Some of you may remember this from the Scroll of Colors. I honestly thought I'd reposted everything but it seems not. Anyway, I was looking for this as part of another project recently and thought I'd share it here. Only a week late for US Thanksgiving.
Earth and Fire
It's another cold, starless night in the badlands. The wind whistles softly through the scrub, comes over to dance in the fire and then drops sand down the back of his neck. Other than a faintly irritated readjustment of his cloak collar, Rayek does not move. Winnowill is quiet, exhausted by her latest escapade-- as are they all, truth be told.
Ekuar lies on the other side of the fire, wrapped tightly in a nearly thread-bare blanket. They will have to resupply soon but that means towns, humans, and new opportunites for Winnowill. Rayek has not the will to face them again, not so soon.
His fingers slide up and down his side, absently tracing the blood-stained bandage wrapped about his ribs. He had come so close to losing this time. Worse, he had been utterly unable to fight. She had taken his body from him, molded it to suit her own purposes and desires and he-- overwhelmed by her human helpers-- had known nothing.
Ekuar had saved him. Again. It seemed that Ekuar had been saving him ever since the day Rayek had carried him out of that stinking troll-hole. In everything he had done since, the young, hale elf had been upheld and supported by an elf so old and crippled he sometimes forgot his own name. Father, friend and guide... if Rayek had been asked, he would have said he needed none of those things yet he had been given them all.
"There are not words or even sendings enough to thank you," Rayek murmurs as he watches his foster-father sleep. "But then, you would not understand why I had to."
He laspses back into silence. He cannot allow himself sleep anymore but in the long watches of the night he achieves some small repose in introspection. Ekuar means so much to him. He hates to think what his life might have been without the sweet, cheerful, stubborn old elf. He shivers in air that isn't cold at the old, attendant corollary to that thought. What will his life be like if-- please High Ones, not 'when'-- the dangers of their quest become too great for Ekuar?
The breeze returns, lifting an errant strand of hair and sending it floating before him in the firelight like weeds beneath the waves. Winnowill...
What would Winnowill's life have been like, if she had had an Ekuar?
Support, love and approval from someone never too kind or too blind to point out her mistakes?
Someone just as willing to help her make amends as to take pride in her achievements?
If only he could do that for her.
A half-smile blooms slowly on his lips and a spark that had been in danger of being snuffed out lights again in amber eyes.
To share Ekuar’s gift with another in need… truly, there was no better way to say "thank you."