Deirbhile twisted her head about, gazing at the vast and towering peaks and crags with wide and eager eyes. The landscape laid out before her was enchanting in its magnitude. Her mother, Deirbhile’s eyes shining brighter at the thought, walked in front of her, leading her by the hand along the semi-treacherous, worn trail between her father’s shed and the osyatao village. Mother spoke quickly, telling her all about the village and the joys that lay within. Overwhelmed by everything that had demanded her senses since her awakening, Deirbhile could only nod and smile while watching the scenery, the fallen stone giant catching her eye. Even amidst the rest of the magnificent landscape, it commanded her attention.
Her father walked behind them, holding her brother on his shoulder. He smiled as she looked back at him with wide and another wave of happiness washed over Deirbhile. The belonging and love and beauty and words and stories and joy left her in a state of bliss.
Adam, seeing her gaze return to the massive chiseled figure, answered her unasked question.
“That is a Colossus. There are stories from long ago that speak of the ground trembling as they walked, and when they fell they created this mountain range.” A shadow flickered in her father’s eye as he recalled those memories. “I don’t know much more than that,” he stated with an apologetic smile.
The newborn golem nodded and turned her wondrous gaze back to the sheer cliffs and dramatic crags.
When they arrived, the denizens of the village welcomed her warmly, as they had Adam. As before, the village gathered before the ledge where Fionn began to speak.
Still dazed by her sensory overload, Deirbhile only conveyed the summary of the announcement to Father. In the ritual of Deirbhile’s awakening, her mother had helped and as such she was to be treated as her daughter. Father’s smile at that made her eyes shine all the brighter.
The village applauded, overcoming their shock relatively quickly. With Adam’s introduction just several days before, they were more than happy to welcome another gentle giant into their midst, especially with their toisiche personally vouching for and claiming this one as her daughter. Some lingering at the back of the crowd did not feel the same. The talamh namh seemed different than the ones of the sea raiders, but their kind words could very well be a new trap, one to lure them to the bowels of the ships as new slaves. Mothers held back their fry as the others raced to greet the new nàmh before leading their families away, unnoticed by the excited crowd.
The days and weeks that followed were some of the best in any of the golems’ lives. Radish excitedly played with the village fry, showing off his new toys eagerly even as his father made the young ones toys of their own. Deirbhile sat at her mother’s side, eagerly taking in the stories and traditions often passed from mother to fry in Northern Osyatao culture. On some nights, Deribhile would tell the tales to Radish and Adam, sending her little brother into fits of giggles and her father into wide smiles. She even managed to teach Adam some of the osyatao tongue.
The village grew used to the new fixtures in their lives, waving to Radish as he would run past with the other children, several layers of woolen hats capped by a bronze helm layered over his fragile gourd to keep him safe, gifted by the village smith and a few adoring weavers. His constant joy and willingness to share his toys and play with others warmed him to many cautious parents. Even the village’s wolf-dogs seemed to take a liking to the small ha’adam.
Adam, through charades, help from Niall (the translator from their first interaction) and Deirbhile, and his growing understanding of their language would aid them with the more menial tasks around the village. Building materials, construction, and planting and caring of crops was made many times easier by his presence, even hampered by Adam’s missing arm.
Their toisiche led her daughter about the cabins, introducing Deirbhile to various families and their roles in the community. Her interest in them and their lives drew the villagers to the curious and personable Deirbhile. Even the most reluctant warmed to the good-hearted and gracious ha’adam. Some kept their reservations, but for the most part they found their new residents were a boon to the Glens clan.
Adam, for his part, felt at last at rest. His aches and pains had subsided greatly since he had last seen the wolf with the violet eyes, and through the vigilance of Eònan the head of the armainn no wolf was allowed within sight of the walls. The warrior may not have known the cause of Adam’s unease, but as a dear friend of the toisiche and a member of his village Eònan would protect him with the rest under his purview.
With his knowledge of the tongue growing, their child, and living in a recently constructed shack by her cabin, Adam’s at first distant relationship with Fionnaghal was growing into a steady friendship. As the weeks and months rolled on, they came to talk of Adam’s journey south and some of the details of Lipari, but he always redirected when the topic came to his time with Eternal. Eventually, as the first leaves began to yellow and fall from the few deciduous trees, when the village had become accustomed to and comfortable with his presence and help, Fionn introduced him to the chloinne ceabain.
As with the other known schools of osyatao, the Northern lay two to four eggs in pools, where after seven months the eggs hatch into fry. After two months, the fry are strong enough to breath air and are able to be removed from the water. With the harshness of the environment, the Northern Osyatao must keep their egg pools indoors in huts they call the “chloinne ceabain” or the “children’s cabin.”
The Glens clan did not differ from other Northern Osyatao in this. The building was large and one of the few with thick stone walls, insulated with mud and clay not unlike that which made up the ha’adam. It was long and divided into two rooms. The first held a long rectangular tub full of clear water with an unlit fireplace at the end of the room. Two of the smallest fry Adam had seen swam within it, their eyes wide and curious as they popped them above the surface. An osyaba attendant gazed at Adam warmly, greeting him and Fionnaghal.
“Here is where our fry wait to join us in the air,” the osyaba gestured to the two in the pool, who had lost interest and begun to chase each other in laps. “They cannot breathe as we do, and must be looked after once they’ve hatched.”
Adam’s breath hitched at the sight of the fry and the words spoken to him, though it took him a moment to understand some. Even if he hadn’t understood one word, he could tell something delicate and precious had been trusted to him. He looked in askance at Fionn. She merely grinned, showing her wide sharp teeth. Fionn moved past the tub, heading for a door set in similarly thick walls to the outside. Adam glanced back to the osyaba, who shared a similar smile at his wonderment. She gestured to follow the toisiche, and so Adam did.
The second room contained a large round pool with a large wooden blade the diameter of the container that was slowly spun via a crankshaft attached to the side. Three osyatao eggs roughly the size of a grapefruit mildly tumbled in the lethargic current generated by the osyat turning the crankshaft. He gave a respectful nod to Adam as the golem crouched through the door. A fireplace sat at the end of the room, coals gently glowing a low heat to keep the room warm. Fionnaghal was waiting nearby.
“This is our greatest treasure,” she spoke in a hushed, almost reverent tone, “These eggs are our future, and show the love and strength of our village.”
Adam’s eye glowed with wonder as he gazed at the delicate orbs in the water. Speechless, he tore his gaze from the sight back to Fionn.
She approached and grasped his hand. “With the falling of the leaves, winter is soon on its way. While we can change the water in the pools and keep the spring unfrozen to provide clean replacement and harvest the wood to keep the fires burning, it is not easy. Especially since last season…” She trailed off as a shadow passed over her face. Shaking herself free of dark memories she inhaled deeply. “Would you, and when she’s ready, Deirbhile, help us? You’ve mentioned how the cold did not bite you on your journey here and we are not near so fortunate-”
“Yes,” he rumbled. “Yes of course.” He couldn’t understand all of the words the toisiche had said, but more than enough meaning had carried through. They needed help caring for their children, as had he. He was more than willing to return the favor.
Pent up worry released from Fionn all at once. “Thank you Adam. This means the world to us.”
His lone eye shone, “Thank you for showing me.”
Adam made trips to and from the spring each day, using the basin he had brought to quickly fill the barrels given to him. Occasionally he would venture into the nearby forest and collect as much fallen timber as would fit in his grip and on a sled. The weight was no issue and the task was done quickly, far more quickly than the village usually managed. Their time was instead spent on hunting and smoking meat for the surely harsh winter to come, as venturing beyond the palisade into the grips of the monster was no one's desire. As the crops approached harvest, Adam was often pulled away to the fields. As such, Deirbhile was brought into the fold and learned the everyday duties from Adam, her wonder just as strong as his had been. Once the harvesting was finished, they would trade-off, sometimes going together to fulfill the duties. Their love and devotion to the most vulnerable in the village cemented the trust many of the osyatao had placed in them.
With the first frost came the introduction of a new responsibility. The edges of the spring’s basin froze over, and would surely freeze thicker further into the season. Their job was to keep the source of water clear of ice, as to ensure that the village would not have to seek out another. The osyatao usually on duty had to be careful of slashing themselves with the frigid water, but no such concern bothered Adam or Deirbhile. The worst it did was make their outer skin brittle, and when it crumbled it was easy enough to replace. Frostbite held no meaning to them.
Still, the days were hot enough to melt the snow that fell in the night, winter had not yet come. With the large harvest, abundance of smoked meat, massive woodpile, and assured water source, the Glens clan had but one fear for the winter. And so, while Radish was out playing with the fry of the village, Fionnaghal sat the two ha’adam down to tell them of the monster that plagued them the season prior.