“Mary,” said Arwr softly from beneath the lone scrubby pine.
“Does your leg hurt, Arwr?” she said. “I’ve some herbs that might stop the pain without putting you to sleep.”
“No Mary. My leg is merely bruised and the pain is bearable,” he said, nodding to where Vyr-pudi was chained, beyond the fire. “Did you know that Vyr-pudi saved my life? He saved Abaddon’s, too.”
“That’s his name, Vyr-pudi? Have you learnt any more of his language?”
“Yes actually, but what I did not expect is that he’s beginning to understand ours.”
“How do you know?”
“He called out my name quite clearly, just in time for me to dodge the lyoth which brought me down. I have no doubt that he saved my life and Abaddon’s, too. Abaddon got
thrown off my back while I was kicking at the Lyoth. Vyrpudi caught him. And when he
saw his moment, he jumped the Lyoth and strangled it with his chain. No one has even
thanked him.” He gave the side of his beak a thoughtful saw across a fallen pine trunk and
thoroughly shook his feathers.
Mary sat speechless for a moment, listening to the owl as a pop in the fire sent sparks dashing into the starry sky. “Oh my,” she said. “I see your point Arwr, but he is a troll surrounded by Elves. He undoubtedly had some part in feasting on the Elves in two Jutish villages, and you know better than I do what you caught him in the act of doing at Oilean Gairdin.” She peered at Vyr-pudi, sitting in his chains. “You’re right, Arwr. We’re no better at all if we can’t show humanity when it’s needed.” She stood and brushed off her skirts. “Do you know the Trollish words for thank you?”
Arwr nodded his head. “Afey-fira.”
“Afey-fira…afey-fira,” she said as she started over to Vyrpudi, who sat up quite straight at her approach. “Well. Arwr says your name is Vyr-pudi.”
Vyr-pudi became very wide eyed at this.
“Anyway we,” she said, pointing to herself and then back to Arwr, “want to tell you afey-fira.”
Vyrpudi’s eyes bugged out and his jaw dropped open as she squatted before him and carefully reached out her hand. At once he drew back from her touch as if she were about to strike him. “Well I guess that wasn’t a good idea,” she said as she stood up and let her arms fall to her sides. She smiled at him and walked back to the fire.
“I believe he thought I was about to hit him,” she said as she found her spot on the rock.
Arwr glanced over at Vyr-pudi who was now watching them with undisguised curiosity. “Yes I saw,” he said, “but you didn’t hit him and he can plainly see that you didn’t intend to. He’ll figure it all out. Where it will all go, though, I can’t guess. You do remember that when I captured him, the plan was to learn what we could from him and then kill him, don’t you?”
“I remember,” she said, shaking her head. “Even with his valiant deeds today, after so many long years of attacks on Elves…”
“I know,” he said as he snapped each wing and settled himself, closing his eyes. “We shall simply have to take things as they come.”
Ch. 38, The Burgeoning
Carol & Tom Phipps