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"Then after we destroyed the Other, our snowies trotted us down the mountain as fast as they could," Dareg said, concluding his account of their adventure. He leaned against Fala.Author's Notes
Around them sat a circle of older rangers and Elders who had served as rangers before retiring. Reqem leaned forward to poke one of the melted slugs with a stick. "I wish that I could have seen those landslides for myself," he said.
"I wouldn't advise going back there," said Dareg. "It looks as if the Others like that area for some reason."
Reqem huffed a laugh. "Scared, boy?"
"Anyone who isn't scared of the Others is a fool, Reqem," said Jirral, her voice sharp with scorn. "Leave Dareg alone."
"Jirral is right," said Alvardu, waving his hand at the younger rangers. "Dareg and Fala did well. They deserve our praise, not our criticism."
Fala smiled at her father. "Thank you," she said to Alvardu.
"Reqem has a point too," Athano said. A frown creased his wrinkled face. "Dareg and Fala admitted that neither of them really knew what to look for -- they haven't seen Others touch down before. That's not easy sign to read. Reqem and I have seen enough of it to read more."
"I think people should avoid that whole mountain for a while," Fala said, shaking her head. "That Other came up right behind the ridge, which means it must have been even lower. We almost didn't see it in time. The face and flank of the mountain show multiple scars already, spread over a wide area. More of the Others could appear anywhere on that mountain, at any time. Reqem, Athano, you're two of our best Elders when it comes to woodslore. What could you possibly learn out there that justifies risking your lives?"
This story came out of the March 2011 Muse Fusion. It was inspired by a picture prompt from Ellen Million (her painting "Trees") and later edited by her. This section can be sponsored for $38.25 or 38 Torn World Credits; the whole story can be sponsored for $63.25 or 63 TWC.
Here is where the relationship between Fala and Dareg really gets started, although she has admired him for some time. I wanted to show that. I also wanted to write a wilderness adventure and give a good close look at the Others. So this story pulls together a lot of important threads.