It wasn’t painful, when she pierced his ears. She, the dwarfess, the sister to the so-interesting Samythiel. Magga couldn’t understand his tongue, yet her smile spoke to him as much as her voice did. Thrice in one ear, twice in the other. All the while she talked and talked about a myriad of things, gifting him the dark iron jewelry from her own ears. She spoke of her numerous sisters and brothers, the griffons, pausing every so often to look at him with big blue eyes and a big grin.
The old stag knew better than to get his hopes up. But so close to these woods it felt like almost anything was possible. Something was soothing here. The way she paused and spoke some more filled his ear with strange music and his ever beating heart with warmth.
“Can you hear me?” he asked aloud to the nights wind, while the only thing that came to her was a staggish groan. She didn’t answer the question, merely patting his head and apologizing for hurting him without warning. Ah, as is life, his elder eyes came over the hunched over figure of the youngling, Lavia, as she paces the tree line, holding her forearms over her stomach. In the firelight her face was creased and grimaced, turned upward toward the sky.
While runoff blood soaked the fur of his neck, Rigmol ate another mushroom, got upp, and approached her. He bunted his nose on her shoulder amid her fractal melodies which she called prayers and musings.
“The day. It is here” she hesitated to speak to an animal aloud. Rigmol laid back down, leaning over on his side to hear the helpless thing while she continued her softened blusters. Lavia came back and left again who knows how many times, muttering something new to herself each time she came into earshot. Things about “Master” and “the Exile”. Rigmol could only guess whose identity that was.
Magga followed him shortly after he’d wriggled into a comfortable spot. She sliced an unidentified fruit and ate it off the knife, followed by cheese and hunks of bread. None of the Colmillo food was eaten by the expeditioneers. Though who would assign blame? Food out of the sea water so salty it was poisonous. In between bites she sang songs and attempted to goad Lavia to learn her language of the plains. resisted. No amount of time nor patience would take her attention this evening. Eynnilsong had dominance, her split voice was a draining lament that ceased to end.
“Cannot believe I’m talking to a deer” she said at last in a way that could be understood. “Your master, where is she?”
“I have no master.” Rigmol bugled, stretching his neck out as Vulac approached. They laid a hand on her shoulder, standing between her and the old Stag. They eyed him through a half-squinted gaze all thanks to their swollen cheek.
“Do not begin speaking to the wildlife.” They said “That’s what exiles do. Driven mad in their loneliness.”
Rigmol opened and closed his jaw, he reared up, snorting and pawing at Vulac.
“No one speaks of my dear girl like this” he’d have said if he had a real body. Though his statement caught the attention of the Colmillo guest of honor. She scampered over without delay.
“hey..hey ha what do you want huh?” she asked, licking the points of her emerging tusk-like teeth.
Rigmol stamped at her, brandishing his antlers at anyone who dare speak of the Lady Noblehood. He remembered Folruth. Leaping over a table and, against better judgement, starting a fight similarly over such statements. Ah back then it was so confusing, perhaps its something that comes naturally to the short lived. The kid stepped back, lunging for his reins and pulling on them, she gained control of his head and steadied him.
“Hey now, what is this all about brother?” she said before she turned to Vulac. “Did you spook him? Forget to clear your throat, announce your presence?”
Vulac fell quiet for a time. Lavia shook her head.
“oh no I think they just spoke ill of his master.”
“Ohhh you were defending your master. What an incredible creature.”
“Speaking of…where is it’s master? It and the dwarf haven’t come back yet.” Vulac rubbed their cheek.
Rigmol huffed and bucked his head toward the woods. The girl let go of his reins, dropping them, they tapped against his chest. The earrings jingled in his ears. The revelry, as though he could feel it in the air, was halted by a shriek. Vulac was quick to draw their sword and shove Lavia back.
The old stag reared again. Tearing away from the group. Wheeling around to race down the beach. The screaming didn’t cease as it only grew more labored. He called, loudly, racing, heart pounding. Only to find that a cackling, a sick cackling, came to his ears amid the tinkling of his jewelry, as he turned down the trail she and Samythiel had made. What had happened to his girl? Was it a mistake to offer his blessing, to come traipsing into these woods while something was so so wrong here?
Twigs and branches struck him in the face and eyes. His earrings jangled in awful melodies with his hooves thumping on the forest floor. His legs carried him to a dead clearing where he came upon the two. A rain of forest detritus lept forward as he came to a sheer halt. It was Clemnilshala’s cry that summoned him here. He panted and huffed the blood from his ears soaked all the more into the sides of his neck. He brought his nose to her flopped over ear, nudging her cheek.
Samythiel stood and greeted him with a nod.
“Are you hurt?” Asked Rigmol, flapping his sore ears forward and back. “Can you walk?”
He averted his gaze from the broken and battered Wild Thing. He did not allow his eye to fall on its ribcage or the moss and mushrooms that had come to wrap around its old bones. He knelt in reverence, yes, but more so to effectively dry his girl’s tears.
“Talk to me, ‘Shala. Breathe with me. It will all be okay in the morning.” He coiled the trunk of his body around her back. He too groaned to Samythiel, inviting him to join in mourning the creature. Samythiel took a solitary knee and lowered his head, muttering to himself in the dialect of the plains. A light breeze brought the scent of the sea and masked the scent of rotting flesh.
“O! Yüavmir, gallop freely over white fields and through the dense walds of the world that awaits all of us.” Clemnilshala’s voice stuttered. “let your remains nourish the soil. Your bones become houses for the people and your spirit free itself of its duty in this life.” Her soft eulogy became a funeral song with her thrice split eynnic voice.
A wild dog passed them by and began to feed itself on the flesh of the carcass. The three stood. Rigmol allowed them to mount. He carried them, turning to find that they were not alone, having been followed by Lavia who did not react to the Wild Thing. And Vulac who covered their mouth and nose. Protecting themself from the offensive stench. Lavia clasped her hands together in prayer the whole way back to the camp where they found nothing but devastation.
A griffon’s call followed by lightning from the clouds that materialized in the time it took for them to go to the dead place and return.
“Magga! Magga answer me!” Samythiel took a flying dive from Rigmol’s back. Running ahead with Vulac.
Lavia put her hand over her mouth as she stopped moving.
“Rigs, can ye carry two-a me?” Clemnilshala asked, attempting to reach down and take Lavia up by the back of her clothes. For as light weight as she was, the gossamer cotton of her collar was far too fragile to lift her. She hit the ground and tripped, putting more tears in her clothing.
“Just run! I’ll put the winds to your back!” She shouted smacking the stag on the backside only to be kicked to the ground with his back hoof. Rigmol leapt forward to find the beach camp at the mercy of a great water lord saturated with a tarry blackness.
The air was putrid under the rain of long dead fish. Rotting corpses with entire bites taken from their sides, their hearts exposed and mangled, pelted the heads of the ranged attackers. The water lord swept up expeditioneer after expeditioneer and carried them out to sea.
Clemnilshala dismounted from his back, shouting his name as though she had to ask him to watch over her and help the others get to safety while mid sprint toward the sea’s swells. Diving in before surfacing immediately to loose and pained howl. Just like the garden through which they traveled. She used the same voice that she did in the nights she dreamed of those marks on her skin.
The water was as thick as tallow wax and soaked into every hair follicle of Rigmol’s pelt. Clemnilshala tore herself through the waves with dwarf and eynnil and human alike. Her panting carried with burdened whimpers. In the firelight of the torches the medics lit, this creature was much like the water lord they’d encountered not two weeks ago. His bites would remain on the clothes and cloaks of the expedition for all time as he dragged them from the sea.
‘Stupid Girl’ he thought to himself with each lap she took back to shore. Whilst he dragged out anyone brought back like common swine. The expeditioneers, the humans, wasted no time returning to the clutches of the water lord as it attacked the ranged magician and hunters with more rotting fish.
Stranger still, there was no trace of the Colmillo people to be found. The bonfire was gone. The food and revelry, all as though it had never existed in the first place. Their hands would have given so much aid. What treachery.
“Elementalists! To me!” Magga called, bringing down a halo of electric lightning to surround her feet. Lavia stayed still, watching the sky of all things. The sky that gave no light. Without a care toward the chaos happening at her hooves.
“C’mon, lass, let’s go!” Samythiel pulled her wrist.
“I’m no elementalist!” She shouted back amid her ripped clothes. “My master told me to stand still and wait! That’s what I’m doing!”
Rigmol bunted her shoulder. Nudging her to no avail. She meekly stumbled then stood stoic. The ground rumbles and burst at the feet of the ‘real’ elementalists who were seeking to sop up the waterlord. But he’d only grown more dangerous, hurling boulders and silty mud at close attackers.
Fire did nothing but extinguish. And Air couldn’t blow it back. That was.
Until it happened.
Rigmol and Clemnilshala heard it, the final blessing of the spirit of the Wild Thing Yüavmir. The Final blessing of the elemental guardian whose voice traveled through the elementalists. Lavia turned her face to the sky once more.
The clouds cracked into a wide chasm. A bolt of golden fire came down and wounded the water lord. Trans special postrals opened up along the tree line, stepping through were the stabilization jockeys before two eynnil, alone.
The cracked sky became dawn with its light. The woman parted the water lord into nine which were far easier to eliminate. She looked Rigmol in the eye. Something about her gaze unsettled him while each of the water lord’s fragments went down and returned to the sea from which he’d come.
The man, golden eyed as well, set about to dragging people from the shores inland. He’d taken Clemnilshala by the hood, tearing the fur in the process. She’d stopped moving. He laid her at the woman’s hooves. She did nothing. Instead she nodded to Rigmol.
Rigmol’s legs crumbled beneath him, wriggling his body under her head, bugling, calling her name in his staggish voice.
“O! My girl! Can you hear me? Answer me!” he called, touching his wet nose to her chin. The strange woman pet his head as he felt Clemnilshala’s faint breath in his fur. O! Thank the Wild Things and open skies for their favor.
“She will be okay” Said the strange woman.
“Master!” Lavia shouted, running into her arms and embracing her with glee. “Is it the day?”
“Indeed, my love. It’s here” She replied.
“The coming day is here”