The first trip to Elona stung him in manners he hadn’t anticipated.

It had been a fiasco, for sure. He went at it like a drunken fool, clueless, flailing in the dark and bumping into walls, barely escaping death at nearly every corner. He came back from it battered and bruised and shaken down from all his coin. The whole voyage left a bitter taste in his mouth and an hematoma on his pride. But it also filled him with wonder, and the kind of lust that only the most fantastical dreams could ever evoke, a call of the mystery that beaconed and whispered at him every time his eyes would wander over the blurry lines of the book he was reading, or whenever he was lost staring at the horizon.

The norn was nothing if not tenacious.

He spent weeks preparing that next trip; whatever bounty he could grab, whatever favors people still owed him –he even gambled a little, pitting his golem of flesh and bones against that of another necromancer– he took everything he could, and managed to amass a small fortune for his second trip.

He traveled by boat once again, determined to save on cost for as long as possible. Fiel had been tempted to swing by the Priory before leaving, maybe have a word with his magister, let him know of his plans, say goodbye to his pet griffon… But the notion of waltzing back into that place empty-handed filled him with about as much enthusiasm as a rabbit thrown into the den of ravenous wolves with their yellow, haughty eyes. He sent a letter instead.

Once back in Amnoon he went straight to the farm he left his raptor at, and was delighted to find her there. He already pushed a few of his gold coins into the hand of the farmer, Mirrash, as thanks, but also as a promise of more to come when he would inevitably leave Samantha to his care once again.

Careful to manage his budget this time, he bought a dolyak and various supplies, and the small caravan headed to the ogre kraal once more. The ogres loved pets, and above all, they loved getting more of them. So Fiel brought them lures and a couple more efficient –and harmless– traps, in exchange for them keeping an eye –and their hands off– Samantha and the dolyak, presently named “Gixx”.

Fiel spent a total of 8 days in the Primeval Tomb, taking notes, copying scrolls, sketching and recording royal monologues. The monarchial ghosts vaguely remembered him, a surprise considering how time would usually erode a ghost’s grasp on reality. For their guards, however, Fiel still had to prove himself. Which, in this case, involved him forcibly dissipating them before they could destroy more of his minions, and before they could be pacified.

This time, the norn prepared his exit before leaving the tomb. He couldn’t outrun hordes of branded while burdened with journals and notes, and he would rather die (again) than to lose his work to them one more time. He quietly stalked them at night, knocking off as many isolated members of the crystalline cohort as he could, deploying minions to distract and lead them to false trails, setting magic traps to hinder their path and slow them down. Then, in the shape of Raven, with all his papers securely strapped over his back, he bounded and leapt and ran from purple-stained boulder to crystal-sharp bush, then over the ogre’s wall and away.

Fiel’s beasts had been burdened by offerings and tools on their way there, they came back burdened with books and notepads filled from cover to cover with another type of offerings, the type that would, hopefully, satisfy the great Overseer of Knowledge and his army of Pencil-Pushers.

                                                                                * * *

Fiel cheerfully stomped down into the vaults that day, earning a couple irritated “shhh!!” on his way, his dull priory-blue coat wrapped loosely over his dark leathers like a lazy bathrobe in an attempt to appear somewhat legitimate in this place. He carried in his arms a tall pile of books that climbed from his middle all the way to the top of his head, and set it down heavily over magister Turlough’s desk.

The norn’s eyes was filled with pride and a little bit of defiance, but he said nothing. If the magister still bothered to read his missives, he would know what the journals were all about. He would know that they would be filled with records, tales, names and dates, sketches and portraits and enough illustrations to be able to accurately recreate the inside and outside layout of the Primeval tomb of the Elonian kings and queens. As if putting a cherry on top of a cake, he also produced something wrapped in a cloth, and put it over the pile: the crusty severed hand of a branded ogre.

He did speak, eventually, but all he asked was “Where is my bird?”

A strong trill answered, stronger than he remembered, and out from behind a crate Mercer came, talons clicking softly across the stone floor. There was a bit of hesitation, as the norn had been out of the griffon’s sight for quite some time now, but Fiel crouched down to the ground, clicked his tongue and made his hand run over the cold tiles like a spider, and the little grifflet recognized it as the pretend prey the norn would often present to him in the past. Mercer instantly pounced and ran over Fiel’s arm, greeting him with a rolling call and a few new blood-letting scratches.

Fiel straightened up and wrapped the griffon over his neck like a big, cheeky fur collar. A fur collar that bit and scratched and pulled on his hair with its wing-fingers.

“Thank you, magister, for taking care of him.”

And then he walked away, loose robes, living fur collar and all.

Author BluJ
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Comments (2)

  • quorgi
    March 7, 2018 at 12:15 pm
    "Farrinson!" The tone is accusing, offended, and coming from an entirely overwhelming piles of books and notes. The shuffle, the click of the bottom of the cane scraping across the cobbled floor -- the magister rises and follows him in loping, limping strides and he catches the back of his robe. Mercer trills. "You don't get to drop a metric shitload of work on my desk and take the griffon! Without staying!" he shouts, poking the back of the Norn's knees with his cane. He has questions that need answering, and he won't leave his explorer alone until he gets the exposition he needed. "Need I remind you I'm the only reason you can get relief on your trips? You don't get to leave after disappearing for months!"
  • March 7, 2018 at 1:47 pm
    > *Freeze frame* *record scratch* > [Narrator:] And on this day Fiel knew: he fucked up.

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