Close To Home

--by Ceitidh

Ceitidh looked up at the walls of Garadar and grinned. “Been awhile, hasn’t it?” She looked at her companions- the dragonhawk, the owl, and the wolf- all tired and a bit bedraggled. The huntress looked at the animals- then herself and shook her head. “Think we need to clean up a bit first though- we look awful!”

They followed her around to the waterfall outside the city. Cridhe, the owl, perched in a tree nearby, and set to grooming her feathers. The elf pulled her packs and saddle from Sona’s back, and the wolf bounded off downstream, happy to be free of her constraints. Orain ducked and dodged, swooping in and out of the pond, throwing water and rainbows in every direction- his bright red wings once more flashing in the sunlight.

Ceitidh sighed and stretched. Carefully she laid aside her bow, loosening the bowstring. It served her well- and its long history kept it even dearer to her heart. “I won’t forget your confidence in me..” she whispered softly, laying it next to her quiver. The axe followed, close at hand, but greatfully off her back. She could still hear the words.. ”A real hunter uses an axe!” So she’d tried it.. and now.. now she was known for the giant axe across her back…

Removing her boots, she stretched her feet in the grass, giggling as it tickled her toes. The boots she’d gotten as reward for the battles joined. So many… she’d found herself swept up in the noise and excitement of the fight- carried away trying to prove herself- trying her best to ward off attacks- and even leading charges. The bruises did not hurt- the cuts and scratches insignificant as the fighting continued around her. The next morning though… she could still see the faces of the fallen and every movement was agony. Yet she’d continued for weeks.

The remainder of her armor quickly followed- leaving her in the soft leather vest and breeches she had worn for so long. The sin’dorei chuckled thinking of how far she’d come since she first set out in gear not much stronger than these. She stretched her arms to the sun, smiling and blinking in its glare. A wave of water reached her from the dragonhawk’s shower and she laughed. She dug through her gear for the small throwing axe she always carried, tucking it into her belt at the small of her back.

Another torrent of water was followed by what seemed to be a laugh of some sort, and she turned to the falls, snickering. “Allright Orri- you wanna play?” With that, the huntress dove into the water, laughing and splashing with her closest companion.

An hour or two later, the huntress and her beasts wandered in to Garadar, laughing and still shaking water from feathers fur and hair. At the inn, the matron greeted the elf with a smile.

“Huntress Ceit! It’s been a long while! How are you dear?”

Ceit chuckled, hugging the orc briefly. “We’re all right- brought some more of those feathers for you.” She pulled a sack from Sona’s saddle and handed it over. “We’ve been everywhere lately, but I couldn’t go too long without coming back here. It’s almost like home to me.” She smiled, looking out the door and up to the islands floating above the town.

The orc laughed a knowing grin spreading across her face as she noticed the girl’s glance. “Ah... yes... I know it is little one. Oh! Before I forget- there is some mail for you…” She trundled over to a crate, digging through its contents a moment before handing the huntress a letter and a package. Ceitidh looked at them a moment and shook her head, chuckling. “Not what I’d expected, but more than welcome nonetheless… thanks.”

Dinner was simple, but deliciously different from the normal travel fare- warm and soothing. She smiled, reading over the letter again. “Sweet Milanna,” she chuckled. “Always there with a kind word when I least expect it...” With a glance at the package, she burst out laughing. “That was probably sent to me by mistake... but with that one...” She shook her head and laughed. “Maybe I can use it for swimming or something.”

Nestling down for the night, she leaned against Sona, smiling up at the swirling sky. Turning her head, she looked at her dragonhawk, stretched out in a tree nearby. “It’s as close to home as we’ve got, Orri- and no matter how far we go, I think the memories will always call us back.”

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