Monday, June 22, 2015

Rynyalla - Stoneblood Tails

Rynyalla - Stoneblood Tails

“It’s time.” Stoneblood Tails, closing on seven feet tall, moved with a stiff, deliberate slowness. The dozen Coyotul of the warband followed him, and after a moment, so did the motley Skeleton Crew. Questioning glances moved between them as they followed at a respectful distance. Behind the fire crackled low, the leftover meat and drink of the feast lay where it had been left, and the quiet of the drifting wind played across the midnight sky.

Ghostpaw Swift, resplendent in her tawny coat adorned in dyed leather and wooden beads approached Tails, tentative and halting. “You don’t have to do this, you may still change your mind.”

In response, Tails shook his head. “No, I am resolved my lady. I am tired, let me be freed.”

The Skeleton Crew looked amongst themselves again. It was a strangeness for them, to see their compatriot of the past two weeks, this brute of a barbarian, savage in his fighting and gruff of demeanor to speak so. Swift stepped back, nodding and clearing space.

The Coyotul and Crew arrayed themselves in a loose circle. Tails knelt in the dust and stones, with a ritualistic reverence he unhooked his axes, setting them down before him. Then he pulled his leather jerkin over his head, tattersail strings of dyed leather, feathers and elaborate weavings of beads all. From within his mane of fur he untangled an array of braided glass stones, and set them down. The Crew became aware of the mangled crisscross of scars that adorned his back and shoulders. It was a map of a lifetime, scars and lashings, wounds and gouges that told a history older than they would have expected.

Glass crashed through the circle then. The girl of 6 pushed her way through the Coyotul and ran with faltering steps to her guardian, kneeling in the dirt. Her human arms wrapped themselves as best they could around the fur of his neck, “No no no no no,” she murmured, some of the first words a few of the Crew had ever heard the mute girl speak. Tails’ large hands held onto her back, hugging her close for a long time in the night, before he gently untangled her.

“It is my path, mine to walk where the wind carries me.” He beheld her, his little ward, and oft constant companion. “It must be, can you do that, Glass?”

She shook her head again, but it was less empathic. Tears began to streak down her childlike face, running from her strange grey and green eyes. “No?”

“Yes.” Then, Tails smiled. A soft gesture, possibly the only softness that the barbarian had ever shown. His paw came up, the downy fur brushed away the dampness of her tears. “It is the way of things.” He closed his eyes, then “Mother, Daughter, into your hands I commend myself.”

Glass raised her hand then, and between her fingers glimmered flickering blue light. It grew in intensity until lights danced a myriad whirl of spirals, suffusing her and the barbarian. It grew so intense that all were forced to look away as brightness exploded through the clearing, a twisting whirlwind of light and energy, until it fell back in on itself and became the slow glimmer of a hundred tiny stars, clutched between the girl’s outstretched fingers.

With a slow, reverent gesture, Glass cast the tiny stars up into the heavens, to shine forever in the dark of the night.

Then as one, the Coyotul Warband threw back their heads and howled, a single clarion knell of mourning for the passing of their brother. The Crew joined them, for he had been a soldier, a staunch companion, honorable and righteous. Somewhere far above, the stars stopped their glittering dance a while, and welcomed another into their fold.

Thus did Stoneblood Tails become light.