This short story takes place far north of
the Great Northern Tundras,
some two weeks after
“Kocakarı Hikayesi (18+)“
Told you so..”, Seressa said smugly.
The very tall, very dark figure of Seressa Wraiven wasn’t so much dark as she was blue at that very moment and the smug on for face was excruciatingly painful to attain due to the dreary, ‘six feet under’ kind of freezing, arctic cold — and totally worth it!
They had finally made it.
The Tundra Walkers gazed ahead at the barely visible change in the endless white of the horizon; a faint, grayish blot — and the slim, wispy tendrils of smoke that rose from it.
“Ye..a..”, shattered the small gnomic girl from the back. “Do.. freeze.. while.. gloa.. ting..!”
“I’ll admit.”, said Seressa. “It is a bit cold out here.. more so than usual. Figures why the Ice Wolf Horde won’t come this way for raids!”
“Thought.. they didn’t come.. here.. because they thought.. it was sacred for them.”, Brom the hobbit stuttered in the cold, right behind the tall, blueish tiefling. His bushy hair tossed this way and that in the harsh wind and he balled himself even smaller than he already was.
“Right.. sacred to save.. face! That explains.. everything..”, butt in Arcantonic, with cold sarcasm that would have put the freezing snow all around them to shame.
Too bad the snow had the numbers on their side!
“You’re a.. skeptic one.. aren’t you..”, scowled Brom. “I would have thought.. a great.. archeologist.. such as yourself.. would have.. been.. a bit more open.. minded.”
“Ye..a.. I was very open.. minded.. until they tried to.. pot me.. and cage ‘all pinks’, here!.. Then raided.. us for seven.. months.. They did.. supply endless.. entertainment for Seressa, though!”, spat back Arcantonic..
..but it froze and got stuck on her purpling lips!
“You shouldn’t spit.”, growled a voice and a lithe figure in fur and skin appeared.
She was a striking, barbaric girl. More so by the dark blue, swirling tattoos on her face, arms and shoulders, and the glowing white hair braided down the small of her back. Her name was Cora Sleet and she was also a rare specimen of her kind; a Tundra Elf.
More so because she was, in all likeliness, the last one of her kind as well.
“Whot? Like, in the.. cold?”, asked the gnomic girl, a bit tentatively.
For any number of reasons, the tall barbaric girl scared her. She was always too serious and too silent for her taste and Arcantonic was unable to discern whether or not it was because this was her norm, she was unstable or just mad, ready to explode without any kind of forewarning and the gnomic girl did not want to be on the receiving end if and when that happened.
“No. Like, ever!”, said the girl with her throaty voice.
“It is rude to spit.”
Brom snickered in cold pain.
✱ ✱ ✱
Cora led the other three down the slushy path and to the miserable-looking village. There were less than twenty huts and tents in all and the ground was tiled with flat rocks and wooden boards but someone had done a rather blotchy job out of it. One had to either time their step to a pre memorized tune to actually step on them or miss them altogether and likely trip and fall.
“Looks hazardous.”, commented Brom as he shivered and shuffled behind Seressa.
“Likely.”, grunted Arcantonic in a voice of agreement that surprised even her.
“But at least our feet will land on dry.. Well, mine will anyway.”, Seressa said, pointing at her bare feet.
“Hush.”, came from Cora as they approached the relative entrance to the village.
The village of Star Watchers didn’t have any walls. It had a large number of sticks and poles of unequal sizes and lengths, bunched, then beaded together to form what could barely be called a fence. With the exception of a moderate-sized tent sewn together with thick, leather thongs from many animal skins in the center, most of the huts were made of straw mixed baked mud. A pair of tall, burly, and very bored looking barbarians stood at the entrance of the village. Otherwise, there were no watchtowers, no perches, no stakes, or moats.
“An army of pigeons could probably raid this place.”, whispered Arcantonic.
“Tonic, luv. Why on earth would an army of pigeons ever raid this place? For everything that’s good and not, that doesn’t even make sense!”, said Seressa, her face somewhat baffled.
“Neither does this place..”, scowled Tonic.
“Actually, it makes sense.. in a way.. I think.”, said Brom.
“Ow yea?”, scowled Tonic, some more.
“Sure. There’s nothing to raid, hence, there’s no reason to raid. Considering the effort it takes to actually get here..”
Tonic shut up!
The smarmy little hobbit actually made sense!
The two, burly guards straightened as the four came closer but neither of them bothered to raise their large axes, nor make any threatening gestures. Their faces were lost under their steel, half helmets, and what escaped that, was buried under thick, braided hair and beard.
Just as one of them raised his hand for a ‘halt’, the pattering of feet on stone, wood, and mud was heard.
A small, hunched figure had come out from behind the huts and was running at them, her skinny legs apparent under the raggy old skirts she’d pulled up.
Panting and wheezing, she ran at them breathlessly, tripped on one of the wooden planks..
..and promptly fell, face down into the slushy mud!
The burly guards stiffened.
That was the only indication they gave, and before the woman in the mud could raise, they turned their backs to her and steadfastly starred at the horizon.
✱ ✱ ✱
The woman was old. Very old. But the spry on her feet had been a surprise for all four of them. While Cora stood where she was, with the cold discipline her father had drilled into her, the others’ were not so lucky.
Seressa just stared down at the old woman, who was barely taller than the hobbit, with a mildly confused expression on her face, Brom heard Tonic’s snort from behind and deftly bit his knuckles.
“Alright.”, the old woman in muddy rags croaked.
“Who stumbled?” — ⊗
She really hadn’t meant to stumble and fall all over this old woman’s tablets back at the cave, just north of the Ice Wolf Horde and she opened her mouth to apologize but a gagging wheeze escaped Brom.
Followed by a choke..
..and a blurt;
⊗ — “You?”
The old woman froze.
The two, big, burly barbarian guards froze..
Cora did not freeze. Instead, she slapped her hands on her mouth..
..as her cold discipline breezed away;
..and a single bark of a laugh got away from her!
Seressa crumbled into the mud, clutching at her bubbling belly.
Tonic fell on her back, legs kicking the air and squealing like a squirrel.
Brom, his face red, bit into his knuckles even more.
The two, big, burly men were leaning on the long handles of their axes, gasping for breath.
And Cora hoped stiffly, her hands still slapped tight on her mouth.
The old woman’s face darkened.
“Well now.. I shall see if I could find a remedy for your mirth!”, she scowled, turned around limped back at the village..