala entered the barracks, the housing which young Mountain scouts were offered to get her spare hood, sized for her Eynnil body. She instead fastened it around this dwarf’s shoulders.

“The hood’s a bit big fer ye. But it’ll keep ye warm and tight.” She’d said to the blonde dwarf. “Just give me yer family crest and take Rigs here into town. I’ll be close behind ye. I cannae just go out in a sweater and, well, not much else” she pulled at her civil clothing before turning to Rigmol. She swatted the stag on the back quarters and sent him off through the closing gates. Forcing him to weave uncomfortably back out into the snow as it blew and fell outside. Clemnilshala took the moment to duck into the barracks and change into much more substantial gear against the cold. A second custom jumpsuit ribbed across the chest so she could breathe okay, and a standard beast whip to be fastened to her side.

By the time she’d gotten back out to the throughway between Khalenthel and the outside world where the wind cast its icy kisses on travelers’ cheeks, the gates had nearly closed. There was one last way to get out, not as comfortable for any dwarf seeking payment for their work this time of year, even less so for an Eynnil trying to get outside of the mountain. An hour it would take to get out of a trash chute amongst Fellfili’s disapproving glance at the great Eynnil crawling out amongst the garbage, to meet the mounted dwarf in the snow.

Rigmol groaned loudly at Clemnilshala as she pulled potato peels from her shoulder to take his bridle. Instead of comforting the stag as a fist-sized chunk of ice came hurtling through the air and into the ground behind them, Clemnilshala raised her bow to it, allowing it to make contact with the various stones and blades she’d attached to it over the years. The great piece of hail careened off a small shield she’d placed over the handguard and snorted a cloud of steam as she stopped their trek.

She took off her cloak, the bronzed family crest included. She patted her pocket with the dwarf’s family crest in it.

“What’s yer first name lad!” she shouted over the billowing wind as she straightened her fur and leather cloak over his shoulders, attempting to keep this escort alive in such a storm. Perhaps she should have taken those silver pieces from him. Especially after such a hearty thunk that sent an ice piece the size of her hoof skittering across the frozen ground.

The dwarf had little choice. “Samythiel!” he shouted over the winds and the elements. “Samythiel Earthenboot, ma’am! Thank ye for taking me down in this weather! Brinorion City thanks ye too!” 

 Clemnilshala nearly dropped Rigmol’s reins at the sound of the city’s name. Something bitter came to her mouth that she pushed back. Instead, ushering Samythiel down the pathway, blocking the ice chunks flying through the air, the whole way down the mountain.

Rigmol complained the entire time until within sight of the braziers of Milgan a piece of ice the size of a fist came whistling through the air. Almost perfectly in time, Clemnilshala shoved her stag aside, sending him running off into town only for him to be caught in a net trap. Samythiel was thrown from the stag and sent tumbling across the ground. The ice hit the Eynnil in the back, she bleated out in surprise and mild pain. Scrabbling at the snow she took Samythiel’s family crest and replaced it to her pocket and loosed her whip from her side. From the force of the wind, there was no possible way that ice had just broken off a tree somewhere and flown so far without so much as a cracking sound. No, no, this had been thrown.

Much closer, in the cover of snowfall it came, a great roar echoed followed by a small avalanche in the distance. There it was, over her shoulder, a yeti.

“Rigmol! Go! Get tae town-“ Was all she was able to utter before the beast swung again.

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