Thread on the Path

The last night at Rewwer’s home was a feast to behold. Potatoes and meats and vegetables, fried and baked and roasted in all kinds of ways. The five ate outside with Rigmol. Hinala took great pride in putting her hands into Rigmol’s mouth when he finished each bite of food, enchanted with the idea of a stag that ate meat. She wouldn’t sit still in her father’s lap while he attempted to wipe her mouth of frosting stew on toast that had accumulated at the corners.
“I like mountain food!” She squawked, taking another bite of her toast. “I want to eat this every day!”
“Keep sayin tha’ and we’ll have more eynnil in the mountain than dwarves” laughed Dāniff as he uncapped his water skin that was full of liquor. The smell sticking in his beard which had grown a new mushroom. Dāniff seemed quite proud of that mushroom for the entire journey, and would be cross with his young son for weeks when young Hjomnir plucked it free and ate it a long time after this trip. “Bah but yer okay lass, and iffen ye want tae come an see us, we will make sure enough that yoo both have a place among us. And Rewwer, thank ye for the hospitality, ye’ll have tae come tae see the mountains some day and teach us how tae make eynnil sized clothing, us mountain scouts could use a wider network of trade, specially around harvest time.”
“Da, I wanna be a mountain scout too now.” Said Hinala.
Folruth laughed and patted his leg with a shake of his head. The curls and bends in his hair dancing like the cooking fire.
“See what ye done lass, we’re goin tae have a whole legion of confused eynnil on the mountain!”
“Well, if I can become one, and I can be a good one, these two just may let ye join us one day.” She did not mention how much begging it took nor the trials, it would be no use to dash the dreams of a mere forty four year old. At forty four Clemnilshala wanted to be a mushroom farmer herself with how often she would play in the patches where mushrooms were as tall as she was. Or a grass cat, that she would imitate to her mother by jumping on and off the table and making bleating roars. No use to dash dreams this early.
The morning arrived too early. Hinala had spent the night in Clemnilshala’s lap, seated facing her with her scouts cloak around her shoulders like a blanket. Hinala had her little hand wrapped around a chunk of Folruth’s hair while she drooled in her dreams all over Clemnilshala’s shoulder, Rewwer, come morning, said that she must have been trying to condition the leather. Clemnilshala went walking, to say goodbye to Mamala, taking with her one of Rewwer’s skinning knives, she knelt by the river and silently prayed like she used to when she lived in Uluur, her stomach tightening in knots as this was all that felt right. With the knife she gathered her own hair and, like she’d seen at dwarvish funerals throughout the city of Khalenthel, she dragged the sharp knife through her hair and pulled it free. Silently pushing thoughts of Uluur to the back hopefully to be forgotten someday. She watched her hair float down stream as she dropped it in the water. She wished the coward that she used to be well wishes and returned to cutting away at her hair until it stood up in so many different directions she looked like the head of a dandelion. She smiled at her reflection in the water. The last of her hair, she stuffed into the knothole in one of the beech trees, returning as soon as she was called by Dāniff.
No one mentioned her hair, at least until they left to return to the mountain. Food and goods were exchanged and the cart was left to Rewwer to use as he pleased. They’d gone some ways down the dirt path before there was shouting and bleating from Hinala who came galloping as fast as her chunky little legs would carry her. She crashed into Folruth with a great hug. Folruth picked her up and spun her around just to put her down again. She had a cloth sack that she dropped just before hugging Folruth.
“Go on home lass. We will be back before ye knoow it” he patted her between the horns and gave her a smile.
Hinala hugged Dāniff and then Rigmol who lowered his head and, in his own staggish way, hugged her back. When she came to Clemnilshala she pushed the sack into her arm before giving her the biggest hug that she possibly could.
“Da wants you to have this stuff. We’ll miss you.” She said and backed up. “Goodbye!”
Her shouts and bleats echoed the way back down the path as she raced all the way home. The dwarves looked at Clemnilshala and she looked back just as confused.
The whole trip, leaving the mountain and returning to the mountain, took sixty four days in total. Clemnilshala imagined that the first thing that Dāniff did was show his wife the mushroom that had grown in the fibers of his beard, then rest for several days, just as she and Folruth did. Folruth could not stop running his hands in her short hair, opening and closing his fingers with a smile on his face but a strange sadness in his eyes.

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