There was a great commotion at the great gates of the mountain. People gathered from all kinds of halls to see who had though it wise to show up there unannounced. Some dwarves were ready with bounties to offer, some were ready with spears in case the visitors were hostile like the horse herders have been the last decade or so. But no, a most curious and familiar kind of being was at the gates of the Khalenthel, that being had a daughter. Announcing themself as none other than Rewwer of the wood.
He’d called for Clemnilshala Noblehood by name, and her Folruth, and sat inside a prison cell until she had been reached in her home and brought forth. Neither of them were decent by the time someone had come to their home. This day happened to be bath day, cut short where they had to dress in their scouting gear and go through the corridors into the king’s district where the prisons were, with bubbles in their hair and ash on their skin, to see whom had said that they would vouch for their time in the mountain. With the additions of the Lanh of Khalenthel, dwarves became privy to the knowledge that an eynnil with markings on their skin was not to be trusted so easily. Not as easily as Clemnilshala found it where she proved her usability by pushing bellows and carts and holding heavy things for nobles, no they were put into the jail.
Clemnilshala searched Rewwer’s tired face as Hinala rested in his lap. He had with him a new lump in his arm that seemed like such a familiar sight from the night that Valthran came. She cocked her head to one side. The both of them remained silent. Acknowledging one another.
“I couldn’t think of anyone else who would help us.” Rewwer said at last, stirring Hinala from her sleep. She blinked several times. Ah she had grown so much in the last thirty odd years. How many years now. She looked almost fully grown yet so young. She’d shed the fawnish fat that used to gather at her ankles.
“Clemaha!!” She shouted and lept from her place in her father’s lap and slid on her scuffed up knees to reach her hands through the holes in the prison barrier. Calling her aunty in the words of old eynnic speak. How jarring yet it melted the feary ice of an old memory.
Clemnilshala turned to the guards and showed them her family crest while Folruth came to Hinala and touched her face
“Wha lass is tha yoo?”
“Folthuuba!!!” She shouted louder and touched his face in return. Pushing her still-pudgy arms through the barrier to bring Folruth in for a hug as close as she could get. By all of the Wild Things, Uncle Folruth. “Oh I’ve been so excited to see you two! Oh you never came back and so we had to come to you!”
“Lass looks how big ye grown!” Folruth replied.
Clemnilshala personally vouched for the two and anything that they brought into the city on her honor or have her hide should they prove to be untrustworthy.
“How do we know we can trust you even?” Asked the dwarvish guard who had been attending the schools of the Lanh ever since they had arrived.
“Don’t ye think tha my story here would look nice at the feet of the king iffin it’s found that I’m no good for ye? I’d hate tae see someone else push the Four Brothers’ bellows and clean out those soot plugs.” She smiled at them and freely showed the markings on her arms to the guard, clear down to the twin, half circle scars on her hands. She couldn’t think of when she stopped being so afraid of them. There was nothing but calmness in her voice. “But, yer lanh would be quite proud of yer discernin’ eye laddy.”
Folruth’s hand came to her shoulder, while she knelt, and something that he had said, shown, or an expression on his face had the guards opening the prison as quickly as ever. Folruth came to the rescue, and it filled Clemnilshala’s heart with the magma of the mountain. Warmth found her here even in the bitterness of a prison cell.
Upon release Hinala leapt and pranced forward and slid on her knees to hug Folruth close.
“Uncle Folruth I missed you so much!!” She shouted and buried her horned head into his shoulder much to his mild discomfort of having her straight-facing ears in his eyes. She’d pierced her ears like Clemnilshala’s and adorned them with earrings and decoration. “Uncle Folruth, this is something that only you and Aunt Clemmy can do!”
Folruth shushed them with great speed, bidding the two of them to wait until they returned to the slot in the wall where everything seemed to begin. Back there, Rewwer had to duck his head and turn to one side to fit through the door way, holding out the lump of cloth he’d been caressing the entire time. His look was softer to the bundle and once the door was blocked he laid it on the table.
It was not a treasure
It was not fruit nor vegetable nor any trade good
It was a baby.
A simple, harmless baby with budding horns and a tremendous appetite.
“A baby, Rewwer.”
“The child of a very close contact of mine that, well, war is breaking between the Eynnil colonies. And well, this child, is a half breed and would not be taken to the city and he fears that his son would be…well…done away with if you can imagine.”
A grim look came to Clemnilshala.
“Can you harbor his son here,”
“How old is he?” Clemnilshala took up the baby and caressed him to her chest.
“He has not a name yet, he is as fresh as spring beans. His father said that his protectors may name him if that lends any sway to allow him to be safe here with the two of you. I could think of no one more trust worthy.”
“What happened tae the child’s mam?” Folruth asked aloud as he threw fistfuls of mushrooms into a creamy soup which had such a familiar scent to her nose.
“She…is no longer able to take care of her child.” Rewwer looked grim, looking to Clemnilshala. “I’d ask you to take care of Hinala but Hinala will not stay anywhere without me and I have to protect the house of the woods.” He laid his hand on the baby’s belly, stirring him from his sleep. The baby began to make sounds and cry aloud. Clemnilshala and Folruth moved in unison, Folruth winning a silent race to take the baby into his arms. The greatest smile came to his face.”
“A baby.” Clemnilshala said, her hand coming up to touch her arm, rubbing against the tattoos that lay there.
“A baby. Name him, raise him, until I come to retrieve him. It’s unsure how long that will be.”
“Which is why he wasn’t named by his ma or pa?”
“Precisely. You two may be the only parents he comes to know.”
Rewwer and Hinala slept in the slot in the wall for four days before they had to depart from there and return to their home. Hinala could barely stop turning away from the door to impart final hugs, and one-last hugs, and one-last-one-last hugs to the both of them, and I-swear-da,-this-is-my-one-last-final hugs. And once they had gone, just as swiftly as they had arrived, there, upon the table, cried a challenge to the two of them first demanding food, and second he needed a name.
The baby was half Horse Herder according to Rewwer, and just before he began to cry a little sound of ‘guh’ would escape his mouth.
Garuk became his name, a fitting name he took to it over the first few years of his life where he grew faster than any eynnil or dwarf even. He grew like a human at first, stretching and getting longer and wider. It baffled the two of them amid the night time raising to feed and bathe. He took a great liking to Folruth. For the times that Folruth was away on the mountain and Clemnilshala would stay in the home, Garuk’s gaze always turned toward the door when he played on the floor. He liked sheep’s milk and couldn’t seem to get enough of it in the early days but as he grew up before Clemnilshala and Folruth’s eyes, looking different every fifteen days as one would leave to do mountain scout duties and the other would return.
He was up and walking amongst the table and the bed and bathing tub, and trying to head butt anything that moved. When Folruth was at home, he would lower his head and meet Garuk and when Clemnilshala would return to Folruth, with two black eyes, sleeping against the washtub holding a steadily bigger Garuk sleeping on his chest. When Clemnilshala watched him, all he wanted to be was a horse herder, putting groups of toys into circles he’d drawn on the floor with a rock. Sometimes by size. Sometimes by form. Sometimes by the colors of their hooves and paws, he’d lean over and sit on one leg, flexing his other hoof, and support himself with one hand to make sure that his herds were made nicely enough to his liking. The way his tail, with a tuft at the end, would waggle about as he went about his play, brought a smile to both of their faces.
One thought on “A Most Curious Gift”
Our friends came to visit! I still am very fascinated by the passage of time, foremost with Hinalla and Rewwer but also how the culture in in the mountains has changed. I remember hearing about the Lanh coming to the city, but it is alarming to see a dwarvish guard judge Clem with distrust despite being a now longtime resident and scout. I appreciate with your writing that you introduce both good and hard growth. I am however excited by Clem and Folruth becoming new parents, I recall the topic coming up In a past chapter if they were open to the prospect. Knowing these two so far though, this kid is in good hands.