[Story] Story a Week 2

[[ Prompt: People as Animals

I already write tons of stories about animals acting like people so this one was pretty vague! And a person acting like an animal would just be an animal… ]]

The buildings of Jaharria were formed and shaped by the ancient forest itself, trunks and boughs intertwined with specks of sunlight filtering through. The asenji had reclaimed it, ages ago, from the wild forest kiraal after they had lost the favor of Tuhlmarrok, the ancient dragon of the forest. Within the great meeting chamber, the asenji gathered like brightly colored butterflies within. Their robes were of the finest cloth, laboriously stitched with elaborate patterns and reinforced with magical thread. Some glowed faintly within the heart of the meeting chamber, lending a soft light. The chamber itself was composed of small trees that had grown in a circle, their trunks bent and laced with their neighbors — the result, a firm and enduring natural wall. In the boughs overhead, more rooms were formed by the branches, connected by footbridges that swayed in the breeze. Though asenji are not tree-dwelling by nature, they are able to escape forest kiraal and long-ear raids by retreating into the boughs above.

On this day the council had gathered, the wisest and most accomplished mages among the asenji. Murmurs ran among them as they took their seats on the worn roots and stumps. Mirren stepped out into the center of the gathering, his robes the bright white of new-fallen snow. White hairs frosted his muzzle and the ends of his paws. He raised a hand for silence, and all eyes turned to him.

“You all know why I called you here today,” he began, and some of the asenji chittered in assent. Mirren waited for the noise to die down before he spoke again. “Our brother, Harvian.” His hand traced the air, forming a map of glowing light. The asenji looked on, intently. “He has been reported here,” he touched a spot on the illusory map, leaving a small point of light. “Here, where he antagonized a drehl kiraal,” Mirren said, and small gasps ran through the assembly. “And here, in a small farming village near the outskirts of the Temple of the Moon.”

Sullivan stood. He was far younger than most of the council, and he had dark markings about his eyes that lent him a severe look. “Harvian has no connection with us,” he said, addressing first Mirren and then the rest of the gathering. “Whatever trouble he has got into, it isn’t our responsibility.”

Mirren sat back on his root, resting his feet. “Does anyone else wish to speak?”

“Others won’t see it that way,” Sorcha protested. “We are all the same to them.”

Sullivan’s expression hardened. “Then he should be stopped. He will bring his trouble back onto us, that’s the last thing we–”

Sorcha scoffed. “How? You know what he’s capable of. Harvian sat on this very council until he was exiled.”

The younger asenji frowned and took his seat again. Yes, he knew, as did they all.

“There is no need for that,” Mirren declared. “While we may disavow Harvian’s actions, I find it highly unlikely that he is working alone. He is strong, but not strong enough to alter history on his own. He must have help from an outside source. But we do not know who that might be.”

“If he stays in the south,” said Sorcha, “it might not affect us at all. Let him do what he wishes there, far away from us.”

“And if he does not?” Sullivan demanded. “We’re not even sure what he’s doing. But I doubt that it’s good.”

“To leap blindly or to wait and see,” Mirren mused. “That seems to be our dilemma. While Harvian’s methods can be unconventional, sometimes that is what is required. What says the council, then?”

Each asenji dropped his or her voting stone into the bowl. Carefully, Mirren sorted them into two piles — white and black. The asenji leaned forward, watching the number of stones in each pile grow.

“The council has spoken,” Mirren announced. “The rogue wizard Harvian is to be captured. Assemble the hunters and they will leave at dawn.”

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