Let us tell you a tale.
≈ VII ≈
xiv. The Saga of Frostwood
Mithrilon had been in possession of his Luck Stone since he could first remember, and the Fire Stone since he was a boy. The stones of Creation, Destruction, Earth, Ether, and Water he had found in the days in which he was still a young man.
The last two stones, however, had consumed the rest of his youth, and for decades he used his charm, quick tongue, and a bit of luck to plie stories from men in their cups from one end of the realm to the other.
Rumours would abound about the Air Stone, everyone knew the story, but on a border so many leagues wide, searching for a stone on one in an endless range of mountains would require some help.
He had meant that help to be the Eternity Stone, because while Eternity was a vague element if he had ever heard one, he had thought that perhaps it could help the task not take an eternity.
He had found, however, that the Eternity Stone truly was the rub. The Vanir, the few he had found, at least, as they were the most elusive of the beings when they did not wish to be seen, would not speak to him of the Míresgal.
That glint that sparked behind their eyes when he asked was the only hint he had that they had ever heard of such an item.
Until Eristel. He had not so much come across her in the deep Vanaheim woods as she had been waiting for him. At a bend in a game trail she sat next to her campfire, roasting a massive hare on a spit. Mithrilon approached carefully, but she casually waved him over to join her.
One eye shining white, the other a fiery red, Eristel was an ageless woman, not young by any stretch of the imagination, but not a line or crease showed on her slate grey skin.
Having been lost in the forest for weeks, subsisting on the flora of the wood, he was overjoyed when she offered him a leg of the fauna, and he thanked her between wolfful bites.
“Well, young man, we may as well fell the mastodon in the tent, what brings you to your current state of lost in the forest? This is not a place where any but the old gods stay for long, lost or otherwise.”
He paused. “Young. Not anymore.” he huffed. “I don’t know why I am still looking, I may as well go home and make shoes.” He tore another piece of meat from the bone, chewing like the very picture of a human.
“Everyone is young to a Vanir. Even most of the gods.” the corner of her mouth quirked, but her attention did not stray from her dinner. “In my timeline, humans don’t live past infancy.”
He sniffed. “Yes, the Vanir. What, do they run out of words through the ages? Because you’re the first one that would dain to speak to me.”
“This one is a bit different from the rest in these woods, aye?” she said, her eyebrow cocked up, red eye glinting in the reflected flames of the campfire. “Perhaps I picked up a few extra all those years ago when I was running off with a young and handsome dwarf giant.”
*First of all, how goes a giant dwarf...“ he started.
“Dwarf giant” she corrected.
“Ehrm, okay, yes, dwarf giant. As you say. How does that work?” Mithrilon’s face attempted to puzzle it out.
“About the same as the rest, I would say.” she said.
“Oh.” he said, at a loss.
“Was there a second?” she asked.
“A second what.”
Her general elven stillness broke and while she had just leaned toward him across the campfire, it felt like a couched pounce, and he was no longer sure the flame in her eye was reflected. “No, there are seven I would say…”
Mithrilon’s rabbit turned to stone in his throat and he felt his pockets pulling toward her. He felt the stringing of muscles that preceded flight, but he was frozen to the spot.
She relaxed and turned her attention back to a particularly succulent bit of rabbit leg, but her brow did not lower. The tugging stopped. “Aye, now that’s something.” she said.
He scrambled to his feet. “A thousand thank yous my lady, dinner was delectable, but LOOK at the time, I must be on my way.”
She chuckled. “There is no time when you have it in your pocket, child.”
It felt like losing your clothing every few steps.
“And besides,” she said, “Didn’t you have some burning question for a Vanir? Despite my age I may have a few words left.”
Mithrilon paused, unsure if he should speak or run, even as the words tumbled past his lips. “I don’t suppose you know where the Eternity Míresgal is.” He felt something akin to part of his bowel dying inside his abdomen.
“Well,” she laughed. “If a thing is not to be found in the expected places, one must look in the places least expected. Now be off, before you soil yourself. I am already eating, I’m not going to eat YOU.”