Chapter Twenty-One: An Amulet of Destiny’s Past…
It has been an interesting experience teaching those who have so long been our teachers in the ways and customs of the strange lands in which Pik and I have wandered. Now that we are home in the desert, we have had to think carefully and explain things which to us, are first-nature. How to find water, how to conserve water, how to dress, how to shelter, and so forth. All new experiences for our clutch-family. We traveled in easy steps, helping accustom our new family to the rigors of desert travel.
At last we arrived near Deathhaunt. As we approached, we were surprised to discover fresh tracks in the sand, oblique to our path. Noting that the tracks used the lee of the dunes to hide approach with respect to the oasis, we decided to follow and see if we could ambush the ambushers. Alas, we found our prey when they rose suddenly from the sand and attacked us! A fierce fight followed. They recognized me for what I am, and sought to neutralize me by tackling me to the ground. A cunning strategy. Fortunately, Pik was swifter than all they. Gramblin was much put out at not being able to slay the giant. Pik could barely stand, so calamitous were his wounds from the giant. One Brownscale was left alive, and him we interrogated. We learned much of usefulness of the recent history between the barbarian tribe occupying the oasis and the Brownscales over the past couple of years.
We set the sole survivor free, after taking life-oath from him. We also took tokens of each of the slain, especially of the giant. The tokens served us well in securing guest-right. However, the king of the tribe of humans, for so they proved, “requested” that the one who slew the giant fight him in a friendly tournament of might. Squarely caught upon the horns of a dilemma, I felt! On one hand, of course they must test us to assure that the gifts we brought are not some trick, but were won in combat. But, on the other, if we defeat the king in combat, even mock combat-some will take it upon themselves to be offended on the king’s behalf, even if he himself is gracious beyond reproach.
Pik, in one of his sometimes startling prescient insights, held back his full might from the onset, and managed to fight the king to a draw. It was only afterwards that we learned that while his might is not contested, there are others of his people whom are considered the king’s champions, and fair better warriors than he, or so it is said. My brother’s wisdom is without subtlety, but holds depths unrealized by many. Only a fool disregards Pik when he chooses to speak his mind.
Not only that, but he sees what many do not. I feel a bit the fool, and a bit of anger towards myself for missing such a matter of import. And I spoke directly with the high-priest directly, no less. Yet I did not see. During the evening meal, a veritable feast with excellent entertainment, Pik approached me and asked if I had seen it. At the ceremonies of guest-right previous he saw that the high-priest was wearing a medallion, and that medallion appeared to be identical to the one which I always wear, the one that I was found wearing, when but a babe! An astonishing revelation. We immediately sought out an audience with the high-priest, and were graciously granted a time of meeting towards the end of the festivities.
The conversation was long, and involved much exchange of history on both our parts. My hand shakes as I write even this small summery. The high-priest is a descendant of a fairly long line of high-priests, one of whom found this medallion upon the body of a woman. Which woman was found in one of the caves which is in the outcropping that form one of the outer walls of the oasis! We compared medallions, and indeed they were almost exactly the same. Some of the symbols on one part of my medallion are different, more complex, but the design and style is clearly identical. We were convinced beyond doubt when the high-priest recounts the tale of the discovery, and mentions that there were signs of a child or babe, but they never found the child.
The high-priest was clearly startled, and amazed to discover that I was that child. Desert life is harsh, and he is both unfamiliar with the Fair Folk, and unaccustomed to the thought of life lasting longer than a few decades. I was impatient, but could do no less than to answer his questions of curiosity as best as I was able-considering the import of what he has told me.
I felt it appropriate, as did Pik, that this story was closed with all participants present. And as strange a fate as has brought this to pass, this high priests life-thread has been tangled in mine. I invited him to accompany us in our efforts to find and, if fortunate, contact the departed spirit of this mysterious woman, possibly my mother.