Chapter 24: The Bird Sings. The Dragon Roars. The Tree is Curious. The Cat is Furious.
The man stood before the dead body, the trees circling them both. He himself looked much like a walking skeleton, but in spite of that impression he gave, his bones were indeed clothed in flesh, and there were heavy black rings under his eyes. He had three of these brown eyes, but that was not a normal state for his kind. The aehi, or as some call them, vulgar elves are not humans with three eyes. They do however have pointy ears.
Resting in the hair of this man was a round amber ball, that on closer inspection revealed itself to be a owl of some sort. A gentle unseen power issued out from this owl as it slept. The man’s hair was brown as his eyes were, all except a blood red lock of hair, as if he was a tree greeting autumn. Fitting, since elves are those humans descended from trees.
The body seemed to be of great interest to the man, and while his two normal eyes roved about, his third one was rapidly flicking about.
“It’s very strange isn’t it Golobos?” He said to the owl upon his head.
The owl did not seem to respond.
The man loosened his blue and black chequered scarf a bit, and then reached into the puffy leather robe he was wearing. The robe almost looked like it was made from spheres of leather stitched together. What he pulled out was a cane that was carved from bone. It was a plain cane, but surely the bone was from deadly beast…
“A closer look is in order I think, especially that charm”
Just as he was about to touch the body with his cane, a hiss welled up from the darkness. Following that a green snake thrust itself just where the man’s neck had just been. As it had been about to strike, a brown wing with leaves instead of feathers had sprouted from his neck and with a flap thrust him away.
This was produced by his heart-crest, a thing that many aehi nobles are born with. From that, the aehi have their other name, heart-elves. The pattern of that crest something that looked vaguely like a winged circle flickered in his eyes. He undid a few clasps on the right arm of his robe and then his arm burst into these brown-leaved wings. They gently flapped calling wind to shelter beneath them. It produced a kind of twittering sound.
The snake vanished back into the darkness and the man looked in the direction that it came from.
“If you touch her, I will fight to the second death” Koolah hissed.
Her hand was on her misshapen green hat as the snake wriggled its way back onto the hat, turning back into a few scales.
“Who might you be to ask this of me? For that matter, why try to kill me instead of just telling me this? I would tell you that I am Zamelnah of House Vulk, do not take me or my backing lightly”
Koolah’s hat writhed.
“You dare speak of backing in this place? Get away from my sister, but do not leave”
Zamelnah paused, considering her demands and a tenseness excited the flow of magic.
“Name yourself first and I will consider it” he said frowning.
He did not like being pushed around, even if his opponent looked likely to be of a similar level of power.
A draconic roar issued from from Koolah’s hat, and a dim shadow of a dragon’s head hovered behind her.
“I am Koolah, of the line of Dauftima, witch who brewed the stars and leaves! I have heard not of your house, elf! Do not try my patience!”
Koolah was confident that even if Zamelnah was as powerful as her, he would not have such a range of magic as she did.
There was only the twitter of Zamelnah’s winds and the low rumble of Koolah’s dragonshadow.
He stepped out of the way, though he did not return his arm to its usual form.
“I have not heard of your ancestor either, but I will not keep you from your sister”
Koolah ignored him and rushed to Jadah’s side. Her hat however…
Zamelnah felt as if he was being watched by many serpents, amphibians, reptiles and draconic beings.
The first thing that Koolah did was check to see that the charm Jadah bore was intact. After that she was relieved for a moment, but seeing her sister’s ruined body… rage encroached her mind.
“Why should I not kill you, elf?”
Zamelnah gathered the winds more forcefully.
“Why should you? I merely found your sister, I did not do this”
With a spin of her heel, Koolah turned to face Zamelnah, staring at him with eyes that were no longer that of a cat’s but something more lizard-like in origin.
“Were you not the vessel for that that which did? Is that red lock in your hair not proof that you were possessed?”
In the world of Kigan, after a being is possessed and fights off the possessor or otherwise survives the possession, they’ll receive if they have hair, a blood red lock of hair that cannot be dyed and can be cut but not shorn. Those without hair receive a blood-red scale or some such part.
Zamelnah’s twittering winds began to sound more like rasping blades.
“My mark is from before my time in this place, and if I had been possessed, what of it, would you blame me for the death of your sister? Nobody can truly die in this place anyway”
Though she still glared at him, Koolah’s tongue was still. She was too angry. She needed to calm herself.
“I would still kill you” She finally said.