Ermun sleepily clung to his branch, patiently watching the Guardians attempt to figure out what they were looking at. Voices barely audible, he was unsure if their guesses were even close in accuracy. Small streaks of blue were projected from each of the Guardians; none of them decipherable.
Must be them… Ermun thought. He was surprisingly impressed with the Designer’s work; nothing Ohmlur had turned out from his table showed these kinds of results. Ermun had heard tales of animals from different regions of the world achieving similar traits, but nothing of this land walked or moved quite like this generation of Guardians. Ermun beamed at the uniqueness. It was these examples of specimens that reinforced why he had remained faithful to Ohmlur, and inspired him to stay at his side through these difficult stints of time.
“No, that’s not going to work,” he said mockingly after the bison presented Ohmlur’s arm to the hot spring.
The other three waited, anticipating a reaction from the appendage. The ram seemed to be frustrated with the lack of action, and yelled at the arm presented to the spring. Stronger bolts of blue lightning were projected from his face with force.
The only interesting part of trailing a group of Guardians was witnessing what they chose to be ‘a unique place of power that represented the land’. Many generations had chosen fields and forests; those were the obvious ones, and generally worked just fine in quenching the appendage’s thirst for power. Ermun was impressed that this group, however, had chosen some of the more obscure locations, such as the hot spring. Ermun was curious as to why the arm did not draw power from the unique spot as well, and wondered if it had something to do with his family interfering…
Ohmlur had to rotate the appendages throughout generations. Most parties only lasted one trip or less, after all… Should he always start with his land-based appendage, it would become much more powerful than the other three that shriveled away at home, unattended to.
Ermun had known reclamation to be the most difficult. Every group assigned to it had struggled greatly with satisfying the flaming appendage. Not because there was a lack of destruction within in the region, but the physical feats required for harvesting the element were usually fatal. The Designer had only been successful with one species that was not only resistant to, but able to harness the act of reclamation. However, the creature had quickly become impossible to control. Due to the wild nature and unpredictable shifts in mood of the creation, Ohmlur concluded that the element of reclamation was best left separated from his fauna projects.
The Guardians were moving. They were headed towards a river – nearly out of Ermun’s sight. He cursed silently to himself at the thought of following them on foot. The wind was low currently; unable to sustain his weight for extended distances.
Moments before he dropped himself to the ground below, a gust rushed over the peak of the ridgeline from which he monitored the group. Just in time, he thought, then released his grip. His long, thin extremities flailed lightly in the breeze as he was rushed to the base of the cliff.
Nestled behind a sage brush large enough to conceal the sloth, Ermun watched the Guardians rehydrate themselves. Something in the distance had caught the attention of the bison. A herd of his species from a previous life, in fact.
A sensation pressed on Ermun’s shoulder, like a beast resting its chin. He whipped around to find nothing. Then the pressure again. This time on his opposite shoulder, like someone was attempting to gain his attention in a noisy atmosphere. It was more of a press, though, than a gentle tap. As a wave of exhaustion passed over him, his eyelids grew too heavy to keep open. I can’t sleep now! The sun has barely set, and the group could move again. It hasn’t even been long since I last slept… The thoughts trickled slowly though his mind before drifting off into a deep slumber between fragrant sage brush.
The world around him shifted. Surrounding trees and plants slowly melted away as if suddenly shrouded in bright fog. The very brush he had used to conceal himself disintegrated, leaving him exposed. Should the Guardians turn around, it would be obvious he was laying there, watching them. Other species of fauna – many that had been extinct for millennia – replaced the silhouettes of the Guardians. Ermun groaned loudly, realizing he was shifting into the Coppice yet again.
“Do you know him?” a feminine voice just over Ermun’s shoulder asked desperately.
Ermun tumbled to his left side out of fright. He hadn’t heard anyone approaching. How was it so easy for someone to sneak up on him? His physical body remained lying right beside him, where he had fallen asleep.
“No wait! I can’t hurt you. I need your help…” The silhouette of a bison stood before him, hanging her heavy head. Her horns stood rigidly vertical, with a slight outwards curve at the top. “Do you know the young bison, near the river?”
Ermun turned to ensure the group was still by the river, finding they were no longer visible. The river they had drank from was no longer animated. An empty chasm cut through the land, standing as still as the valley surrounding it.
Ermun turned back to the bison. “Who? How do you know?” he asked, dumbfounded. Her brown eyes were wide with sorrow. Ermun imagined there would be a tear falling from them, should they be able to produce any.
“I can sense him. He’s here, isn’t he? You saw him – in the physical world. I haven’t felt his presence in a very, very long time,” the bison said slowly.