The Fallen Companion
"The once stalwart defender and companion of the Lord’s Voice, Flora Desmond.
Felled before his 12th winter by the fateful bolt of a spriggan commander.
May his spirit be commended unto Erastil’s domain.”
His body still possessed fleeting warmth as Flora gently caressed Tenderfoot’s face. He had stood as a monument to primal fury, tough as a mountain and as powerful as the sea. His face had been as enigmatic as the weather, one moment as placid as a pool, and the next a portrait of rage filled with barred teeth and roars of challenge. Yet these qualities were not the one she would miss, it was the understanding she found within his deep blue eyes. He saw more than the animals around him, possessing an ability to understand what was happening around him, but still clinging to his animal instincts. It was this juxtaposition of primal and civil that Flora had found so wonderful about her friend. Few creatures had better exemplified all that Erastil had valued like Tenderfoot, and now he laid dead beside her on the cold ground of Varnhold. The thought brought tears to her eyes again, falling on her cheeks and then on to Tenderfoot’s.
He had given much to protect her, and she knew that she did not deserve it. The guilt of his passing swelled within her, and brought another salvo of tears to her eyes. Had she not yelled out at the fort, maybe the spriggans would not have been prepared and fate may have taken a different course. The though of the spriggans brought a vile taste to her mouth as she spit. Her hand had not been the one to kill the commander who had gleefully killed her beloved Tenderfoot, yet she had vented her anger upon his shrunken body, savagely beat his corpse into a bloody, ruined pool of carnage. She had broken her father’s mace in the process, which had made her feel even guiltier as her rage-filled cries turned to sobs.
As she returned from her reverie, she found herself nestled against Tenderfoot’s body between his chest and right arm, a pool of tears lay in his fur that was still matted with mud and blood. Getting to her feet, she dried her eyes and began to clean his body. Washed clean his body from the cuts and wounds he had suffered. The bolt in his chest was left for last, her hand quavered as it drew near to the bolt. Steeling her resolve, she grasped the bolt and pulled it from his chest. She regarded the bolt with a morbid curiosity, such a small thing that had caused her so much pain and anguish. I have half a mind to break it for all the pain it has caused me she thought to herself, but perhaps I shall make better use of it.
Once she had finished cleaning his body, she carefully brushed his fur and spoke the words of repose, slowing the march of time and decay until she could inter him in a place more fitting. The ruined temple of Erastil in the forest would later hold his remains. It was there that she had first found him, and where Erastil had given him the blessings of power and wisdom. It seemed fitting that he should be buried there amongst the natural beauty and protection of the Archer. As she finished her rite she looked once more at his eyes, frozenly looking into the cold grey sky above, absent of light that life had given them. Walking slowly, she reached out a hand and gently closed his eyes for the final time. Filled with regret she mournfully reprised the final line of the song that had gripped her as he had fallen,“What once was mine…”