Rude awakening

An Espresso Tale

By

Accipiter G. Goshawk

The hut lay on the far side of the small inlet, overlooking both the beach and the pungent swamp below.

On the days when the wind swept in from the Bellegond Gulf, Mama Aga could still smell the burned towers of the Twilight Dynasty, even though nearly three years had gone by since the Sack. When whiffs of that foul memory slithered into her thin nostrils, she would quickly curse, spit and then take out her pipe and smoke. Then, things would go back to normal.

For a time.

Although she often had dealings with the dear departed, what had happened in broken Bellegond was enough to make even her shiver in the midday sun.

“Righteous bastards…,” she grumbled, peering out at the dark stain on the horizon.

She wasn’t particularly surprised when the skull washed up on to the beach of Anklebones Cove. Nor was she surprised to find that it was part of a skeleton of a dark elf, charred almost beyond recognition. The rest of the bones floated away with the next tide, but the skull remained.

After observing it critically for a few days, she collected it in her vine basket and brought it to the hut. She set it next to the jar of alligator eyeballs, on top of Mad Ian’s sea chest. The empty sockets tried to look elsewhere, towards the window and Bellegond beyond.

“Hm,” she grumbled, as she cleaned the grime and ash from its surface.

A few nights later, she took it and looked it over under the light of rising Fistr, the star of Mystery. The sockets remained empty, as the spirit trapped within tried to forget, to ignore that it was bound, helpless to leave.

“Some hermit crab,” she whispered to herself thoughtfully as she chewed on some seaweed.

It took her a month to collect all that she needed.

In the end, she coaxed him back to life with a stone shark’s tooth, a piece of willow bark and a burning sign of the Jajaja. He came reluctantly and more than once she scolded him for his pig-headed desire to remain trapped within himself and submit to more self-inflicted torture.

His body took longer to remake, but once the eyes were back, things became easier.

He was –or had been- a warrior, that much was certain. Now…she thought his destiny could be different. She hadn’t meant to infuse him with the full power of the Jajaja, but the sign had leapt from her eagerly and she hadn’t been able to stop it. Now it burned dully on his back, a channel for magic and the unknown.

When he came to, he left the hut and for three days had stared out towards Bellegond.

He hadn’t remembered his true name, but it didn’t matter. She called him Lonn Ashmelder.

She gave him a year to come to terms with it all. Then she threw him out, sending him towards adventure and destiny.-

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