Lavia blocked the alleyway from any escape attempt on the part of Samythiel Earthenboot or this other Eynnil. The marked lass rubbed her broken-off horn. What was her name again? She was unusual. He’d never seen tattoos upon eynnil before. Lavia tore a triangle from her raggish clothing and brought it up to the marked girl’s split lip.
“I thought I told you to leave the city,” She said before delving deep into a language Samythiel had never heard before. The native tongue of the rammish-folk and their religious ways. The marked lass grimaced and cringed while Lavia took the liberty of taking the coat, won in the brawl, and tossed it over the shoulders. And with great precision buttoned it while continuing to blether in the language of her people.
“Think yer funny do ye?”
“Not at all. Actually. Master says that the more neutral your face, the closer you can get to becoming golden.”
“pff” Said the marked lass. “<<Golden>>” she muttered in a dwarvish tongue.
Samythiel’s attention turned from looking out for signs of trouble to the mountain scout? That’s where he’d seen her before! What was her name? Noblehood, someone Noblehood. She had a stag with her! Where was he?
“My apologies what did you say?” Lavia asked, speaking more in her native tongue immediately after.
The scout rolled her eyes “Ye smell like Bolmbasan wood.”
“Why won’t you use my words? The language of your people, you’re eynnil just like me.” Lavia scolded the other girl.
“They’re poison on yer ears coming from my mouth. Yoo know the laws.” She crossed her arms, pulling her head away using her sleeve to dab blood from her jaw and smear it down her chin.
“Very well then, I’ll use your words. I asked your name.”
Clemnilshala repeated her family name before finally giving up her given first name. She rubbed her broken horn and kept as little eye contact with Lavia as possible. She looked to Samythiel instead and offered him a playful wink.
“You have to get your belongings and leave this city.” Lavia moved her body to block the gaze of a passerby guard. Samythiel lowered his head and glanced around his arm. While Lavia took Clemnilshala by the cheek, turning her head left then right.
“If you’re discovered you will be fodder to go find the falling star.” Lavia’s voice quivered. “None have yet returned from the seas. I doubt if you would make it there in your condition.”
“Says the wretch dressed in rags…yer on yer way oout lass. Do not speak tae me tha I am the only oone in danger on these streets.” Clemnilshala’s hand grasped Lavia’s wrist and lowered it from her face, she spoke slow. “If ye want me oout of the city soo bad, then yoo will bring my gear tae the forest limits come sundown. Nae a plume of smoke from the Lanh, they have yet tae be disposed of.”
Clemnilshala pulled away from the two. Looking between them.
“Great tae see ye again lad. Ye keep the most interesting company” she finished as she scurried away into the alleyway. Knocking over a broom and scattering a colony of rats. Disappearing behind another building.
Lavia sighed through her nose, muttering something in her mother tongue as she wiped her hands on the front of her clothes. Samythiel looked up at her, pulling his hand over his beard as he thought deeply. Waiting for the lass to move one way or another. She closed her eyes, folding her hands in front of her.
“I must go to see the Abbess. She will permit me, I simply know it.” She turned to Samythiel “I was so hoping to see her again you know, thank you for taking me outside”
The path back to the Lanh was far more peaceful than the path to finding Clemnilshala Noblehood. The gates were open and welcoming as the sun had moved across the sky bringing with it a fine sheet of cold over the still resisting blue.
Lavia bid Samythiel stay next to her as she went to approach the office of the Abbess but alas the library doors were opened and free of shiftlings. Samythiel, one to always try something new, looked out the stained glass window, and picked up a floor brush, cast aside. He washed blue paint across the whole of the canvas, smiling at how much faster this was than using his hands to spread pigment into the wood-bound fabric. He whistled a song, something he knew from the high lands and plains. Every time he blinked he saw the patterns and markings on that mountain scout’s skin. He picked up some parchment and attempted to match those markings, pulling charcoal dust over the pages. Concave curves and harsh points that wove around her knees and legs.
To him, they almost looked like the tattoos his older sister and her husband had. Wreaths of laurel around her arms, they were griffon breeders and tenders now. Something, in Samythiel, made him think that the tattoos on the eynnil’s body were less like leaves of myrtle and more like weaving strands of wire. ‘Poison in your ears’ she’d said. She laughed like a cackling witch sings music, especially at the festivals on the way to the city.
The sun crossed the sky and oil was brought for the lamp in which Samythiel continued to sketch by. He leaned his back against the canvas trying to remember the patterns of markings. Circles. Twisting weaving unknowable shapes. He was stopped by a pair of two gold-coin eyes in the dim light. They sparkled. They glowed. They were carried by the high head of the Abbess Superior, Y’luunara. She held in her hands a teacup of an impossible-to-disturb liquid. She peered down her face as the dwarf looked up his brow at her. He nodded a greeting and she lowered her head in return.
“Burning the midnight oil are we?” she said, pulling on her robes so that she can sink to the floor, crouching before him. Her golden eyes searched for something. “I want to thank you for taking my protégé into the city. She had so much to tell me, she said that you helped scrub the floors and you both even made a new friend together.”
“Aye lass. Ah actually I knoow tha one, she was kind enough tae lead me tae the city.” He nodded, the golden flecks on the Abbess cheeks and chin, formed a pattern that looked curiously similar to the ones he was doodling and the ones on Clemnilshala’s shoulders. Not exact. But close.
“I see.” She looked down at his sketches upon the parchments. “It’d be best to not allow some people around this temple to see these images.” She gives a sly wink “Those images….are not the most polite thing to bring into my temple walls, Sam.”
She picked up a piece of charcoal all her own, the dust off the burned willow branch avoided her fingers and fell instead to the floor as she instead traced the stick into other patterns. Correcting his work. Her eyes twitching back and forth as her attention faded from the room and into memory. Samythiel watched only.
“I knew a girl once,” she said as she turned her head side to side, peeping out of the corners of her eyes at her images on the page. “I knew a girl once who loved dwarves more than anything in the world. She used to say that she liked your kind because she never had to guess what they were thinking, and rarely had to fear their fury.”
Samythiel said nothing, watching as she pulled her hand from the page.
“She forsook her people twice, last I saw of her. She forsook her people and lead them to ruin and there was nothing that even I could do to stop her. The first time, she bore images just like these. The final time…her skin was turned completely black like chimney soot or the smoke over a hill while a fire burns and brings oblivion to cities and villages alike with not a care for the love of a woman.” Y’luunara raised her eyebrow to Samythiel once she’d fallen silent.
Samythiel pulled the parchment away from her, setting it aside.
“Ye asked me, what I’d wish fer, the thing I want more than anything aye?” He said, at last, wondering to himself if this was the thing that she’d come to ask him of.
“Ah yes, I remember. You dwarves, so direct. No need for courtly politeness. I remember well. Have you come up with an answer to my question? Your heartwish sir” She glanced expectantly down her face.
Samythiel was silent. He had no answer, not one that seemed good enough. But the look being cast down the Abbess’ nose petrified him in place. Some sort of answer would do for now. Any sort of answer. He wondered what she expected to hear. What words to be uttered from his mouth would quell such a curiosity that had scratched at the back of his mind with the pointed talons of a griffon sire.
“I want tae see the crops of me fathers resown and the griffons of me farms tae be allowed to fly the clouds again. I want tae see the fear of the wandering star gone from memory and tae have me family back. Me mam, me pap, all me sisters and brothers.” He said at last.
The golden-eye made a thoughtful face. “That may prove to take a touch longer than I can make happen. But, do not be alarmed. That is a good wish of the heart. I wonder if in two weeks from now you will have the same wish in your heart Sam Earthenboot.”
“Is there somethin’ ye know tha I do nae?” he brushed his fingers through his beard.
“I know a great many things, Sam.” She stood tall. “But sleep, while you can, for there is no thing that I know should burden your shoulders quite yet”
She tossed a warm smile upon his shoulders and drank of her teacup. With no other words, she would vanish into the dark. A pale white eynill sifting into the shadows that evening cast. When did night fall over the library? Samythiel couldn’t have guessed. He turned the key to the oil lamp and let the library fall dark. He slept at the feet of his work, looming over his dreams, wondering just what form it would take.