Clemnilshala slept, curled up as tight as she could, facing Rigmol’s stomach. But by the weilvog she slept. Rigmol purred and shifted around every so often, stirring her from her sleep only to settle back in. He didn’t seem threatening at all. Though once she’d awoke the galley was emptied of yesterday’s dwarves and humans and shiftlings and filled with new ones instead. Rigmol was gone by the time she’d awoke and the candle on the wall that was stuck full with nails had lost more than half.
An actual blanket from the loft upstairs was brought down and draped over her shoulders. While she was balled up it reached her knees and hocks. When she got up from her spot there was a loud cheer and an exchange of money over a game that they were playing. She heard her name being said in their conversations while pieces of money were passed around.
“Damn you and all your knowledge,” A human woman said to a shiftling while she threw coins about. Clemnilshala wobbled with her legs underneath her and observed an empty table that had some of the soup from the night before set for her. She wolfed it down without stopping to breath, or taste, giving a long breathy exhale. It tasted good lukewarm too.
Outside it was snowing again, she clutched the blanket around her shoulders tighter as she strode out into the snow. Shuffling it around in front of her. It froze her frogs first, her skin growing bumpy again. Folruth was there, seated on a stool, affixing plates to the bottoms of Rigmol’s hooves. Rigmol was busy holding a long smoking pipe in his mouth, puffing away like a chimney. Clemnilshala pulled her head back at the sight.
“Everyone makes that face when they see it” Folruth said as he looked up at her. “Mighty big aint ye. Reckon yer strong too. Think ye can pull that sled up so we can get Rigs here all hitched up nice and he can pull ye intae town?”
Clemnilshala turned and glanced about.
“Aye yoo lass. It’ll be easy.”
She borrowed another fastener from Ferynia for this blanket. And snickered to herself when she’d returned to Folruth.
“Like you now” she said and picked the sled up, doubled over, and nearly dropped it. Instead it got pulled along with great difficulty through the snow and brought up behind Rigmol who continued smoking. Folruth laughed deeply.
“I guess yer right. Et’s quite a walk, an’ startin’ now were probably goin’ tae be walkin in the night time. Think ye can handle tha lass?”
So long as there was more of that soup she’d go anywhere she thought to herself. She merely nodded and huddled this blanket closed. Rigmol’s sled was stacked with trading good such as barrels of milk from a nearby farm and wheat that had come to the station from another territory. Furs and skins collected by the mountain scouts, already tanned or ready to be tanned in the towns. The trek began. Folruth talked and talked and talked as they got further into the woods.
The longer the walked the more tired Clemnilshala’s legs became, warming themselves with fatigue much like they did when she was training some fifty years ago. She shook her head, her ear patted her cheek ushering those old thoughts out of her head. The brown and yellow checked pattern of the blanket blended with the tan color of what bits of her original skin showed between her markings. While Folruth talked, stopping at points to snap his fingers and turn his hand and wrist in shapes to think of words in human tongue, Clemnilshala feigned that she was listening. Humming short utterances while studying the dirty filthy stains her markings were. She could never scrub them away.

One thought on “Rigmol

  1. It’s wonderful to see our our Clem get better, if even just a little bit. I think a fun part of what you’ve done is let us the reader sit on Clem shoulder as this part unfolds. We both get to experience the curiosity and oddity of this new setting and assortment of new faces. I particularly like the image in my head of a very stoic Rigmol smoking his pipe like a chimney. Additionally I’m really liking Folruth, you can feel he’s got a good heart and is prideful of his trade and way of life. Looking forward to seeing more of his tale!


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