A Gift for Life and Death (pt4)

Pup lowered his chest to the ground, back legs still vertical as his tail whipped back and forth, slamming into the well entrenched giants of the jungle. The force may have rocked the canopy above, but at their roots they remained still. Those that could move away from the vicinity did. Just as well, Pup wasn’t interested in playing with them. Mostly because they weren’t interested in the first place. If others had been interested, well of course Pup would want to play with them. It was what he liked doing most.

The creature slithered forward on hundreds of thin, synchronized legs. It pulled its front end up and back, creating a general S-shape with its body. The front end opened up, a large gaping hole with teeth inside, shrieking at the both of them.

The hound barked once, twice, in response.

Forgiveness wasn’t sure the creature wanted to play. They warned Pup not to put his hopes up, but he was already in the moment. It wasn’t often that a creature so far away from his master’s domain simply strode right up to him. He usually had to preempt any sort of communication. He liked this.

At least, he liked it until the creature struck. The hound jumped out of the way, all play, but the creature slithered up and around him, trying to hold him down while also trying to slip Forgiveness into their mouth.

Pup batted it aside. That wasn’t allowed. He might put the angel in his mouth, but that was different. Other people weren’t allowed to do that. Forgiveness was his friend.

A Gift for Life and Death (pt3)

Forgiveness had a general idea of where they were headed. Pup listened to their directions as they gave them. Forgiveness didn’t often talk a lot – not in comparison to his master and the sower. When they thought about where they might find what they were looking for, they kept quiet, not speaking aloud as even other mortals might. It was a silence of complete clarity. They weren’t hiding anything by being silent. That was not their intention. They simply had nothing to say yet, so they would say it when they had thought of it.

The hound had no idea about phoenix. They weren’t in his purview. His master dealt with phoenix and the angel let him know why. Phoenix do not die for long, as they are reborn just after their end.

Pup’s tail whipped back and forth in excitement. He wanted to meet such a creature. One that didn’t belong to his master. That had to be exciting. Everything belonged to his master, at the end of what they were doing here. Not that Pup’s master told him what they did after they belonged to him.

The both of them traveled for some time. Forgiveness passed that time by talking to the hound about things that the sower had been up to and other conversations they had had with his master. He liked hearing about those things. The sower was really nice too. His master really liked her as well. It was nice, his master usually pretended not to like things like that. Other than his hound, of course. No one would believe that Pup’s master did not love him.

They flew over the terrain. Which was a matter of speaking. It was the angel who had the wings, after all, but the hound had the speed and barely left a mark upon the ground as he passed through. Unlike his master, who could not move without leaving an imprint of his existence. Unlike the sower, who made the opposite mark upon the ground. Pup took it all in, inhaling as they passed through river, forest, mountain, desert, able to taste the LIFE and DEATH which permeated every single breath through the canals of his skull which mimicked a form of nasal passage.

An odd clicking sound slowed him, especially as the angel’s grip went from simply hanging on to using his spine as a way to look around without falling off. Something powerful, the hound knew. Forgiveness gave it a name, but it didn’t mean all that much to Pup. All he knew was that it sensed large and in charge.

Spears (pt17)

Reem pulled back to take another swig of her drink. Azzah nearly did the same, but saw Hasani over the rim of her bowl. She nudged Reem’s bare foot with her own. Both sets of dark brown eyes looked upon him as he advanced, dried strips of meat poking out under the hides that had stored them.

“Is that what I think it is?” Reem asked.

“I think it is.”

Hasani stopped in front of them, holding out his offering. “Do you mind if I join you?”

Azzah scooted to the side and Reem patted the space between them. “You are always welcome, friend. Let’s share this tasty treat you have brought for us!”

He began to smile at Reem’s words, but waited long enough to shift his gaze onto Azzah. Azzah noted her anger from earlier was gone. She gave him a wide grin. “We will always take an apology if you bring it like this!”

He laughed. The three of them enjoyed the rest of the evening.

Spears (pt16)

“I wish I had that way with words.”

“That’s not what you want, Azz.” Reem draped an arm around Azzah’s shoulders. “What you envy is not my words. You envy my ability to stay calm enough to think of them. You have those words as well, but when faced with Hasani’s…” She lifted her bowl.
With a frown, Azzah looked down at her bowl.

“You might not have spilled a drop, but you came close. His words were worthy of a fight, not of losing your calm.”

Reem’s words rang true, despite how Azzah felt like it was impossible. Reem had managed, somehow. “If I were calm, then how would it still be worth of a fight? Shouldn’t we be angry to hear such insults?”

“Anger isn’t always vicious. You need to learn how to handle this. Hasani was drunk.”

“You keep reminding me.” Azzah leaned into her. “I know.”

“And we like Hasani. For the most part. Outside this.”

Azzah sighed. “Yes. He isn’t bad.”

“What if someone you didn’t like or that you didn’t know aggravated you? How will you keep a cool head there?” Reem pressed her forehead against Azzah’s. “We need your head where it is. You are my back, you know.”

“You are mine,” Azzah replied. “I’m not worried. I did stay calm. Because you were.”

“No. You held your ground because I did, not because you were calm.”

“With you at my side, I can be as calm as I need. Until we need to act.”

Reem cocked her head to the side, but smiled.

A Gift for Life and Death (pt2)

The hound was made out of bone. Bone so white it seemed difficult to think it had ever been exposed for as long as it had been. When the bone was left to be white, in any case. Currently he was covered in mud and appreciating the assistance in cleansing himself.

While Pup enjoyed himself immensely, it didn’t mean he wasn’t listening to what the angel was saying. Forgiveness was his best friend, besides his master. He would listen to anything Forgiveness had to say. But he especially listened when Forgiveness spoke of his master. His master was the hound’s favourite subject. Other than fetch, of course. He rather liked fetch too. His master first, but fetch was a close second. Oh, and the angel, of course. The angel was on par with fetch. The angel often played fetch with him. Not in the same way as his master, of course. Not with skulls flying across the open fields. Usually with something less…

Dead.

Pup didn’t understand all of the angel’s words, but the intent was clear. Forgiveness needed to find a present for his master and the sower. It was a very particular present. It wasn’t belly rubs. Pup thought those were the best presents. They were so easy to give! They were even easier to receive, too. Then again, his master required very particular things. Touch wasn’t usually one of them. Touch wasn’t ever one of them, unless it was the hound doing the touching. Even though it was Forgiveness, Forgiveness wouldn’t fare any better than anyone else would if touching his master.

His master was his alone for that. Pup knew that made his master very sad sometimes. It never used to, he thought. Like it was a new thought for his master.

The last of the mud and dirt being scraped from his bones, the hound shifted in the water, resting his head on his back to watch the angel work. They had no qualms about getting their hands dirty. Or the rest of them, for that matter. Flecks of mud in their wings, smeared above their brow, clothing completely soaked from the water they treaded in order to completely clean the hound. It felt nice, but it was almost over.

It turned from an explanation to a question. Pup stood up, shaking off the water from his ankles upward, where the water no longer touched. Forgiveness flitted back, then rested upon his back. A very light touch, as though they could go away in an instant.

They wanted quick travel. No one was faster than the hound. (Well, some were, but they weren’t as important and they didn’t travel quite so often, so Pup decided the fastest was his title by default. His master didn’t want it. His master had the title of being everywhere, so he didn’t need to be fast.)

Pup took the angel where they wanted to go.

Spears (pt15)

Reem placed her spear at her back, reaching out toward Hasani. Despite his shame, he didn’t hesitate in taking her hand to get back to his feet. Reem held his hand tight to make sure he didn’t waver. Once he was stable, she patted him on the back. “Get some sleep, Hasani. Waseme shouldn’t give you so many bowls in one night.”

He nodded and walked away without a word, the only speechless man in Hirka.

Azzah and Reem sat back down. Azzah picked up her bowl, watching the liquid move from side to side. Less erratic than before, yet she couldn’t help but note that Reem’s looked as still as the water of an undisturbed pond.

Reem noticed Azzah’s attention, but didn’t seem to recognize the reason. “Here you go.” She reached over and poured some of hers into Azzah’s bowl until their bowls were equal.

“You have such a way with words, Reem.” Azzah rested the curve of her bowl against her upper lip. “You entranced everyone with what you said.”

“It had less to do with my words.” Reem leaned back against the wall of Waseme’s hut, shrugging until her spear dropped into a more comfortable position. She stared up above the roofs of the homes in front of them.

The stars became brighter and brighter now that the horizon almost obscured the sun. Azzah stared straight up at the cluster of stars which made up the archer, trying to decide whether the arrow would strike (and not for the first time). It looked as though it would aim straight for the boar, but Azzah knew the arrow wouldn’t fly straight for that far, not even in images made from the night sky. It would curve.

“Everyone feels the same way, so of course they like to hear what they already think out loud. Hasani was drunk. That’s the only reason any of that came out. You would be hard pressed to find someone here who wouldn’t side with our Lel’ul. You would have to threaten them for it.”

“I suppose.” Azzah considered that, much as she considered the angle an arrow take.