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Mystic Heart Odyssey - Chapter 32 by Lloxie

Mystic Heart Odyssey - Chapter 32

MHO Chapter 32! Still kind of a chill chapter, for the most part. Don’t worry, there’s action coming soon. At least the boys are getting a nice well-deserved break. Oh and yes, you may have noticed I dialed down the accent a little. It was getting a bit much, so I decided to moderate it a little more.



After leaving Moyra’s home, Kuna was faced with the fact that he’d have to navigate the village alone as it was approaching sunset. Fortunately, he had his magic to guide him to Lykou. The drawback was that it’d be tricky to do so without drawing even more attention to himself than he already was getting for being a very different looking outsider in a village full of lepne, most of whom were around a foot or so shorter than him, on average. It wasn’t that he felt particularly in danger at that point, but he still didn’t like the attention.

He took a deep breath and began walking, trying to avoid meeting anyone’s gaze while doing the best to hide the glowing mark on his hand. Even so, and even trying to use the least-busy paths to get to where he was going, he still encountered many fascinated villagers who stopped to ogle him and whisper to each other. A few actually waved to him or greeted him, to which he made some effort to return a friendly wave while still trying to avoid getting caught up in a conversation. On the one hand, it was refreshing being around so many people that were so nice to him for once; but on the other, the attention was a little much, and he wanted to be back with Lykou as soon as possible.

Finally, he arrived at another larger building, with a higher roof than most of the others in the village. But as he approached the double doorway at the front, it flew open and Lykou, Grey, and a few other lepne came walking out, laughing and carrying on. A couple of the lepne were leaning on one another for support, clearly inebriated.

“Spark Night soonds -hic- lik’ a right crackin’ time!” the chieftan said, leaning on one of his least-intoxicated companions, then looked up to see Kuna. “Ach, Kuna laddie, guid tae see ye. Ah hawp -hic- th’ druna bu’ness went weel?”

Kuna nodded and looked at the assorted bunch with a mixture of amusement and mild concern. “It was very ni-” he started to say, then paused and thought for a moment before continuing, remembering Moyra’s comment about ‘keeping up appearances’. “Er, very enlightening, yes.”

Lykou wasted no time walking over and wrapping his arms around the sereva. “Miss’d ya, bud,” he said, squeezing him gently. Despite the awkwardness of the obvious drunkenness, Kuna smirked and hugged him back, just glad to be reunited with him.

“Guid tae hear it,” the chieftan said, then clapped Lykou lightly on the back, albeit only after missing twice. “’n’ it wis brilliant -hic- banterin’ wi’ ye, Lykou.” He paused to wave over Rhagnaid, who Kuna hadn’t noticed standing by another building nearby. “Rha-hic-gnaid ‘ere wull take ye back tae th’ lodge, ah best ‘av dinner ‘n’ git tae kip mysel’. G’night lads!”

“G’night, chief -hic- Grey!” Lykou replied. “Thanks again, it’s been fun!”

Raghnaid began leading them back to the lodge, and glanced at Lykou. “Dae ye need any halp?” she asked the two, as Kuna helped the konuul keep steady, with one of the canid’s arms draped over his shoulder.

“I’ve got it,” the sereva replied.

Lykou chuckled. “I’m -hic- fine, really, I’m not that drunk,” he insisted, then grinned at the guard. “He’s just using this as an excuse to -hic- hold onto me.”

Kuna smirked and rolled his eyes, blushing slightly.

“Yer pure steamin’,” the guard replied with a smirk. “Some dinner ‘n’ water should halp, though.”

“Really, I’m just -hic- tispy!” Lykou said, then thought for a moment before giggling. “Tispy… tipsy… okay maybe -hic- m-more than I thought...”

“Yeah, you’re ready to ‘tisp’ right over, you goofball,” Kuna teased.

Soon they arrived at the lodge. When they stepped inside, they were greeted with the smell of hot, fresh food, and Clara was bringing some cups of some kind of murky brown liquid over to the tables. “Welcome back, lads,” she greeted them. “Ah’ll bring ye each a plate in a minute. Wull ye be jynin’ us, too, Ragh?”

“Na, ah shou-”

“Ach, c’mon,” Clara insisted. “Yer always hidin’ at hame wen yer aff duty.”


“Yeah, c’mon,” Lykou chimed in. “We’ll be telling everyone our -hic- story.” He wavered a little bit as Kuna helped him into an empty stool by the table, bracing him against a wall carefully before sitting down next to him. “Well, mostly him for -hic- now, I think,” he added, shooting an apologetic, yet playful grin to the sereva.

Kuna tensed up and folded his ears as he sat down. “Really?” he mumbled quietly, shooting him a small glare.

Rhagnaid shrugged, then found herself a seat at the other table. “A’right, ah suppose ah kin stay a li’l while. Grey wis callin’ it a night anyway.”

“Great!” Clara said, then went to grab some plates for the three.

“Seems lik’ someone’s been tae the brewhall wi’ the chief,” Gavin said with a chuckle. “Mak’ sure ‘e gets water, Clara.”

“Aye, wull dae.”

“’n’ how wis yere day, Kuna?”

“N-nice,” Kuna replied quietly, scooting close to his inebriated friend.

“Ye dinnae need to be sae shy wi’ us, ye ken,” Ealar told the sereva with a friendly smile, after taking a sip from his cup. “We dinnae bite.”

Kuna looked up briefly with a faint smile and rubbed his arm. “I know, just...”

Effie, who was sitting next to the sereva, leaned over and rubbed his shoulder softly. “Es a’right. Ah wis alwis a bit quiet, tae,” she said softly. “Anyone gies ye trouble, ah’ll skelp ‘em fer ye.” She winked at him.

“I-I’m sure that won’t be necessary,” Kuna replied appreciatively. “But thanks.”

“Some scran wull probably halp ye relax, tae,” Gavin suggested.

On cue, Clara returned and set a plate in front of Kuna and Lykou. They both thanked her, then began eating. After some of the lepne had finished their food, Gavin turned to one of the others that hadn’t been introduced yet. “Oy, Finlay, wid ye mind gi’en us some choons?”

The other lepne smiled and got up. “Nae problem, wis jest thinkin’ aboot that,” he said as he stepped over to one of the piles of boxes and bags on the edge of the large common area, then began digging around for a moment. Soon he returned with a stringed instrument and began tuning it after sitting back down. Before long, he began filling the air with soft, but cheerful music, much to everyone’s delight. Another individual pulled out a small flute-like instrument and joined in.

The music wasn’t very loud, but it helped everyone, including Kuna, relax a little more. In fact, along with the food and the comforting warmth and glow from the fireplace, he was starting to feel somewhat at ease by the time he finished his plate. Lykou’s tail was flicking and twitching along with the music. At one point, Bhaltair arrived and joined the group, greeting the boys as he set his bag down near the far wall.

“Bit o’ bad news, folks,” the trade leader announced. “Ginnae hae tae delay anither day. Soomhow, a stack o’ blankets bound fer Whitlan were misplaced, sae they’re makin’ a few more tomorrae.”

“Mibbie Effie jest miscounted,” Dougal suggested, earning a glare from the smallest lepne in response.

“Ah’ll help ye count yer teeth, ye mawkit bawbag!”

“Oy, settle doon ye two,” Bhaltair said. “Nae sense arguin’, whas done es done.”

The casual chatter in the room carried on for a bit. After making sure Kuna was done with his food, Lykou re-positioned himself to the floor, and playfully pulled the sereva along with him. He’d started to sober up a bit, but was still pleasantly buzzed. Kuna let out a small yelp, but couldn’t stop himself from grinning as he was pulled into their usual cuddle position. “For the dozenth time, you can just use words,” he playfully complained, blushing and trying not to focus on the attention they’d drawn from some of the lepne.

“Nah,” the canid replied with a grin. “Speaking of which though,” he added, then booped his friend’s nose. “Story time!”

Kuna groaned and folded his ears down again.

“Come on, it’s only fair after they’ve been so nice to us,” Lykou half-whispered in his ear. “Besides, I’m right here with you. I can even go grab my blanket if you want.”

“N-no, I don’t need to look even more like a baby, thanks,” the sereva retorted with a slight eye-roll.

“Aww!” Clara cooed at the two along with one or two other lepne, then covered her mouth and giggled as Raghnaid nudged her. “Sorry, sorry! Please, dae goan then, Kuna.”

“Aye, we’re itchin’ tae hear yer story, lad!” Gavin agreed.

“Tell ye whit, goan git started, ah’ll fetch ye some liquid courage, aye?” Clara offered.

Kuna wasn’t sure it was a good idea, but at that point, he’d be up for anything to help ease his nerves. Finally, he sighed and settled back into the konuul’s arms. “F-fine,” he said, then looked around a bit, blushing from increasing attention. “I… guess I should s-start at the beginning.”

“Aye, tis how it usually works,” one of the other lepne responded with a chuckle, earning a light slap from Effie.

“Well… L-Lykou and I actually didn’t e-even know each other w-when we first m-met. I’ll skip how w-we got into the situation,” he said, shooting a look back towards the konuul behind him before continuing. “But basically we... got caught in a weird f-freaky storm and took shelter in the s-same cave. We ended up s-spending the n-night there and woke up… in some weird place f-far away. Turns out the s-storm was a magical one.”

“Oy, soonds lik’ powerful magic!” one lepne replied.

“Must’a bin a spirit!” another added.

“We’re… still a little unclear on that,” Kuna said, his eye twitching.

“Oh I’m pretty sure she was a hounaka,” Lykou said, looking a bit nonplussed at the thought.

“Er, trickster spirit,” the sereva explained, upon seeing the confused expressions on some of the lapines. “And we r-really don’t know, but anyway that’s s-skipping way ahead.”

“Certainly soonds lik’ a trickster thin’ tae dae,” Gavin said.

Kuna shrugged a bit. “Maybe. But anyway, w-we woke up in this strange forest that w-was different than we were used to. First couple of days were rough. We only h-had Lykou’s knife and the f-few things he had in his pack to survive w-with. S-so we spent the first day mostly just trying to f-find food for ourselves. Not exactly exciting.” He rubbed his arm a bit and looked away, clearly trying to dance around certain details. “Eventually Lykou made a n-needle I could use to make the bags we used to c-carry our food in, and l-later on a… mat-thing we could lay on s-so we wouldn’t have to sleep on the h-hard ground.”

“And your clothes, too! Not a good idea to wander a strange forest naked. You did a great job, too, considering what little there was to work with,” he complimented, then immediately realized his mistake and smiled sheepishly when he felt the sereva tense up. “Er, right, sorry Ku…”

“Ye wis naked??” one of the lepne asked. A few others snickered.

“Were ye oot bathin’ or somethin’ afore the storm?” another asked.

Kuna’s eye twitched as his blush returned more intensely than before. Luckily, Clara showed up at that moment with a cup full of ‘liquid courage’ and handed it to him with a sympathetic smile. The sereva quickly brought it to his mouth and gulped down more than half of it in one go before shooting a glare back at his friend. “Yeah. S’gowiththat.”

“Ah’ll… fetch ye a second, then,” she said, stepping away again for a moment.

“Th-thanks,” Kuna said and sighed. “A-anyway. After that we just s-sort of… picked a direction and started walking. We passed this h-huge gorge with these weird tortoise-looking things that h-had shiny colorful shells and breathed fire, of all things. There were a c-couple enormous ones down in the gorge f-fighting each other.”

“It was amazing!” Lykou chimed in. “They kept bashing each other and making these colorful sparks and blasting each other with fire!”

“Breathin’ fire?” one lepne asked incredulously. “Ye sure they wasnae spirits?”

“I… somehow didn’t even think of that,” the konuul said and looked down at the sereva in his lap.

Kuna shook his head. “I don’t think s-so. There w-were too many in one place, and I don’t think s-spirits usually fight like that. Plus, one s-started to bleed, remember?” he pointed out to the canid.

“Oh, right,” the canid responded. “Good point.”

“A-after that, this w-weird spiny thing… which apparently is c-called a ‘devilhorn’ or s-something? Attacked us- well, me- when we were distracted,” the sereva said, folding his ears down and looking away.

“Yeah, it charged up and flipped him over itself. It had a big horn on its ugly face and all these spines on its back. Poked all over poor Kuna’s back,” the canid said, frowning.

Kuna smirked up at him. “And then you saved our asses.”

Lykou grinned. “True.”

“Ach, details! Gie us th’ details!” one member of the audience insisted eagerly.

“You tell ‘em, it was… kind of a blur for me,” Kuna told the konuul.

“Well… I kind of danced around it a bit, until I was next to Kuna again. Then I took off one of its big pinchy claw-arms with my knife.”

“Jest a knife?!” Ealar asked incredulously.

“Oh he can be a s-scary good fighter, believe me,” Kuna said, rubbing the konuul’s arm.

The konuul blushed and smirked. “Yeah, but that only pissed it off, so I grabbed Kuna up and ran over to the edge of the cliff, then tricked it into charging us and running off the edge.”

“He grabbed a vine and s-swung us out over the edge to do it, too,” the sereva added with a grin, then reached up and tussled the canid’s hair. “This guy’s crazy in the best way sometimes.”

“Soonds lik’ it!” Gavin said with a chuckle.

“Quick thinkin’ lad!” another lepne chimed in. Several others echoed the sentiment.

Lykou grinned and squeezed the sereva gently.

“After that we s-set up camp for the night so h-he could patch me up. Luckily I wasn’t hurt too bad.”

“Physically, anyway.”

“Shh! ‘Kou!” Kuna quickly shushed his friend, his face flushing a bit.

“Right, sorrysorry!”

“Aye, pride hurts bad when et’s injured, dunnit?” Ealar commented with a sympathetic smile. “We all bin there.”

Kuna sighed and rolled his eyes up for a moment. “Yeah…” He paused to think, then took another sip of his somewhat bitter, but comforting drink. He could feel it starting to take effect after having gulped down so much so quickly to start with. “...and it wasn’t exactly healthy to begin with, I guess,” he finally admitted, then sighed. “When Lykou first found me, I… had a lot of, um...”

“Demons in your head,” Lykou interjected.

“...yeah, that,” Kuna replied. He smiled up at the konuul. “Let’s just say this fluffball saved me in more ways than one that day.”

There was a faint round of ‘aww’s from a few of the lepne, including from Clara, who’d just returned with a second cup. She set it on the floor next to him, then sat down nearby. Lykou smiled down at the sereva.

“Tis nae wonder yer sae claise, then,” Ealar noted with a smile.

“Yeah, he’s a good demon hunter,” Kuna replied, nuzzling back against the canid lightly. Lykou just smiled and squeezed him in return. “Anyway, after that we met these two strangers…”

He went on to describe their first awkward encounter with the shakonu, then the burned village and the ghosts. The latter fascinated the lepne, and Lykou chimed in a few times to talk up just how brave Kuna had been, and how it was the first time there was a hint that he could have magical abilities. The sereva grew a bit flustered but was happy to let the canid take over the story for a minute while he started on the second cup of… whatever it was. It didn’t taste nearly as good as the gourd juice, but it was quickly washing away his nerves.

“But yeah, anyway, after the echo guy-”

“Tareq,” Kuna chimed in.

“Right, we later found out his name was Tareq. After he faded away, we kept going until we found this really pretty camping spot behind a waterfall and ended up staying there a couple days so we could resupply again. Honestly I wish it was closer to home, because it’d be a great spot to visit again now and then.”

“Other than the creepy lizard thing,” the sereva said with a shiver.

“Hey, he just spooked us a little. I don’t think he was dangerous in the end.”

“A lizard ye say?” Gavin asked curiously. “Ah tak’ it t’wasnae wee one?”

Kuna shook his head. “Nope,” he said, then gestured with his arms. “About this big. And six legs. We were swimming in the water near the base of the falls and suddenly he came out of the depths and popped up next to us.”

Lykou snickered. “We both got out of the water so fast I think it took our shadows a minute to catch up. Luckily, the thing didn’t seem hostile in the end. It just crawled onto the other shore and started basking in the sun.”

“We don’t go near water that deep anymore, though.”

“Yeah, I guess it made us realize we weren’t being as careful as we should have,” the canid admitted with a sheepish smile. “Not much else to say about that place, I guess, but-”

“I mean, we found a salt cave, which was nice,” Kuna continued. “And you helped me with… you know.”

Lykou raised an eyebrow, mildly surprised, then smirked. “Oh now you’re not avoiding it, huh?”

Kuna shrugged. “Maybe it’s just this stuff,” he said, gesturing to the cup in his hand before taking another sip.

“Whit are ye talkin’ aboot?” Ealar asked.

“I’ve… had this bad, recurring nightmare I’ve dealt with for years,” Kuna answered with a frown. “And it woke me up the first night we were there. I won’t go into details, but it basically forced me to finally tell Lykou some… painful things about why I had those head-demons.”

“Aye?” Clara asked with a concerned expression. “Ye dinnae ‘av tae tell us if ye nae want ta, bit ah’m sure we’re aye curious.”

Kuna glanced around at the small crowd for a moment, then sighed as he looked down at his cup. “Like I said, I won’t go into the details, but…” he trailed off and took another big gulp from the cup. Then he took a deep breath before continuing. “I s-saw my parents get… killed… savagely… by a berserk monster, w-when I was still a kid.”

A flurry of gasps and soft consolations erupted from the audience. Effie hopped over and gave Kuna a brief hug, making him smile bashfully in response. “Ye poor dear...”

Lykou gently squeezed the sereva. “And to make matters worse, his worthless, cowardly tribe eventually just abandoned him when he got older.”

“Nae, really??” Gavin interjected in disbelief.

“Yeah, that too,” Kuna said after a moment, then took another moderate-sized sip of his drink, his eyes just starting to get a little glassy.

“How wid they dae such a thing?!” Finlay asked from the back, having paused his music.

Kuna shrugged. “They thought I was cursed. And to be f-”

“Hey! None of that,” Lykou interrrupted, squeezing him again.

The sereva smiled very faintly and leaned back into the cuddly canid. “I’m not excusing it, I’m just explaining their stupid logic, okay?” he said, then turned back to the lepne. “I was always real sick as a kid, I’ve always been on the weak side, and I think some of them blamed me for the… attack. Plus another one later on. And then there’s this,” he explained, waving a slightly unsteady hand over the bumps on his head. “My people are supposed to have antlers when we become adults, but mine never grew.”

“Es tha’ all?!” Ealar demanded. “Thas how they ken ye ‘ad a curse ‘n’ ditched ye?”

Kuna shrugged. “Pretty much, as far as I can tell anyway,” he said, cuddling into the konuul’s arms.

“Whit a buncha glaikit fookin’ feartie bastards!”

“My thoughts exactly,” Lykou said with a mild scowl.

“Hey, I’ve got much better company now at least,” Kuna said, rubbing the canid’s arm.

The canid’s expression shifted to a smile as he squeezed his friend again. “And a new home to go back to.”

The sereva smiled as well and took another big sip from the cup before continuing. “So yeah, I just kind of… told him everything after that nightmare and he helped me, well…”

“Realize they were dead wrong about you and that you’re worth something?” the konuul suggested with a smirk. “Although I keep having to remind you every so often.”

“Yer a real class lad, Lykou,” Bhaltair said and raised his cup to the canid, prompting a chorus of agreement from the other lepne.

Lykou blushed and smiled, resting his head on top of Kuna’s. “Thanks, I try,” he said, then playfully tickled Kuna’s side very briefly, making him squirm and giggle. “Not like I could let this guy suffer alone, anyway.”

“Alright, alright, enough with the sappy shit, let me get back to the story while this stuff is still workin’,” Kuna said with a flushed, bashful grin, holding up the cup before taking another big sip.

“Ah’m not complainin’,” Clara teased. “Lemme ken if ye need more.”

“At this rate, probably so, if that’s alright,” Kuna replied.

“Aye, nae problem. Jest be careful na tae overdo it. Ah’ll bring ye some water, tae.”

Kuna continued the story and ended up splitting the third cup with Lykou, as it started getting more tipsy. Together they told the lepne about their next run-in with the shakonu and Kuna’s worm-dodging adventure. Lykou then brought up Kuna’s first experience with being drunk, and playfully teased him about maybe having a repeat, much to the sereva’s chagrin.

“On that note, I think I should -hic- go easy on this stuff,” Kuna said, his hand already wavering ever so slightly as he set the cup back down. “Unless you want to take over the story.”

“Aww, it’s fun watching you get silly though.”

Kuna rolled his eyes and continued with the story, bringing up the attacks from the armored beast and the golzogs. Kuna described the galdra after several lepne mentioned not knowing what one was, and it was revealed that few of them ever saw any elemental spirits in the highlands.

“Aye, thas druna business, anyway,” one of them said. “Nae wonder et showed itself tae ye.”

“Och, thas right, ye do magic, right? When did ye start tha’?”

“I was just -hic- getting to that, actually,” Kuna said, then went on to describe his first encounter with ‘Mentor’, and his little ‘initiation’, much to everyone’s fascination, despite occasionally stumbling over his words. Lykou chimed in to describe their encounter with the giant, but Kuna made sure to describe the mudslide-ride in as much detail as he could, making the konuul blush a bit at some of the things his cuddle-buddy opted to focus on. Ultimately, when it was clear he was going off on a gushy, somewhat playful tangent about the konuul in general, Clara give him another cup of water to hush him, snickering in amusement. Lykou mouthed a silent thank you to her.

“A’right, ah think thae lad es pure blootered. The rest of th’ story kin wait fer noo,” she said, much to the audible dismay of several of the other lepne. Luckily, several others agreed with her and shushed their compatriots. She bent down and booped the sereva’s nose playfully. “Ye jest tak’ it easy, aye?”

Kuna giggled as the crowd gradually shifted away to chatting among themselves, though from the sound of it, their story featured in all the various conversations starting up. “W’s I really -hic- getting that bad?”

“A bit,” Lykou said behind him with a chuckle. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were trying to get back at me for making you the center of attention.”

“Mmmaaaybe,” the sereva teased, then reached for the cup that still had a bit of liquor left in it.

Lykou quickly scooped it up before he could reach it. “I think you’ve had enough silly-juice, goofball.”

“Nuh-uh!” Kuna protested, tugging at the canid’s arm playfully.

“If you have any more you might do things that’ll kill you of embarrassment tomorrow,” the canid warned with a smirk.

“S’future Kuna’s -hic- problem. Gimme!”

“Mmmno. Trust me, you’ll thank me tomorrow,” Lykou said, then, after a moment’s thought, downed the rest of it himself. “There, all gone anyway.”

“Aww,” Kuna complained, then slumped back against the konuul and pouted. He looked around for a moment, then blushed and tilted his head back to look up at the konuul. “Hey. Thanks for -hic- everything as usual, ‘Kou. S-sorry if I made you -hic- feel awkward at the end,” he said with a sheepish grin.

“You’re fine,” Lykou replied, then chuckled and squeezed him gently.

Kuna thought for a moment then unsteadily started to sit up. “Lets go lay down, I’m -hic- tired.”

“Mm? Sure, that sounds good.”

The two bid everyone goodnight, then slipped off to the storage area they’d been sleeping in.


The somewhat cooler night air coming through the upper gaps in the wall helped the two sober up, but only slightly. They quickly cuddled up under the blanket together, but right away Kuna propped his head up and poked the konuul lightly in the side. “Seriously though, I didn’t -hic- make you uncomfortable, right?”

“I told you, you’re fine,” Lykou said, rubbing the sereva’s head softly. “ much as you tried to get a rise out of me with all that flattery back there,” he added with a blushing grin.

“S’not… ah, nevermind. Thanks -hic- for helpin’ me tell th’ story though,” Kuna said, then sighed and slumped over, laying his head on the konuul’s chest. “These lepne are n-nice -hic- people. I know I need to work on not being so -hic- shy.”

Lykou gently rubbed the sereva’s back. “Hey, you’re making good progress.”

“Yeah, s’long as I got some giggle-water,” Kuna pointed out with a smirk.

The canid snickered. “Well, yeah, I guess that always helps. But even still, you’re getting better. And hey, there’s nothing wrong with still being a bit shy in the end anyway,” he assured the sereva. “How did things go with that… druna-lady, anyway?”

“Oh yeah, Moyra,” Kuna said, perking up a little. “Really -hic- well, honestly. She’s actually super friendly and laid back wh’n she’s not, uh… ‘keeping up appearances’. I gather -hic- druna have to keep a certain reputation around here.”

“Heh, yeah, I noticed how the chief acted around her. So, is she really…?”

Kuna snickered. “Like she told me, ‘The chief is in charge… because -hic- the druna says so’.”

Lykou chuckled. “Sounds about right. So what did you two talk about?”

“A buncha stuff. She -hic- actually taught me somethin’ Ink didn’t, and I managed to help her start learning -hic- sta-… err, soul magic, too.”

“Oh really? That’s great!” Lykou said, rubbing the sereva’s head softly. “What’d she teach you?”

“How to make plants -hic- move around, n’stead of just grow n’ change in differen’ directions. Uses -hic- less energy,” he explained. “I’d show you, b’there’s no plants in here. Plus I prolly couldn’t anyway, ‘m too -hic-… that,” he added with a giggle.

“At least you’re not as wasted as last time,” Lykou pointed out with a smirk.

“Yeah, thanks for -hic- keeping me from overdoing it. Even if I really wanted to for a minute there,” the sereva said, poking his tongue out playfully.

“Believe me, it was tempting to watch you get adorably silly again. But I didn’t want you to be utterly miserable tomorrow,” the konuul said, snickering. “So did you two talk about anything else?”

“Sure, plenty. Told her a bit of -hic- our story, too,” he said, then sighed. “Including some of… you know. She kind of picked up -hic- on it early on, to be fair. Apparently she’s pretty good at figuring people out.”

“Really? Guess you’re getting more used to spilling things, hmm?” the canid said, giving him a gentle squeeze. “Proud of you.”

Kuna shrugged. “She w’s pretty comforting about it. And -hic- as for the crowd tonight… drink helped. I’ll prolly -hic- feel awkward about it tomorrow.”

“Maybe, but you don’t have to. Not like anyone’s going to hold it against you.”

“Not everyone needs to -hic- know my whole sob story.”

“True, but you don’t have to keep it hidden either. It shows what you’ve overcome. And hey, at least you can talk about it now without-”

“Drink, remember? Would’ve been -hic- harder normally,” Kuna pointed out, then sighed. “Thank goodness Moyra was so sweet -hic- and patient about it.”

“Well, still. You’re improving,” Lykou reiterated, hugging him.

“I guess,” the sereva replied, smiling up at the konuul. Then he yawned and nuzzled into the canid’s fur. “Mmm, lets do that whole -hic- sleep thing for real now, though.”

Lykou chuckled. “Sounds good. G’night Kuna.”

“Nini, ‘Kou,” the sereva replied contently before quickly dozing off in his friend’s arms.


Late that night, a figure slipped out of the travel lodge. He darted between buildings silently, keeping an eye out for the guards on the night watch patrolling the village. Once he reached a crack in the outside wall, he waited for a short while. Soon, he was joined by a second individual. One of them peeked through and waited for the nearest guard to turn and begin patrolling the other way, then they both slipped through the nearby farm’s fields. Once they passed the end of the fields surrounding the village and began entering open countryside, they dipped down around a particularly large hill and waited in a dug-out hollow in its base, facing away from the nearest road. Soon, several other individuals approached, with a few of them holding small, crude lanterns putting off just enough light to confirm each individuals’ identity to the others.

“Dougal, Caelan, whit’s th’ word?”

“Ah bought us an extra day, bit ah dinnae think they’ll hauld oof enny lainger,” Dougal replied. “Ah hawp thas lang enough.”

“Should be plenny tae mak’ sure everyin’s in place,” the first shadowy figure said, then turned to the second figure. “’n’ the guard?”

“Ah’ll keep Rhag n’ Lachlan hoachin’. Jock ‘n’ Barabel wull hae a distraction t’lead th’ others astray south efter the caravan es goan. By time they gi’ back, it’ll be tae late.”

“Ye git whit ye need fra Tannil?” another asked the first.

“Aye. ‘nuff tatty banners n’ broken shite tae mak’ it convincin’. Even some guard claithes tae wear.”

“Not tha’ wi’ll leave witnesses, aye?”

“S’jest an extra precaution.”

“Whit aboot th’ outsiders? Th’ plan didnae involve them,” Caelan chimed in.

“One or twa extra bodies wull be nae problem. Wi’ll still outnumber ‘em.”

“Aye, bit one’s a druna.”

“’es freish, tho, fram whit ah unnerstan,” Dougal commented. “Wouldnae unnerestimate thais twa, tho. They bin through a lot, at least if thir stories are half true.”

“Ye’ll just ‘av tae keep ‘em separate, then. As fer th’ druna,” the first shadowy figure said, then smirked in the dim light. “Ah’m sure Kerr kin handle him.”

The group scattered after a few other matters were discussed, agreeing to meet one more time the next night. As Dougal and Caelan made their way back towards Kerney, however, they weren’t alone. Another, even stealthier individual slipped away from the shadows near the top of the hill the group had been meeting under. After Dougal and his accomplice were through the wall, they whispered something to one another, then went their separate directions. The secret third individual slipped through shortly afterward, then made their way across the village, ending up at Moyra’s house. They slipped around back, lifted a thick patch of moss hanging like a mat over the back fence, then slipped through a hidden gap behind it.

The druna was standing in the garden, waiting for them, and sighed with mild relief when Faergus joined her in the moonlight. “Weel? Wis ah right?”

“As usual, aye. Tis nae simple banditry noo. Thir upty somethin’ big. Ah ken they’re plannin’ tae ambush the caravan, ‘n’ tryin’ ta pin et oan Tannil. Ta make matters worse, they hae eyes in’ the guard.”

“Damn. Cannae go tae them, then. The rest wull scatter afore they kin be caught,” she said, then rubbed her chin thoughtfully. She then bent down and sketched a symbol in the dirt, before concentrating in silence for a few minutes, holding her hand over it. Eventually, she manifested the pale blue glow and tried to push energy into the symbol.

“Och! When did ye learn that??”

“Kuna taught meh jest todae. Bin practicin’ sin’ he left,” she replied. She smiled up at him briefly before returning her focus to the symbol. But after a few minutes, she sighed and dismissed the magic.

“Whis tha?” Faergus asked curiously, pointing to the drawing.

“Ah wis tryin’ somethin’ Kuna showed me. Lets me find th’ way tae things. Unfortunately, ah s’pose ah need some kind o’ connection to whit ah’m tryin’ tae find.”

“Aye? Whit wis ye tryin’ to fin’?”

“Th’ bandit camp. Fer a conspiracy lik thae, they must hae one out in th’ hills somewheres.”

“Ah kin follow ‘em next time, find thir camp. They wis gonnae meet agin tomorrae.”

“Tis too dangerous by yersel’,” Moyra said, standing again and placing a hand on the other lepne’s shoulder. “Dinnae dae anythin’ rash, Faergus.”

“Ha! Ye ken ah’m a sleekit bastard. They’ll ne’er ken ah wis there.”

“Still, ye shouldnae go alone, jest in case.”

“Yer worryin’ too m-”

“Please, Faergus,” Moyra insisted, concern painting her face. “Bad enough ye insist on stayin’ on the watch, ah’m already worried ah’ll lose ye one day.”

Faergus sighed and embraced her. “Ah ken. Mibbie if we kin stop thae bastards, it’ll turn more folk away frae tha’ banditry shite altogether.”

The druna returned the hug and rubbed his back. “Aye, but ye dinnae need tae jump at it heid-first. We need tae think o’ a better wey.”

“...whit if ah get hulp? Someone tae watch mah back?”

“Guard’s oot. They ‘av moles, aye? ‘n’ ah wilnae hae ye tak’ someone tha’ cannae fight.”

“Ye ken who ah’m talkin’ aboot.”

Moyra sighed. “Aye, ah ken. Bit ah hate tae drag ‘em intae our problems, especially efter how many they already had o’ thir own. They’re such nice lads.”

“Aye, bit thas how we should ask ‘em. Them mawkit bandits wilnae ken what tae expect from ‘em. Ah ‘av a guid feelin’ about ‘em, ‘n’ if ah kin feel it, then ah ken ye definitely dae.”

The druna smirked. “Aye. A’right, if we kin get them to hulp ye oot, ah s’pose that’ll ease mah worries a smidge. Ah’ll talk tae Kuna tomorrae. If they agree, ah’ll ‘av ‘em meet ye ‘ere. Unnerstan’ they kin say nae, though.”

“’course,” Faergus replied, then smirked. “Bit ye tell me. Wull they?”

“Unless ah’v lost mah edge fer kennin’ folk, nae,” Moyra admitted, grinning back. “Lik’ ye said, they’re decent lads.”

Mystic Heart Odyssey - Chapter 32


Here's chapter 32! I decided to dial down the accent slightly. Totally not because the tool I was using to help translate things into that accent in the previous chapter randomly started working, ahaha. Anyway, yeah, a bit more relaxation for the boys before we start getting into some action again. Hope you've enjoyed this pleasant reprieve from their recent troubles as much as they have!

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Literary / Story