As a lot of my stories do, this one just came to me out of the blue. You may have noticed, a lot of my short stories feel like the beginning of much longer creations. I hope to revisit some of these in the future to add to them (or even finish them), as I feel a lot of them fluttering around in my head, wanting out.
This is one wanting out.
Writing Prompt: Quill’s Beginning
Humans are so fragile. Quill watched, hidden, as the small human girl tentatively approached the tree stump where he had placed his gift. He couldn’t help the disgust in his own thoughts. Fragile. Weak. Small. It was amazing they had ruled the earth for centuries before The Torrent.
The Torrent is what humans called the last war that had nearly destroyed their entire species and the world. The earth had fought back, bringing forth his kind. The Thrumm. Born of the earth itself, his ancestors had risen above the ashes and healed the world. Quill snorted. So many centuries had passed since The Torrent that it was all stuff of legends by now. Nature had long since taken back the destroyed cities, humans were reduced to small settlements, and the Thrumm aimed to keep it that way.
Her red hair pulled back into a sloppy braid, the girl looked around fearfully with large green eyes – as she always did when accepting his gifts. Small, even by human standards, she couldn’t have been no more than eight or nine. Gathering her courage, she rushed up to the tied bundle, snatched it from the stump and scurried off with it clutched to her chest.
He frowned and pulled his shaded goggles to rest on his ridged forehead. He didn’t know what to do. By all rights he should have killed her weeks ago when he first saw her. He had been hunting for his clan, silently stalking a large elk, when he and the creature had heard a faint noise on the wind. The elk had spooked and taken off immediately. Though he could have given chase, and likely caught up to it, he had instead decided to investigate the sound. He had been surprised to come upon the girl crying over a dead human.
Drawing an arrow, he had sighted the girl, prepared to kill her. After all, small humans grew up to be big humans, and he’d only have to kill her then anyway. Better to remove her now before she had a chance to hurt any of his kind.
Her piercing wail had tore at him though, and he hesitated. He could see she was crying over a human female, and he assumed it was her mother. A memory of his own mother’s death gripped him so that he had to blink the wetness from his eyes. His own cries had mirrored the small girl’s, his own hands had clutched at a lifeless body. His own heart shattered into a million pieces.
Putting away his arrow, he had instead watched over her as the girl had cried herself into an exhausted sleep. He had then gently carried her back to her small camp, easily following the trail the two had made.
Returning to her mother’s body, at first he couldn’t find a reason for her death. A basket lay next to her, contents spilled on the forest floor. He thought at first that she must have eaten something poisonous. But there was nothing dangerous in the mushrooms, herbs, and grasses scattered about the basket. Upon closer inspection of her body though, he found two puncture wounds in the woman’s right hand. Adder. A highly venomous species of snake lived in these hills. Upon being bitten you had minutes to eat the leaf of an omsedusa plant to avoid swelling of the blood. Without that plant, death was almost certain.
Sighing, Quill had lifted the woman and carried her back to the girl’s camp, laying her down gently several yards away. Thrumm burned their dead, but he knew humans preferred burial to burning. So not knowing why, he had dug a grave near the dead woman, and left her there for the girl to find. She had the right to say goodbye.
He watched as the girl had awoken, scared and confused to find herself back at camp. She had rushed out of the small lean-to he had placed her under and looked around fearfully. Spotting her mother’s body, she cried out and ran to it, stumbling in her haste. She had cried for a long time then, before finally rolling the body into the grave and pushing the dirt next to it back in.
He supposed he felt sorry for her. Over the next several weeks he had brought her a gift. Usually of food, as he had today; but sometimes something she would find useful, like fishing line and hooks, a spade for digging, a striking stone for lighting fires.
Everyday he told himself he should kill her, but everyday he watched over her instead. She was dangerously close to where his clan called home. Any one of them could come upon her as he had. He knew he would have to make a decision soon. Kill her. Or leave with her, maybe try to take her to a human settlement.
He snorted at the idea of trying to take her anywhere. She’d probably die of fright if he suddenly popped up one day and insisted she come with him.
Thrumm were a race, but they were divided into clans. However, all of the clans were at war with the humans. Some even still ate them; though, these days that practice was frowned on by most. Thankfully, his clan didn’t approve of eating humans… but they did approve of killing any and all they came across. Especially ones so close to their home.
She was a danger to them all. Where there was one, there was another. He was still confused over that too. Where was her clan? Her family? It appeared her and her mother were, alone far from the nearest human settlement – which was at least a week’s hard ride away. Why weren’t they with their kind? And why come into known Thrumm territory? And alone!
He frowned in thought, angry at the dead mother for putting her daughter in such a position. And him! Now, for some reason, he had made this frail child his responsibility, and he had absolutely no idea what to do!
His mind returned to the thought of trying to take her back to her kind. He sighed heavily. It really was the only choice. He couldn’t hide her forever. Some of his brothers were already teasing him about how much time he spent away. It was only a matter of time before one of them followed him. And then he’d be in a kres load of trouble.
No one would suspect anything if he said he wanted to prepare for vakkosa though. Vakkosa was a rite of passage every Thrumm went through to prove their worth. Not just to the clan, but to the very earth itself. Tough, grueling, and sometimes deadly, it wasn’t unusual for someone to take some time to reflect and prepare for the trials. However, no one went through vakkosa before seeing eighteen winters… and he had only seen sixteen.
How could he justify wanting to prepare for something still two years away? He shook his head. He’d think of some excuse.
He was quietly heading towards the girl’s camp when he heard a loud crack followed by a muffled cry. Sprinting forward he saw that her lean-to had collapsed in on itself. Her cries had him rushing forward to lift branches and long logs off of her, hoping she wasn’t too badly hurt.
One scratched and bloody arm thrust up through the branches as she realized help was there. “Please! Help me!”
Quill changed tactics and strained to lift the bottom of the pile all in one big push. As soon as some of the weight was off of her she scrambled out from underneath and fell to her side, clutching one arm. He let the pile drop with a crash and turned to make sure she was okay.
He froze at the fear in her green eyes as she realized just who had saved her.
Grunting, he pushed aside the hand she raised to ward him back and gently, but firmly, grasped the arm she clutched to her stomach. “Hark kdarr!” He admonished her to hold still when she tried to pull away, hurting herself in the process.
Her wrist was swollen, but he didn’t think it was broken. Scratches covered both her arms, as well as her face and upper body. Holding her by the upper arm to keep her from escaping, Quill shook her gently. “Sdak ad! I’n vad kaavk da hild avai!” Of course, she didn’t understand that he was trying to tell her he wouldn’t hurt her, but she quieted a bit and slumped in his grip as he made no move to hurt her.
He knew it would be easier if he just spoke to her in her language, but he was suddenly angry at the whole situation and didn’t feel like making anything easier on her. He was angry at her human mother for endangering her daughter. Angry at the girl, even though she wasn’t to blame for anything. Angry at himself for caring at all. He was just angry at everything!
Pointing at the ground he ordered her brusquely to stay. “Kduav! Kduav!” Letting go of her arm, he waited a moment to make sure she wouldn’t run before rummaging in a pouch at his waist. Finding the container he needed, he knelt next to her to sprinkle a clotting powder onto her scratches. He used a finger to smudge it into the scratches on her face, forcing himself to be gentle when he felt anything but.
Though she had stopped crying, wide verdant eyes watched him anxiously the whole time.
Finished attending the worst of the bleeding, he looked around and spotted the corner of a cloth peaking out from under the lean-to. Yanking it out, he discovered a thin blanket, and used his knife to cut a strip off and wrap around her wrist. She made a small noise of pain, but didn’t cry, for which he was thankful.
Now that the worst of her injuries were attended to, he found his anger ebbing slightly and he sat back on his heals to study her. Aside from the day he had carried her, unconscious, to her camp, this was as close as he had ever been to her. He was surprised to find her pretty in a little girl way. He’d never really thought of a human in terms of beauty before, but comparing to her to other Thrumm, he found her just as pretty as his sisters.
Quill frowned at the direction his of his thoughts, knowing he was treading traitorous waters. Seriously, he should kill her now. She was nearly killed by her own shelter for Koadav’s sake! Fragile, weak, and small like all humans. Some of his thoughts must have shown, for she cringed against the ground, her gaze turning fearful.
Quill suddenly thought of how he must look to her. His kind tended to be a foot or two taller than grown humans, and muscular from living off the land. Even though he was not yet full grown, he still towered over her, even sitting on his heels as he was. Then if you took into account the ridges that lined Thrumm noses and temples… he supposed to a frail human girl-child, he must seem like some sort of large angry ogre. The thought bothered him enough that he let go of a bit more of his anger.
Though he wouldn’t call her relaxed by any means, she didn’t cringe against the ground anymore.
Sighing, Quill slowly stood and looked around a moment. Spotting a pot of water cooling next to her small fire, he scooped up a cup of water and carried it back to her as he shook a small amount of powder into it. Handing it to her, he indicated for her to drink.
Eyes defiant, she shook her head at him. He wasn’t sure if he was amused or irritated at this spark of daring. So she can be brave. Settling on amused, he took the cup from her, drank a small amount and then handed it back. She sniffed the water carefully before finally taking a drink.
Nodding, Quill stood and started setting her lean-to to rights. It took a couple hours, but he finally had a shelter that would withstand the area winds and rains. It certainly wouldn’t fall down from the use of one small human girl.
Watching him carefully at first, the girl had gradually relaxed. Obviously, if he was rebuilding her shelter, he had no intention of harming her and she must have worked that out.
Though he worried about her wrist, he was a little glad for the accident that had brought him here. For one, during the time he had rebuilt her shelter he had finally made a decision on what he was going to do.
He hunched back down next to her and handed her a biscuit he had managed to save from the wreckage. She glanced at the biscuit then back at him, her eyes questioning. “You?” He nodded and was pleased to see a smile light up her face.
“You’re my fairy godmother?” She giggled loudly.
He found himself smiling slightly at her teasing, but shook his head. He placed one hand on his chest, patting it. “Quill.”
Catching on immediately, she placed one small hand to her own chest. “Rose.”
Rose. He glanced at her red hair and green eyes. It suits her.
“Worr, Rose. Yai’lo kaavk da huxo da kudk. Wo’lo kaavk av u dlak.” He found a weight lifted off his chest as he told her she’d have to pack for a trip.
He was taking her back to her people. It was a week’s hard ride to the nearest human settlement, so he figured dragging along a human girl would probably extend that to two weeks. He was strangely happy at his decision.
He hadn’t wanted to kill her. She was just a child. If he ever came across her as an adult, he might have to make a different decision, but not today.
He smiled encouragingly at her and was rewarded with another smile in return. In true little girl fashion, it seemed as if she had decided they were friends, once she realized he had been the one helping her survive the past few weeks. His sisters and brothers at this age were the same way – easy to befriend, easy to smile. He was just surprised she could look past the fact that he was Thrumm. Maybe it’s just because she has no one else out here.
He handed her another biscuit and mentally started making a list of things he would need for their journey. Sure she was human, but she hadn’t seemed that bad to him. Maybe after he got back from their journey, he could speak with the clan elders. Maybe he’d learn a thing or two from this small girl child.
I mean, it’s only two weeks. Right?
I hope you enjoyed this short story! Please feel free to leave comments below. I do welcome constructive criticism in the comments, but please give me more than, “I didn’t like it”. Don’t be afraid to tell me it sucked, but tell me why you think it sucked! And, of course, if you did like it, I would like to know that too.
And if you liked this writing prompt, and feel inspired to write a short story of your own, please feel free to shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to highlight your story in a post of it’s own!
Please don’t mind the mess.
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