Advice the Autumn Crone Gave Me On Climbing the Wall
By Annette Marie Hyder
(from the Night Fairytales series)
Continued from previous installment.
Some people get fat in the winter.
Some people get skinny indeed.
Some people get eaten by the long dark cold.
Me? I carry the dark in a bag of sleep.
I carry a ship that is bold.
It’s little and floats on the long shores
of the bitterly cold. — From The Smallest Dragon’s Songs, Winter 20:17
“I suppose,” Erhaiel said, “now that the Great Wolf has been captured, I suppose that the second favor you will ask of me will be to help you with your task, whatever that might be, that you were pursuing with the Great Wolf? I don’t know why but I feel kindly towards you and so I must warn you that if you are not very careful in how you ask for this favor, you might not be happy with the results”
“Oh, I’ll be happy enough.” I replied. “And I thank you for your solicitous warning. However, I will not be asking you for any such thing. In fact, I’ll be on my way now and whistle thrice when next I need to summon you.”
“Where are you going?” Erhaiel squeaked.
“Why, and here I confide in you because I feel kindly towards you — AND I have your name, I’m going to find the wolf.”
“And then what?” breathed Erhaiel, the whiskra’s eyes were twin maelstroms of some emotion I couldn’t put my finger on.
“Well once I find him, I’ll rescue him of course.” I said.
It was disconcerting at first, traveling with Erhaiel. For the whiskra had decided to come with me and that is how I came to see that Erhaiel was given to sudden raptures that shook his whole body in a trembling fit that made his walking seem like some strange dance. I caught him looking at me more than once, his eyes swimming with intense emotion. Well you know me and how I am about keeping my friends close and my enemies closer. Erhaiel joined that group, in my mental calculations, of unknowns well worth keeping my eyes on.
The whiskra seemed to be attuned to my sleeping affliction and had an uncanny ability to find shelter always in the nick of time before I fell into my unwanted sleep. My white cloak sometimes seemed just another layer of snow in the landscape of my dreams. But every morning for that whole week I woke with a fresh and renewed zeal towards paying the Verms a visit, a visit in regard to the wolf.
And the trail that the Verms left was easy to follow, so easy one might wonder if it was intentionally so.
The trees, so recently flash frozen white and cumbersome, their limbs weighted with snow, looked like misshapen guardians of the way and a herd of albino deer moved among the misshapen trees without a trace of fear. Their red eyes twinkled in the gloaming like so many fireflies.