Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Day Six-Sixty-Two: Not your standard dwarf

About a billion years ago, in a castle far, far away, I read a book. That book spoke of a mythical creature known as a sky dwarf, though not with any sort of context.

"The sky dwarf," Robert the Librarian told me, "is a small, winged pixie of stout frame and bushy beard. They are said to live in plentiful colonies amid the clouds of the Grand Imperium. If I remember correctly, their tears contain a potent healing salve much treasured by those who live on the land."

"Oh." I'd puzzled over that a moment, picturing a tiny version of my father with wings. And, uh, two arms. Also weeping. "That's weird. If they live in the clouds, how do people know they exist?"

"The world is a place of miracles, Dragomir." He'd winked, and left it at that.

I long kept that image of sky dwarves with me. They seemed fantastical beings, and on nights when my dreams were not full of prophetic horrors, they often cropped up as benevolent background filler.

The creatures that swarmed us today were not benevolent.

We were exploring a small copse of mint green bubble trees when they came upon us, their arrival heralded by a tumultuous buzzing that shook the fragile branches and sent twigs tumbling onto our heads. 

"INCOMING!" Grylock had shrieked, yanking his poisonheart free of its scabbard as he pointed skyward. I could barely hear him over the buzz. "THE FUCK BE THAT, THEN?"

I followed his finger. Not fifty feet from us was a huge, angry cloud of puppy-sized humanoids, held aloft on insectile wings and glaring at us with puffy red eyes. Each carried a small, but wicked, spear in their three-fingered hand, and those spears came zipping at us with alarming speed.

"PIGEONZ!" Antonio, hand still swaddled in a bandage, tried to shove us out the other side of the copse. "RUN!"

We ran. The cloud gave chase, yelling at us in an unintelligible tongue and hurling a few spears in our wake. They did not follow us far past the edge of the copse, though, and when we looked back we spotted them nestling in the trees. I swear a few of them gave me the finger; I dared not give it back.

By then we were tucked behind a large embankment of cloud with a crest of purple tallgrass, and I felt safe to let out a breath. "What in the seven hells were those? Antonio?"

The orc grinned broadly. "Pigeonz, zey are called. Nazty brutez of ze zky. Ve gypziez have contended vith zem many a time on ze road."

"No, no." Jeffrey shook his head. "Those... I think those were sky dwarves. They look like something my... tutor... described... yes, they must be sky dwarves."

"Sky dwarves?" My image of clean, happy little creatures exploded. "Fuck. Your tutor wouldn'tve been Robert from back home, would it? The librarian?"

"No." Jeffrey's face darkened. "The Baron."

"Oh." Awkward silence. Very awkward. "... 'kay. Uh. Any reason why they attacked us? They sure like those trees."

Antonio, maintaining his idea that they were called 'pigeonz' instead, did not have an answer. Nor did Jeffrey, beyond saying that sky dwarves were fiercely territorial - and, no, they did not have healing tears. Either The Baron knows things about sky dwarves no one else did, or Robert's books are written by drug users. Maybe both.

It was my son who offered the only answer I thought feasible, as it was so damned simple. "Maybe they like the colour."

I pulled away from a minor argument with Grylock, who claimed they were just jealous of his stunning looks. "Whaddya mean, bud?"

Fynn pointed. "The trees. They're a nice green. Maybe they like the colour."

Grylock laughed at that. "Feh! Wise son ye're raisin', Dragomir. They didna look te be any nicer te the orc 'n I when they came flyin' at us, lad. Lest ye be blind, we're a mite bit green."

Fynn flushed and bowed his head, embarrassed. I cuffed Grylock on the nose, and we squabbled over his attitude. Jeffrey was the only one who seemed to take the idea seriously besides myself, though he kept his thoughts on it to himself. Very helpful, Jeffrey.

Nevertheless, we're paying heed to our surroundings from now on. Mint green trees are out. I can only hope Libby made the same discovery early on, and has not been speared by a mob of flitting runts. 

Or eaten by a dragon.

Or fallen off a cloud bridge to her death in the night.

Or... other things.

I still like it up here. I just wish I had a map, is all.


Dragomir the Wanderer

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