Snowy Ground: Chapter 2, Finale

Once Samythiel Earthenboot awoke from his dreams who was he met by the goldeneye abbess and her protégé. The abbess had with her a silk-wrapped bundle of clothing atop which was a stack of letters.

“We cannot ask a dwarf to go find the fallen star. Can we master?” Lavia asked, holding her hands close to the base of her neck glancing between the bundle and the Abbess. “This will change the plans that you had for him. Please do not punish me like this. I cannot bear knowing what waits at the sea. Monsters. humans.”

Samythiel closed one of his eyes and feigned that he remained asleep watching through his eyelashes the Abbess who simply held her hand up. Just as the seasons change, so do plans. This was all meant to be especially with the new developments of her prize. Lavia took the bundle, one hand underneath one hand over top pinching it between her wrists. The abbess laid a gentle hand atop Lavia’s

“Remember, my student, this is merely to further our mission. Patience, and remember that you have two weeks to see the star. Only look upon it, before you know what happens. If you have not seen it then your studies have all been for naught. Please do not fail me” the abbess moved her hand from Lavia’s to her cheek. “If you haven’t seen it in two weeks’ time, then I cannot guard you against oblivion. I cannot help you anymore to receive your chance.”

“I-I understand” Lavia whispered, pulling her cheek from the Abbess. “Your hands are as cold as death. Please go get warm, master, I’ll be the one to tell the dwarf.”

“Of course. And just as I said. Make sure that my will is done. We can save this world yet.”

The hoofbeats of the Abbess faded from the library as the doors closed behind her leaving nothing but the smell of incense and fine perfume. Lavia’s steps approached Samythiel. She knelt by him and gently touched his shoulder. Warmth radiated from the palm of her hand as she remained until he finally thought it prudent enough to sniff through his nose and pretend that he had just woken from his slumbers.

“Wake up” whispered Lavia “Wake up…you have been summoned by the king to join the expedition. You must be ready by first light, for we leave at noon.” She shook his shoulder and held the bundle of silk to her chest “And we must find the exile.”

“Exile?” Samythiel cocked his head to the side as he combed his fingers through his beard and hair. Taking out the piece of leather that tied his hair back only to replace It so that it was tight against his head.

“Your guide. The eynnil with the marked skin. Those are our ways of telling others that they are in exile. They are not permitted to come into our cities and mingle with our people. It’s said that they made their deals and did not come back when called so we cut them free. It’s a custom of our kind. We think it’s an act of mercy to not allow them amongst our kind so that they can choose the life that they wish to lead. But sometimes when you leave your home, you may never return.” Lavia moved her hands as she walked with Samythiel out of the library, down the hallways, and into the great hall of the Lanh wherein there was food being laid forth. Lavia picked up a leather sack and took from the pile of boiled eggs. She filled the bag with eggs.

“Why must I go to help find her? I thought I was here tae work on a painting” he turned his head to the side, he watched as she filled her bag with food for herself. “I dunnae if I’m right for expeditions or traveling so far to find things”

“Ah, so you heard our private conversation this morning. It’s nothing that you have to worry about” she patted the top of his head. “You will see in two weeks’ time. You’ll all see”

“I still dunnae if I am right fer the task,” he said, running his fingers in his beard. What was he going to do after all? Throw a fishing net over the mountain scout? They walked together up and down the breakfast table as Lavia picked up nothing but different colored boiled eggs. He kept most of his thoughts to himself.

Samythiel was provided food of his own. It was bread with cheese and a cured meat he couldn’t place the name of. It was a sandwich. He wrapped it in parchment and decided he’d save it for later as other eynnil, shiftlings, toadlings, and other creatures on the fence between humans and animals. Lavia kept the bundle of clothes under her arm. She only took eggs before leading Samythiel outside with a bit of a smile painted onto her cheeks. Xirril was out in the courtyard, hunched over a bucket of water washing her hands, she soaked her fingers gingerly as she glared daggers at Lavia. The backs of her hands showed the bright red marks of a severe lashing with a switch or a riding crop. Her bottom teeth that stuck out over her lips seemed all the more menacing as though she would personally use them to harm the eynnil.

Lavia held her head higher, although dressed in rags. She snickered to herself before her face fell and she scolded herself for being prideful while inside the gates. Once outside she looked left, and looked right, waiting for a horse and cart to pass before she guided Samythiel to the archway into the city and they left the city to meet a party of lads and lasses with wide carts. Among them, tied in rope, was one Clemnilshala Noblehood. Lavia waved her hands around as she began to scold the guards.

“Why have you done this. By the order of the Abbess Superior release this woman at once!” She said, her tail swaying side to side. They hadn’t moved fast enough for her liking. Lavia pushed by the guards and untied the marked eynnil herself. “I’m sorry, they should’ve known better.”

Clemnilshala spit on the ground “<<You eynnil are all the same. I should never have stayed in these woods>>” She hissed in dwarvish. She continued her tirade with quite the impolite string of words that Samythiel could scarcely believe came from her jaws.

Lavia hung her head a bit. “They should not be a problem to you on this journey. It seems as though you have been commanded to join us on our journey to the sea. We must retrieve the falling star. It’s not your home we know but I promise you personally that the Abbess will reward you handsomely”

She seemed to be filled with a vigor blessed on her shoulders only by the Abbess herself. Lavia presented the bundle of clothing she’d received from Y’luunara. Clemnilshala took the bundle and unwrapped it. Casting aside the ribbons. The frocks that she could have chosen in favor of the gear she was wearing when Samythiel first met her. Without hesitation, she shed her jacket and one leg at a time put the leather jumpsuit on. Tightening straps here, fastening buttons there, where she could wriggle upright and remain comfortable. Gloves. Shin guards. And her ever beloved cloak. That was the eynnil that Samythiel met.

She patted the pockets inside the cloak. “What happened to my envelope?” She asked sternly. She fastened her family crest over the closure of her cloak. Just as other mountain scouts did. Hiding away every inch of her skin

“That will be returned to you when this mission is done. Think of it as part of your payment.” Lavia folded her arms across her chest and stayed still. As though she’d disappear if Clemnilshala looked at her long enough.

Clemnilshala’s attention was roused by the bleating bugle of her great stag in the woods. He, in all his tack, approached his companion and pushed his great head into her cheek. She pet him down the snout and gave him a gentle kiss.

“Thas a good friend right there. I doon’t know what I would have done without ye old friend” she muttered. She lifted the flaps and tested the billet straps around the stags stomach. Pulling on it with her fingers she looked up. “Does that feel alright? Not too tight?”

She waited before climbing up atop his saddle and letting her long tail flop down to one side. She pet his head and leaned down to offer Samytheil a hand to pull him up by the arm and help him settle onto the front-most portion of the saddle. Clemnilshala brought her arms tightly around his shoulders and hummed a soft sigh as she awaited the party to get a move on. She breathed in deeply the scents that had attached themselves to Samythiel’s hair. Somehow it soothed her racing heart. She huffed her nose at Lavia who could walk for all she cared.

Samythiel’s stomach turned over a bit. Such infighting between two of the same kind didn’t sit well with him. He didn’t want to think what would happen if Lavia startled Clemnilshala awake and she pulled her big knife on her. Just like she did before Samythiel went into the city thinking he was just there to paint.

Lavia was afforded a spot to sit in a mule-pulled cart.

There was a great whistling that wove through the legs of the folk in the traveling party. Mules were whipped, horses nickered at and the journey to the sea began.

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