Chapter 21, Part A: A Strange Wind Blows


The West Wind was not all that pleased to find himself perched in a tree with curious golems pawing at his tails. Nor did he enjoy his minions clamoring around him complaining that the lions would not turn aside for them. These beasts were persistently in the way– whether out of playfulness or instinctive protectiveness, he did not know.

But he bore their company while his underlings drifted about the estate and openly spied on its inhabitants. Save for the one chamber blocked by a strong magic, there was much to discover.

The small winds were delighted to find so much to interact with. Winter had battered the land around this area. The woods and the towns within them had not returned to their leafy norm. Parts that had gone dark in the eclipse remained so. It would be a long while before light and light returned to parts of it.

But here was a spot of green in the midst of such bleak terrain.

“What do you know?” he shouted at the lions, who pranced about the grass and under his tree. The rascals roared back in delight. They knew who he was and would not say until he played with them.

He briefly acquiesced, sending blasts that sent them rolling along the stones. And they returned, amused by such tactics. He would send them rolling again and yet they kept coming with their demands for games growing increasingly loud and windy. They roared and roared until their words became incomprehensible to all save he.

The lions were full of nonsense, he gruffly realized as they chattered at him. They were talking about babies and fairies and then ribbons and humans and lost races and old times. Their chaotic attention span yielded much information but little that made any sense.

Yet they talked proudly of their master and mistress. He did not mind this chatter, for he had spied the wolf prince via a window not that long ago. And he liked the proud look of the halfling– as did these loyal stone beasts.

Such fawning worship puzzled him. There had been kings and queens a many but few so beloved by creatures of magic. The Queen of Swans had her fairies but had proved to be a consistently kind, lovely creature deserving of their loyalty. This wolf–from what little he could observe– had no warmth in his demeanor. And yet, the golems did not seem to mind. Irregardless, they praised him and his aloof manner.

The West Wind left them behind to find a place on a turret. From there, he could watch the estate’s other figures moving about. The wolf and his menagerie of companions were endlessly confusing. The halflings and the elves were not known for intermingling among other races, and yet here this one lived with others.

But it was the magic that most intrigued him. What had once lain dormant during the old days before the elven king moved west was now bubbling up unchecked in the ruins now made habitable by others. The golems were but one symptom of the magic gathering beneath this earth. The green earth and the smell of spring was ever present. And his minions whispered of small fair folk shyly running around in the shadows and quiet spaces inside and below this castle.

It was an interesting development, one which he was sure others would note.

Perhaps others had– his brother, maybe.

His ruminations were interrupted when a small wind wrapped himself around his mossy beard, insisting on shaking the twigs inside it until his master paid him heed.

“What a cheeky thing,” West said gruffly to the wriggling wisp. “What is it, you rascal?”

The wind made an odd whistling sound trying to explain itself. But having no voice of its own, it could only imitate or carry what it had recently heard.

“Ooo.” It said as it circled clockwise. “Ooo.”

“Well, well.” West listened closely and figured the small wisp had found an owl. “I suppose it must be a special one. “One of hers?”

The wind wriggled about, affirming that it had found an owl belonging to that slippery Snow Queen.

“Well let us have a look then, shall we?”

The small wind seated itself in his master’s beard before the West Wind threw himself off the building. They flew with a long, loud movement towards the corner of the estate where the wisp wanted to go. As he did so, his other small followers fell into his wake and were pulled along towards a building’s door. This they pounded against until it slammed open.

Without a barrier in their way, the winds filled a small, dark room with their presence, causing a young female to scurry out in alarm. When she left, the door slammed shut.

“Well,” West boomed out as he looked at the halfling lying at the bed. “That’s not the owl I was looking for.”

He peered closely at the halfling lying asleep on the bed. This was not one of those who served the Queen of the North. But he knew very well who he was. With the power he possessed, he blew the sleep away from the boy.

What the boy thought when he opened his eyes and discovered the large greenman filling the room, one could surmise was not all that good. The young man looked alarmed at the site of the wild wind.

West hovered over him, not all that cognizant of the effect he had on mortal beings. Nor was he aware of how loud he was as he boomed out, “Knight of the Swan, shall I set you free?”

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