Konstantine climbed the easily rock walls and wet thatch of the roof, so much less slippery and treacherous than shale. He ended up ground level with the hills, the little town all down in the valley. It felt like he was on top of a wave in a lake. The sky was so grey with fast, tatty clouds. He rarely got to see all the clouds- all the shapes they make. The huge pattern of it. They seemed wondrous and menacing, far more than the spitting rain.
His eyes felt like moons. There was just as much sky as wet mother. ::: Surely that is a sea just like the water….with its own castles and cities…::::
It was so easy to imagine the Hunt. Great horses and hounds and cats, wings and manes. He was in the wind up there, able to hear all its odd moaning and whistling. There were a few faces in the un-glassed windows of the town around the inn, freckled and wondering people staring as if he were naked and mad out there on the roof in the rain.
He listened hard to the winds, looking wide at the clouds. Just as wild, but not just as naked, nor as mad he hoped, as they thought. The wind was coming from the north east. He could see the Wall, which made direction easy even if the sky and land gave no other indication. It just marched on and on, the Wall, from east to west. The wind buffeted him, making it a fight to stand. Trying to knock him off the roof and smattering him with freezing rain.
“North East whistle, howl and blow,
“Cherry red is maiden’s nose,
All cold are the melting snows,
Can you tell me where She Goes?
The North East wind that’s blowing..
Logs on fire women throw,
For, as every old wife knowst,
We will have a fall of snow,
When the NorthEast wind be blowing,
blowing. When Pestle creaks o’er stables…
Freedom from the silver wheels,
changed mountain clouds for castles
blowing ‘way, song’s lure strong,
where jewels in eyes don’t belong,
but must follow on her heels…
Tell me North East wind blowing…
Where Does Baba Yaga stay, or where is she now going?"
He could hear it… hear a lament in the wind, it wasn’t just that it sounded like moaning and sighing, it really was. The sound and strength picked up, being sung to, howling around him, pelting the inn windows with ice and rain and stinging his cheeks,
“From nowhere to the south
The ice spires our fathers
The green bough sea
Where built our singing
We come from nowhere
Carrying broken wings
Cast down dragons
We asked the caves
Deep holes for howling
We asked the waves and roiling waters
Where does her pestle stir
What of winds without her?”
This wind spoke Vlahiskoi, maybe the only one that did. He could taste salt as if the rain were tears. :::: do they not know then? Its sounds kinda like that. The wind doesn’t know and is searching too.::::
::: Maybe she’s off beyond the mist right now.:::
::: and it’s got the winds and the riders all confused.:::
::: We’re all houseless.:::
There was nothing left but to call out his thanks, express solidarity in it and gladness of the trouble it had gone to and talking to him. He climbed down again, dejected, not feel even a little bit warm. His silver bones were chilled.
“I don’t think it knows either. I think it’s being a gypsy like us right now. Looking and not finding her. I wonder if the riders are out. On their strange bright horses in their strange bright armor.”
“You seriously spoke to it?” Orel looked something…he wasn’t sure if it was incredulous, annoyed or fed up. Maybe all or none.
“Yeah? You couldn’t hear down here?”
“”/campaigns/konstantine/characters/ffion" class=“wiki-content-link”>They can’t tell you you aren’t a ranger," She said it like a proclamation. “No I couldn’t even hear you. Just rain.”
“I think it’s sad. The rain tastes like tears.”
She licked her nose. “It does doesn’t it. Salt rain…”
" I wonder if Aneirin is talking to it at all? Or listening." There was a pause between them as he considered. “I’m going to go see if I can find him back at his….stones or the camp. Ask him. It doesn’t seem like waiting around here is any good. They seem like they’re going to take all the whole night and maybe even morning making up their minds.”
He was off like a shot, as the crow flew through the camp of all that remained of vlahiskoi to the stones, and he was there- a dark silhouette on the crest of the nearest approximation of a hill topped with strange standing stones…surely if couldn’t be anyone else. He guessed right, slowing to a trot before halting next to the strange druid. Aneirin was staring up into the storm like he’d been before. “Can you hear it?”
“Yes.” It was proclaimed with amaze. “Can you?”
“I think it’s sad. It’s lamenting. It’s as homeless as we are, I think.” He paused as they both listened a while. “Can you talk to the wind?”
“I asked if it knew where Baba Yaga was. It spoke to me. Can druids call them?”
“We have to know their names, and do a rite.”
There was no use in that then. He doubted it was information that was given away simply, or to just a ranger apprentice. And he had no training in rites of any sort involving …druid…magics? Were they called magic? It meant there was no assurance that he would find the wind again. No certainty it would be alive, maybe…in days to come.
“We will have to find or make a home for it,” Aneirin sounded maybe uncertain, and he was looking at him.
::: Well…that seems a lot beyond a ranger, more like druid work::: Konstantine looked up to the sky as well, instead of at Aneirin’s profile. ::: maybe he’s talking to himself anyway:::
There were snippets of moon, silver and black behind all the whirls of grey. Konstantine moved on again, for the nearest high hill. Aneirin came along, seeming to be listening still and for once not talking.
Konstantine called up to the wind again once he found the peak,
“White, Red, Black and Green,
finest cloaks and banners seen,
As She’s not at Hearth or Home,
O’er the lands linnorn they roam.
Watching East and Guarding West,
Mourning North to South must Rest,
Vassals keen with swords so bright,
Where is South, the Mother’s Green -
Where look I to find him best?"
Anerein looked impressed. ::I know their names, but its better this way. Better to beg rather than summon::
::things don’t like to be summoned by their names::
There was a faint pause in the wind, a sudden quiet where the ice on the grass was tinking.
::: I can hear my breath, like its ragged in my throat. What has made me so desperate? Just the inaction of the afternoon? Of spending a day in testing…knowing that Wiesbaden is sieged like Minsk while we wait and wonder if we can be called a title, like waiting at Aleksey‘s feet wondering if he’s going to have Sasha kill me.::::
A sudden skirl of snow and howling, and they heard sleigh bells and hounds and thundering hooves. Aneirin’s eyes were wide as saucers, just black pupils and he muttered things to himself and made signs with his hands. His own had dilated to black disks as round as the new moon.
Aneirin wasn’t making any sound. ::stone protect me::
Konstantine’s breath felt fast as horses’ hooves. :::: Mama never wanted any of us to be going out into the woods looking for the knights.::::
He could see it- the clouds full of riders. They were pale skinned and black swirl painted like wode, some riding stags, some riding unicorns, some just running, some fawn footed, some have antlers. Unlike the sad wind, there was happy, terrible music of pipes and drums. Konstantine pulled his hair out of his rain slicked face.
Aneirin “the northwest comes to answer you”
“If we die, I just want to tell you, I’ve always wanted to see the Wylde Hunt”
It earned a look and an ick back, open-mouthed and teeth so huge. Aneirin had gone all very still.
“I’m supposed to be there. There. With them. Those are my brothers and sisters.” Konstantine’s voice came as no more than a whisper.
Aneirin offered no reply. ::what a thing to know and feel those that go do join it, can’t stop::
:::: I’m not allowed to join yet, though. He healed me again. He healed my legs. ::::
The Hunt passed so close for a swing that they saw the very swirls on their flesh and leather, painted on horse, on hind, on cat. It was so like the hunt of Vlahiskoi that he had felt but had not seen behind him. Even though it was all different, he knew it was the same.
It was gone as quickly. There was a path of snow where they’d gone. Way off though on that path he could see a white rider, not running with them anymore. The rider was cantering a stately pace toward them, wearing plate armor from crest to toes.