Day 65

Gabbie watched in awe at the creatures just a shade smaller than a horse. Theirs bodies resembled the rough fur of a deer fawn. There were white speckles on their rumps amidst the coarse gray fur that covered their cloven hooves. From the neck up, the deerne’s faces were some odd mutation of an equestrian bird. Gabbie could point out the deerne’s beak and their marble black eyes. They seemed like that wanted to be both deer and bird, and settle for a compromise. They were elegant creatures and moved like the crashing of icy cold waves. And they didn’t stink like barnyard animals. Gabbie smelled a quick whiff of vanilla emanating from the creatures.

“Sure as I can be. These are deerne.” Silverskin jogged over to one deerne that grazed apart from the others. This deerne’s fur was lighter, boarding on cream. “We’re going to ride Opale here down to the lake.” Silverskin held out his hand and the deerne named Opale sniffed his palm, hoping for treats. Opale let out a disappointed grunt when it couldn’t locate something to snack on. “Oh!” The elf boy dug around in his pants pocket. He pulled out a handful of something leafy and blue with tiny red seeds attached at the top of each stalk. Opale let out a pleased grunt and gulped down the offered snack. The deerne’s long, droopy donkey ears shuddered from the pleasure of eating something delicious.

“You know, it’s not like I don’t like deerne. I think they’re very cute, noble creatures,” Gabbie said as walked up to Silverskin and Opale. “But, why do we need Opale to get down to the lake? Can’t you fly us?”

“I’m not that strong yet. Carrying us along a straight hallway is easy. Gently setting us down is completely different.” Silverskin turned around and pulled up his shirt to reveal his shimmery silver back. There was an old, ragged scar that covered the entirety of his lower back. The scar looked like the spindly legs of a spider. “I found out the hard way. Don’t try to manipulate the air until I’m strong enough.”

“Ouch. That must have hurt.”

“Not as much a my mother telling me I was forbade to leave Rockestel within an escort until I was old enough to make more mature decisions.” Silverskin’s usual squeak went into a higher pitch to mimic his mother’s demands.

“Now that’s what I call being grounded,” Gabbie said.

“Okay, hop on. Opale here, she will take good care of us.” The elf boy covered his back up and helped Gabbie onto the deerne’s back. Gabbie then pulled Silverskin on so that he sat in front of her.

Opale rolled her shoulders and began to trot over to the pen’s exit. Silverskin made a motion with his hand once they left the other deerne behind, and closed the pen’s door with his air magic. Opale cantered around a corner and to an opening along a wall. The opening revealed the outside of the mountain—the lake before them and two forests on either side of them.

“This is how the patrols get down without using up their magic too quick. I’ve done this a few times with my mom.”

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