The Wanderer’s Tale, Part 3 September 19, 2012Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
Tags: #fridayflash, flash fiction, Nox and Grimm
Sorry about the delay, didn’t realize my posts weren’t auto publishing while I was on vacation. Doh! But here it is, part 3 of Grimm’s backstory
Every single member of the Wind tribes gathered in the broad, low ceilinged cavern that served as their meeting hall. Grey looked around, noticing the gaps in their ranks. There were so few of them left. All told there might be two dozen fit for the raid on the wyvern’s lairs. Maybe three, if a some of the elders insisted on joining them, and a few had. Anger boiled up inside him for everyone they had lost, but there was nowhere for it to go. So he swallowed it back down like he always did, and let it form a cold lump in his chest.
His father stood in the center of the room, the captured egg in his hands. “They are hiding in the crater of an extinct volcano, four days flight to our north,” Aurelius said. “It is filled with nests, young just testing their wings and nesting females. The female’s scales are not so tough as the males. They act a lot like bees, with just a few queens reproducing while other drone females attend them and the eggs. If we wipe the females out, the males will have to leave to find new mates.”
Raynard sat to one side, at the head of the remnants of Tribe Gale. He looked doubtfully at the egg. “You guess this, but do you know it? And how exactly do we get there without being torn to shreds the minute we step foot outside?”
“I’d say young Grey gave us a pretty good example today of how to deal with them,” Brennan said, and several of the hunters of Tempest clapped their hands and whistled in agreement. Brennan clenched his fist and shook it at Raynard. “Find your spine, man! This is our chance to take our homes back!”
“Or die trying,” Raynard said caustically. “I’ll ask again. How do we get there?”
Aurelius smiled. “Underground.”
Raynard rolled his eyes. “Oh yes, we’ll just walk through solid rock for four days – “
“-exactly.” Grey said, cutting in. He was sick to death of the old man’s gripes. He walked down to the floor to stand with his father, his hound at his heel. “We barter with the Mountain Kindreds for a new tunnel.”
“Barter with what? Our threadbare clothes?”
Grey put a hand on Cavall’s head, and the hound thumped his tail on the ground. “My friend here is the proud father of five pups. The chief of High Peaks has admired him often, and tried to buy him from me. They could use some guards to warn them when juvenile wyverns come crawling in their caves, looking for a snack.”
Brennan whooped and pounded his spear butt into the ground. “Yes! We pop up, wipe out their nests and take off before they ever knew what hit them!
Aurelius and Grey shared matching smiles. “We rather thought you’d like the idea,” Aurelius said.
Raynard still looked doubtful, but reluctantly agreed. “If old Tamlyn agree’s, Gale will join the raid.”
It took a week to get word to the mountain clans, but the wait paid off. The reply from Chief Tamlyn was brought by ten seasoned warriors, who he sent to go along on the raid. Grey was on lookout when they arrived, and quickly read the missive.
“Ach, I’ll do anything to rid us of those scaly bastards. And the worst part is you can’t even eat them. Give ‘em to Hel, boys! Maybe he’ll find a use for ‘em, cause for sure we can’t!
– Tamlyn, of the Mountains.”
Grey laughed when he finished reading. “Colorful fellow, isn’t he?”
“Aye, our chief is that, amongst other things,” the leader of the warriors said, a cheerful grin lighting up his florid face. Tairwyn was the chief’s cousin, and every bit as colorful as his kin. He had drooping mustachios and spiky, brownish-red hair. He was even broader through the shoulders than Grey, and wore his heavy metal armor as if it was light as a feather. “So, my young friend, are ye ready to deal out some payback?”
“I’ve been ready for ten years,” Grey said, with feeling.
Tairwyn clapped him on the back hard enough to rock him on his heels. “Whoo, I like you, laddie! You’ve got some spirit in you!”
“Amongst other things,” Grey said, with a fierce grin.
Tairwyn threw back his head and roared with laughter. “Aye, we’ll get along just fine!”
Grey led them down to where the raiders were preparing for the long walk through the dark tunnels. Each had a pack with a share of the food, water, tallow candles and other small, easily carried supplies.
Aurelius greeted the Mountain kin with a broad smile and clasped forearms with him. “Tairwyn! You are most welcome!
“Couldn’t keep me away,” Tairwyn said. He looked around, and stroked his mustachios thoughtfully. “You sure these folks are up to it? No offence, but yer all looking a mite rough ‘round the edges.”
“Waiting won’t change that,” Aurelius said. “Don’t worry about us, we’ll keep up. Matter of fact, we’ll be ready to go as soon as you’ve rested a bit.”
Tairwyn let out an amused snort. “We’re ready now. Let’s go wreck some havoc, hey?”
Aurelius waved his spear in a circle over his head to get everyone’s attention, and they all settled down in quiet anticipation. “It’s time. Go silent once we reach the canyon floor. Those things can hear echoes for a long way underground.”
The way to the exit was lined with everyone who would not, or could not go. Family held their loved ones close, and those without relatives shook everyone’s hands and wished them well. Grey’s mother was nearest to the entrance to the lower tunnels, and she reached up to brush a bit of his hair from his face.
“I wish you wouldn’t go. You’re still a boy, Aurengrey,” Merina said, her face lined with worry.
Grey gave her a hug. “I’ll be fine, mom. I’ll come back, I promise.”
Aurelius caught up to them, and gave his wife a kiss. “He’s as good a fighter as I am, dear heart. We need him. “
“I know. But I don’t have to like it.” She reluctantly stepped back, and stayed there until every last one of the raiding party had gone by. “I love you both.”
They waved, and took the lead into the dank, dripping tunnels, far from the winds that were their element.