Rigmol in the Stable

And so years passed, fading into one another like the sunset meeting the sunrise over short summer nights. In the time Folruth and Clemnilshala helped build a new stable within the mountain as the human kings began to come to the mountain more, forging bonds and alliances. Humans began to lead lives inside of Khalenthel, around the same time the plains dwarves too spread their griffon wings and visited. Horses and griffons needed to stay places. Brick by brick and stone by stone, in the blinks of eyes it grew out of the mountain as organically as the branch of a tree outside, it sprouted stalls and a water trough and a chimney up to the snowy sky up above that brought fresh water to the animals by melting the snow in what was but a pin prick to the mountain.
Harvest time became more elaborate, more trade goods left the mountain but straw and hay was plentiful in the plains and filled the new stables fuller with greater longevity that the king of the basin accused the plains dwarves of hoarding enchantments over their fields and crops. War was threatened for such comments and Clemnilshala sat in the house with her Folruth under her arm, squeezed tight, just in case Hjomnir, son of Dāniff, came like a squire to say that the mountain scouts would go and fight. Though, Rigmol had gone out for the day, making rings about the city in the way he did, and when he’d come back Folruth jumped up as his stag bugled triumphantly.
“No fooling!” Folruth shouted as he danced about the animal, with his hands on his hips, as young as the day she’d met him. He bucked his head and threw the rings of his thick hair about like the streams of ribbon in ladies hair when they celebrated holidays. He laughed and skipped about his stag that there would be no war between dwarves yet. The silver in his hair ran like clean oil from his scalp to the ends. Yet here, when Rigmol was near with the odd way that he made everyone feel better than the aches and pains of the day before, Clemnilshala saw almost complete scarlet like a memory of a ghost laid over Folruth, dancing the same dances and grinning the same grin.
It was after the threat of war between the dwarves, kind fighting their own kind, that Clemnilshala began to see the differences between them. Eynnil didn’t go to war against one another.
The stable continued to grow, after every cycles of fifteen days away it seemed more like a spring plant no matter how many years it took to build. Swords were mounted over the hearth, a sunrise of five rays should someone need to use them. Clemnilshala took to watching Folruth more again, how he talked to Rigmol and waited and the subtle ways that Rigmol would respond. The stag didn’t always make noise when he ‘replied’ sometimes it was a move of the ear or a flag of his tail. He liked to push his muzzle into Folruth’s cheek and receive laughing touches to the face.
Rigmol didn’t appreciate the change to his housing, he liked the awning beside the steps up to the little slot in the wall. nearly every night he would find a way to undo the locks on his stall where he would then go about the city on explorations before resting in his spot. His spot with the comfortable bedding and the stand for his smoking pipe and his dishes. The stablehands, the stabliers, only gave him oats and Folruth would repeat the things that Rigmol must have been saying, complaining, about the oats and good beast food.
No matter how many times Clemnilshala asked how Folruth was able to understand his beast, Folruth would merely say that one can talk to anything but they have to know how to listen to them too. Everything had a voice. Rigmol’s was just easier to understand. The same mind set was with the eagle and hawk and falcon masters, but in all her time Clemnishala had never seen the dwarves nor the budding humans, speak to the animals. Only command their birds and their beasts to go forth and bring back.
“Ye jus’ need tae spend more time with him, lass.” Folruth would say, before he would give her that smile that made her insides go all soft and warm. His eyebrows were fading into silver as well. From them Clemnilshala made it a point that she would go and help out at the stables. Pitching dirty bedding and bucking clean bedding and food for the animals. Rigmol came by often, being lead by reins by Folruth before he would return to the home and begin making more toys for the orphans of the merchant district to the lesser-equipped forge district. Soon enough Rigmol came on his own, wearing a bridle and reins to be removed from Clemnilshala. For some reason she began to talk aloud to him, timid at first, just saying nice things about how his fur was glossy and well kept and that he had good friends about him. How strong his antlers were and, well, how good he was at smoking pipes in straw bedding without lighting everything on fire.
Until one very ordinary day had been interrupted. Clemnilshala was finished sweeping the rest of the straw from Rigmol’s stall in the new stable, and had gotten down on her hands and knees to wash down the floors and walls from his dropped food and the remnant of his tantrums in protest of being fed oats and pellets.
“You missed a spot” came a voice from just behind her though a thousand feet away. “I dropped some stew two days ago”
“Ye got it, don’t want the smell tae put the human’s horses in a tizzy no?” She turned to scrub with the brush at a brown stain. Her eyesight followed the cracks and patterns in the floor to look for the boots, shoes, or bare foot of whomever had said so.
“Well I don’t want to have to smell it either, makes it hard to sleep, I wish that the king didn’t say that I had to be stabled here too.”
“I’m sure that you could just go to the inn. No reason for someone to have to stay amongst animals if they don’t want to.” She stood, speaking aloud, perhaps a ghost, this wouldn’t be the first time.
“You come here a lot, I want you to do the job right.”
“Ah, yer right.” She rinsed the scrubbing brush.
“Why do you come here so much? There are plenty of stabliers to take care of the animals.”
“I don’t like tae think so much. Eynnil kind…we are long of life…longer than dwarves…longer than horse herders…we live centuries, almost ten centuries, an’ well.. dwarves they don’t live as long as eynnil.”
“You don’t live as long as the Wild Things.”
“Aye, I don’t. But my Folruth…his hair used tae be as red as the blood of the mountain. Ah it glowed in the sunshine, what a fox, and…well…I wish sickness on all of time, whatever is in charge of the forward march of days, I’ve been scared for so long that I watched as his hair turned the color of snow falling on white ash. Its silver, it’s beautiful, but I fear his time comes. I’m…I’m…” she sighed with a thick cloud of rage at nothing in general, the burning in her stomach that it all happened so fast.”
“Happened at exactly the same speed. You were blind to him for so long.” Said the voice.
Clemnishala looked up, turning about looking for whoever said that. But it was no one. Only Rigmol stood there in the middle of the aisle between all the stalls.
“Oh, it’s just you, want tae point me tae the funny stealthy lad whom I’d been talking to?” She looked over her shoulder at the stag.
“It is me. Just me.” The stag lowered his great crown of antlers. “Just Rigmol is fine, you’re used to that name.”
“Y-yer talkin’ tae me”
“I’ve been speaking to you all this time, girl. You’re just listening now.” Said Rigmol. His jaw didn’t move, but his voice was as clear as bells and chimes. Sounding like something from far far off he kept talking. “Though, it cannot be said that just any one can hear me. I do enjoy picking and choosing who I communicate with. But you, you took quiet some time.”
“W-why do you suppose?”
“Anger. It’s harder to be understood when you’re giving advice and someone is too angry to hear it.” Said Rigmol as he went along, rearing up to pull bedding and straw from the pile that’d been brought by cart. “This much should do for me”
“That’s twice as many as any horse”
“I’m twice the horse as any of these beasts” Rigmol looked out amongst the horses who flapped their tails one way and the other.
“Is yer name really Rigmol?”
“Might as well be, there’s no other name I answer to now, girl.”
“Do ye have a second name? What about the family ye came from?”
“Heatherhead. I think is the closest thing you could say is my family name.”
“Rigmol Heatherhead, a great pleasure tae hear ye at last” She put her palm to his nose and gently pet the strip of white fur that ran down the front of his face. He groaned appreciative of the gesture. “So tell me, will ye be smoking’ tonight?”
He bowed his head and went quiet as Clemnilshala bucked straw into his space, adding more than twice the normal amount for such a curious animal. His inspection did not raise too many complaints in either language of the stag or the common person. He merely pawed with his hooves for a comfortable spot.
“Am I still meant tae brush out yer neck? Given ye can talk now?”
“What does my speaking change? I have no hands to brush my own hair, nor wash my own body. I, eh, still need you to do that.”

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