Clemnilshala often sat beside the vent hole in the side of their house, watching outwardly while the seasons passed. She kept her hair short, cutting it away just before Folruth would return from his fifteen days away. She groomed it like the fine fibers of his beard when he was home. The Golden Eye never approached the house when Folruth was home. They would pass by once per day, about mid morning.
Clemnilshala would stand at the door and glare at them when she saw them. When Folruth went to spend his fifteen days out on the mountain the Golden Eye would get closer to the door, they passed by more often, never approaching the door but coming as close as the steps before they skulked on. At times they caught her in the middle of darning socks.
Her stomach boiled at the sight of the Golden Eye and how their presence in the Librarian’s district confined her to her slot in the wall like a prisoner in a cell. She came to not enjoy being inside this home across the years as they would maintain their patrol. She sat by the vent hole more often, watching outwardly as folk passed through the line of sight with their beasts of burden, if the people of the basin knew she watched them while she peeled potatoes or practiced her dwarvish script, would they feel as confined in the open air of the outside?
One thing she counted on each day was that she would see the little dot of red hair pass through the sights of the vent hole. He would turn and wave at the mountain.
Though one day there came bandits again in the beginning of the spring time, where the dwarves transported their stores of precious metals and minerals to Thamdul’s deep mined banks to be held should something happen to Khalenthel. The bandits followed Folruth into the woods she could see them, shifting their heads and growing larger by the second. A fox head and three wolf’s heads with claws and knives. They approached him and brandished their tails and bared their teeth.
Clemnilshala lept up, grabbing the spare bow from the corner and its arrows made of notched and warped wood. She sharpened the points between the split in her hooves.
On her knees, she lined up the arrow in the vent hole and took aim. She peered through the tiny hole not much wider than the diameter of a drinking glass, and released the untuned bow string and loosed the arrow into air that pierced the stillness and knicked the fox head’s wide ear.
He pulled back, his knife slashing at the space ahead of him while Rigmol bugled and lowered his rack of antlers. Folruth looked to the mountain and waved again, pointing at the two wolf’s heads with what Clemnilshala could only imagine were his own bared teeth. She pulled back another arrow and released it into the air. It latched itself to a tree some space above their heads causing them to stumble back.
They searched around, searching and searching for the source of the arrows. Not finding anyone, they approached Folruth a third time but did not give him the chance to wave again. Rigmol bowled one over onto his side, but the other one caught Folruth in the shoulder. More color came to the pale white snow. Rigmol reared up and pawed at the shiftlings as they took the metal chips and resources and shuffled away from Rigmol, who began to groan and bugle into the wide open basin.
Clemnilshala did not wait for more than a minute before she took up the battered old blanket from the waystation and pinned it over her shoulders much like Folruth’s cloak and burst through her doorway with the spare bow and a wooden serving plate and no good idea of what she would do once she got outside. She ran, with her chest out bounding down the streets and through hallways and corridors that she’d come to learn so well, right out of the Khalenthel Gates and into the snow.
Her cheeks were hot, her brow furrowed, her teeth grit together while she thought of the faces of those bandits with the same faces of the other exiles she used to hunt. With the serving plate, she blocked the wind from one side as though it would stop her smooth hoof plates from slipping and sliding around the ice on the Great Staircase.
She scrabbled her hooves and slid on her hind and hocks the whole of the way down the mountain, putting deep scratches into the serving plate when she’d slid on her side down no less than ten steps. Into the breeze she walked, letting it blow the blanket around her shoulders wide open while the rest of her clothing insulated her. She took to imagining while she wandered into the wood in search of Folruth. She followed foot prints that looked oddly shaped into the sparse forests where her horn crunched the branches and twigs bringing snow down into her hair. She listened to the whistle of the wind until, something not quite right seemed to carry on the gusts.
A sound different from the shrieking winds of the storms but the bugling of a great stag calling for help. She turned her head toward the sound, calling back with her own bleating shout. Rigmol’s call came again. She answered and followed the sound into the natural wind that sunk into he basin.
It was not long until she found Folruth cursing up a storm while he held his shoulder and leaned up against Rigmol and staining his fur with blood.
“My Folruth” she said, sliding on her knees several feet to his side, taking the moment to enjoy a half a second of snow related revelry before becoming serious again. “My Folruth, Alright alright we can fix this” she looked about for something.
“Bah I’m fine lass, ets nae more than a scratch”
“And I got bopped on the head by a yeti, dear.” She looked to Rigmol “Can ye carry him?”
The great stag rolled his eyes and waggled his head side to side, allowing the space on his bare back to Folruth and Folruth only. She laced her fingers together under the cleats of his boots to help him get situated. She rubbed the rabbit fur over her broken off horn and took a hold of Rigmol’s reins.
“Well come on then, let’s go find a station fer ye, love” With a tug, she began to attempt to lead Rigmol. It wouldn’t be that easy. Rigmol pulled back, chewing on his bit and biting at the leather reins. Clemnilshala crossed her arms over her chest and glared at the animal, who returned her look in kind.
Well…if she couldn’t pull him from the front, then she would simply have to push him from behind. She ran her hand along Rigmol’s fur and crossed behind the sled where there laid barrels of trade goods, ready to be taken along. The sled budged behind Rigmol and knocked into his back hooves, throwing him into motion on the deeply laid tracks made by the shiftlings.
“I can walk ye knoow”
Rigmol made a sound and shook his head, throwing pine needles from his beard.
“I swear that yer two of a kind.”
“Well we canno get medical attention on that bow arm of yers with ye walkin’ all on yer lonesome. Och, I swear this takes too long” she stopped and studied the sled while Rigmol took a break. They couldn’t have gone more than a mile deeper into the woods. There was rope here, and extra harness for Rigmol. She looked at the stag, the bindings that kept him hitched, and the extra harness, her tongue traveled along her teeth under her lip. She pulled the tatted old blanket off of her shoulders, affixing her family crest to her belt and picked up the extra harness, and gave it a shake. Dumping it on the snow she approached Rigmol’s hindquarters and unhitched one end of the sled and attached those straps to the other, doubling up on the pulling bolt before fixing up the spare harness to the other. She put on the chest plate and the leather yoke.
“Lass what are ye doin? I cannae have ye do that.” Folruth moved to dismount, Clemnilshala merely looked over her shoulder. “If ye hurt yerself I wont be able tae help ye.”
“If ye get off, I won’t forgive ye, we’re gonna get ye tae the station nice and safe, and doubly fast too.” She touched Folruth’s leg. “Yoo focus on makin sure yer shoulder don’t bleed out.”
“Et’s just a scratch!”
“And we aint gonna make it worse!”
She patted Rigmol on the backside and pushed against the harness, groaning from deep in her chest and prompting the stag to get to work. It was more efficient to get further along, trudging miles, weaving side to side wherever Rigmol lead.
There, along the treeline, through blurred vision and sweat, the front fringe of her hair stuck to her forehead, there was another scout who’d been hawk scouting. Her birds circled overhead and came down to land on her thick gloves. She ran for Folruth and Clemnilshala.
“Och what do ye think yer doin’ out here in the cold?” She shouted, scolding Clemnilshala and her foolishness. “Oh ho,” she looked to Folruth. “Suddenly yer a rabbit are ye, doon’t tell me, is this the wife yer always goin on about?”
Clemnilshala nodded and made good posture.
“Noblehood, Clemnilshala Noblehood.”
“Well Missus Noblehood, let’s get the three o’ ye tae the station.”
One thought on “Home-grown Skill”
Those bandits should consider themselves lucky don’t think Clem would’ve been to hospitable if given the chance. I was however happy to see things turn out fine, thanks to her quick action. In this chapter I’d say you really hit it strong with the details you weave into your situations. Like her working on the harness, you give so many strong details of how something happened instead of just saying “it worked out”. I feel you have a good mechanical grasp on every detail in your story and it’s something I’ve really come to appreciate with your style.