Sawtooth Spire zweiter teil
Rivenwood

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#1
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a month had passed, and mahler had not forgotten.
he had reemerged from his forested cocoon with the cough still in tow but with no other maladies that would indicate he carried contagion forward. beneath the elixirs created by speedy and his own fervent medicines, mahler finally found the reins and was able to control its occurrence more easily now. it was not an apt time to leave rivenwood, and if any but @Praimfaya were at the helm, he might have found himself stayed.
but she was a warrior in her own right, a skilled general who had not misfooted any truly important thing. a test, then; he would go and come back, and he knew rivenwood would fare well in her care. with a note to the young graf that he was leaving with @Phaedra upon a small journey, the gargoyle waited at the bottomslopes of noctisardor for his girl and they set off.
through the green grove where he had once met wylla, where she had begged of him ‚ÄĒ! ‚ÄĒ beyond a glade that reeked of foxes and a meadow staunchly painted with ursus' musky scent. this irritated mahler, who turned to look at the dismal valley as they passed.
but soon the sunspire was springing up before them against the springblue sky. he led her into a sprawl of forest, only coughing occasionally; he watched as phaedra traveled behind or before or beside, their path taking a decidedly upward trajectory and their trail growing rocky and high, bordered by a sparse broken threading of mountainpine and alder. 
goats dashed away from the wolven pair, but mahler had no eyes for them ‚ÄĒ there, there, the sharp-bordered tall peak, severe and lovely and welcoming in icewrapped serenity.
up and up, until they had come to windholme, and mahler glanced to phaedra for any sign of familiarity.
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Rivenwood

Dritte
i knew her for a little ghost
that in my garden walked;
217 Posts
Ooc — vera
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#2
their journey together could not have come at a better time. phaedra was happy to get away from rivenwood and its infanticipating population. it deeply confused and disturbed her that one day someone could be normal and just two blinks later, look the better part of a partridge hen. like damn.

it may safely be said, on the remote possibility that their thronged condition was transmissible, phaedra was favoring a social distancing protocol.

very, very socially distanced.

they set off after convening at the marches of the pass, whereupon she set the tone for their voyage with concern for his health. every cough or sniffle sowed questions such as are you sure you’re up for it? and are you sure you’re sure? and in particular, have you been around those sick ladies? whilst stealing covert glances to his flank.

until eventually the mountains rose up to meet them and her industrious mind set to busying itself with awe rather than his expectorations.

 
yes, suddenly she was too cool to linger with dad, electing instead to capriole through the scenery and tumble through every strange smell that hit her face. she only fell back in stride with mahler when he recalled her there.

amidst their ascent of the mountain she felt keenly as if her soul was gathering up lost heirlooms, mnemnonics purposefully dropped so that she may always find her way home. at times it felt like she was blazing a trail through a dream. 

other times, she was bounding about with somesuch exclamations like hey! i remember that goat! ... despite having no recollection of ever actually seeing a goat; much less that one specifically.
 
once they came upon the river, however, a very real echo rebounded on her memory. but she somehow couldn’t place the sensation of frisson as excitement or as dread. as if someone had set a slow and steady match beneath her center, deep in the pit of her stomach. 


‚Äúoh,‚ÄĚ phaedra breathed in a tremulous¬†sigh. ‚Äúi kind of remember this,‚ÄĚ she said,¬†

‚Äúas well as any dream, i suppose ‚Ķ‚Ä̬†
the rushing of the water bilged every sense. 
made her feel so small.

where her heart usually was, a trapped hummingbird ensued to flit hither and thither, trying to find a window through which it could exit. 
such largesse of feeling confounded her, and the girl looked hesitant at her father. ‚Äúit‚Äôs‚ÄĒ it‚Äôs too fast to cross. right?‚ÄĚ
Rivenwood

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#3
mahler gave a careful look to phaedra's expression, surrounded by the pale curling of a coat that had not been tamed. it gave her a rather roguish look, or would have completed that, were it not for her small words, suddenly swallowed by what he took to be trepidation. "here? yes," mahler said softly, remembering how she had almost drowned, and how in her little child's heart the first fear of rivers and all waterways took hold.
"ve vill travel downstream," the shadowpriest chose, pitching his voice somewhat louder to compensate for the current's rush. "stag named this river vindholme," he told phaedra as he picked a path for them back into the proud shadow of green-needled things. here he could keep the water in sight and note where its foamed cascade ended.
a cough, and this time it irritated him. 
he had seen phaedra leap and wheel and scamper upon their journey; that she felt subdued now, her luminosity dampened somewhat, was more than enough reason for mahler to urge her away from windholme and into easier things. "i had almost expected this mountain to be claimed," mahler rumbled softly. "perhaps it is too vild for anyvone else."
here he pointed out the track of a moose, here the rut of an elk, here where a deer had scraped his bleeding antlers, leaving strips of velveteen on the ground below the tree. 
and then mahler gestured up and up, toward the eversnow peak of the place once called sagtannet. "do you think you can climb so high?" he teased phaedra; of course she would be able, but stoneflower eyes shone with the promise of a coldwinter run.
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Rivenwood

Dritte
i knew her for a little ghost
that in my garden walked;
217 Posts
Ooc — vera
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#4
relief stole across her features, sinking into the willowy lines of her body. she couldn’t think of any reason for the anxiety, only that her mind’s eye was discerning of an unconscious fear, something translating itself fluently into wakened moments. 

still, phaedra was unable to suppress¬†a¬†smile at the mention of her childhood friend. ‚Äúwell, he's got a talent for it. it's very windy,‚Ä̬†‚ÄĒ¬†making a wide berth of the water‚Äôs riotous edge¬†‚ÄĒ¬†‚Äú√§hm. ...not sure how i feel about that actually‚Ķ‚ÄĚ she went on to say with a wry face, glancing to the cold looking water before¬†springing up from the bank in a frisky¬†curvet¬†after mahler.¬†

her apprehension aside, the river wasn't quite equal to the task of dulling her at-the-minute glimmer. it was a concern soon put behind her, and she returned to her mirth, bounding about captain broodypants as they made their way; pausing here to smell a flower, darting there to chase a squirrel into the canopying trees. 
the only thing that rendered the girl motionless was¬†her father's idle musing about others claiming their mountain‚ÄĒ!¬†
in the quiet words of the virgin mary, come again? 
they could do that? 
the audacity of anyone to even consider it! 


affronting, indeed.

"if they try, i'll come sort them out," phaedra huffed; the idea of having to seek permission to visit her birthplace stoked life into the coals of her firebrand nature. she huffed again, then hurried along to walk side-by-side with the erudite for the breadth of his lessons. 

she might have remembered a time long ago (but then, maybe not so long, after all) when she was round with earlier youth, moments measured in late spring days and giggled-together deer names. alas the memory was only a vague sensation of deja vu, and easily shaken off after a brief lull in attention.

after awhile of putting their noses to work, she was poking at the discarded swath of antler velvet when mahler drew her attention to the snow-capped summit. she cast an eye over his ambition, then met his taunt with an unfurling grin of daring, a laughed: "i think a better question is: can you handle being left behind?" 

playbowing, tail feathering her hocks, she quickly made an effort to pull whatever tuft of inkspun fur she could reach before nearly tripping over her own feet during the getaway. 
"lagme ente!"
Rivenwood

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#5
leggy phaedra, off in a flash after a nip of her teeth to his pelt. mahler laughed, and this time it thankfully did not descend into a coughing fit. what the girl had in largesse of speed, he believed was a balance against his own stamina from his time of running to and fro the mountains.
what he remembered of diaspora lay beneath his skin, and he pulled it up as easily as he had years past.
mahler was not displeased to find that he was incorrect, that phaedra led him up and up until his step became ponderous and his heavier bulk slowed. yet he had not yet reached the limit of himself; as the snowpeak loomed ahead, the gargoyle veered sidelong onto another path.
he remembered the intricacy of sagtannet, though earliest memories had begun to pale. his foot found one crag, and then another; he climbed powerfully, heavy, leonine.
at last he stood panting, ankle-deep in the snow of the summit.
lavender eyes cast around for phaedra as he gasped a laugh. "du bist der sieger!" the shadowpriest called, the cough at last rising to coyly paw at him.
he had given a good competition, mahler supposed.
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Rivenwood

Dritte
i knew her for a little ghost
that in my garden walked;
217 Posts
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#6
mahler veered unnoticed from their arboreal racetrack. the burning mouth of the wind murmured against her shoulders in their churning upward flight, lithe body flickering palely between the trees. she bared her throat to the warm sun, and bright happiness gloried from within her. 

endeavoring ever upwards, until demandingly so. paws slewed on the first incline, but she salvaged her balance, feeling her muscles ache with unuse. phaedra strove against gravity with the thrill of competition thrumming feverishly in time with her pulse, until the path was tangent to the timberline.

once more upon flush earth, the girl flung herself on the ground and hungered for air. ‚Äúschei√üe,‚ÄĚ she wheezed, and then again,¬†"ich kann nicht atman‚ÄĚ followed by a spasm in her thigh.¬†"ow, ah, krampf, krampf, arsch krampf."¬†

rolling over, her shoulders squiggled and stamped the snow in a phaedra-y shape, tongue mid-lave across its cold relief when a laugh sought to levy wisplike ears. soon followed by that confounded cough. she righted herself, the word sieger ringing peculiarly. 

but like most deja-vu sensations, phaedra brushed it aside. 

arising,¬†tail thumping, the wannabe-alpinist remarked: ‚Äúes scheint so,¬†ja?¬†piece of cake.‚Ä̬†her head lolled airily to one side, eyes glittering with humor. cheeky.¬†‚Äúbut... if it‚Äôs any consolation, for someone on his deathbed, you‚Äôre very quick on your feet.‚Ä̬†

and with a flick of her paw, she volleyed a smattering of snow towards his face.
Rivenwood

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#7
mahler chuckled loudly, listening to her little curse ring playfully up into the nordic air of the feral place. this was the beauty of sawtooth, sawtooth and her sharpened foothills which had lived beneath the promise of certain death, if wylla was to be believed.
mahler did not wonder why thoughts of her hardened sunflower gaze chased one another along his arteries now; he remembered how the color of herself had once rested upon him with love, and with favour. both of which he had not deserved; oh, mahler, du alter dummkopf! profoundly arrogant and ignorant, for he had lost her, had lost ‚ÄĒ
"deathbed?" he managed to churn out with a loud scoff of falsened indignation, lavender gaze filling with an awareness that had not been present seconds prior. phaedra, casting snow toward him, and his ponderous build too heavy to shift with a larger quickness.
into his eyes! the coldness tumbled along the broadsward of his muzzle and as mahler shook himself free he laughed, a sound wishing greatly to be devoid of inward restraint. "der alte hund hat viele tricks!" while his own massive paw swept a sidelong tsunami of white toward his treacherous spawn.
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Rivenwood

Dritte
i knew her for a little ghost
that in my garden walked;
217 Posts
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#8
a lighthearted comment; she did not consider the possibility of her parents’ mortalities any more than she considered her own. which was to say, phaedra did not consider it a possibility at all; would not abide even the inkling of it. 

would that she could snatch their obols between her own teeth, and let charon convey two less-loved souls across his bedamned fel river.

cocking her hip, the girl said laughing, ‚Äúwell, vielleicht er ist nicht so alt...‚ÄĚ failing to duck mahler's¬†retaliatory strafe of snow in time. she caught it with her shoulder and at once gasped at the sheer devilry‚ÄĒ!¬†

and then burst out laughing. a halo of delight shed its glow on her face as she bent over a panoply of snow, hoarding her instruments of war into the crook of her elbow. 

ever the little gremlin, phaedra moved to rake in another pile (mischief aforethought always) and in doing so unburied the bright faces of some purple-and-gold croci. surprise snagged in her throat. she did not know flowers would grow beneath the snow! 

"seht mal, was ich entdeckt habe!" she called to her father, gently brushing crystals from the flowers in the meantime.
Rivenwood

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#9
phaedra prepared for battle and mahler pranced in a tight circle, sending breath churning through his aching throat in a plume of white. here the air seemed to cool the melancholy of his cough; he felt robust, once more in the narrow side-slip reaches of sagtannet.
they had departed for a proper reason, but upon their way, they had fallen. he and wylla had slipped to their last, and his was the final blow.
mahler, dismal greying dog, unable to even keep the sheer joy of this moment un-inked by bitter lettering overtop.
she called out, and mahler forgot their snow-spat, moving to peer over her shoulder at the joyous purpled flowers.

"sie versteckt und versteckt ihren kopf,"
"unter dem schönen schnee,"
"verstecken, damit du nicht riechst oder leckst."
"so schön dein gelbes lächeln,"
"aber sie wird dich krank machen!"

a dour sort of cultural more, but the dryness was what had reared mahler. he only laughed at the finishing of it, and said, "crocus."
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Rivenwood

Dritte
i knew her for a little ghost
that in my garden walked;
217 Posts
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#10
preoccupied, giddy to seize him by another coup de main, the manner in which her father came privily to grief went unheeded by her. the girl felt in her own way unburdened here, and behind the holdfast of her mind were whimsical notions. how it might be to remain. to live here temporally, instead of eking out a listless existence as geist in rivenwood; away from the private resentments that lie in wait of her return.  

when the girl felt the gargoyle looming overhead, she uncupped her paws and admired the flowers while he wryly cantillated verses that had her recoiling slightly by the end. 


he, amused; she, looking momentarily upon her father’s face with mild alarm... followed by curvatures of mischief.

she slid her gaze back to the crocus and patted it with the ball of her paw-pad. ‚Äúi¬†like the go-getter attitude,‚ÄĚ she praised them; for¬†phaedra likewise hid herself away and if any had the gall to uproot and¬†lick her they would be made thusly sick as well.

casting about her surroundings,¬†throat making a ruminative h‚Äôm,¬†the girl had hoped she‚Äôd find her way back to some memories of her cradle-home ‚ÄĒ she had almost expected to be sentimentally overset ‚ÄĒ but so far there was nothing other than the beauty of the mountain itself that uptempoed her heart.¬†¬†

she averted her eyes, resigned to the glissade of forlorn emotion that arose from thoughts of her bruder errant.¬†‚Äúhe‚Äôd like this,‚ÄĚ she said of thade, and¬†their current¬†adventure,¬†while carefully retucking the flowers¬†in¬†their snowy linens.¬†


if they wanted to hide from the world... well, that was understandable. 

looking around again, she wondered aloud:¬†‚Äúthink¬†someone's moved into our den?‚ÄĚ
Rivenwood

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#11
privately, at least for a moment, mahler's thoughts tended the same way. to return here, to begin anew in the ending years of his life. but how could he build something for those that came after if he was not to stay? the coughing rose in his chest, though he rumbled through it more casually this time; it did not sting the man.
this time.
but neither had it gone away. mahler was unsure when he should truly begin to stress himself about his own health, and realized that a doktor often filled his days with patients, at risk to his own lack of nurturing.
the gargoyle, decided, for now, not to think of it. not to live inside a state of denial, as it were, but allowing each day to spell its own future to his observant eye.
and for now, he would devote himself to this quest upon which he and phaedra found themselves.
mahler assumed erroneously that the girl meant stag, for the pale boy had once led her about this place, finding flowers and gardens. it was fitting that sagtannet should remind her now of him, and with a sharp feeling, he wished the son of his kill-brother and his own heart would return.
a new task then. "ve should go and find out!" the man exclaimed gruffly, shaking out his nape and turning his heavy step in that direction, back down from the thin-air reaches into the untamed pine forests and the rock-clefts that had once housed wolves.
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Rivenwood

Dritte
i knew her for a little ghost
that in my garden walked;
217 Posts
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#12
that cough, gravel-thick and pestilential, roughened her ears and her heart clenched around an immanent dread. something, something about its sitzfleisch put a cold-fingered fear in her; frostbitten hands lain on the warm flesh of her nape. 

he did not remark upon that of thade, and for a time, phaedra was alone with his perceptible lack of presence. and then like that, the sheen of grief passed her room by, leaving her mind's door sweeps dark once again. 

she watched him searchingly -- momentarily -- until his lithic features had warmed under the sun of her question and he rejoined gladly, in that germanic briskness most familiar. he was turning, leading them away into the pines, and his snowbloom pushed away from her nicknamesake to join in the small quest set before them. 

unconditioned to the elevation, the girl did not notice until they had descended that her breath came more easily now; and unfamiliar with the concept of altitude sickness, phaedra's only thought was that her endurance level left much to be desired. 

too much time spent on dropping on the forests eaves, not enough meal chasing. 

leaping from stone to bigger stone, keeping pace with her father overhead, the girl called down to him between bounds and¬†grunts.¬†"ich f√ľhle mich wie eine maus,¬†zwischen diese¬†b√§umen!"
Rivenwood

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#13
"riesen haben die bäume vor langer zeit gebaut," he said with a deadpan quickness in the moments following phaedra's comments.
"f√ľr sie sind wir sicherlich alle m√§use." a wink, a harrumph to smother his chuckle; mahler set his eyes upon their path and thought of what other witty things he might say.
"keine sorge," he called up to phaedra. "du bist eigentlich ein mausebär."
this time he could not hide the delight that curved his mouth; mahler, inspired and in spite of his infirmity, struck out a gallop once their terrain had leveled somewhat, setting a haughty clip in the direction of the place his snowpetal had once walked with small paws.
easy now, to forget all that had gone on and all that would remain ‚ÄĒ¬†
easy now, to set his jaw and his shoulders and only experience himself and the rush of sagtannet once more. all forgotten for a surrendering swathe of hubris, lasting in the garden of his own mind's eden and finally, panting to a slow and then to a halt, laughing between taking back large draughts of air and searching for the girl with a billowing grin.
would she dash ahead or stop to see how the path narrowed and climbed again? he saw in her the same love of mountains that had been carved into mahler since leaving the coastline; since departing swiftcurrent.
how all things began and ended with wylla.
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Rivenwood

Dritte
i knew her for a little ghost
that in my garden walked;
217 Posts
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#14
it was only fair she humor him as he waxed folkloric, as he humored her whimspun imagination in the not-so-distant past. she rolled her eyes good-naturedly at his wink, laughing,¬†"dann d√ľrfen wir sie nicht wecken."¬†

presently taken by a spell of admiration for the woodbine honeysuckle blooming in peaches-and-cream and climbing a natural arbor of half-collapsed trees, she stared up at the flowers, half-hearing her father's reassurance. 

she pinned him with an impish look. a mousebear! well, she was a tempest in a teacup. there was no denying that. 
"so ein vielfraß!" she riposted, laughing with him, for phaedra could think of no other animal with the ferocity to be named such. 

she took it with pride -- there was no higher form of compliment, of that there was a certainty.   

mahler barged ahead with a swiftness she had never seen in her old man, and the girl whooped him on, dropping from the gables to follow at a slower run. once he stopped, phaedra jogged up behind him, vibrant with exhilaration; shaking free from her fur sweetgum fruit that had clung thereon. 

with the choices set before her being pull ahead or stop and smell the roses, so to speak, she did not hesitate to fling herself to loll on the greensward. in no doubt, splendid youth did not go as far as the crag-carven resilience of her father; just from that short run, her keel burned with heavy breaths. 

the fire churning in her legs did little to abate the charm of her childhood home, though she admittedly knew not where to go next. getting back to her feet, phaedra deferred to her father's lead, but she couldn't quite help the draw of her gaze towards a spate of color down the way. 


she blinked, abrupt with surprise at the memory purling the edge of her consciousness. before she thought to say a word, already she was walking towards the quaint garden she once doted on and thought ever so large.
Rivenwood

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#15
a wolverine! he wanted to laugh again and speak one foolish little rhyme or another, but as he saw the direction in which his snowbloom went, mahler found a more thoughtful silence. he wondered what of this fel and wild place was truly held in the magnitude of phaedra's memories; he himself could point to harder and more resonant moments in both nova and rivenwood. and yet this had been the place of her birth and her first days, where she had come to her love of flowers, her adoration of stag.
her fear of the cold waters; yes, he remembered how they had made the silverford journey together.
and so he only followed, lilac stare drifting through the summermade beds, and how even the blossoms here wended toward wildland and cacophony.
perhaps that had been the true beauty of sagtannet; its unfettered towering and the glint of evergreen snow high in its sainted reaches.
he lowered his broad scarred head to seek among the flowers, smiling sidelong at phaedra but not truly willing to speak until she had said a word, a sound, in condemnation or adoration of what once had been.
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