Chapter 34: The Ominous Meal of the Qurtille
The creature before Yerdl was actually a qurtille.
The qurtilles of Elcon are not nomadic, nor do they tend to live in cities, and they certainly aren’t in the habit of living on the surface of Elcon, though they can be found in the Warm Lake of Elcon, which really is more of an inland sea than a lake. This isn’t surprising coming from people that call a collossal snowman that towers over mountains “the Giant Snowman”.
So, how and where to qurtilles live? They usually live alone, finding a river underground to occupy and lazily spend their days eating leaves or other vegetation. They have a tendency to make hidden dens beneath the river bed and to train the wild creatures of the river to do various things. The training is only sometimes something useful, more frequently it is something that just amuses the qurtille.
Sometimes the training brings out miraculous abilities in the water fauna, though it is quite unlikely that many fishers would appreciate reeling in a fish that a qurtille that has been trained to transform into a bloodthirsty hound that eats fishing rods and nets or a fish that has been trained to shriek in such a fashion as to cause the earth to twist and grow wildly. It has been noted that qurtilles have an obscure sense of humor.
It should come as no surprise that qurtilles are usually not welcome in rivers that other elconic denizens live near. There are of course stories of people being trained by a qurtille and thus going on to fame and fortune, but there are also countless stories of people getting incredibly unfortunate results from such training.
The qurtilles in general are struck with an unfortunate combination, they happen to be secretive and reclusive, but coupled with this, they usually harbour an unfortunate amount of curiosity. It can however be said that most amounts of curiosity are unfortunate in Elcon.
Currently the black-haired qurtille before Yerdl wasn’t feeling curious at all. She was just quite thoroughly frustrated. She had detected the caravamel quite some time ago and had been keeping an eye on it using a few fish that she could use as remote eyes.
There was a particular foolbear that she loved the leaves of, and she was quite distressed when the people in the caravamel made their camp right near it. Still, she had mustered her courage and surfaced to eat some leaves. Then it turned out that some lunatic had taken residence in her mouth.
“Oorry aan wemuh tha ahhohunch!” she commanded, while moving her body closer to Yerdl.
Yerdl slowly backed away.
“T-that’s the Dark Herald in your mouth you know?” Yerdl objected.
Grinnerel seemed to be grinning particularly widely, and almost danced around inside the qurtille’s mouth.
The qurtille’s serpentine neck wildly thrashed around in anger and a stream of muffled nonsense issued from her mouth.
Grinnerel played its music with even greater glee.
Yerdl unsteadly scuttled toward the Dark Herald. He almost reached towards Grinnerel.
Yerdl slowly scuttled back away, sweating heavily.
Just how was he supposed to do this. What if the Dark Herald did something ominous to him?
Yerdl shook his head. This wasn’t how a man was supposed to act. Before him was some poor unfortunate innocent woman with the Dark Herald in her mouth. Was he a man if he didn’t try to help out?
With these absurd thoughts in mind, Yerdl opened his mouth and dared to speak directly to the Dark Herald.
“E-excuse me, Dark Herald, uh Noble Dark Herald, could you… could you plea…”
Grinnerel leant out from the qurtille’s mouth, shoving its grin right into Yerdl’s face and then it spoke, but the sound of its voice came not into the ear that the Dark Herald was speaking into, but the other ear. A chill pierced right into the core of Yerdl’s abdomen.
-Preserve from preserving-
With that, Grinnerel leaned back and fell into the darkness of the qurtille’s mouth, its music falling with it.
The qurtille open and closed her mouth a few times, but neither the music or Grinnerel returned. She even looked into her mouth going so far as to put her head right inside.
Finally, looking quite nonplussed she spoke to Yerdl.
“Did I just eat the Dark Herald?”