Chapter Four, Part Five

If someone experiences a great sorrow, the way to be of most service to that someone is to guide them through their ache rather than attempt to take the pain away.”
Master. Abbess Superior Y’luunara, was a thrall to “the coming day”. Facing its approach like a shady march into oblivion.

Lavia watched the sky in the morning, should rogue griffons wish to play their games with domestic working animals. The sun rose behind a veil of thick clouds casting nothing but the grey likeness of light over the whole of the beach. While waiting for the Exile, Clemnilshala to rise from whichever hovel she’d chosen to sleep in, she remained close to the Colmillo and their scrimshaw tusks which they used to open large nuts and retrieve the meat and clean water inside. Remarkable how their teeth didn’t break, even after having images and decorations embedded into their yellow-white surfaces. For as much as Lavia craned her head and took short walks to feel the land, the pulsing lines of energy beneath her hooves shift, vibrate, and slither into place, the land was not comfortably rested. Even the rocks on the shore were misplaced and making it well known to the other elementalists that they were not in harmony. No matter how hard she looked, she could not find house, hut or even nest for the Colmillo people to hail from.

She asked the wind for answers but only found a strange voice that seemed so nostalgic. It assured her that the Colmillo were from ‘somewhere’. The breeze in the trees taught her about the kind of magic that existed here, billowing wafts took the cloth of her wrists and guided her movements to grasp the very sparks of the holiest magics that only the priestesses used. That is, until it turned time for her to be discovered and requested to make herself useful and ensure ‘the exile’ with an injured shield arm does not poison or attack anyone like it did the commander.

The same tale had spread across the camp faster than hay fever. She thought of the baths in the mountain when she approached the one horned huntress who smiled back without showing her teeth, stealing glances at the trees behind her between waves of people that ebbed and flowed like the water on the shore. She’d sneak bites of food as a starving dog hunches over his dinner with predators nearby. Even with the bounty of safe food for the denizens of the Weilvog’s light, she elected to eat of the dwarf food. Cured meats, pickled vegetables, the tomatoes that her dwarvish kin declined and cubes of butter that she neglected to spread on anything. Lavia fought the urge to gag as disgust rose in her throat. Clemnilshala paid her no mind as she fed. Until a blonde dwarf and a remarkably pretty dwarfess came to the table. Clemnilshala’s face changed, she greeted them by name and became suddenly all interested in how cloudy the sky was that morning. She began to speak in the dwarvish tongue with the speed of an untrained horse. She must’ve choked on the lump of solid milk fat as she went into a short coughing fit.

The dwarf, Samythiel, turned a bright color of red as the lady said something. Lavia could only guess what it could have meant, Clemnilshala’s face was just as crimson. She stood so strongly that she knocked of plate of bread to the dirty ground and and thrown her stood a-tumbling behind her several paces. Her commotion caught the attention of the Commander and a patroleer and a clowder of griffon keepers.

Samythiel and the dwarfess shared a laugh as they stalked off to speak privately. Clemnilshala wrung a piece of cloth in her fingers until the end of the meal time prayer wherein she had escaped into the woods for her meal. Being followed by the dwarfess. Lavia trailed close behind, joining them for a picnic.

Upon returning Clemnilshala set the stool right, took a fist full of cured meats, so unceremoniously that she left the bowl teetering while she stalked along towards the stable tent. Her great stag, the monstrous beast, staggered out and hung his woven antlers. Clemnilshala ruffed his fur as he groaned. She spoke low, calming sounding, words and offered him food.

Vulac was next to pass, they traded glances and hushed hisses of curse-worthy words. The commander approached Lavia, changing her duties much to the mountain scout’s chagrin.  Remain vigilant, said Vulac, observe the exile. They gave her permission to pass her chores onto any of the expeditioners. Watching over the exile was her most important task, the Abbess would want it this way, according to them.

Lavia shifted her weight from one hoof to the other, shaking a confident breath from the woods. Its words soothing the thoughts of shirking her responsibilities needlessly. Yet her head nodded to Vulac, she saw them off at the meal tables. By the time she turned to find Clemnilshala she’d vanished once more. Lavia shook her head and looked to the forest for a hint. But its reassuring voice was mute.

Lavia held her skirts in her hands as she trotted through the camp with an eye out for an eynnil with her arm bound to her chest. Why this was what she was hunting for, beyond an eynnil with one horn, or the only eynnil in exile on this entire beach, was as much a mystery. Something on the wind and in the dirt insisted this way. Instead, she same upon Elat, the Colmillo man who so generously provided various provisions to newly arriving laborers. Aiding them to better acclimate to the warmth under these impenetrable clouds.

Elat hadn’t seen anyone that matched the description of the exile, he held his arms over his head and mentioned that he was more than pleased to offer aid in finding the ‘missing lady’. Lavia couldn’t take her sights from his tusks and their etched and dyed markings. How would the Abbess like this man? He didn’t ask too many questions, electing to remain quiet yet jovial with a grin that Lavia feared would split his lip. He was nothing like Xirril. His barefoot gate parted the rocks and sand with the power and wisdom that somehow made them seem so much more comfortable. Xirril probably wouldn’t be able to understand.

Lavia continued to steal glances at him, feigning as though she were keeping an eye out for the ever crucial exile. Appreciating his quietness as she attuned her attention to the forest line alongside them. Its breath was hoarse and labored, Different from the voice that she’d been hearing all this time. It sighed strangely and remained weak. Impossible it was for Lavia to tell what it was muttering it its bizarre creaking language. Elat seemed unbothered. The state of the windy element that danced and rushed in the trees did not take his attention for a moment. Though once she had stopped walking, to stare at something that moved between two ferns, he too stopped and looked up at her, picking at his scrimshaw carvings, waiting for the next move.

“What phase of the moon will it be tonight?” Lavia asked aloud as though she hadn’t been counting down the months, the weeks, and days with her master. The day was on the horizon. And somehow Clemnilshala was as important as the coming day.

“Why would you want to know about the moon? Is your friend not here on the ground with us?” Elat looked to the sky.

Friend? Perhaps, but what about after the coming day? Positively not. She remained silent once more in this man’s presence. Though the sky, with its clouds like rose petals while slate in color, suffocated her like an old blanket. Would she be sailing over the trees on the back of a griffon so close to the coming day? Dread filled her stomach as she remained calm of face before Elat.

The Voice of the Woods, the one she knew, kind, warm, ate up these anxieties and replaced them with its promises. Magic brimmed in her fingertips and overflowed into the sand. Elat took her hand and inspected the sparks with a furrowed browline.

“Does this not hurt?” he asked aloud. Lavia shook her head. Taking her hand back and holding it to her chest.

“Not at all.” She replied “Master says its because my new magics want to reject my old magics, I cannot hold both at the same time…so it over flows”
Before another world could be uttered her eyes fell upon the beastial stag putting a cart. His name, somehow, escaped in the whisper of the woods. She ached with a grin, all her own  as she cantered ahead to find the black smithing section. Clemnilshala was there with the smithies, laughing with her arm bound to her chest while she motioned with her head and used her hoof to pump a wooden gas bag that kept the fire warm and in control. She smacked her uninjured hand on her chest and occasionally switched legs speaking in their language.

The voice of the woods was a coo. It came to Lavia and uttered a light sigh before it whispered a simple phrase.

“If only she knew what I have planned for her.”

“Excuse me?” Lavia muttered under her breath.

“You simply don’t have the heart of the Weilvog’s mission. I need her heart. Your abbess needs her heart. A heart like that”

Lavia’s stomach emptied. The voice turned silent.

“Wind spirit?” she called “No, you promised me, wind spirit. You promised me” Lavia turned her back to the smithies.