Evarion’s Call – (Re)Quest
(Picks up where Tiny Messenger left off. )
~ ~ ~
Willow scribbled in the dirt tracing letters to inform his audience of the Taliarten girl’s message. Speaking would have been faster but extreme old age had dried his voice up a century ago. At least it had left him him wits enough to help a friend in need. His broken leg throbbed with his efforts or maybe that was the summons urging him to get up and go. Evarion, why did it have to be her asking for help?
She wasn’t human; rather, she was a creature built from an amalgamation of living things. When he’d run into her all those years ago, she’d played the role of itinerant mendicant. She’d bartered her ability to resculpt damaged flesh and reattach limbs in exchange for clothes, food or a portion of her patient’s life essence. Patients chose what to give her. The latter item she used to make herself more human in appearance and manner.
At least that had been her quest when he’d known her. He doubted it had changed. Her mind could only hold a single goal at a time. The Taliarten’s girl’s message replayed over and over again:
kidnappers took her daughter,
left her wounded bad.
Jow tapped Willow’s shoulder; he ignored the touch until Jow’s rheumatic fingers ruffled pages and their crinkling recalled him from memory. With help from the white man who’d lifted the cart, Willow sat up, gritting his teeth as that movement jarred his broken leg, sending pain sparking through his shin. He leaned against a natural berm and breathed through the splintered bone screaming at him.
“Write down where you’re hurt. No more of this martyr shit, okay?” Jow said as he passed over his journal and graphite stick. Anger gave his partner a white knuckle grip on both paper and writing implement. Jow held onto to both items for a moment longer and then his fingers uncurled one at a time.
Willow should have shot his long time lover a look full of contrite, the mute man’s verion of ‘I’m sorry’, but the Taliarten girl’s message replayed again. His mind snagged on the same phrase — Evarion’s daughter. When had Evarion engineered a child? How? She was’t human even though parts of her had looked human when he’d last saw her.
Normal means of reproduction weren’t an option for her; she didn’t have the parts and nature had funny rules about that. Evarion could regrew limbs but she could not generate reproductive organs out of nothing. However, she could create a construct; after all, that’s what she was. A magical construct gifted with freewill and intelligence. But why do that? What had driven her to such a decision?
Willow blinked at the blank page in the journal; he’d get no answers sitting here woolgathering. He rubbed the pad of his thumb over the worn leather. Taking up the graphite stick, he wrote the truth:
An old friend’s in need.
Someone kidnapped her daughter.
I have to help her.
He handed the paper over and waited. The longer tale, he’d leave to Evarion to tell. It was her story after all. Evarion’s daughter — the phrase looped through his head on permanent repeat. Who would take her daughter and why? That girl was important somehow. He’d bet his magic on it.
~ ~ ~
“Well? What does it say?” Henneth asked. It must have said something bad judging judging from the old man’s reaction. That reminded him that introductions were long overdue. “I’m Henneth by the way. Ah, how should I address you?”
Names had power, or so they say, though not so much power over the non-magical, such as him. Still some of the older generation preferred to hand out use-names and keep their real names a secret. No doubt ‘Willow’ was such a name. Though it did an adequate job of describing the Pathfinder, ‘reed’ would have worked too.
“Oh you can call me Jow. Everyone does. It’s short for — well I suppose it doesn’t matter what it’s short for.” The old man’s smiled melted fast as his attention dropped back to the page.
Henneth didn’t ask a second time. One centenarian and one old, wounded Pathfinder wouldn’t get far without help. He was the only one here to help if he chose. Did he chose to help? He’d found their beast. So his part in this was done. But…
His gaze strayed to the iridescent bee who wasn’t a bee as the fuzzy bodied Taliarten girl crawled through the dandelion’s petals. Pollen clung to her legs. What a mystery she represented. One he wouldn’t resolve if he left.He had no particular place to be and he had to be somewhere, so why not here helping these imable old men?
Surprise made Henneth’s breath hitch; he caught Jow’s dark eyes and nodded at the question in them. Maybe this was what Seprah had meant–what her deathbed request had really been about, going out and helping people.
Jow flashed him a relieved smile. “Glad you’ll be joining us because he’s about to get us into big trouble.” Jow nodded to Willow, “like always. He just can’t say no.”
“Ah just what kind of trouble are we getting into?”
In answer, Jow held up the journal so Henneth could see scribbles on the page. Henneth shook his head in apology. “I can’t read, never learned how.”
Embarrassed, Henneth rubbed the back of his neck which felt hot while the rest of him felt chilled. Literacy wasn’t an essential skill when you lived high up in the boughs of the Enchanted Forest.
“Oh, sorry,” Jow looked contrite. “I forget that reading isn’t something taught at home.”
“The usual–damsel in distress, missing child–” Jow paused, his whole manner changing from kindly old man to an irate one. His words hung there like a lowering storm which broke when he spoke again. “I don’t know how they find us but they always do. They know he can’t say no to that.”
That said, Jow stalked off leaving Henneth alone with his thoughts, an overturned cart and a mule still tangled in that thicket. Although, out of the four of them, the mule looked content to munch berries. Maybe he should sort those mundane matters out so they could find that damsel and her daughter.
~ ~ ~
To be Continued next tomorrow …
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