AR 1211-06 Yari Glimpses Forever -or- Up All Night to Get Lucky
“So,” Sardi said once they hit the forest, safely away from the prying ears of the dwarven keep.
“So,” Yari responded, avoiding looking at his friend.
They walked in silence after that brief exchange for a few more minutes. Sardi finally added, “Wanna tell me what that was all about?”
“Yeah, uh,” Yari trailed off. He threw an arm behind his head and massaged the small of his back embarrassedly. “That was kind of a bad situation back there, wasn’t it?”
“You stole a mammoth, Yari. Yeah, I’d say it was a bad situation! How did you even do that!”
The younger cleric put his palms out in front of him, exclaiming, “Hey, we didn’t steal anything. Honest!”
“Uh huh.” Sardi was clearly not buying it.
“No, really! The pixie turned it into a monkey and led it out. We just followed to make sure they would be alright.”
“The pixie did what?!”
Yari immediately felt a pang of regret for so casually talking about forceful polymorphing around Sardi. “Don’t worry, it wasn’t permanent!” he quickly assured the former cat. “Just lasted an hour, until we all got to the base of the goat trail.”
“Well, that does explain a few things,” the older cleric said, still a bit ruffled. “What about the baby?”
“Pixie turned it invisible.”
More silence followed as the two boys continued to crunch through the forest. After about ten minutes, Sarid asked, “But, seriously, why did you have to go along?”
Startled out of his reverie, Yari answered, “’Cause, Krunch was going, and I couldn’t let him go alone. I gotta look out for my friends. Y’all’re my family, you know? Besides, we didn’t technically do anything wrong. We just went camping for a few days.”
“You went camping for a few days with a stolen – sorry – liberated mammoth. Sure, nothing wrong there!”
“You’re just jealous you didn’t get to help kill a bunch of orcs.”
“Wait, what!” Sardi stopped dead and stared at Yari, who took a few more steps before noticing.
Looking back, Yari said, “Oh, yeah, we took out a band of orcs right before we found the mammoth’s herd.”
“Orcs? This close to the keep?” Sardi stammered, collecting his jaw from the ground.
“Yeah, but we told the guards, and they said they’d send out more patrols. I’m sure it’ll be okay.”
“I don’t know, Yari,” said the older boy, beginning to walk again. “Goblins in the keep, orcs on the mesa; seems like the two may be connected.”
Falling into step with his friend, Yari put an arm around Sardi’s shoulder as they trekked along. “The goblins were because of Guido. Do you really think ol’ Stinky could get a bunch of orcs to work for him?”
Another dozen minutes passed them by in silence, save for the noises of the elven forest. The day was young, and so were they. Yari breathed in contentedly, smelling all the fresh scents of nature. Everything was perfect in that moment, save for one thing.
“Hey, are we okay, Sardi?” he asked. “I feel like you might be mad at me, or something.”
“I’m not mad, Yari,” sighed the older boy. I’m just worried about you. You seem to get yourself into dangerous situations a lot.”
“I’m the son of a former demi-god; it kinda comes with the territory,” he answered dryly. “But, I promise to be careful, okay?”
Yari lightly bumped the side of his head against Sardi’s. Sardi, in turn, grinned and gently pushed Yari away. Yari’s eyes grew wide, and his impish grin turned into a full smile as he tackled Sardi. Boys both fell to the ground and wrestled in the underbrush, laughing loudly.
“Hey, no fair tickling!”
“Who said anything about playing fair!”
Overhead, through the tree branches, two large ravens perched quietly, watching them play.
“It’s gonna be really late by the time we get there. We should probably camp for the night.”
“We’d’ve made better time if someone hadn’t tackled me.”
“Hey!” Yari protested, “Sure, I tackled you, but you didn’t have to fight back. You could’ve just let me win, and we’d’ve been done faster.”
“Yeah, like I was just gonna roll over and let you pin me,” Sardi countered.
“Well, I’m just saying we’re both at fault here!”
Sardi rolled his eyes at Yari, but his smile gave away the act. “Let’s go as far as we can tonight, so we can arrive in time for breakfast in the morning.”
“Sounds like a plan!”
The sun was low in the sky as they left most of the trees behind them. Long, leafy shadows kept the two company until the last of twilight finally disappeared behind the mountains at their backs. Sometime later, the moon rose above the horizon, greeted by a wolf’s howl, echoing far off in the distance.
“Don’t worry, Sardi. If it gets close, just hiss really loudly at it.”
“You’re not funny.”
Twinkling dots of white, washed over a deep purple canvas, smiled down at the young clerics. Both boys laid near each other, hands behind their heads, gazing up at the stars.
“My bones hurt.”
“I hear that happens when you start growing really fast.”
“Yeah, I gained another two inches since the new school year started.”
“Heh, you might just end up normal size yet, Yari!”
“Always figured I would. I just got a late start at the whole growing thing. Plenty of time catch up. Still, my bones hurt.”
Sardi reached over and poked Yari in the side, uttering a prayer to Odin to grant healing as he did so. “There.”
Yari twitched and complained, “Hey, I thought we agreed no more tickling!”
“Did we? I’d forgotten.”
Miles away, a wolf howled again into the night. Though they knew they were safe enough, the primal cry still sent shivers down both boys’ necks. They kept quiet for a long while after, continuing to gaze into the starry abyss of the night sky.
“I think those look like a spear,” Yari eventually said, pointing at a particular cluster of stars. “Kinda like Gungnir.”
“Maybe that’s where Odin keeps his spear when he’s not using it?”
“Do you think those look like a hammer?” asked Sardi after a moment, pointing to a different spot above them.
“I guess,” answered Yari, “but I don’t think it could be Mjolnir. It always flies back to Thor’s hand, no matter where he is.”
“Maybe Thor is really far away, and that’s his hammer trying to return to him?”
“I don’t think so. My parents say they saw Thor during the Gods War, and that was only nineteen years ago. How far away could he really get in nineteen years?”
“I don’t know. He is a god.”
As the minutes ticked by, the boys kept up their vigil. The weight of Eternity seemed to be pressing itself upon their forms, so tiny in the wake of the infinite universe before them. They at once felt a part of and apart from the ebb and flow of everything, circling slowly in the darkness of creation. For the first time in their short lives, they truly felt the touch of their god, the Allfather.
The minutes turned into hours, and soon the sun was rising above the eastern wall of the valley, chasing away their window into Forever. They must have slept, for they felt fully rested, but neither of them remembered ever doing so. It was as if they had stared into that starry void all night long.
In reverent quiet, they rose and dressed. Their movements were slow and deliberate, as though they were performing a sacred ritual, and every minute detail mattered. Not a word was spoken between them until they reached the inn, the silence only broken once by the call-and-answer of two black birds, flying high overhead.
“You’re late, boy,” Dean declared as Yari and Sardi entered the inn’s tavern. A handful of patrons were scattered around the room, munching on their morning meal, and they all looked up at the young clerics. Both boys blushed immediately.
The innkeeper somehow managed to make standing behind the bar and wiping down mugs with a rag seem threatening. Or, maybe that was only Yari’s perspective. The teenageer imagined his own father would seem just as imposing to any boy who came calling on one of his sisters.
No. More imposing. Definitely more imposing.
“Sorry, sir?” Yari answered, a bit confused. He hadn’t actually announced he was visiting; in fact, most of his visits were unannounced.
“Coulda used you last night. That drunk Walten came back. Tried to start a fight with Elsie.”
“Is she okay?!”
“Huh? Yeah, of course! No thanks to you.”
Yari swallowed his pride and refrained from talking back. Instead, he moved up to the bar and introduced his friend. “Sir, this is my friend Sardi. Maybe you remember him from the few times we all came through in the caravan?”
“I don’t have any other daughters, boy,” Dean scowled at the newcomer.
Visibly taken aback, the hapless boy stammered, “Uh, no, that’s okay, sir. I’m… I’m not…”
“Elsie’s cleaning up the rooms from last night’s guest,” the large man interrupted, turning his attention back to Yari. “She’ll be done in a bit. Are you gonna order something, or do you just plan to take up space in my inn?”
“Two breakfasts please, sir!” Yari said immediately, taking a seat at the bar. Dean grunted and disappeared into the kitchen.
“You weren’t kidding!” said Sardi, shakily sitting next to Yari.
“I know, right?” whispered Yari back.
Elsie’s mother, Ida, brought out their meal after a few minutes and took their money. She smiled pleasantly, but made little effort to strike up a conversation. Dean was not seen again all morning. After about an hour-and-a-half, Elsie came downstairs into the tavern area, and immediately noticed the distinctive shield Yari wore on his back, depicting the holy symbol of Odin.
“Yari!” she exclaimed, running over and embracing him. He had just enough time to turn around to face her before she barreled right into him.
“Hah! Hey, Elsie! How’ve y’been, girl?”
“Been alright. Things’ve been pretty quiet around here.”
“That’s not what I hear. Your dad says there was trouble last night?”
“Huh? Oh, that. Nah, Mr. Green just got a bit loud was all. Nothing we couldn’t handle.”
Yari smiled at her in response, clearly wanting to kiss her then and there. Beside him, Sardi cleared his throat.
“Oh, right!” said Yari, “Elsie, you remember my friend, Sardi?”
“I think so. Did you come through with the caravan once?”
Sardi extended his hand to formally greet the girl, and answered, “That’s right, but I don’t think we were ever really introduced. Sardi.”
“Elsie,” she said, smiling and shaking his hand firmly. “Pleasure.”
“Pleasure. Well, I’ll let you two catch up. Beautiful area you have here. I think I’ll go walk around exploring.” And, with that, Sardi was gone.
Yari watched his friend go until he disappeared out the front door, then looked back at Elsie, a mischievous fire suddenly in his eyes. “Hey, let’s go up to your room and hang out!”
“Oh, I don’t know!” answered Elsie, a little shocked. “I don’t think my dad would approve.”
“So, we don’t ask him.” Yari stuck out his tongue conspiratorially.
She wavered for a beat, then excitedly whispered, “Okay!”