Chapter 13: A Bird’s Name
Aira’s legs gave out. Phule (bird in arms) and Bab-Lin tumbled out of her grip and all of them crashed into the black snow, sending a vast amount spiralling upwards.
“I am sorry, It appears that I cannot run anymore…” She apologised.
Bab-Lin shook the snow from his clothes, shaking his head and taking stock of their surroundings.
“That’s fine, I can’t imagine the shadow lord would chase us out here, not even sure he’d be able. Thanks Aira.”
“Ahhh Aira’s legs!” Phule exclaimed, upon seeing that Aira’s legs were now little more than tattered strips of metal.
“Oh, they growings back, most odd” Phule chirped, upon seeing that Aira’s legs were returning to their previously whole state.
“Could you let me go now?” The shining bird of dark direction complained.
It was really quite a clever thing that Fram Doolytter had done to Aira’s body. Normally it was the weakness of golems that they could not heal, but their strength that they could be repaired. Aira however as long as she had the power would find the time on her body reversing to the last point of wholeness.
This took a certain amount of energy so Aira busied herself making mana crystals to power the reversal.
“We should set up camp here, eat a bit, try to catch some sleep, that sort of thing”
“Uh excuse me?”
Bab-Lin wasn’t confident of sleeping well, he hoped his dreams wouldn’t feature a certain looming shadow.
“We are definitely safe now?” Aira asked nervously.
“Hello? Anyone listening?”
Phule smiled happily, an patted Aira on the back.
“No worryings, we’s safe, bad shadow far aways now”
“Yes really far away, you covered a lot of ground, Haorn must have been absurdly fast” Bab-Lin mused.
“Can none of you hear me? This isn’t funny you know”
“Haorn?” Phule enquired, curious.
Aira began to launch into an explanation but Bab-Lin rudely cut across her.
“Later, when camp is set up.”
“Hello, captive bird here, you are going to let me go right?… wait, you aren’t going to eat me are you? That’d be just like you savages!”
“Ah. The bird talks” Aira stated.
“OF COURSE I TALK”
“Didn’t it get us troublings?” Phule mused.
“It did, didn’t it?” Bab-Lin remarked.
“I have a name you know!”
“Oh, my name is Cyh’Aira, but you can call me Aira” Aira said, crouching down in front of the bird.
“What a dreadful name, I’d be mortified if that was my name.” The bird snorted.
Aira was stunned, this was her first time encountering such a rude spiteful person.
“Thats not nice, nasty bird” Phule frowned at the bird.
Bab-Lin nodded, he had been a scoundrel in the past, but at least he had been a well mannered one.
“Yeah, watch your tongue spirit, besides you haven’t told us your name, it could easily fail to be as good as Aira’s!”
“Ha, as if a golem’s name, or indeed your names could ever match up to the glory of my name”
Phule turned to Bab-Lin, forgetting that she wasn’t going to talk to him ever.
“Phule thinkings that Rudeling is good name for bad bird, Rudy for short”
Bab-Lin cupped his chin in his hand.
“Hmm, sounds good to me, Aira, how do you feel about it?”
Aira had by this stage recovered.
“I think we should call him by his real name, even if he is mean”
The bird was shocked, but quickly came up with an unpleasant retort.
“I’ll not hear my name from the likes of all of you, now let me go, I’ll be glad to be free of your caterwauling”
“Well, we were hoping you’d guide us to what we want to find, you are a shining bird of dark direction, right?”
“I refuse. I’m not guiding anyone anywhere!”
“Unhelpful rude bird” Phule accused.
“You don’t want to betray us” Aira said, Bab-Lin and Phule had no idea what she was getting at.
Her statement however provoked an instant reaction from the bird.
“What are you talking about! Betrayal is in my nature! I’d betray you all in a flash, I wouldn’t regret it at all. I’ve never seen a bunch as betrayable as you lot!”
Golems are quite persistent, Aira was no exception.
“No, you don’t want to guide us because betrayal is in your nature and you don’t want to betray anyone.”
The bird sighed.
“That is correct, and before you figure it out, I’m only so unpleasant in the vain hope of making people unwilling to use me. I cannot resist betrayal, not only that, but I am unable to refuse to guide someone.”
“But you did, you said you refused” Bab-Lin accused.
“That was a lie” The bird hung its head mournfully “I beg of you, let me go, and forget about using my power, I will only betray you to your doom”
“We will escape it, just as we escaped the shadow lord” Aira said.
The shining bird of dark direction almost wanted to believe her.
“I cannot deny you, so speak and tell me of what you wish to find, or where you wish to go, and I shall guide you there, providing you survive my betrayal”
“First, what is your name?”
“I have no name, I am direction, I am doom. Speak your will”
Aira shook her head.
“Bab-Lin, can you think of a name, a good one?” Aira asked Bab-Lin.
He stared at the bird, wondering, after a while he spoke.
“I name you… Zalark, after the hero Zalnor, who never failed to rescue people from doom.”
Zalark laughed bitterly.
“Phule still thinkings Rudeling is good name.”
“Well, that was all very nice and all that, but we still need to set up camp, Phule, I’m afraid you’ll be sharing a tent with me”
Phule eyed Bab-Lin distrustfully.
“Uuu, keepings hands to yourself bugman, Phule is pure maiden”
“That was never going to be a problem” Bab-Lin said flatly, plopping his pack down.
Thankfully everything was still in it.
In short order they had one of Bab-Lin’s odd campfires hovering above his cane-club aswell as the tent set up. Bab-Lin looked with dissatisfaction at the supplies in his pack. He really didn’t want to use the long lasting rations unless he really had to.
“Phule, can you smell any creatures in the area”
Phule consider whether to ignore Bab-Lin’s request, but her stomach made the choice for her.
She walked away from the camp, and sniffed around with eyes closed. It wasn’t that goblin had a particularly amazing sense of smell, but it was better than Bab-Lin’s and smell was one of those things Aira did not have.
After a while Phule pointed in one direction.
“Something over there, not smellings too horrible”
Bab-Lin looked, sadly Awarth’s second night was heavy in the darkness, not even a native to Awarth like Bab-Lin could see very far.
“Aira, what can you see with your eye?”
Aira peered out for a time.
“Looks like a mirror tree forest, can’t make out anything else”
“Well, looks like we are going hunting then!” Bab-Lin stated.
“I shall aid you” Aira said.
“No, actually you and Zalark should stay here and guard the camp, sorry Aira, but you are too noisy and as for Zalark, well he, you know, shines. Shining is not such a desirable trait when hunting.”
“Phule not likings hunting with spookysmokeman”
Phule complained, but she went along with Bab-Lin into the mirror tree forest.
Aira was left alone with Zalark, the shining bird of dark direction.