A Big Shiny Blue Marble Ch. 22byTaLtos6©
***Things are pretty much the same here as they were on the world where the mountain clans once lived. To a witch such as Beyl'eth, it's important to know what works, what doesn't and what's different - because some things are REALLY different. Then again, some things are exactly the same - a loaf or bread, a jug of wine, and all that girl / boy stuff. You'd almost think that it would be complicated, but Beyl'eth's a bright and practical girl who tries to think of well, what's important.
It's an ability which the strongest Rohn witches share. 0_o
Book of the Dragon Part 7
The next day, he had his deer and though it wasn't his preference, he'd had to eat a little of it raw, since he'd gone without food for a time. He could live like that, but he wasn't nuts about it. As he walked up the valley, he saw her squatting in front of his home.
She was looking at him.
He looked down for a moment, "What now?" he wondered.
He walked to the stream and after setting everything down, he washed his hands and took a drink, sipping the icy water slowly. He picked everything up again and walked up, passing right by her without looking to hang up the deer. He considered and thought that there was plenty of time left in the day, so he went to clean his rifle. He normally did this outside, he thought, but she was there. He shrugged, and sat down on the ledge and began to strip the weapon down, maybe twenty feet from her.
After a few minutes, she came closer to him and squatted there. He did his best not to roll his eyes as he worked.
"Why do you ignore me?" she asked.
He actually managed to keep the smirk off his face. Besides, it was a long list. He didn't know where to begin.
He didn't look up.
"You told me not to touch you," he said as he laid the pieces down in an orderly fashion, "so I didn't and you left. I'm not very bright, but the way that I see it, if not touching you made you fly away yesterday, then maybe if I ignore you today, you'll leave even quicker."
He watched his statement fly right past those pretty ears. She nodded absently after a time as she watched what he did intently. She showed no sign of taking insult at all.
She sat for a time after that, "What are you doing?"
He sighed, "I'm cleaning this since I fired it yesterday and today. If I don't clean it, it'll jam when I need it, so I clean it after every use."
"Did you clean it yesterday?" she asked, as though she was checking into his policy.
"No," he replied as he worked.
"You said that you clean it after every use, yet you did not yesterday," she said, "I have never seen something such as this, and I wish to know."
She looked from the weapon to his face for a moment and then she nodded, "You did not clean it yesterday because I angered you."
He stopped cleaning the part that he was working on to look at her, "Now where would you get such an absurd idea?" He chuckled as he shook his head, "That's-"
"I can see it in your face," she said with a shrug.
He looked down and began cleaning again, "I was a little angry, yes."
She decided not to tell him that he wouldn't show it this much if he'd only been a little angry. To Beyl'eth -- when she took the time to think about it -- there was knowing that one was right, and there is being stupid about it and forcing the issue. She held her tongue.
"I spent a lot of time walking for nothing. I wasted ammunition -- enough for as many as twenty hunts, and after the noise and commotion, there was nothing to hunt for a long way around," he said.
If Beyl'eth had wanted to win an argument, she'd have been pleased to point out that she hadn't asked him to do anything, so the choice to do what he'd done had been his. But it wouldn't get her anything, so she was still.
"Why not search by flying?" she asked after a minute.
"I do," he nodded as he worked, "but where we stood was the largest clearing in that area. Most of it is heavy woods. The animal that I sought -- what you have been eating, does not see terribly well. It knows this and it listens and senses very carefully. It often stays where the forest is thickest and moves from tree to tree, almost always in cover. You can look until your eyes fall out, flying over the same ground seeing nothing, while they see the shadow above and wonder who the fool is."
She nodded and guessed that it was so.
"Why do you need that?" she asked, "You are strong and healthy. You can hunt without that."
"Yes I can," he said, "and thank you. One day, I'll run out of ammunition for it, and then I'll have to hunt the hard way. I don't need it. But I would rather have it, since then I can hunt and lose only a little of the meat, and the rest, I can gut and clean up a little and then I can even carry it here by putting it on my shoulders. It gets here still clean, not dragged through the dirt and in one piece as you saw. I like that better than having to carry all of the bloody pieces because I killed it the messy way.
I only have so many bullets for it, and I wasted twenty for nothing yesterday. I thought that it might be fun to see if I could hit a bear while shooting with one hand and carrying a squirming Rohn in the other while running backwards as she howls at me. I don't have enough hardships in my life. I live for a little challenge."
"We tried to save you," she said quietly.
He looked over, "Thank you again, but I didn't need saving. I could have just taken off. That's what I was about to do, but you landed almost in front of this. I almost shot you."
He worked in silence for a minute and then he looked at her. "Look, I appreciate what you thought that you were doing for me. Thank you for that. But this is not where we are from, and the animals are not the same. That large animal yesterday looks something like one back home, but it moves a lot faster when it wants to. It's also more belligerent than even you are. That's why I grabbed you -- before you lost the argument. I know that you are a witch, but you don't know this place well yet.
I am sorry if I angered you. It seems to be a gift that I have."
He held his tongue for a moment then, wondering why he'd said that last part. He sure hadn't meant to.
"I came to say that I am sorry for my words and how I acted," she said.
He nodded, "Thank you again, but you came a long way just for that."
She sighed to herself quietly, seeing that he knew that there had to be more. It proved that he wasn't exactly in awe of her and she didn't like that. While there had been many of them, she was used to turning males into blubbering idiots with a dismissive glance or a snide remark. She supposed that she ought to be a little pleased that he was different.
There was also the maddening ability that he had to distract her. Like all of the other ones it seemed, he was completely unaware of its effect. That part annoyed her - that he could bind her without knowing how he did it exactly, and hadn't spent a long time learning it - he just did it.
He'd thrown her to the floor and held her down and where she'd have normally managed to do something distracting herself - such as set his hair on fire with a thought, she'd been stuck looking at his hand - and liking to look at his hand!
Then again, she thought, he was likable and she supposed that she had make some allowances if he'd grown up far from the culture of the mountain people, but it left her on uneven ground herself, and that was disarming her, knowing that she could insult him in subtle ways and he'd never know it, or worse, she could play it dangerously and he would be deeply insulted, and she was still living in the aftermath of that.
She decided to leave her bitch side at home and play this honestly. Who knows? It just might work. Besides, she thought, if he was who she thought he was, then he was worth a lot to a couple of females who were every bit as lost as he was.
"I also came because I wish to speak with you," she said, "We tried to see you yesterday, but you were gone. Yuan saw the tracks of the animal with yours, and she did not know who was the one following."
He stopped cleaning and looked at her, "Yuan? I didn't see her."
The witch grinned a little then, "You were standing under her. She has other shapes. That was the largest one."
He looked at her a little blankly for a moment before he nodded. "It is good to know that she has recovered then. I was certain that she'd die. Before I forget, please thank her for what she did as well. It is not your fault, really, either of you. And there was no real harm done, other than the waste of the bullets."
"How many do you have?" she asked.
"I started out with four hundred," he said, "Twenty mags of twenty each. "I've used twenty eight rounds in two and a half months -- twenty in a single day." He smirked, "I am not always as extravagant as I was yesterday, but I was frightened."
She shook her head, "You were not frightened, but maybe you were for me. I was being foolish and proud. It is a failing of mine. I am also here to ask for forgiveness for the insult to you. A king of the Tarkroth, and I caused you insult and pain. I am sorry."
She bowed low and stayed that way, waiting for either his forgiveness or the words which would send her away. He appeared not to notice, and he applied a little gun oil to a swab and ran it through the barrel with the cleaning rod a few times.
"How long are you going to stay like that?" he asked after a minute.
"I will leave if you tell me that I must," she said, "Other than that, I wait for your forgiveness, my King."
He looked a little annoyed. "Sit up," he said, "All that you are doing is getting your hair dirty for nothing. I am not your king. Your king is dead along with your queen and everyone else. I had a dream. In it, I saw my mother. She told me what happened. I grew up here, but I am enough of a Tarkroth to know that it was her, speaking to me from her death. My family is dead, as I should have been, long ago."
He wiped the pieces of the weapon briskly and she was amazed and how quickly he assembled the strange thing. He set it down and rose to stand, looking out over the valley with fierce eyes as he walked to the ledge.
"All of them dead, murdered by fat and sweating lowlanders," he growled.
"How many? Six, maybe eight thousand at most?"
He picked up a rock which had rolled away from the small firepit. He hefted it, "And for what? Why did the people need to die? Because some sweating pig told another one that with us gone, there would be no winter and the summer would be a little cooler. They killed a people for a foolish hope!"
He roared in useless rage and sorrow as he hurled the stone. It sailed from his hand and gained speed instead of losing it, rocketing across the valley in a straight line and not in the arc of a normal trajectory.
When it struck the mountain face on the opposite side a quarter of a mile away, it shattered and the sound of that was like a howitzer for the loud and sharp crack which came to their ears a second later.
"The lowlanders have their wish," she said quietly, "I was kept in one of their prisons for six winters. In that time, the summer grew cooler and they were pleased. But I saw that the snows stay on the ground longer every year, and less and less melts away. Soon, nothing will grow and they will curse the cold as they once cursed us.
You may say what you will," Beyl'eth said respectfully, "You are Ch'arnn by more than your markings, but no Ch'arnn could do what you have just done. You have high Ch'arnn blood, and your mother was mighty among the Rohn. That blood you have as well."
"How do you know what blood I have?" he asked, "Or that my mother was Rohn?"
"What sort of Tarkroth do you think that you speak with?" she asked as a gentle reminder, "You knew me well enough to know to hold me in a binding as soon as you had a clear look at my face. Have you forgotten since?
A Rohn could make the rock fly, but not as you did from your hand, pushing afterward to send it in your anger. A Ch'arnn could throw the rock fast and hard, but not that far and not hard enough to do that."
She nodded, "You are a king."
"No," she heard him say as she looked at his back. He stood still looking away as he spoke quietly and her eyes took in the muscles that even his long mane could not hide completely, and she was thankful that it could not hide his tail and where it was attached.
"A king is a king when there are some to rule. With a pack, one might emerge to become the leader. With a few packs, and among a few leaders, a clan may be formed. When there are many clans, a king might rise after a time. I was told that there are less than a handful here somewhere. If that is so, then I will seek to find the others. When I have done that, I will bring them here and someone else may be king."
"The small handful are all here," she said, "One Ch'arnn king who looks too low when he thinks of himself, and two Rohn."
He spun and looked at her, "Two?"
Beyl'eth nodded, "Three Tarkroth. Less than a handful. Yuan has the gift to learn speech now, from the fever and her goddess, she told me. She has changed herself to be as close to us as she can be, seeking the comfort of belonging to a clan. She knows the speech of the Rohn. She seeks to learn all that she can. She wears the marks of the Rohn, and she has the love and thankfulness of her clan lord, and that is me, by right of my birth. You are the leader of the Ch'arnn by the same right, though you are the last. It changes nothing, because the chieftain of the Rohn sees her king and accepts him, as was always done.
Just as the king looks too low, the Rohn lord looks a little too high. I am too proud for my own good. But where the king goes, the Rohn will follow. It is the old way, Lord Ayt'han."
"Ayt'han am I?" he smiled as he looked back at her with a raised eyebrow, a little surprised that she knew his name.
Her beauty hit him full force and he wondered for a moment if she was doing that somehow. He rather doubted it for the moment. The way that she was here carried little of the sultry or at times haughty mannerisms which the Rohn females were famous for. Then again, he smirked to himself, he'd only ever seen a few when he was a boy.
He'd met one close up as he'd traveled with his mother to the Quarn of the Rohn once. She was a little stick thing with a bad temper and his brother had teased her all day, trying to make her explode.
He smiled then, remembering that she had, too, sending a blast of icicles into Laish's face, making him cry and run to hide behind their smiling mother. The little girl stood there glaring hotly then, but he'd seen her single tear and walked over to say that he was sorry for what his brother had done. She'd smiled at him instantly and they'd gone outside to play in the snow a minute later, the trouble forgotten.
When it was time to leave for the evening, she'd kissed him and he'd floated on that for days -- especially since Laish had seen it.
This one looked to be trying to act as what she purported to be, a clan lord, and more than that, she was trying to give him counsel. He liked her for it, though he still didn't agree with her. He got to one knee beside her.
"Firstly" he said as he laid his hand on her slender shoulder, careful in case she didn't allow it, "That you speak as though you would advise me gives me comfort. I have been here feeling as though I am hounded by my present, my past and the doings of others on a world where I can never go again. If I could, I would go back and leave it a smoking ruin, as was done to the Quarns of our people. But that would be the wrong thing, and my own death if it were possible to go back, and you seem to think that I am needed by my present.
Secondly, I will tell you what you already know." He smiled and nodded, "Try not to laugh, but you are a fine beauty who makes me feel pride myself again in what we are. To my eyes, it looks best when carried with pride. It suits you as a Tarkroth and even more, it suits a clan lord of the Rohn, if two may be called a clan.
But this assumes that I choose to lead anyone more than just myself and it may be that I wish not to lead even me. Perhaps, since there are so few of us, the leader ought perhaps to be you, chieftain. I have difficulty leading myself to a place to drink, and anyway, you seem to be wise."
"Wise?" Beyl'eth snorted, "You have just said quite correctly that this is not where we are from. Also, you are correct in that I was likely about to learn of my foolishness as it regards the creatures here. I am not wise."
"I think that you are," he said as he stood up, "You tell me much in subtle ways; that Yuan is well again without saying it unless I ask it, that you are holding the Rohn which are here to a tribal structure -- when there are only two in the first place. Your words speak of the old ways and it says to me that you would keep to them, though there is no need anymore."
"There is a need, "she said, "The ways have carried our kind from the time of the beginning." She looked around, "If this is not another beginning in a different place, then it is only the final cruel ending to our people. We have always been proud, all of the tribes. Why can we not be proud and live here?"
"There is nothing against being proud, Rohn," he smiled, "Your kind makes much of their pride and much of it is deserved, but even I know that not all Rohn girls are sweet-looking and mighty in their magic as well. I remember hearing it said that often it is one or the other."
He looked at her with a small smirk when he saw that she felt a barb in his words which was not there, so he finished the thought, "Indeed, there was one family of them who were famous enough that even a small Ch'arnn boy had heard of them, having lived with one of their finest - since she spawned him. That boy even saw for himself how a small one of their witches -- and far, far too soon for it, showed him what she might be one day -- after she was finished being a little stick girl with a terrible temper."
He laughed, "By your face there, I can see that as mighty as you might have become, and as beautiful as you are, doing your clan prouder and your famous your kinswoman as well, your temper has survived intact.
I tease carefully," he smiled, "and before you act rashly, I remind you that I am your kin."
Beyl'eth smiled then seeing what he'd meant to say, "I had forgotten. It pleases me that you remember me. "She got to her feet and she faced him, bowing low. "But while we are kin -- a little way off, you are also my king. You are the Ch'arnn, and they have ruled always. If you can favor me a little, then I wish not to hear your argument against it, for you will never change my thoughts."
She sighed, "Then again, I tie my own hands here. If I say that you are king and you choose to always remind me that you are not, by your thoughts -- "
"Then we will starve and Yuan will be the last," he said. "But no matter what is decided, I wish to know how you came by my mother's band there, and before that, I must know how you came to be here."
"A bargain then," she grinned a little hopefully. "I will tell it if you will say how you came here as well, and all that has happened since."
When she saw him nod in agreement, Beyl'eth was pleased, taking it as a sign that they'd at least gotten past the very strong feeling that she had at the outset of this, where he'd looked so very much as though he'd have been more than happy if she'd gotten all of his hints and gone away.
She took it as progress in a way. A few days ago, he'd quite obviously been considering just killing her in rage. The day before, the last look that she'd had of his face as she'd looked back once told her that he was still past being annoyed, but didn't want to kill her, since to him, it would have been a waste of his effort and time. Now, she'd gotten them to where they could smile, and she even remembered the young Ch'arnn prince all that time ago.