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The Wanderers Tale – Part 1 August 25, 2012

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
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Hi everyone! The main Nox and Grimm series is on hiatus till I get back from vacation, but in the mean time here’s the first of a miniseries featuring Grimm, back when he was still Aurengrey (or Grey, as his freinds called him).  I thought it was about time we got to find out where he came from, and I hope you enjoy exploring new parts of the elemental realms as much as I have been while writing it 🙂

-Angie

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Grey’s earliest memories were filled with the sound of the wind causing the leather walls of his family’s gureda to boom. He would lie on his sleeping furs, a warm hound on either side of him, and look up at the soot-stained smoke hole in the roof, trying to catch a glimpse of his father coming back from a hunt. The Wind tribes of the southwestern continent were nomads, traveling across the plains with the herds of bison and antelopes that covered the grasslands like a brown and golden tide. His father was the chief huntsman and, along with a council of elders, he led their small community in their endless journey from east to west, north and south as the herds migrated with the seasons.

It was almost autumn, and the crisp air lent a certain excitement to the day. They would be moving in a few weeks. And this time, Grey might be allowed to fly on his own instead of being lifted along with their belongings. The hounds must have picked up on his mood because they started thumping their tails, and the male let out a low whine.  Grey wriggled out from between them and threw on a warm fur-lined tunic that his mother had lovingly embroidered with spiraling patterns over the course of the last winter. Then he sprinted outside, barefoot and bareheaded, with his mop of jet black hair flying out behind him and the hounds at his heels. Jenna, the grey female fell into step by his side while rangy Janus bounded ahead, his excited howls letting everyone within earshot know that his master would soon be home.

Aurelius’s coming was heralded by a gust of swirling winds. He walked down out of the sky as easily as if he were on a hillside. His spear rested casually against one shoulder and he had on warm leathers and sturdy boots, fitted tight around him to keep them from flapping or snagging while on the hunt.

More men and women floated down from the clouds in pairs, with their catches slung between them on crossed spears. They had brought in a large haul, enough to keep the whole tribe fed for a month. They only did that when they knew they’d be too busy to catch fresh meat. They were definitely going to move!

Grey let out a whoop and shot up into the air, trusting as only a child can that his father would catch him. Aurelius laughed and swung him around, his spear hovering off to one side.

Grey was so excited his words tumbled out all at once. “We’re going aren’t we and I can help pack and can I fly please please!”

Aurelius laughed again and tossed his son up onto his shoulders. “Yes, chatterbox, we’re heading south. Have you been practicing your landings?”

“Mmm hmm! I’m really good at it now! And I did a loop-de-loop and a corkscrew and a zigzag – “

“Aurengrey, let your father get a word in edgewise!” Merina smiled indulgently up at her husband and son. She stood outside the entrance flap to the gureda, drying her hands on a check patterned apron that she wore over a tunic and trousers. Her long brown hair hung down almost to her ankles, an unusual thing for an Air kindred. Normally they kept their hair short, but she had come to them from far away islands, the daughter of a trader who sailed along the coast to sell his wares.  Her clan only used Air to fill their sails or calm a storm, not to fly.

As Aurelius touched ground, she reached up and took Grey from his shoulders.  “Go on now, go get washed up. It’s almost time for dinner.”

“Awww! But I’m not dirty!” Grey complained.

“Aurengrey, you smell like those hounds!  Go wash up!” she said, and shooed him away. “And dry off right away, I don’t want you catching cold!”

The hounds were already milling about, snuffling at hands with wet noses and bumping up against Aurelius’s legs.  Grey ran to get a cake of soap and a towel, and the hounds bounded after him.

Merina yelled out to him, “Wash upstream from them!  I won’t have you at the table smelling like a wet dog either!”

Grey turned around and yelled back something vaguely like a promise. His mom and dad were paying no attention to him though. They stood close together, their fingers entwined and heads leaned together. The setting sun brought out golden highlights in his mother’s hair, and bluish ones in his father’s black waves. Grey made a face – he knew where this was going. Kissing. “Ewwggh, mushy stuff!”

He stomped off in disgust, trying to decide which was worse, washing up, or that. He took his time getting to the stream, kicking at rocks and throwing sticks for the hounds to chase. The stream was just beyond a small rise, but Grey was sure he could make the trip last another twenty minutes before they called for him. He reached down to grab another stick, but Janus ignored it. The hound lifted his sensitive nose to the air, and he let out another whine, this one higher pitched.

A large shadow moved over them, and Jenna started to growl. “Easy, girl,” Grey said. “It’s probably just an eagle. Hey, maybe I can find a feather from it! Then I can wear it on an arm band like the older boys!”

He hushed the hounds and crept forward, imitating his father’s skill at silent tracking. Something up ahead let out a shrill cry that was quickly followed by crunching sounds. The hounds started to growl again, and Grey signaled them to be quiet. He crawled on his belly to the top of the rise and peered over the edge.

Right into the eyes of a monster.

It was huge, with dull grey scales and bat-like wings folded on its back. Its eyes were a dark oily yellow, and its jaws and sinuous neck were spattered with gore. The headless body of a roe-buck was clenched in its claws. A long tail with a wicked barb curved up over its back, waving back and forth like a snake waiting to strike.

Grey froze, unable to move.

The bloody jaws shot forward, and Janus flung himself at the creatures head, bellowing out his war howl. The two collided, the hound scrabbling for purchase on the smooth scales, but he got a hold on the tender snout of the beast with his teeth and dug in.  The creature screamed and lashed its head back and forth.  Jenna dove for the tail, leaping and dodging around the brutal sting.

Grey finally got his wits about him and ran. One of the dogs let out a yelp and the other was barking madly.  He looked back and saw the creature shoot up into the air, circling round him once, twice, before diving down, claws extended.  He ran as fast as he could, his sturdy legs pumping like pistons but he wasn’t fast enough. The thunder of wings buffeted him to the ground and he rolled helplessly through the clouds of dust kicked up.

He stared upwards, terrified, but the descending jaws were met again by Janus. The hound hit the creature in the head, shoving it aside and then jumped free. He hit the ground, paws digging in and then leapt again, harrying the beast.

The creature hissed and caught Janus with barb in its tail and flung him aside. Then it threw its head back and let out a whistling shriek.

THUNK.  The sound was cut off by a spear flung through the soft under skin of its throat. THUNK THUNK.  Two more spears joined it, and Grey felt a gust of wind curl around him and yank him out of the way of its death throes.

Grey found himself blown straight into the gureda and he landed in his mother’s arms. Aurelius and the other hunters had streaked past him along the way, flying out to make sure the beast was dead. Grey squirmed to get free of his mother’s hold. “I have to go back momma! I have to check on Janus and Jenna!”

Merina, her cheeks tear stained, shook her head and held him tight. “Your father will find them.”

An hour later, his father came home. There was no sign of the hounds. Aurelius knelt down and brushed a hand over his son’s hair. “I’m sorry. Your friends were very brave. They saved your life.”

“But where are they?” Grey said, not understanding.

“Running together for eternity on the gray plains. Don’t be sorry for them, son. They’re together.” Aurelius picked him up and put him to bed. “Try to sleep. We have a busy day tomorrow.”

Merina was wringing her apron between her hands. “We’re moving? But all that fresh food you brought home will go to waste if we don’t dry it. And nothing is ready… ” she said, her voice trailing off.

Aurelius put his hands on her shoulders. “My love, we have to go. Where there is one wyvern, more will follow. Pack quickly tonight. We leave at dawn.”

Next –>the Wanderer’s Tale,  Part 2

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Comments»

1. Charlotte Comley (@CharlotteC42) - August 25, 2012

A nice piece of writing


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