Snowy Ground: Chapter 2 Part 1

He’d only meant to say goodbye, but perhaps he spooked her and that’s why for the single moments after she’d awoken, she’d drawn her skinning knife and beast whip. Darting side to side, her eyes searched his face for something before she returned to reality. Then she threw her whip to the side and sheathed her knife and took Samythiel’s shoulders to apologize in every way that she could think of. He didn’t think of it until this point but by the great spirits of the plains, Eynnilfolk sure were big.
Samythiel pulled away and waved his hands back and forth “No lass, I didn’t mean tae wake ye. I was going tae go into the city and let ye go back to yer home at yer leisure.” He smiled softly, Clemnilshala cocked her head. “I left some money fer ye with yer Rigmol.”
He picked up his pack and stretched his shoulders before leaving that place, crossing the bridge into Brinorion city. Grass and dirt from the bottoms of his boots blended in with the dark brown cobblestone roads which were dotted with red or white specks on occasion. City guards littered the streets, standing outside of establishments, protecting the water canals where boaters ferried commoners to stores and taverns. At the top of a hill, cascading with stairs, was the Brinorion keep where King Ignar ruled the land. Directly to its right was the Lanh temple wherein there was an abbey, a cloister of golden-eyes expected Samythiel to be arriving soon. So he boarded the ferry and rode under bridges through the smaller areas of the city until he was met by the same courier he’d met in Khalenthel.
She smiled at him, extending her hand to help the dwarf out of the boat. She wore a blue and gold frock, an apron, and a brighter expression under the cloudy sky created by the abbey’s furnaces.
“You’ve come! How fortuitous!” she pulled him onto the dock and bucked her head along and lead him into the courtyard of the abbey. There were many a golden-eyed Eynnil, there too were initiates who were noticeably smaller and more demure. Accompanying them were humans and other folks from all corners of the realm over which Brinorion city ruled. An epicenter of morality across the land, from the frog-folk that hail from the Shady Marshes south of the great red river to the wolfish shape changers from farther north than even Khalenglough, they all gathered here.
Samythiel was lead into the double doors of the abbey, the walls were lined with tapestries depicting a silver fog that gave people wings. Flags with symbols on them that he couldn’t read, and deeper into the building there were woodcarvings and paintings framed so beautifully. In the long corridors, there was one other Eynnil, with a broom, sweeping away at some dust on the floor. She looked tired with dark circles around her eyes as her hair hung in her face, falling out of a triad of braids that had been woven tight against her head. She almost flinched at the courier who said nothing as she passed. At the end of the hallway was a dark wooden door with a candle positioned next to it. The courier knocked on the door opening it gently.
“My Lady,” she said softly as she leaned her head into the office. “My Lady the dwarf you requested is here”
A command came from deeper inside as an immense golden-eyed eynnil stood from her table wherein there was a book. Her voice alone made Samythiel stand up straight and perhaps even, in a way, combed his hair and made him presentable.
“Come in” was all she said, as an even bigger male Eynnil opened the door all the way. He strode out and down the hall on the opposite side of the sweeper who more or less cowered. The courier guided Samythiel into the office and was dismissed.
She stood from her desk “Sam. How good it is to see you” she put a smile on her otherwise blank face and extended her hand to shake Samythiel’s.
“Did you find your trip here satisfactory? I trust my hippogriffs found you well.” The closer she got the more her form blotted out the light from the window.
“Ahh, eh…I didn’t take a hippogriff ma’am” Samythiel stammered, shaking her hand as firmly as he could. “There was snow and I had tae get a mountaineer tae get me this far.” He explained about blizzards and flying hazards, especially after the falling star, all she did was nod along.
“Well, I’m glad you were able to find us. It’s not often that we get painters and artists to come inside our walls.” She gestured with her hand. “I’m so glad that we are able to have you here, Sam”
“Aye, ma’am. I’m privileged tae be here myself. Yer notice said that I’d be paintin’ a mural?” He didn’t think twice about her shortening his name. It was common for other folks to shorten dwarf names anyway. She leaned over to one side, placing a large but gentle hand on his shoulder, and pulled the door all the way open to lead Samythiel out of the office. Back down the corridor, the dust clouds that hung in the sunbeams seemed to dodge the eynnil’s shoulders and perhaps bowing to her immaculate cleanliness. She walked with slow steps, guiding Samythiel into another room, a library, wherein there was a shelf void of books with not but a blank canvas hanging beside it. It was immense and loomed over him just as this golden-eyed Eynnil did.
“Will this be satisfactory? To paint a mural this large showing the pride of our personal worship?” she asked, looking down her cheekbones at Samythiel who gawked at the sheer size of the canvas. How much linen went into this? He doubted the amount of paint he did bring would cover something of this magnitude.
“Ah—Aye lass. I will be able tae do it.” He scratched his bald spot and tried to visualize anything at all on this canvas. “It won’t be quick, for something this big. Will take weeks. Months even.”
She nodded along, closing her eyes as she did. “I understand perfectly, Sam. Please, take as much time as you need to find, inspiration with our order. Ask questions of anyone here. We have put together a place in the tower for you to stay as we would like you to live and work amongst us.”
“Of course, ma’am. And what name may I call ye?” he looked up at her, a sense of unworthiness filling his cheeks.
“The ladies and gentlemen here refer to me as Abbess, but you may refer to me by my first name if you’d like. It’s Y’luunara.” She gave another simple, blank, polite smile as she folded her hands in front of her. “I must be going to teach a class to some of the initiates. Please, enjoy everything that our home has to offer.”
Without another word, Samythiel was left in the library with the books, others of the order of Lanh Temple. They turned away as he surveyed the room and set out his collection of paint pots and brushes on the empty bookshelf. The blankness of the canvas only reminded him of the snow of the basin. Would his family be returning to the mountain before this painting would be done?
What better way to start than setting out his tucker bag and leave it by the canvas, meaning to return to it later and instead go and view the other art around the temple’s priory. The sun was going crossing the sky as he viewed all sorts of artisan-made gifts put on display. Framed poetry, sculptures, wood carvings, and even a mounted set of tastefully broken plates put back together with colored wax. Each depicted something different about the beliefs of the Lanh temple, many of which showed a grey and silver cloud with white wings atop it as it laid in a deep red-brown hand. The depiction of the object of their worship. One by the name of the Weilvog and Anghniel.
Samythiel was held captivated by a stained glass window inlaid with mother of pearl depicting the ascensions of golden-golden eyes walking into the heart of the Weilvog and coming out stronger, better, sometimes with wings all their own. He was unable to focus on it for very long with a clustered pack of great Eynnic warriors clattering through the courtyard with their maces and shields. Against the sunset he saw a strangely familiar silhouette running away from them, scrabbling out of a hole in the far wall like a street dog.

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