Ulfsild’s Log: The Indrik

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The first time I saw an indrik was not the first time I’d seen an indrik, but I didn’t know it at the time. The chance encounter from my childhood had faded like ink in water until a single moment with Shalidor, pointing out a mother and fawn atop a cliff at sunrise in Auridon. I had, in fact, seen this sort of creature before, and the memory came back with such clarity as if it was scrawled anew from a fresh well of ink.

When I was small, my clan-parents would send me to toddle off and collect scraps of mammoth wool where it had fallen or caught on brambles. They used it to spin a rough sort of yarn, the smell of which I’ll never miss and never forget. I didn’t mind the work, but I liked the excuse to wander on my own, far from wherever we took up residence and called home.

One day in late spring, I found a herd of mammoths gathered by the river, which ran cold from snowmelt in the valley. They drank deep of its waters, shedding tufts of their undercoat in the warm sunshine. This was my chance to bring home a bounty of wool for spinning, I thought. I crept through the tall grass until I was in arm’s reach of a mammoth’s hindquarters, then pulled fistfuls of wool from their tree-like legs, squirreling it away in my satchel like a nesting bird. It was all going perfectly, until a calf spotted me and gave a trumpeting squeak of surprise. I tried to run as the herd began to thunder, working to trample the little interloper among their herd. But I was powerless to escape.

The ground shook beneath my feet and I fell forward. Instead of hitting the dirt, my face went deep into pelt or plumage, I couldn’t tell which. Thinking at first it was a trunk, I squeezed my eyes shut and held fast, hoping to be lifted or flung to safety. But as we bumped along, I realized I was on the back of something that galloped. We were on one side of the river, and in a blink and a flash of magic, we were on the other. As the creature—my savior—slowed to a canter, I shakily made to slip off its back.

I only caught a glimpse of its four-legged figure as it gave a strange bark and disappeared. An antlered thing like an elk, but feathered like a bird. I ran back to my clan and told them the tale, but they just laughed at me. Silly little Ulfsild fell asleep in the woods again and had such a fanciful dream, they said. As I’d lost most of the wool from my satchel, they didn’t even look twice at the fledgling feather I held curled in my hand.

But I kept it thereafter. It was made of the same currents I saw in the world, wefts of magic ever-flowing as a river, ever-changing as the clouds. I would come to wear the feather in my cap, but I would forget all about the strange antlered thing until that moment with Shalidor.

I insisted we return to Sunhold, to the old scroll shop where I’d found a faded children’s fable about an indrik and a hunter. Like the twists of magic I could see in the world, somehow I knew there was more to it than others could discern. Directions left in plain sight. I wandered on my own again as I did when I was a girl. I puzzled out the locations and found the wards. It couldn’t be a coincidence, these fingerprints left in the world for me to follow.

I knew I was an impressive mage in my own right. Word of my deeds had spread and caught the attention of Shalidor, of all people. It was one thing to walk proud in my own domain, but at the side of someone almost a millennium my senior, I felt eager to prove my worth. Not to Shalidor—he never made me feel like anything less than his equal. I would never give him such power over me. But I wanted to prove it to myself.

When I broke the wards and trespassed into the indrik’s domain, I was no longer the scared little girl about to be flattened by a herd of mammoths. But the indrik recognized me all the same.

Now, Shalidor and I had made a pact never to bargain with otherworldly beings. I confess to these pages that I broke that pact when I met the Indrik. I took my cues from the fable, you see. When he asked to see a display of my power, I showed him the feather I had kept from our meeting all those years before. I offered that if he could retrieve it from me, I would give it back to him and leave his domain in peace. But if I could manage to keep it from him, he had to share his power and knowledge with me.

But you know how this tale ends. If you’re reading this, you stand in the Scholarium. As I write this, the indrik’s feather still stands proud in my hat. I proved my worth to myself and to the indrik without even needing to remove my cap.

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