Mace Black, Page 337-341 by Wolfenshire ()
Members remain the original copyright holder in all their materials here at Renderosity. Use of any of their material inconsistent with the terms and conditions set forth is prohibited and is considered an infringement of the copyrights of the respective holders unless specially stated otherwise.
Mace Black, Page 337-341
She rose to her knees and looked out from under the tarp covering the wagon. The wagon was back on the main road and creaking along at a steady pace. She jumped off the wagon for a little while to stretch her legs, and collect more dandelions from the side of the road.
The desert was no longer the rolling endless white sand dunes, but now a flat brown desert of scraggly brush and short grass. She jumped back on the wagon and crawled to Sern and finished her crown of dandelions. She arranged them on his mop of dark hair, then picked up a last dandelion, kissed it, and lay it on his lips.
Sern sneezed and his eyes started to flutter open. She quickly brushed the dandelions away and lay her head down on his chest and closed her eyes.
Sern’s eyes opened. He had been dreaming of the white haired girl again. Why was he dreaming of a girl? It was disturbing. Maybe he could ask his brother’s about it…no…they would make fun of him. Maybe Batheba, he was kind of like a father. Batheba wouldn’t make fun of him, but still, what would a tiger know about girls.
He licked his lips. There was a tangy taste of dandelions. He looked at Saeber sleeping with her head on his chest. Had she been trying to feed him dandelions again? Everyone had something weird they did, and Saeber’s was dandelions. She had a taste for them and kept trying to feed him the tangy flower. He grinned thinking about her chasing him around with a dandelion and trying to get him to eat it. He turned his head, and yes, there they were, a pile of dandelions next to her.
He reached over and picked up a string of dandelions tied together. He inspected the flowers, they seemed fresh, but of course a tiger couldn’t have tied dandelions together. The trader must have had passengers sometime in the last day or so before and Saeber had found the flowers left behind.
“My leg!” he shouted, sitting up suddenly and remembering why he had been asleep.
The sudden motion startled Saeber and she whipped her head back and forth growling randomly at the invisible threat there surely must have been. Sern looked down at his leg. There was a silver metallic foot sticking out of the end of his right pant leg. He wiggled his toes – and grinned. He had toes, and they worked. He lifted his leg and rotated the foot. It moved just like a real foot.
Saeber crawled down to his feet and sniffed both his real left foot, and the metallic right foot. “Metal foot smell better,” declared Saeber.
“Oh you’re funny,” said Sern, pulling his pant leg up above his knee. He reached down and ran his hand across the flesh of his upper leg to the metal of his lower leg. There was no seam, the flesh and metal flowed into each, he couldn’t tell where the flesh ended and the metal began – and he could feel his metal leg. The metal was soft like flesh and when he tapped at it with a finger, he could feel it.
Sern wiggled down to the end of the wagon and sat dangling his feet over the edge. The wagon wasn’t going fast and he could probably walk faster than the wagon, but still, he hesitated for a moment before jumping to the ground. He had expected…something…soreness maybe, or pain at the knee, but everything felt as normal as if he still had two flesh and bone legs.
He wiggled his feet and felt the dirt under both his feet. “This is great, it’s just like my original leg.”
Sern took a tentative step, then another. He walked around in circle, and then back to the wagon. He pulled the crutches from the wagon and threw them as far as he could. He walked around the wagon until he was walking next to the trader sitting up on the bench.
“Oh yes, yes, you’re awake, and walking, excellent,” said the trader. “Are you satisfied with this purchase?”
Sern hopped a few steps to demonstrate his happiness. “I am, it’s worth the price,” replied Sern.
“Good, good, and have you inspected your other purchases?” asked the trader.
“Where are they?” asked Sern, wondering what the other purchases were.
The trader jerked a thumb over his back. “Back there in the boxes with your name on them.”
Sern saw Saeber peeking around the trader’s back while they were talking. She disappeared when she heard where the boxes were. “Okay, thanks,” said Sern. He hurried to the back of the wagon, Saeber was going to try and get into the boxes first.
Saeber had already pulled the lid off the first box and had her head inside looking for anything that might be for her. Sern jumped up on the wagon. “Hey, I thought you couldn’t read, how’d you know which one was my name?”
Saeber flicked her tail, but didn’t pull her head out of the box. Sern looked where she was gesturing with her tail; two other boxes were open, and obviously not for them. One of the open boxes had scarfs of every color spilling out where she had thrown them, and the other umbrellas.
Sern found another box with his name on it and pried the lid off. He could see Saeber lift her head out of her box just enough to peek at him with one eye, and before he could set the lid aside, Saeber pounced and dove her head into the new box.
Sern laughed and crawled across the tiger to look for another box. Saeber pulled her head out of the box and held up a black hat with red trim and a black feather stuck in the side.
“Saeber got hat,” she said.
“Hey, that’s my hat.” Sern grabbed for the hat and tripped over an umbrella. Saeber tossed the hat in the air and caught it on top of her head.
“Saeber Raven King,” she said.
“Fine, keep it,” Sern shoved his hand inside the box he had just opened and pulled out a tangle of leather straps with shiny metal studs set at intervals along the leather. “I guess this is mine then.”
Saeber cocked her head to the side. “What that?”
Sern looked at the straps. “Isn’t this a cargo harness?” Sern looked in the box. “There’s more stuff.” He lifted out a dual leather saddle bag.
“That not normal cargo harness,” said Saeber. “It look like part of saddle.”
Sern turned the bags around to inspect them. On the front of each bag was a tiger in full sprint embossed over a set of red and white wings. The odd part of the whole thing was the center section had connecting buckles for something, maybe a saddle.
“It’s a medical bag, sort of,” said Sern.
“What that mean?” asked Saeber, sniffing the embossed section.
“Red and white wings are the medical symbol on Darai.”
Saeber stuck her head in the first box Sern hadn’t checked out yet. “Oh, Saeber find something, not know what it for,” she said, then lifted a backpack from the box.
Sern took the backpack from her and held it up. “Oh, wow, this is a search and rescue backpack” Sern showed her the large round patch with red and white wings and a Raven overlaid on the wings. “This is a really nice one.”
“It look good with Saeber new hat.”
“Sern rolled his eyes. “Ha-ha, funny.”
Saeber pulled the saddle bags to her. “Saeber rescue tiger?”
“I guess, yeah, we make a good team,” said Sern.
Saeber gave Sern a sad look and shook her head. “Saeber can’t go Land of Living with Sern.”
Sern wrapped his arms around her. “I’m not leaving you, if that’s what you’re worried about. I’ll stay in the Crystal Universe if I have to, I don’t care. I’m never leaving you, so stop worrying, it will work itself out.”
“Saeber not sure,” she sniffled.
“Look, Kabath doesn’t know about me training to be a Rescue Raven, so I don’t think he ordered this stuff, or my new leg. I think maybe Kabath’s scam was to buy a bunch of stuff and pad the price so he could skim off the top. Look at the umbrella box, the name is painted over but you can still see the letters, S E R, under the paint. I think Master Aestar saw through Kabath’s nonsense and has a plan of his own. We’ll just have to wait and find out what it is.”
“There more stuff in box,” said Saeber.
Sern leaned forward and tipped the box towards him and tried to grab for the hat at the same time. Saeber dodged to the side and Sern missed - Saeber was not giving up the hat. Sern checked the contents of the box; tins of salve, ointments, a brush, clippers, nail file, and other basic tiger care items.
“Hey, look at this,” said Sern, retrieving a book from the box. “Wow, it’s a real book with real pages. Hey, this is awesome, it’s the Basic Darai Anatomy Student Textbook.”
Sern opened the book and found a note inside written in long script. He read the note out loud to Saeber. “It says, ‘Are you ready?’
Saeber had already lost interest in the boxes and was looking at her reflection in a copper pan hanging from one of the crossbeams holding the tarp. She twisted her head back and forth admiring her new hat. Sern shook his head and rolled his eyes, then reread the note to himself. He turned it over hoping there would be some explanation on the back; there wasn’t. What was he supposed to ready for?
Anyone that knew him would know these were excellent gifts, being that he was studying to be an emergency response paramedic, but how had Master Aestar known? Maybe the trader that came to the farm had overheard Sern talking about it and reported it to Master Aestar.
Was Master Aestar going to teach him medicine personally? That would be awesome to be taught by a Creator. Sern sat back against a crate and thought about it. He was going to be away from the Temple for at least ten more years, but would the Crystal Universe return him to twelve years old when they went back, or would he be twenty-two years old and no longer eligible to attend the Temple school.
And of course there was the issue of would he even want to go back. Leaving Saeber was not an option. He didn’t really understand what it was about Saeber that had changed him so much, but she did. Sern’s next thought made him narrow his eyes. “Think Sern, think this through,” he whispered to himself. There had to be a hook. Nobody did anything for free. What was Master Aestar’s hook? The only thing that made sense was that Master Aestar was recruiting them to work for him.
If Master Aestar was recruiting them, what was in it for them? The schooling would be a valuable compensation, but there had to profit after the schooling to make that expense worth it. Giving up a wagon full of gold was not a very Raven-like thing to do, and Sern had already thought of a way to get out of paying. He just wasn’t sure if he wanted to test Master Aestar like that.
Sern had been very careful when he spoke the deal. He had said, ‘if you give me back my leg,’ but, Master Aestar hadn’t given him back his leg, he had given him a metal leg. Raven’s never broke a deal, but if you make a deal with a Raven, you better check the details. Ravens were masters of finding loopholes to keep from paying.
Saeber broke him out of his thoughts by pushing her nose in his face. “Hat make Saeber pretty?” she asked.
Sern grinned. Oh my gosh, she was a tiger, but still a girl. “Yes, the hat makes Saeber pretty.”
“Sern let Saeber keep hat?” she tentatively asked.
“Of course you can keep the hat,” said Sern.
“How make not fall off?” she asked.
“We just need a hair clip, then I can clip it to your fur,” said Sern.
“Find hair clip, find hair clip,” she said excitedly.
Sern crawled up to the front of the wagon. “Hey, excuse me, Mr. Trader, do you have any hair clips?”
The trader turned his head to Sern. “There’s a box under those blankets with stuff like that, help yourself, I’ll add it to your bill.”
Sern frowned. “You know, it’s traditional to toss in a few complimentary items when someone is paying as much as I am.”
The trader ignored Sern’s complaint. Sern thought he looked worried about something. “Is something wrong?” asked Sern.
“Over there,” the trader jerked his head towards the horizon. “Storm coming, bad one.”
The trader wasn’t being his usual bubbly self. Sern stood and squeezed through the opening in the canvas and looked out at the horizon. The sky was dark and threatening. “Fire storm?” asked Sern.
“Nope, monsoon season up in them hills,” explained the trader. “Get your gear assembled and be ready to leave the wagon. I’m going to try to make it to the next village, but if those winds get here first, we’ll have to take shelter in the rocks.”
Image Comments (14)
Tiger image - ;->
In the dream he is stalking prey by his favorite river. The sun is warm on his fur, birds sing in the tree's. The sound the water makes as it flows through the forest, is like a song, calling to his soul. Good fishing for a kitty here...