For Glory, For Empire
Not What He Was Looking For
Arithmedea struggled to move the body of the farmer further within the shelter of the temple. Two days ago she had been blessed by the Great One to be its cleric, yet she was completely lost on what to do. The books left behind were of no use, but the pictures were pretty and sometimes soothing.
The farmer had fallen and broken his leg; the bone sticking through the skin. Better to let him die than let him become a tax upon the village.
A sound of movement from the rafters above made her look up in surprise. A vanaran hung upside down from the uppermost level. It slowly worked its way downward, walking upside down but coming closer to where she stood over the injured farmer.
“Leg broke,” the Vanaran uttered in stilted Dunyabetian as it pointed at the gruesome injury. “Help?” it asked with a look from it’s upside down orientation.
Arithmedea would have sworn the vanaran wasn’t meaning to grin, but the folds of the being’s face pulled it into a ludicrous smile. She nodded assent to the creature’s question.
She felt disoriented, like she was outside of her body and looking upon the scene from just outside the temple’s boundaries. The vanaran slowly righted himself to the floor, squatting just above the farmer’s limb. It spread its hands over the limb, up towards the middle of the chest and then as it approached the limb, the bone sank back under the leathery skin, ending with a loud pop.
The vanaran took a deep breath, looked at her, and then muttered a single word, “Word.”
Hirase arrived at the edge of the village quietly. Bon had disappeared into the canopy once she told him they were close. She couldn’t see very well from down here, so she decided to find a tree to climb to give Bon some better range support when there was trouble. Surprisingly, the tree was not as hard to climb as it looked.
Should’ve thought of this sooner. That canopy is woven together pretty tightly. Even I could go faster up there than Talis would on the ground.
She climbed quietly though and much to her surprise when she arrived, she was not alone. One of the villagers let out a soft snore as it snoozed. Perhaps it was meant to be on watch?
She found a secure spot just in case it startled once it awoke. She reached out. “Hey there. Wake up.” The creature awoke with a start, lost its seat, and tumbled out of the canopy.
The creature hit the ground with a loud snap and she could see it had a severely broken leg, a compound fracture without a doubt.
The sound of the fall and the break of the bone attracted the attention of a couple workers nearby. They grabbed the hurt creature quickly and took off at a jog towards the center of the village.
Hirase held her spot feeling a little guilty about the unintentional injury she’d caused the poor guardsman.
She came awake with a start as hands grabbed her. An unholy yet familiar stench assailed her nostrils. She reached out and grasped the hands and felt the hairy vanaran hands of Bon. He let out a quiet raspberry in judgment of her attentive watch.
“Yeah, yeah,” she replied defensively. “Took you long enough. They weren’t there then?”
“Then what took you so long?”
“Uh, okay,” she replied in confusion. “Do you know where they went?”
“Well, shoot. Should we try to go after them?”
Bon paused in thought, then shook his head. “Too far.”
He then reached into his pack and produced a bag which began to glow. He handed it to Hirase.
It was waxed leather, old, and decorated with strange symbols, some of which she’d seen scratched into the structure of the temple. A leather cord held it shut, which she undid carefully because it felt fragile with age and use. Opening it carefully she found a leather-bound journal that had been added to several times.
The pages were bound with the same leathery cord and the front and back covers were of a very strange striped leather. There were holes for what had been for feathers but unevenly and sparsely placed. Whatever creature gave this was definitely strange enough to be at home here in Areiystis as far as she had seen.
The cover was also decorated with symbols but they were different than the types on the bag.
Hirase opened it carefully and could see inscription of symbols, but nothing she knew. “Perhaps we should get this back to Mengzhi.”