1st Ymiden, Arc 718The sun was beginning to lower in the sky towards the horizon when Eric finally decided it was time to bring the Goats down so he could cut their wool the next trial. So the Shepherd broke off contact with his spark and the extra information it offered him about the world around him and nudged Alfie awake from his napping. The sheep dog was raring to go, clearly happy to finally have something to do and so he ran ahead of Eric as they made their way over to the herd.
The goats visibly became more aware of their presence flocking together as Alfie ran around the far side of the group, sitting low in the grass and watching for any attempted escapes. Eric came up along side the group and began to wave his staff, and calling for the goats to move. Alfie began to advance too as the shepherd whistled loudly so the dog would begin to do his trained actions. Stalking towards the rear of the herd and causing them to move forward, Eric stood at the side of them and made sure none of them spread out too wide and tried to get away.
One such goat near the front tried to make a break out off to Eric's side but wasn't able to avoid the hooked end of Eric's stick as he reached it forward and caught the goat around the neck. The animal quickly complied as he pulled it back and lead it with the staff back to the herd. Most of the time they chose to stay together, they were used to the process yet still sometimes instinct would take over.
Eric and Alfie worked together and continued to guide the goats across the ridge and to the path down to the farm. Of course this was much easier or the goats than it was for their owner and so he generally allowed them to make their own way from here, remaining at the back to avoid stragglers and watch for any runners. Eric had left it a little later than he had realised though and so the sun was getting lower and lower than he would have liked.
The Shepherd has hoped to get home before the sun set unfortunately it seemed he would be unable to do so and to make matters worse a dreaded sound echoed out across the mountain side. He had made the right choice in bringing the herd down this night as another wolfs howl could be herd giving a response. Hurrying along Eric tried to make his way down quicker, knowing how difficult it would be once the sun was completely gone and he had only moonlight to guide him. He had been stuck out before and it was not fun, in fact it would set you back a day as you could not sleep for fear of being eaten.
Even as Eric tried to move quicker it seemed it was not his lucky trial as the last few sun rays of the day illuminated the grey pelt of the wolf that stalked towards one of the more separated goats. "Immortals damn it." He ran forward, going as quickly as he could in the direction of the goat doing his best not to fall although it slowed his pace drastically.
Unfortunately and not from putting his whole heart into trying to get there he was too late as the wolf pounced out from behind a rock onto the side of the goat, teeth gnashing wildly at its neck. The Mountain Goat jumped wildly, attempting to shake free of the wolf's grip while Eric stepped forward. He didn't know where the rest of the pack was but this was his main priority at this very moment.
Red blood began to coat the white wool of the goat, Eric too late to truly save it as he raised the staff above his head and brought it down on top of the wolfs back. It yelped at him and darted back, releasing the goat which darted off with a weak stumble towards the rest of the herd which had huddled together. The wolf now turned to Eric and snarled, showing its dripping jaw to the shepherd who spread his arms wide and waved his staff violently at the animal.
He yelled, roaring like an animal himself as he made himself larger spread his legs out and swinging the staff forward. He clipped the predator across its jaw and is recoiled, jumping atop the rock behind it and watching Eric with narrow eyes. Eric knew if he couldn't scare it off it would kill him, he was no hunter or warrior he was a shepherd and he used his best knowledge his grandfather had taught him to deal with the wolves.
He lunged forward crying wildly as he thrust the hook of the staff at the wolf, intending to hit it dead in its still snarling gob. Luckily for Eric it seemed to work as the wolf darted off back towards a tree line a hundred metres or so away, a few other wolves seemed to appear to greet the beast but they all reentered the forest again as Eric headed back towards where the goats had gathered. Their bleating loud as they huddled together for safety. The injured goat had got itself to the centre of the group where it hid from the danger, wool getting redder every trill.
Eric doubted the creature would make it through the night as he whistled at Alfie to get them moving again and they continued on the trek down to the farm. The Shepherd kept a keen eye on the forest, watching in case the wolves decided to attack again. If the whole pack came he would be helpless to do much against them, still maybe he could keep some of the goats alive if they did come back.
The farmer hoped that they had decided it was too much work though, perhaps he would get some luck this evening. There wasn't far left to go as the slope gradually got easier to traverse and Eric was able to see the house in the growing darkness. Some how the injured goat was managing to stay on its feet but Eric could see it was struggling, he would probably do better just to put it out of its misery but there seemed to still be a chance of its survival and so he would wait.
Finally they reached the walls of the farm and Eric opened the gate allowing Alfie to herd the goats into the yard and over towards the pen where they stayed. Closing the first gate Eric proceeded over to the second, opening it up and ushering the goats into the pen. He did separate the injured goat though, catching it gently with his staff and guiding it over to the house.
The shepherd took a seat on the doorstep and managed to get a hold of the weak goat. Split from the herd and injured it didn't really fight him as he carefully parted the wool to look at the wound, it was quite hard to tell but he was relatively sure it was still bleeding as the blood didn't seem to be clotting or drying.
The farmer hated to see this, one of his animals suffering as he released it again and it moved a few steps away before laying down weakly in the grass. It let out some quiet bleats as it lay their. He couldn't leave it like that, slowly dying a painful death and Eric entered into his house and moved over to the chest and took out a knife.
He swallowed heavily, he had never had to do this before and he didn't want too but he had been taught that it was better not to let them suffer if you could not help them. It was the right thing to do and he would do what was right, he would want someone to do it for him if he knew there was no other choice.
Although a gruesome thought it was true and he knew it, there was no reason to lie to himself. To suffer pointlessly was a waste, it would be better to pass on and find peace or be reborn in the future to come as the Sev'ryn would.
The shepherd closed the chest and moved over to the door into the dark night. He remained there for a moment the moon casting him in a dark silhouette, the bringer of mercy and death to a suffering creature. It was strangely appropriate as his fingers rubbed the grip of the knife and Eric looked down into the yard upon his goat, his responsibility.
"Where there is life there is also death." He spoke the words he had been taught at a young age as he stepped out of the door and into the night. Kneeling beside the goat he reached for his spark, taking a deep breathe and meditating carefully to reach out to the dying creature. He had never attuned to such a situation before, never heard the notes of death before.
He reached out to Alfie and Titan for comfort searching among their symphonies for something that would distract him from the dreary and fading tones of the goat. Unfortunately there was nothing and as he sat their his aura brushed against something on the edges of his reach. Harsh and hungry he was unable to stop himself from trying to attune to it as well, his mind attempting to attune to too many things at once.
The symphony of the wolf was too much and he began to be overwhelmed as the four frequencies were beyond his current reach. He tried to withdraw but something drove him forward, a thirst to understand what drove these creatures. The spark continmued to grow as he reached for something else that flew overhead, this was too much he was already becoming lost in the sound of four. However he was unable to break the connection and so was at risk of overstepping.
Luckily the subconscious part of Eric that controlled his self preservation drew the knife across the throat of the Goat, the frequency leaving as he broke free. He cut off the connection to the spark and fell back breathless, laying in the cool night time grass staring at the stars, blood dripping from his hands. And still he wanted to understand more.