Monday, September 3, 2012
The humans had pushed their way around Crag as he blocked the path to the sacred glen. The female had remarked, in soft Eirish burr, about the remarkable look of "humanity". The male had probed him with a spell and smiled.
Once they were past, Crag had listened to them, they had collected silk from the stream and banks, commenting on the properties it would give to heal two of the male's extended family group. He spoke as if the two were more of the earth, not quite explaining exactly what he meant. They spent themselves in rutting, and as the sun slid toward sunset, Crag silently rose intending to find out exactly why he "needed" the sacred soils.
Members of the Nest had slid among the trees, watching silently. Crag stood over the nude couple waiting patiently for them to rouse. The female awoke first. She blinked, then bit back a scream. The male surged to he feet, standing protectively over the female. Crag suppressed a smile. Muscular, lean, but still a weak bodied creature to stand against him?
It took a moment for the male to realize they were surrounded. When he did, he relaxed. Relaxed? That in itself puzzled Crag. Humans do not relax when surrounded by Gargoyles. But this one relaxed, even helped the one he mated with to her feet. He murmured something to the she about Gargoyles, Nests, and family ties. When he was done Crag moved slowly, advancing until he was no more than a handsbreadth away.
"What, little man, do ye know of Our kind?"
The voice was smoother than most would expect, coming from living stone.
"What I know, Lord of Mountains, is from the lives of four of your Race, dear to my heart."
The formality of his words spoke of respect and a degree of comfort at being among others not Human.
The male licked his lips, obviously thinking. "My daughter is married to a Gargoyle/Shifter of the Desert. He has three others in his Nest from different lands. One is a full Gargoyle of France. The others are a pair of sisters of Highland descent. One sister was injured in a battle and would have lost her wings. The only thing that saved her was pottery bought on trips to the Isles. The pots were shattered and mixed into clay to pack her wounds. I understand this only worked because the the clays were not all Irish, as I had been told. This trip became vital when my son-in-law was injured severely in another battle. We only saved him through the use of his stone hair since we had nothing else to use to pack his wounds." Tears touch the man's eyes and Crag senses a deep concern for the male's Kin, and something deeper.
The Gargoyle narrows his eyes, giving the male nothing. He is half surprised that the male does not send a spell to probe his response.
"And why should I, or Mine, allow you to take from here?"
The male Witch looks directly into the stoney gaze. "Because the girls are from the Tavish Hills of the Scottish Highlands." Crag laughs. The sound rumbles, echoing as it seems to bounce off the cliffs. It is only then that Crag senses the Witches becoming aware of the Nest and assorted Kin. The female turns slowly. A spell readies, he can feel the energies building, and he laughs harder.
"Little Witch, Ye will not harm us with such spells. Do ye not remember yer own lore? Once upon a time, yer People sought Mine. Do ye remember why?" He doesn't let her answer, instead he nods to a pair of Gargoyles. The two are mirror images, bookends in all ways. between them is stacked Traeger's containers of soil.
"These sisters of which ye speak, an they be Highland born, they hae names We will ken. I would suggest, little man, ye say an' We see."
The man's eyes narrow. The woman is pressed against his back. The Gargoyle can see the shivers she tries to hide. He looks at the pile of discarded clothes and makes a small gesture. "Ye hae such tender hides. Would ye care ta dress?"
There are small rumbles of sound as the two pull on their clothes. The man wraps the blanket around the woman, giving her more heat, more superficial protection. Crag nods slowly. Considerate... Protect the woman and her health, also remind her to hide her casting more carefully. As the two finish covering themselves, Crag stretches out his wings. The others fall silent. It is only then the humans see Crag's true size. Respect and not fear grew in the man's eyes. Crag cocks his head.
"I wait Human. The names."
"The Highland Gargoyles use the names Malachite and Tourmaline. The younger left the Tavish Hills to learn music from mother lands. The elder, to protect her sister." The man pauses and Crag shakes his head.
"The names mean nothing. The sisters sound... vaguely familiar. The story is much the same." He shrugs massive shoulders. "Nests grow too large, Younglings leave." He moves his wings and figures move, clearing the path down the mountain. "The clay stays. At least until ye can prove ta Me the sisters are truly Ours. An they trust ye as ye say, They will gi' ye what ye need." He bows, wings sweeping the ground as he gestures to the path.
"Three days Little Man... Tis the time ye hae ta bring truth. Til then we keep the soil."
The Humans walk to the first turn, then look back. The glade is empty of Gargoyles, and the containers of soil.
Crag feels the sun beating on his back. The broad stone is warm enough for a lizard to lie still, sunning itself. Other small creatures doze in the shade of his half furled wings. The purloined clay, now dried into heavy bricks, lie stacked in the rock crevice blocked by Crag's stone image. His thoughts drift to the names, the vague descriptions of the Gargoyle sisters. Crag remembers heartbreak and pain from nearly a century before....
The man has two more days.