Join My Newsletter and get "Ascent of the Demon" for Free! Just Click Here...Click here for a Free Book!

“I Am Brahkis” Episode 33

The Adventures of an Intellectual Barbarian

When the bottom drops out of the clouds, it is as bad as I imagined. If you’ve never spent time in the taiga, you may have a different understanding of summer. The rain is cold and I along with it. Shadow looks absolutely miserable, his black fur matted by water, but he continues following me with a bowed head.

The rain conspires with the rise of the land, slowing my progress to a crawl. I keep walking against the storm, though, so it will pass over sooner. Soaked to the bone, it wouldn’t matter much if I looked for shelter now. This, at least, is what I tell myself.

The deluge teases me by lightening, only to fall hard again a few moments later. Blankets of clouds completely block the sun, and it is difficult to discern the time of day.


I think I hear my name, but it’s impossible to be sure over the rancor of the storm. I search for the origin of the voice, but it may have easily come from a mischievous ghost on the wind or from my own mind, wishing to be somewhere dry where I could be recognized.


I hear my name again, and this time not as a question. I swivel while keeping my shoulders hunched against the cold, trying to see anything but the grey land beyond sheets of falling water. Once again, Shadow proves more perceptive than I. His head is turned westward, his ears pricked up, slowly shifting as he listens through the rain and wind.

“Over here!”

The voice is hard to place, but definitely female. “Rhiannon?” I call back, cupping my hands around my mouth to project as well as I can. Even without an answer, I walk in the direction Shadow is facing. He looks at me and then springs forward, darting for the tree line.

As I get closer to it, I can make out the bright pink of the Eladrin’s hair, though I can’t really tell it belongs to a person until I’m only a handful of steps away. She has not taken a single step toward me. When I reach her, I see why.

Rhiannon stands dryly beneath a shelter of intersecting pine branches, still connected to their respective trees, which lean suspiciously toward one another as if they made a decision to protect this enchantress from the harsh weather.

“I can’t believe you’re ignoring this rain,” she yells to be heard over the downpour.

I take some satisfaction in Shadow pressing up against her, trying to find room under the interlacing limbs but not realizing the true size of his bulk. He not only pushes her briefly into a stream of overrunning water, but his coat is soaked and must feel like a mass of mushy pine needles itself.

I’m not sure what I can say. While it is a relief to have found Rhiannon, so that I don’t have to search for her later, there is no space for me under her shelter, and I don’t know that her kind can understand what I’ve been through over the last couple of days. I decide to remain constructive. “How long do you plan on waiting this out?”

She uses her knee to nudge Shadow over and reclaim some of her ceded territory. “I don’t know. I haven’t been able to discern whether this is a natural storm or not.”

Her answer surprises me. “What else would it be?”

Rhiannon shrugs. “The Great Mountain may be lashing out at us, trying to keep us away.”

My eyebrows lift halfway up my forehead. “I don’t think the Mountain thinks that much of us.” I can’t be sure she’s serious, though I’ve never known the Eladrin to jest.

“Well, what are you going to do when night falls? It’s already getting colder, and if you stay wet you’ll freeze to death.”

She’s right, of course. I’m already shivering. I’ll have to build a fire after the storm abates, and preferably before nightfall. I can only hope we’re able to cover enough ground to find something dry to burn. It’s my turn to shrug. “We’ll have to make camp when we can.”

We fall silent, the rain and occasional thunder providing enough noise to make idle conversation unnecessary. I’m not sure how long I can wait. If I’m going to be cold and wet anyway, I’d rather be covering ground. Before I mention it, though, the wind dies down and, shortly after, the precipitation.

“What do you say get moving again?” I don’t wait for a response, but direct a clicking sound at Shadow, who’s curled into a ball at the Eladrin’s feet. I steel myself for the unpleasantness ahead, but it doesn’t work. I’m miserable. We haven’t gone a mile before I’m shivering so much my teeth rattle. It doesn’t help that the wind picks up again once we’ve left all the significant foliage behind. What I wouldn’t give for Shadow’s thick coat.

My predicament isn’t lost on Rhiannon. “Brahkis, we have to build a fire,” she says, and I can’t bring myself to argue.

Instead, I nod and unburden myself of weapons. The Eladrin heads one direction, looking for kindling, and once I’ve discarded my wet cloak, shirt, and fur mantle, I wander in the other.

Though I assume this to finally be a task Shadow cannot surpass me in, as I return to my discarded belongings, I notice that the wolf is carrying a large stick in his mouth. When I drop my pile of wood to the ground, he does the same. I can’t help myself and laugh, rubbing the top of his head before turning around to search for more. Unfortunately, very little has been untouched by the rain. I don’t look forward to trying to ignite a spark, but when I return with a second load of fuel, Rhiannon already has a small fire burning.

Whether it’s more magic, I don’t know, but I suppose it doesn’t matter. I nod my thanks and take a seat near the flames, allowing her to build upon her success.

“Have you been to the Great Mountain before?” she asks once it’s clear the flame is no longer in danger of sputtering out.

I nod. “Once. A clan called the Rock Wyrms lives on its slopes. Our clans haven’t always gotten along, but they shouldn’t be overtly hostile. I’ll take us to one of their settlements. Maybe they can explain more clearly what’s been going on.”

Rhiannon appears to have heard me but takes a few moments to respond. “That sounds wise enough, though I don’t expect humans to have much insight into the motivations of Nature. I’ll keep my distance, all the same.”

I’m momentarily offended, but reflect on my experiences with my own neighbors and realize she’s not wrong. “So be it. It shouldn’t be much farther.”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: