Episode 25:  Destiny Awaits

He wanted to tear through it. To see what his first love had left him.

“Noshee?” Rorkai called from the main floor. “Find anything?”

Noshee flattened the pamphlet. He stuffed it inside his silk vest. Despite being found innocent of the crimes, he wasn’t sure whom he could trust. “No. Nothing," Noshee said.

“Really?” Rorkai said, standing right behind him.

Noshee spun around and tripped over Haiwee’s precious silks that lined her chamber floor.

Rorkai dodged Noshee’s wings. He gave the fallen researcher his hand. After pulling Noshee up, Rorkai gazed up at the hang.

The cap that Noshee twisted off had been lost in the thrashed chamber. He wished he’d put the cap back on. Noshee hoped Rorkai would not notice such a small detail.

On his wingtips, Rorkai lifted himself up to the hang.

Noshee was desperate to keep the pamphlet hidden. “Help-help me look through the side table.” Noshee started rummaging. Lilac scented waxes funneled a surge of memories of his affair. Haiwee’s wet tongue, soft delicate breasts, and the heat of her inner thigh confused Noshee. He loved his wife, but also loved Haiwee. He wasn't allowed to go to her remembrance because of his imprisonment.

“That’s strange,” Rorkai said.

Crow! “Uh...what is it?” Noshee said.

“Her hang. It’s a tube.”

“Um...that is strange.” Noshee continued to rummage aimlessly.

“Who ever got here first must’ve found whatever was inside.”

“Right! Right.”

Rorkai lowered back to the floor, folded his wings.

Noshee asked Rorkai why he was released of the charges for neglecting Genaian researchers.

“For the same reason you couldn’t prove your innocence,” Rorkai said. “We couldn’t find evidence to prove neglect.”

“Then why charge me?” Noshee said.

“Politics. Remember that mob?”

How could Noshee forget? Twelve warriors died escorting Noshee to his trial.

“The Eldens and I had to do something to protect you,” Rorkai said. “So we charged you to keep them at bay. Our plan was to find you innocent. Then get you back to the province of Destiny as fast as possible. But, as you might remember, a trail of death had followed you.”

They continued searching Haiwee’s dwelling, but found nothing of great significance. The day ended with the mystery of Chusee unsolved. Why was she ordered to betray, kill, Noshee? More frightening was who ordered it? Who’d want Noshee dead?

Noshee and Rorkai chased down more leads, but each ended with more questions. And there were no answers.

One question left Rorkai shaken. Noshee had told the truth. Four Hartons dressed in Genai’s colors kidnapped a cub. This explained why Graywolf and his wolf pack attacked Genaian citizens for the past season. Protection. But who were the kidnappers? And why kidnap cubs?

Noshee gathered what little he had left. He’d lost his dual broadswords his wife gifted him as a marriage present. His notes of his travels disappeared. Chusee probably burned them. But he still had Haiwee’s pamphlet.

Sailing back home on a trade ship, Noshee looked around. He didn’t smell anyone outside his quarters. He reached inside his silk vest and pulled out a delicate amber pamphlet. Noshee imagined Haiwee’s petite fingers turning the pages.

“Wow. Why would she give me this?” Noshee mumbled under his breath.

Upon his return to his home province of Destiny, Noshee spilled what had transpired. His Eldens were very interested. He hoped in their great wisdom they knew the reasons behind the kidnapped cubs.

They didn’t. The senior Elden did say wolf packs and Hartons of the northern province had a history of war. Those were the days of Waya, family of Woodcrusher. Days long gone.

With that, Noshee handed over the delicate amber pamphlet. It was part of a collection of Genaian folk tales. Folk tales based on history.

According to the pamphlet, Waya, family of Woodcrusher, was orphaned as a child. Legend had it, Waya was twice the size of a man with the strength of a patriarch wolf. He grew up in Nashoba Forest, fought and ate wolves to survive. In the afternoon of his life, he conquered many tribal chieftains and gained a huge following, the seed to Genai province.

When the first provincial Warlord tried to spread his ruthless dominion into the tribes of Nashoba Forest, he’d flown into this monstrous Harton. Waya flattened the forest to push this Warlord back, hence the name Woodcrusher. The Warlord fought back. Both sacrificed swarms of Hartons, which spelled their end.

The pamphlet, however, didn’t spell out why Haiwee wanted Noshee to have it. Nor did it explain why Graywolf’s cubs were being taken. In the end Noshee didn’t care.

His wings cut through sheets of Destinian air. The familiar sounds of the forest, the magic of life, the wonderful smells of fire pits burning throughout the canopy, and the whipping of Destinian wings warmed his heart.

Noshee was anxious.

He never thought he’d make it out alive. Friends waved and were surprised to see Noshee home so soon. If they only knew. Noshee saw his bark brown dwelling perched atop a magnificent tree. He circled and reveled in the moment. Unable to hold his excitement, he dove. Noshee flapped his wings hard, softening his landing. He hurried to open the door.

Inside, a pot of porridge was frothing above an in floor fire pit. On the side of the pit sat a small ceramic box. Sweetbread baked inside. Noshee’s mouth watered. Dinner was almost ready. But where was his wife? His daughter?

Above the main entrance, an oval door opened. Down came the most beautiful woman Noshee had seen. The perfect curvature of her hips didn’t take away her Legionnaire strength. In her arms, cuddled Noshee’s daughter. Her curly blonde hair bounced as Noshee’s wife touched down.

She remained quiet as she handed their new born baby daughter to Noshee.

His hands reached for his daughter. She was reluctant and looked back at her mother.

“This is your father,” she said.

Her curly blond flicked around as she gazed at Noshee, a stranger.

Noshee waited, his heart sinking.

His daughter squealed and flapped. Her little wings labored to carry the chubby baby into her father’s arms. Noshee received her. His heart melted. He hugged and wrapped his protective wings around her. Noshee placed his cheek on his daughter’s warm head. Her innocence smelled sweet and clean like spring air. She had grown so big. He wiped tears away.

“I’ve missed you,” he said, and kissed her on the head. “I’ve missed you both.”

“You and I need to talk,” his wife said.

“Of course, my lady.”

“I know what happened.” She kneeled to stir the pot. She held her wings back from singeing.

“Good.”

“I know who you saw.”

Noshee drew his wings in.

The End For Now

Episode 24: Hidden Gift