189/366 – To the Edge (Part 1)

Day 47 of 100 Word Prompts: Autumn

Judah could feel the general sense of excitement in the air as the sky-island of Dostra approached the southernmost point of its path, approaching the Teshal Dominion on the western side of Rutren. He loved the autumn season and the festival that fell around the equinox. The festival always brought new supplies to the island, but the most exciting thing for him, however, was the prospect of meeting new races of outsiders.

Erro, a crow aarakocra and one of Judah’s closest friends, flew through the roof of his house, his eyes alight with the excitement of the coming festival.

“Three days, my friend,” Erro said as he landed softly. “Three days until the island begins its move northward again.”

“I can hardly believe it’s been a year since we were here last,” Judah said, his feathers twitching as well. “I wonder if Father will let traders into the village again.”

“Surely, he will,” Erro replied, “the question is what tales will the traders bring with them. You remember last year?”

“How can I forget? I wonder if Balenor will be with his father again this year,” Judah pondered. “Or better yet, I wonder if there will be human traders this time.”

“A human?” Erro replied, “I doubt it. I heard my father speaking with some of the other leaders. Humans in Teshal can’t be trusted. Many of them are thieves and murderers. I doubt they’ll allow passage of a human to our lands.”

“I have my doubts about all humans being like that,” Judah said. “There are stories from every race of wrongdoing.”

“Not the crows,” Erro protested, “Nor the owls, eagles, or finches.”

“What of the vultures?” Judah said. “They’re said to be wild creatures that care little for the living. Practitioners of dark magics and cannibals.”

“I’ve never met one,” Erro admitted. “I suppose you’re right, though. Stories do make it around, even here in Dostra. Should we leave for the edge today? Maybe we can get a view of the southern wastes again. This time we won’t have to travel with a contingent.”

“It’d be twelve days of travel to the Dusham, though,” Judah said, “I’m not sure father would want us going that far while we are so close to Teshal.”

“We passed the tests,” Erro said. “We can go where we will. If it puts the Chief’s mind at ease, we could invite Casia and Riew.”

“I think that would be best,” Judah agreed.

“I’ll go get them,” Erro said quickly as he sprang back into the air and out the open ceiling.

“I guess that leaves me to speak with my father,” Judah said with a chuckle as he shook his head.

Judah moved under the opening and took flight. Once in the open air, he flew south toward the trading market. He found his father quickly, negotiating heatedly with what looked to be a small, red-skinned creature with sharp teeth and long ears.

“You don’t understand, Lady Florx,” the Chief said as Judah landed, “While we appreciate your coming to our small village, there is very little that we need in your wares.”

“Florx worked diligently, for many spans to gather the trinkets and machines you see here,” the red creature said. “Goblins are good tinkers as well.”

“A goblin?” Judah repeated so quietly that no one heard him.

“I’m sure you are wonderful craftgoblins,” Jeremiah continued, exasperated. “I’m not trying to insult you. I’m trying to say we do not need whatever this is-”

“A goblin music box,” Florx said, pointing to it. “Look how finely it was crafted. Look at the scrollwork on the sides.”

“The scroll work is elven, Lady Florx,” Jeremiah said, his tone becoming stern. “I’m no longer requesting that you move on. We are done with this conversation.”

The goblin Florx shook its head and muttered what anyone remotely intelligent would understand to be a string of goblinoid insults as it threw its wares into a crate. Jeremiah turned to see Judah standing there with his arms crossed, and he approached his son with wide eyes.

“I can’t believe the traders this year. The eagles on the lower islands are letting anyone in this year,” Jeremiah whispered, shaking his head. “By all that is aarakocran, you’d think that they would show some restraint letting goblins on our island.”

“That is a fair expectation,” Judah agreed, “I wonder why they came.”

“The eagles are vigilant, but not without their vices,” Jeremiah said. “If it wasn’t hiding in a larger crate as an agreement with another trader, undoubtedly the goblin achieved passage through bribery.”

“Erro and I want to leave for the edge today,” Judah said.

“I don’t know how safe-” Jeremiah began.

“Riew and Casia are coming with us. Erro made a good point that we did prove ourselves, so we should be able to go,” Judah blurted quickly.

“I don’t know, Judah,” Jeremiah said as he walked toward another trader with much more appealing wares laid out before him. “I still feel like it’s a big risk for you to go that far.”

“Erro, Riew, and Casia are capable fighters, Father. As am I. We’ll stay high in our flight, and make sure that we take watches on our journey,” Judah pressed.

“It’s more than a span to get there,” Jeremiah continued with his protest, eyeing a beautiful bolt of cloth on the table before him. “Are you sure you won’t stay here in the village?”

“So, you’re not telling me I can’t go?” Judah clarified.

“As your Chief, I can see no reason to stop any of you. As you said, you have all proven to be capable fighters. But as your father, I would prefer it if you stayed close to me until the solstice,” Jeremiah said. “Why do you want to go to the edge anyway? Are you planning to go to Teshal already? You haven’t even climbed Ameshead yet.”

“We’re not leaving,” Judah said, waving his hands. “I don’t think I’m ready for that yet. We just wanted to see the southern wastes again.”

“You don’t even know if you will,” Jeremiah said, “We don’t know the weather for Rutren in the next couple span. Why would you even want to see that barren landscape anyway?”

“It’s fascinating,” Judah admitted. “I remember seeing it with you eight years ago. To see the green of Teshal broken by the climbing mountains, only to see the black of the wastes beyond. It’s just interesting.”

“Terrifying more like,” Jeremiah corrected. “That anyone, even a lich, could have so much power as to scar the land like that even now, is a terrible thing.”

“I’m sure I’ll have to listen to Riew give us all a lecture on the history of it,” Judah said, “Please, give us your blessing as my father to go.”

Judah watched his father weigh out the options in his head. He could see his father’s logic failing over and over again in the long moment.

“Promise me that you’ll stay to the roads and not travel through the wildlands,” Jeremiah said finally after failing to find a good reason to prevent them from the journey.

“I promise,” Judah said, his feathers dancing on his skin. “Thank you, Father.”

“It’s a good journey for you to start with before you try to reach Ameshead Peak,” Jeremiah said, shaking his head. “Just be safe, and remember to keep watches if you have to camp outside of a town.”

“I will, Father,” Judah replied, turning away and flying north again to find Erro, Riew, and Casia. “You can trust us to stay safe!”

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