A/N: I am going to leave the previous chapter up, but here's the first REAL chapter in Noctis' Complexus. Please read and enjoy!
Many bridges spanned the canal, but only one bore the entrance to Heartstone Trollmarket. Enclad in armor and sword at the ready, Kanjigar emerged, ready to head off any goblins that dared show their faces.
The vile creatures had been seen gathering and shouting on a neighboring bridge, before vanishing as sunrise approached. And there they were, swarming the bridge and fighting some creature caught up in the support beams.
Charging up the side of the canal, Kanjigar leapt upon the bridge, and immediately set to work. Amid the sulfuric, rubbery smell of goblin was the distinct scent of copper and iron, hot and fresh. As well as bird-scent, a raptor if he was not incorrect, mixed with just a hint of human-scent, but wilder than any that resided within Arcadia.
The goblins retreated before him, cursing and growling. Whatever being they'd beset suddenly lashed out as well, swinging blades that sang and gleamed in the scant moonlight, extra limbs swatting and thrashing and clubbing. Kanjigar worked with them, cutting the goblins to goo and watching one another's back. It felt unnatural, to work alongside a partner, but they were much more nimble than he, capable of jumping great heights and quick to assist, so he did not mind it entirely. Before too long, the remaining few goblins took off in search of reinforcements, retreating; for now.
This gave Kanjigar the opportunity to look his unexpected ally up and down. And what he saw rather astonished him.
A tall, lean woman with softly glowing eyes of gold, like twin harvest moons, much larger than any humans eyes. Her skin was the color of hot chocolate, hair dark brown-black and coming out of her carefully made braid down the nape of her neck. Soft brown feathers grew over the tops of her shoulders, down her back, where two large wings spread from her sides, posed to take flight at any moment; the feathers trailed further down her spine to the long, elegant tail feathers that spread out like a skirt and a fan, soft brown to a rich earthy color, speckled with black, white, and gray..
Short, thin blades rested comfortably in her hands, and more were fastened with soft leather straps to her wings, the woman was clad in only a loincloth and chest binding. Her gaze was cool and calculating, but undeniably relieved after her gaze locked for a single moment upon the amulet. Sheathing the swords within sheathes tied to her forearms, she bowed from the waist, arms and wings outspread to show her respect and gratitude.
"Trollhunter, I thank you deeply for rescuing me."
"Rise, fair warrior. Can you, pray tell, why the goblins were so focused upon you that you lingered at this bridge for two nights now?"
Kanjigar replies, sheathing Daylight on his back for now. She rose as he bid her, and retreated back into the shadows of the bridge, returning with a small grass-woven basket. The soft scent of young whelps met his nose, two distinct scents, and he suddenly understand.
"They would dare attack your children? Where is your flock, or mate?"
" . . .my flock is forsaken me. My mate . . . was human."
"Ah." is all he manages to say shocked a bit of an understatement. Pulling himself back together he gestured for her to follow him. "Come, before the goblins return with reinforcements."
"No. Please, leave me to lead them away. I've killed many of them, and they've blooded me. Please, take my owlets, and protect them in Trollmarket."
"You would abandon your children so quickly?" Kanjigar asks, incredulous, but in the back of his mind was hoping to convince her to remain with the young whelps.
He could see the wound she spoke of, now that he was looking; a woman Skin-changers loincloth was more of a long, slit skirt, shorter perhaps for the bird- and -bat-shifters, so as not to inconvenience them during aerial maneuvering and landing. This Skin-Changer had cut her's short, though not to the point of indecency, and had used the cloth to tie a tight knot around the base of one wing.
Soaked through with her blood, it fell in drips upon the bridge supports, telling of her passage, her scent, her life spilling away. She would be very hard pressed to fly with such a wound. Without help, she would had trouble flying at all in the future if she was not healed soon.
The winged woman shook her head no, eyes pained. "No. I cannot recover easily from this wound, the goblins and even my old flock will hunt be now. I know the old tales; of the owl flocks and bat colonies lending your troll clans aid against Gunmar and his Gumm-Gumm armies. But things have changed . . . though he is locked away, his son still roams free, and he's made a point to wipe the Skin-Changers out, one by one. The flocks are much more strict . . . they will not tolerate my half-blooded owlets.
"I wrote three letters, to be read by whoever may have found this basket. One for each child, and the third for their surrogate parents. Please,"
Growing desperate, the Owl Skin-Changer held the basket out to Kanjigar, and the tiny, fragile bundles within. Hesitantly, carefully, the Trollhunter took the basket from her, holding it close. Standing straighter, he looked her in the eye and said, "I will make sure they are protected, and well-cared for within Heartstone Trollmarket. I swear on my honor as the Trollhunter, no harm will come to them."
A thin, pained smile crossed the womans face, and she bowed to him once more. "Thank you, Trollhunter. I will lead the goblins as far as I can when they return, and I believe them yet unaware of my owlets. Here," taking off and sheathing the arm-blades and wing-blades, she offered them to him. "For my owlests, when they are older enough. An inheritance."
He accepted them, holding the weapons within one large hand.
"Now, go, please, while there is yet time."
Nodding once more, Kanjigar turned and leapt from the bridge, gently cradling the two small whelps within their basket-nest. Standing within the entryway to Trollmarket, the Trollhunter looked back once more at the lone, winged figure that was now perched upon the very top of the bridge. He caught the whispering movements of goblins approaching from both sides, crawling along underneath, and overtop and, for the first time since he'd taken up the mantel of Trollhunter . . .
Kanjigar turned his back on one who needed his help, and entered the sanctity of Trollmarket.