"It's mine! I found it!" said a young male erminoid.
"You only found it cause I pointed it out!" said the other.
Scampering up towards the two came a young female, Fera, and the elder Huntmaster. It was his voice that spoke next, "Younglings! What is the meaning of this?" which caused the two of them to freeze. Ears drooping, tails dipping, noses pointing towards their feet, it was an eternity before one of them had the courage to speak, "We... we found this pretty rock, but we both want it."
Nora'luuu gave a nod, and beckoned all three of the younger erminoids closer, taking the rock gently from the pair. "This reminds me of another case of such, where a human, one of the warmer races, desired what a dwarf had crafted."
The three of them, Fera especially, sat nearby, eager to hear another tale, learn another lesson. Though, what the two boys were equally interested in, was who was going to own the rock.
"As memory serves, we had left the Silverhaven, and headed away from the snow, through hills and valleys, along roads and paths, for many moons. We rode, atop a creature known as a horse, which I was later informed was not for hunting." he smirked, "We arrived first at a city with a grand wall, with guards atop it, though when we sought entry, they wouldn't let us in."
"What did you do, Huntmaster?" Fera asked. "Did you gut him?" asked one of the boys.
"No, that isn't their way. As a guest to their lands, I felt that I should follow their ways. Apparently the whole of the city was terrified of some plague, perhaps the same one that struck all those that I and my friends had slain." he explained, and one of the boys perked up, "Oh, so they were all afraid, then?" and Nora'luuu gave another nod. "Cowards, through and through, so Kelsier and the others decided to pay them no further mind, and we kept going. We crossed over a waterfall... it's where the rivers run out of land... and we found a cave, with a doorway carved into the very mountain face." the Huntmaster described, sweeping his arms to show how massive the door must have been. "It was there, that I met the dwarves of Barazul."
"What's a Dwarves, Huntmaster?" came the question, "They're a proud people, like us. Strong, powerful, skilled, and prone to bouts of food, revelry, and drink." Nora'luuu hardly remembered the events of that one night, so long ago. Still to this day, there was a hole in his memory. "One stood guard, though he had to turn people away from the doorway."
"Another city of cowards?" Fera asked, though Nora'luuu shook his head, "No, quite the opposite. They were taking in the people who were shunned at the other city, to the point where there was hardly room for any more. Those who wanted in, had to pay their way in with gifts of coin. We met a small band who had been turned away, and they had no chance of survival in the wild." he smirked, pointing to one of the boys, "You stood a better chance of survival, even *before* your eyes opened." which prompted a giggle from the other two.
"It was decided that we would offer the gift of coin for the band as well, as we had plenty from our ordeal back in Silverhaven. At first, it was odd to be under the ground, but it was something that had to be overcome. As we roamed around the city, Uthor noticed a sign that had the same carvings as those on the stones, and we found a rather unlikable dwarf there, by the name of Gurdin. He knew much, but demanded we perform a task before he would speak to us. He asked of us a riddle."
"What's a riddle?" asked a boy. "Can you eat them?" asked the other. Fera just giggled. "No, a riddle is.... a puzzle, right?" and Nora'luuu nodded, "Yes. He asked us who won a particular battle in their history, and to find the answer, we went to the tomb of the one who fought it." a pause, "A tomb is where the warmer races put their important people when they pass to the next world. If this happens before, or after, the rite of claiming I'm not certain."
A pause, as Nora'luuu pulled his cloak around him, ominously, "We entered the caverns by the river, deep underground. We left the river behind as we traversed deeper and deeper into the very world. Any deeper, and we'd fall out the other side." he cautioned, "Though, we found the tomb, a massive room within the world, where a stone resembling the ancient dwarven alpha rested. Noa was able to read the scratches on the walls, telling the tale that brings me to this lesson." he holds up the shiny rock, the original item of dispute.
"Ages past, a dwarf named Azul was beset by a foe he could not defeat, so he ran. Rather then run forever, though, he made a weapon which could slay his foe, but was so powerful that it scared his fellow dwarves. He returned and defeated his foe, cooling the blade in his foes blood, the only true way to quench a blade's flame. His friend, a human named Iondir, came to feast upon the foe with him, and saw his blade, and wanted it. Perhaps for no reason aside from to have it. Best friends killed one another for a powerful sword, all in the name of envy. Greed compelled friend to conspire and kill friend, and in the end, the human had the sword, but neither the desire, the need, the ability, or the want to use it. He wanted it to have it, and that was all he had."
He paused, then once the two boys had nodded to him, they turned to each other, "I'm... I'm sorry I hit you." ... "I'm sorry I wouldn't share."
"Good, now, that's not the end of the story, though. While exploring the cave, we found a pair of cloaks... only one was alive." and Fera blinked, "Alive? Clothing isn't alive, is it?" and Nora'luuu unfurled his cloak, showing where the leather ended, and the bone and sinew began, "This one was. Kelsier's greed for the other cloak made him drop his guard, though I was there to save him. Though that's not the strangest thing. In the depths of the world, even the ground is alive, and it struck out at Uthor. With a howl and a strike, I bid the ground to sleep again."
"Now you're just making things up, Huntmaster." Fera said with a giggle. "The *Ground* attacked him?" and Nora'luuu nodded. "I swear on my great grandfather. The ground attacked him." and that seemed to dispel any thoughts of deception.
"So, who won the war?" one of the boys asked, and Nora'luuu answered, "The only real winner when two friends fight: No one." a pause, "We returned to Gurdin to tell him of our victories and our story, though he seemed displeased that the blade of the dwarven alpha, Purity, was missing. He spoke of a place called Aquon, a place with many ruins, even a sunken city beneath the water. He spoke of the marshes, and of the Oracle of Aquonnas, who used a wheel to see deeds that had not yet been done."
"A wheel? Like the one in the prophecy?" Fera asked, which was answered by a pat on her head, and a shushing motion from Nora'luuu, "We don't want to spoil the end near the middle, do we?" to which Fera gave a conspiratorial smile. "Gurdin was far more enjoyable after we returned, and we even found him likable enough to show the stones to. He says that learning the scribblespeak will take a very long time, but he offers to help us by building what we need. We barter that if we return Purity to its resting place, he would make us a trinket to locate it. I also bartered that I would tell him the story of our journey, in exchange for a token for us all to remember the times. Then, Gurdin offered the gift of coin to grant us a place for the night."
"Just remember Iondir's mistake, and the error of wanting something, just to have it. Now, why did you want the stone?" he motions to the first child, who cannot meet Nora'luuu's gaze, "I.... I wanted it cause it's pretty." and then Nora'luuu motioned to the second one. "And you?" and after a moment.. "So I could give it to Tanna'moor, so she'll like me."
Fera giggled, and Nora'luuu gave a smile, "Very well then..." and he tossed the stone to the other boy. "The stone is your's. You can give it to your friend, and help him, or keep it for yourself." and after a moment of consideration, the stone was passed to the other boy. "Good luck with Tanna'moor." and a nod passed between the two. "Thank you Huntmaster!" the two said in near unison.
"I know, I know. A tale for another night."