A proud, frosted rose in fresh winter sun. Gods she really was beautiful, set against the cold background of the trees. Gold-green eyes blazed with her souls light, brighter than sun-lit snow. In truth he knew he shouldn’t be seeing her. He should not gaze with animal lust upon her soft white skin. He should be busy working, gathering roots which his master would make into powders and potions to strengthen and invigorate against the winter cold. She cast around, searching eyes scanning the trees before kneeling and digging through the snow with hands, exposing a tiny patch of bare rock.
She could smell the iron in this mountain. She thought this mountain was a little like her, soft and white and pale on the outside, hard and deep inside. Even her own tribe scoffed at her sometimes for her little obsession. She couldn’t really explain to them though, couldn’t really make them see. She knew there was iron in this mountain, enough for her children’s children to make tools and weapons for all their lives, and where there is iron, there are gems. From her belt, a simple rope woven from Frostreed she drew a small pick and chipped away at the bare rock, trilling a light, rapid tune as she did so.
The youngster sat in his trance for a long time then, listening to her sing, punctuated with the tap of her pick. He was well hidden behind one of the wider trees. Once more he caught himself, then submitted to the beauty assailing eyes and ears:
Mountain white, mountain old,
Forgive my work with pick-axe bold,
A tricky one you’ve been to me,
Now must I break you just to see,
Have you wonders?
gems for me?
The tune was unknown to him, but it took his heart with it, carrying it to sit beside her as she worked the stone. He tilted his head back, immersing himself in the pure joy of the moment, a truly untroubled soul amidst the struggling masses.
“By the Ancestors, boy, where have you been?!” Young Tule dared not speak the blissful truth. “Sorry master, I dawdled in the woods…” he studied the earthern floor “dreaming.” he finished. The old master snatched the assorted plant parts from Tule’s belt pouch, picking through them on his small stone table with vicious, rapid hands. “I’ve no patience for dreamers boy…your blood is thin, boy and the Ancestors are not strong within it.” Tule bowed his head and turned to leave, his masters voice fixing him once more. “Nevertheless, I expect you here tomorrow!” Tule continued into the village as a small plume of blue smoke coloured the night above the shaman’s hut. He’d wanted so bad to tell all to his master, to reveal the secret of his lover in the wilderness, but what would the old shaman say?
He’d ask questions for sure, mused Tule as he entered the village proper. A small cluster of houses, many in various states of improvement made up his whole village. But how much did Tule know? Not a lot, he thought suddenly and laughed, attracting strange looks from some children up far too late, scampering up the slope to get at the moonblooms on the higher slopes.