Grandpaw spent an hour showing Freya how to feed the beasts. Freya almost had it down pat. After her first success it was uncanny how she was able to get them to come to her, nearly on command. Though they were large, they seemed a lot more gentle to her now.
“I think that you’re a natural here, why,” Grandpaw drew her in close whispering conspiratorially, “If you can get this, I may be able to get you a placement in the circle.”
Freya gasped. She knew that he had a friend in the druid’s circle, but he never elaborated on the connection. She never thought to ask either as she’d always thought he wouldn’t want to speak about it.
Grandpaw patted her on the back.
A knock on the pen indicated that someone had arrived.
“Ah, Druid Spring, how good of you to finally join us,” he said.
Freya darted and half hid behind Grandpaw as he welcomed the stranger. A large brown mouse with long eyebrows, the druid wore a green scarf around her neck and a vest with many pockets underneath a green and brown cloak. Freya could not count the number of pockets as she examined it. The druid walked with a mangled wooden staff half again taller than her own size. A single brown and green circlet adorned her head—the symbol of the circle, Freya knew.
“It is good to see you again, Woda, and I see a little pup here?” Spring said.
“I’m not a pup anymore, I’m a grown mouse!” Freya exclaimed.
Grandpaw moved to the door of the pen.
“Right you are, why I think you’re of the age where you should be done with your formal schooling and getting ready to get married and start your own family,” Spring said.
“It’s true! I finished school with my class recently,” Freya said, blurting it out before she had a chance to think. Was the druid making her impulsive on purpose? If so, the powers of a druid were powerful indeed. Plus everyone in the larger Yellowrock community knew that they were done with school for the year. Schooling for most creatures ran until they became eleven, then they had the option to start an apprenticeship or follow their own path. She’d heard of other students getting called to the druids, but none of her friends had.
The Yellowrock was named for the large imposing mountain of a rock that was indeed yellow and streaked with green moss. It housed most of the community with the possible exception of families like Freya’s. Since they needed the sun to farm as well as the space for their animals, a burrow was dug a short walk away from the main entrance. Other citizens had spent their entire lives in the pursuit of fortifying Yellowrock on the inside, leading to cavernous chambers and defensive views from inside the rock to the outside.
Looking up, Freya could see the large lookout tower that seemed to poke out near the top. Was that a raven flapping around it? Freya rubbed her eyes as Spring entered the pen. No, she didn’t see anything, she must have been mistaken.
Freya turned to see Spring petting one of the beasts, whispering something that Freya couldn’t catch. Her jaw dropped. Freya had spent hours trying to get one to eat from her paw, and this mouse just walked in and the beast just… accepted the druid’s authority without question? Had she done something wrong? Freya started watching the druid even closer.
“This one is…” Spring said, “Iron beak.”
Then the druid walked to the other, smaller white-feathered beast. The beast lowered its neck to sniff then bow to the druid. Freya padded to behind the druid, eyes wide.
“This one,” the druid said, “She has not named herself yet.”
Spring turned to Freya.
“She said that you and your grandfather have been kind to her and she calls you a friend. Or well, she wants a friend.”
“You can tell that just by whispering to her?” Freya said incredulously, “I don’t understand.”
Freya had stopped to talk to the beasts every day since they got into the pens, hoping that they would warm up to her. Sometimes they stared at her, but usually, they strutted around or preened their feathers.
“It is a gift, come here hold my paw,” Spring had one paw on the beast as it looked warily back at the two mice, “Trust me, Freya.”
Spring muttered something unintelligible to Freya. Then it all came into sharp focus as the words made sense. Freya felt a flicker of red mist in her eyesight as she felt a voice.
“We were talking about names, dear.” Springs' voice was quiet and firm.
[I should pick a name, mistress. To commemorate this day.] The beast said its beak did not line up with what it was saying.
It was in her mind! What was this strange power? She felt like it was just out of her reach, but it was there softly, just under her mind as if it had always been there.
“Yes. Perhaps, something to show our solidarity.” Spring's voice said. A slow calmness stretched across her consciousness. What was this power?
“I...I...I,” Freya thought, sounding it out in her mind.
“Be kind to Freya,” Spring's voice again.
[Freya… friend Freya… a good name. I shall pick Freya as that is a name not heard among my people. She has been good to us.] The beast said.
“You can’t just take my name!” Freya seemed to whine without meaning to.
Spring held her paw, squeezing it as they stepped back.
“This one wants to be called Freya,” Spring said aloud to her, “You must allow it to choose its own path.”
Spring led her back to where Grandpaw stood.
“Now, we watch the naming dance. It is not every day that one of their kind picks a name,” Spring said.
“Please, this Freya mouse would like to see new Freya friends' naming ceremony,” Springs' voice again, weaker this time, as if the distance made her smaller.
Spring released her paw and released the beast.
The two beasts faced each other to do a complicated dance. Feathers flew up as they moved to an unheard beat. Opposite wings lifted in turn as they faced each other, then beginning a spin both dipped down. Completing the turn they then turned back around bobbing along at the same intervals. For a brief second, Freya imagined a drumbeat as she watched. She had to remember to close her jaw.
“What was that power?” Freya said.
And can it be taught? She thought to herself.
“That is just the power to speak their language, pup, one of the most basic skills. Some members of the circle learn it early in their apprenticeship. It is a simple matter of submission to the power, to the inborn talent some possess. ”
Spring turned to Grandpaw.
“Iron beak and Freya, so you have a male and a female pair. They seem happy that they are not running from whatever it was that they had been chased from. They do want to be free, but it appears that you’ve made some sort of bond to them and they will come back if you let them escape.” Spring said.
“They’re not both female eh? Well, that is good news. I wanted a breeding pair. Why don’t they attempt to fly away?” Grandpaw said, leaning on Springs walking stick as she grabbed it with one hand.
“These are only capable of a limited flight. They cannot fly like most of our friends,” Spring said, “Although I think you had some idea, Woda.”
Grandpaw grinned. He knew something, Freya was sure of it. But the chickens? Freya was astounded. They liked Grandpaw and they wanted to stay?
“Well, that is a lot. Thank you for this, Spring,” he said, leading them to the door to the pen.
He opened the pen, letting first Freya, then Spring through.
Spring and Grandpaw embraced and he gave the druid something in a satchel. Freya hadn’t seen anything so he must have known that the druid was coming and deliberately hidden it.
Grandpaw thanked Spring for coming and they talked as Freya walked back into the family burrow for lunch.
“Grandpaw, who was that? And how did she-”
“Freya, Spring is an old friend, we just… went on different paths when we were young, and as for her…. Abilities, well the druid circle has many secrets. Perhaps I could have her talk to you about it someday?” he said, plodding back.
“Because that was so impressive, it was like they understood me,” Freya paused steps ahead of the entrance.
Grandpaw took a knee in front of her. He looked right into her wide-opened eyes.
“Freya, druids have many powers, but druids themselves are very uncommon. I can name a few that I’ve met. Fewer still that are probably alive. The woodland creatures always have a need for them, so having her come here to do this favor, well… Spring had to get a special dispensation to leave her usual duties.”
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I write gewd things and I hope you enjoy tham. But seriously part of my goal is to write something that you could read to your children(for the most part) or something your spouse and kids could enjoy.