3.06 Meet Grimerald!

As the last dirge was sung the small folk of the town of Polemus begun to
inter their dead in a small graveyard plot. Chief among them a small urn of
dust nearly obscured by the mass of dried flowers adorning which held the
only remains of the noble Cleric Imdalace. The ceremony was bittersweet, at
great cost the village was saved and the urges to celebrate and mourn were
companions on this day.

The job had been exhilarating, and for some time after their return to the
town, Star had felt an unexpected energy charging through her. This new
day, however, she felt keenly the effects of the exhaustion that the
previous day’s efforts had forced upon her, and she felt a sense of reverent
quiet within her in place of yesterday’s adrenaline-charged excitement.
Star hopped astride Bitey to leave the ceremony, intending to find someplace
to have a quiet meal.

Approaching Star through the crowd was a gnome, burly for a member of his
race with broad shoulders and large ears. He stopped before her and cocked
his head to the side considering her quietly. At length the stranger turned
to address Bitey. “Your mistress has been quite a hero hasn’t she.” Bitey
made a low contented growl as he often does when pleased.

Star turned to offer the gnome a tired half-smile, patting her badger’s
head. “Bitey, are ye tellin’ tales aboot me agin?” she teased. “Well,
mister, Bitey deserves ’is own thanks. ’E’s got a fierce spirit an’ a
wicked pair o’ claws that come in handy now an’ agin.”

"Name's Sarflint Megonigle" began the gnome, "You've done very well young
mistress Silverglint"

She was now cheered enough to bestow a full smile upon the gentleman, more
than anything pleased to be welcomed as a Silverglint instead of rejected as
a 'Nugger'. "Glad to be doin' somethin' useful, Mr. Megonigle. And ye'd be
as welcome as anyone to call me Star."

"Short names are for uninteresting people" he replied a little rudely, "Had
your parents been proper gnomes you've have known that, don't treat me like
one of your human friends, I know the meaning of a good name" he smiled
broadly at that.

Star frowned at first, but then couldn't help chuckling. "I 'aven't 'ad the
best o' luck when it comes to me names lately, but if ye'd so much prefer
it, it's Setarrevarremeryennel to ye."

"Yes, that's better, And Bitey, what names does he have?"

"Ah, Bitey… he 'asn't the most proper o' gnomish upbringings, I'm afraid.
It's just plain old Bitey… Beastie, if 'e's bad."

Sarflint seemed disappointed, "The badgers I raise get a name every time
they do something worthy of it, or at least one a year, A badger that
doesn't leave the world with ten names is an unfortunate creature indeed."

Star raised her eyebrows. "Get a little ways out into the world, Mr.
Megonigle, and ye'll find that so many folk don't ’ave the time for ten
names… sad as it is," she added, to humour him.

"Well even names that don't make it to the lips often in the wide world are
better than no names" he retorted.

"You raise badgers!" she blurted out suddenly, having been a little too
tired to recognize what he had said earlier. "I 'eard aboot you. I'd be
most interested to see your badgers, if I may." At least it might get me
out of a pointless argument about names, she added inwardly.

Sarflint issued a short whistle and a new dire badger emerged from the
ground right beside Star, causing Bitey to yelp and back away. The beast was
exceptional; he was two gnome hands higher than Bitey at the shoulder,
rippling with musculature that even his rich coat couldn’t conceal. The
badger stopped firmly planted in a ready stance before his master. “There’s
someone I’d like you to meet,” said Sarflint. “Please say Hello to Grimerald
the Second Maxamillion Wormseeker"

"'Ello," said Star, a little dazed, slipping down from Bitey to approach the
creature. "Oy, what a beast! Makes me Bitey look like a chipmunk."

"He's young, and strong, likely one of the best bred in these parts for
fifty years, That's four names for a two year old badger please note, he's
really something. Bitey on the other hand…"

"Bitey's a fine companion," Star said, a little sadly, "but not particularly
the strongest of 'is breed, and probably not as well trained as 'e should be
for what I've been puttin' 'im through. 'E was all I 'ad when I left 'ome."

“I’ve no offense for your burrowers breeding," replied Sarflint, ”he was
likely a fine specimen in his day, but I’m sorry to say, as he looks to be
nine or ten winters Bitey isn’t likely to earn many new names now he’s the
badger equivalent of a gnomish two hundred and twenty two” explained
Sarflint, “He’s an old digger and continuing to bring him to battle will
soon be far more cruel than usual.”

"I've been a little worried about that meself," Star admitted. "Bitey's
been lucky so far. You're right… it might well be outright cruel of me to
keep on draggin' 'im all over creation." She nuzzled her cheek against the
fuzzy neck fur of her old friend.

"You've need of a much better mount to carry you into battle, and Bitey has
need of a warm safe home for his final years. I happen to have both."

Star looked up with curious eyes. "You mean…. you'd trade?"

Sarflint looked more than a little offended, "No more than I'd TRADE one of
my sons who you saved, I simply think it best that Grimerald goes with you
and that Bitey stays here, perhaps we should ask them what they think."

She smiled. "I'm with you on that one. I'd scarcely trade away me closest
friend like 'e were a sword at me belt."

Sarflint smiled but waited expectantly.

Star turned to face her badger, nuzzling her forehead against Bitey’s. It
was time to take advantage of her limited window of daily communication with
her companion. “Bitey, I ’ave something serious to discuss with you.”

*I am listening, burrow-mate.*

“Bitey… ’ow do you feel after all our travels?”


“Do you think it might be best for you to settle down somewhere—like ’ere?
It is awfully dangerous out there. I know we’ve been close for a long time,

*Burrow-mates are not forever. Your companionship is something familiar,
but your travels wear on me. I expect I will know your company in later

Star nodded, knowing he understood. She kissed his nose and turned to the
intimidating figure of Grimerald. “Well, my fine young badger. ’Ave you
any aspirations of leaving this place and experiencing some of the
adventures the world out there ’as to offer?”

*This burrow has been warm for me, but my heart is in the wilderness* the
badger replied staring directly into Star's eyes

Star smiled. "I'll show you wilderness indeed… and plenty of nasty
characters to sink your teeth into."

*And tasty worms?*

Star giggled. "Tasty worms—of course! Will you travel with me? Fight
with me?"

Grimerald jumped mightily and barreling Star over, much to Bitey's dismay,
flattened her against the ground, *I'll fight along side you, you wouldn't
want me to fight with you.* as the spell faded he licked her face by means
of an apology.

Star laughed heartily and ruffled the beast's fur affectionately. "My
Grimerald," she concluded.

"He seems to agree" concluded Sarflint, "It's settled then, you must return
from time to time, I'd still like to breed Grimerald very much and can
probably dig up some worthy mates."

"All right, I'll make sure 'e gets back once in a while to 'ave a bit of a
romp," Star replied with a wink. "Thank ye, Mr. Megonigle. Now if ye
wouldn't mind, I'll stick with Bitey until we leave town. I'll miss the ol'
beastie somethin' fierce."

"Yes, I know the feeling"

"So we'll say our goodbyes, and meet again soon?"

"Indeed, Come to my burrows before you leave town and our badgers will trade

Star smiled. "Aye, it's settled. Thanks again. Good day to ye."

She set out to find someplace to spend the rest of the day peacefully with
old Bitey, her constant companion since the day she had left her home. It
wasn’t going to be an easy goodbye, but both knew it was for the best. Star
was grateful, at least, that Bitey was agreeable and understanding about the
whole matter, for being at the wrong end of a dire badger’s temper tantrum
was not a pleasant prospect.


Star & Bitey by Mandy

Sarflint & Grimerald by Tim

Categories: Posts, Posts by Star, Storyline

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