Monday Fiction: The Making of Talon – part 5 (I thought I published this last week – oops)
The Making of Talon – Part 3 Section 5
Yseult, about five years old, came up to Ludwig’s chest. She had long blond hair worn in twin braids and blue-green eyes. She was thin, almost to the point of starvation but had a healthy appetite. She was quiet and helped Tante Katrina without being asked.
After dinner Ludwig showed her around the house. He told her that as the newest she was in charge of the slop pots, but because she was so little, he’d keep doing it.
The next day Ludwig took Yseult down to meet Mage Agatha. Agatha told Yseult to go inside and wait, then turned to Ludwig.
“Why didn’t Katrina bring Yseult down? Is she feeling all right?”
“I don’t think so, she was holding her side like it hurt when she asked me to bring Yseult. I think Herr Wainwright hit her.”
Agatha scowled. “Why do you say that? Did Katrina tell you?”
Ludwig shook his head. “No,” he said, “but I heard them arguing last night after I’d gone upstairs to get my clothes ready for laundry. I came down the stairs. Tante Katrina was standing in front of the door to Yseult’s room. Herr Wainwright said he just wanted to say good night to her. Then Hans came up behind the Herr and said he did, too. Katrina wouldn’t let them. Told them she’d be sleeping with the girl until she learned to control manna.
“Herr Wainwright then lifted his fist as if to strike Tante but I made a lot of noise and came further down the stairs. He saw me and went into his bedroom and slammed the door. Hans pushed past me and tried to trip me but fell up the stairs himself. He still hasn’t learned to leave me alone.”
Agatha sighed. “Be careful, Ludwig, they are both much bigger than you. Now, I need you to do me a favor. On your way to school, would you please stop by the unicorn field? Ask whoever is there to come see me today. Tell them I am teaching a new girl. A young girl. A maiden.”
Ludwig smiled and nodded.
“I’ll be most happy to do that, Mage Agatha. Now, I must be on my way if I’m to see a unicorn and make it to class on time. I’ll be by this afternoon to escort Yseult home,” he said and turned to leave.
The unicorn field was close to the forest just north of Mage Agatha’s cottage. Ludwig approached the field boldly. He was almost to the beginning edge when a tall stallion approached.
“Good day to you, young Ludwig. We haven’t seen you at our grass since you were introduced two years ago. You are doing well, I hope,” the unicorn thought to Ludwig.
Ludwig bowed to the unicorn and spoke out loud, “Good day to you, great Hipolit. I am doing well and I see that your herd is growing. The grasses must be very sweet in this meadow.”
Hipolit nodded his head and neighed. “Yes indeed, the grass is sweet. But tell me, why have you come? I have seen you walking to school for many days, do you not have class today?”
“Yes, I do. But we got a new foster child yesterday, a girl named Yseult. I took her to Mage Agatha’s just now and she asked if you’d stop by or send someone.”
“Ah, I understand. I will send Enora to walk with you and Yseult when you return home this afternoon.”
“Thank you, Hipolit. Now I must be on my way,” Ludwig said.
That afternoon, when Ludwig came to Mage Agatha’s cottage, he found not only the unicorn Enora and Yseult, but also his friend Boras.
“Boras! Has it been a moon’s turn already?” he asked as he ran up to the elf and hugged him.
“No, Ludwig, it hasn’t,” Boras said hugging the boy, “I’m here because Hipolit asked me to come. And I have something to tell you. But that can wait.”
“Oh. Okay. Have you met Yseult? She’s a bit shy.”
Boras laughed and ruffled Ludwig’s hair. “Yes,” he said, “We have met. She was just telling me that she can see the manna now. That’s quite good for someone so new to Heartshorn.”
“I know. I was showing her how to see it this morning on our way in this morning. She’s really smart,” Ludwig said.
“Good. You’ve decided to take care of her, I see.”
“Well, as much as I can. But I can’t be there when she’s in school, nor when she goes to bed. Or when she’ll be home but I’ll be in school. Can you watch over her, Boras?”
“I won’t need to. She has another friend who will guard her quite well,” Boras said motioning to Enora.
Enora stepped closer to Ludwig and whuffed into his shirt, her horn moving alarmingly close to his eyes.
Ludwig hastily took a step back. “P-p-pleased to meet you, Enora.”
Enora took a step back and neighed in delight. “Don’t worry, young mage,” she thought, “I will not harm you so long as your motives and intentions are pure. But I need you to do one thing for me and Yseult.”
“Anything,” Ludwig said, “What do you need?”
Boras held up his hand. “Not right now, not here. Let’s start walking back to the Wainwrights.”
Boras bowed to Mage Agatha then gathered the rest together and started back towards the Wainwright place.
The four walked slowly keeping pace with the young Yseult. They were just outside of town when Boras stopped at a large rock beside the road. He lifted Yseult up and stood her on the rock. Enora moved next to Yseult on the opposite side.
“Yseult,” Boras said, “would you pull three hairs from Enora’s mane, please?”
“But, it will hurt her. I don’t want to hurt her.”
“It will not hurt me, Yseult,” Enora said, “I would do it myself, but I don’t have hands,”
Yseult smiled at that and carefully pulled three long hairs from Enora’s mane.
“Now give the hairs to Ludwig,” Boras said, “And Ludwig, you braid those hairs together.”
Yseult gave Ludwig the hairs. Ludwig had Yseult hold the end of the three together while he braided the rest. Soon he had a plait of 18 inches.
“Now what,” Ludwig asked.
Boras answered, “Now Yseult touches the hairs in her hand to the tip of Enora’s horn.”
Enora turned her head so Yseult could reach the horn.
“Now, Ludwig, you touch your end of the plait to the horn,” Boras said.
When they were done, both ends of the plait had been sealed.
“Give the plait to Ludwig, Yseult,” Enora said, “and climb on my back. It’s time to be on our way.”
They continued on their way, making much better progress. While they walked, Boras had Ludwig tie the plait into a bow. In ten minutes they were at the Wainwrights.
Ubel came out into the yard to meet them. He pulled up short when he realized Yseult was riding a unicorn. Katrina had followed him out and immediately ran around him. She approached to within five feet of Enora and stopped, smiling.
“Boras, it is good to see you so soon. And I see that Yseult has made a new friend. What is the friend’s name?”
“Her name is Enora,” Ludwig answered, “Isn’t she beautiful?”
Katrina laughed, “Oh yes, she is beautiful. You know, don’t you, that you and Yseult will have to take care of Enora. She’ll need brushing and feed and water. That won’t be too hard for you two will it?
“No Ma’am” Ludwig and Yseult answered together.
“Good, now you two take Enora down to the barn, warn Hans when you approach that you have a unicorn with you so he can leave. Give Enora the stall by the door, the one with the corral outside. Come back up to the house for dinner when you’re done.”
The two children, Yseult riding and Ludwig walking, went down to the stable.
Boras and Katrina joined Ubel. The man was red in the face and breathing hard. “How dare you,” he said, “How dare you bring that unicorn here?”
Boras looked at Katrina, seemingly confused.
“Why, Ubel, what’s wrong?” he asked.
“It’s dangerous to have a unicorn here. They’re not safe. They attack people.”
“Really?” Boras asked, “Have you ever seen a unicorn attack people, Katrina?”
“No, not really. Though most adults tend to stay away from unicorns; that purity thing and all. But I’m not pure and Enora didn’t attack me, so I don’t know what Ubel’s problem is.”
Ubel glared at the two of them and stomped into the house just as Hans came running around the corner.
“There’s a unicorn in the barn,” Hans said, “I didn’t believe them. It stomped at me!”
“Then I guess you’ll stay way from her, won’t you?” Boras asked.
“I won’t go near the barn! Ludwig can clean it all by himself, him and that brat!”
Katrina turned to Boras, “Will you stay for supper, Boras?”
Boras nodded, “Thank you, Katrina, I will. I still must tell Ludwig that I’m leaving for a while. And help him put the ward on Yseult’s door. Will you be all right?”
“Yes, it’s not so bad,” Katrina answered touching her side, “I was able to dodge this time. And with the unicorn here, he won’t try anything more. But, I think I will still sleep in Yseult’s room for a while.”
Boras smiled, “Sounds like a good idea.”
Ludwig and Yseult came around the corner of the house laughing. Then the four of them went inside together.
Yseult and Ludwig helped Katrina get dinner on the table. After dinner, Boras took Ludwig outside.
“You’re leaving,” Ludwig said.
Boras blinked in surprise, “Yes, I am, but how did you know?”
“It’s been three years since I arrived. You started your apprenticeship with the hedge witch then. I figured your apprenticeship would be over now. Plus, it hasn’t been a full moon’s turn since you were last here, so I knew something was up.”
“Well, you’re right. Now I’m going to stay with some dragons for a few years, then I’ll be with the centaurs. But I’ll try to see you at least once a year.”
“You’re going to stay with dragons? Why?”
“Because, one day, I will be one of the representatives of the dragons to all the rest of Heartshorn. So I have to live with them, and learn from them.”
“Can I live with dragons someday?” Ludwig asked.
“I don’t know. Anything is possible. But for now, you have to stay here. You still have much to learn more about manna and Heartshorn. And we need you to take care of Yseult.”
Ludwig scowled, “You mean keep Ubel and Hans away from her, don’t you?”
“That, and help her to learn about Heartshorn. She’ll be one of the unicorn maidens in a few years, but for now she’s just a child and needs to be a child.
“Now, do you still have the bow you made from the plait?” Boras asked.
Ludwig pulled it from his trouser’s pocket and tried to hand it to Boras.
“No, don’t give it to me. Do you know where we can get a tack and a hammer?” Boras asked.
“There’s lots of that in the Herr’s shop.”
“Go and get one tack and a hammer please.”
Ludwig went outside and ran to the back of the house where Ubel’s carpentry shop was. He found some small tacks, grabbed two to be safe, and a small hammer. Then he returned to Boras.
Elf and young man went to Yseult’s door, where Ludwig tacked the bow to the upper center of the door on the outside. The bow flashed silver then melted into the door.
Boras and Ludwig then went into the kitchen so Boras could take his leave.
“We’ll miss you Boras,” Katrina said, “It’s been too short a time. Please stop by when you are back here, though. You’ll always have a seat at our table.”
Boras bowed and then said his good-byes to Hans and Ubel. Neither man said anything beyond good bye.
Ludwig showed Boras to the door. “Good bye, Boras, I’ll miss you.”
“I’ll miss you, too, Ludwig. You’ve come a long way from the scared child I brought here three years ago.”
Ludwig quickly hugged Boras, then turned and ran up the stairs to his cot.
Later that night, Ludwig woke to voices downstairs. Recognizing Hans’ and Ubel’s voices, he slipped out of bed and eased down the stairs. The two were standing just outside Yseult’s door. Ubel reached for the door knob when in a flash of silver, Enora’s head shoved through the door, her horn almost impaling the man. Both men fell onto the floor and back scrabbled to get away.
Ludwig quickly ran back up the stairs and jumped into his cot trying hard not to laugh. A moment later, Hans threw himself into his bed and covered himself all the way over his head. A door slammed below.
All was quiet then, except for Ludwig’s muffled laughter.