Composure by WolfSkullJack
Adelaide trembled in her spot next to Geoff, trying to focus her eyes on the toes of her boots and keep her breathing smooth. In, out. In, out. The mantra replaying in her head wasn’t helping much.
But she could feel Geoff next to her, and if she didn’t know better Adelaide would assume he was dead because of his stillness.
“Relax Addy,” he whispered. He was looking up, straight ahead and facing what was before them, she knew it. But she couldn’t bring herself to do the same.
Geoff was accustomed to this ritual, and the beast approaching them might as well be his pet. However, Geoff’s ease with the situation meant nothing to Adelaide, as this was her first time participating and meeting their village’s guardian beast.
She had heard stories, rumors, from others in their village about this creature. All they knew was its name: Freyar. No one saw it except for the Messengers, and the Messengers duties were to merely relay information. Geoff performed his duty with great dedication, and other than what the beast spoke to him, he shared nothing else of the encounters with their guardian.
But the rumors… Adelaide had heard it was fearsome, frightening to gaze at. It made sense, she supposed–it was protecting them, after all. A terrifying creature would be a good way to stave off attacks, if nothing else. Whenever anyone would ask Geoff of Freyar’s appearance, its gender, anything, he would simply smile and reply, “I cannot say.”
He had been their village’s only messenger since he was twelve–very young compared to other cases. At twenty-eight he was well fitted to his role, and would even steal away to the mountain their guardian rested at simply to have casual conversations with it.
But then Geoff had returned one day to the village with this message from mighty Freyar:
“Freyar requests that a new Messenger assist me. Freyar has been considering options for some time, and has finally settled on Adelaide to become the second Messenger. She will accompany me to see our guardian tomorrow.”
Geoff’s hand suddenly touching hers made her jump, but she grasped it tightly. Geoff’s hand was practically freezing compared to her feverish skin. Adelaide could almost feel his pulse completely, a steady and rhythmic thump…thump that helped her calm just the slightest bit. She closed her eyes and focused on his calming coolness in her hand.
Once her breathing had slowed, and her palm wasn’t sweating so much, she gripped Geoff’s hand in a silent thank you. She heard him chuckle quietly.
“How can you be so calm, even after all this time?” she asked, voice barely a whisper.
He laughed fully this time. “Ah, but it is because of all this time that I can be so composed!” Nudging her slightly so that Adelaide would look to him, he gently smiled at her. “Freyar and I may as well be friends, rather than this impersonal ‘guardian-messenger’ relationship.”
“B-but… then why does Freyar wish for me to be a Messenger?” she asked, uncertainty coloring her voice.
“I cannot say for certain,” Geoff said, turning to face forward again. His smile grew, and his eyes were practically sparking with delight. “But if I know Freyar as I think I do, it is surely a great, important task.”
Adelaide faced forward as well, and was stunned into complete silence at the sudden appearance of Freyar itself before them.
Freyar was indeed an awesome beast, large and imposing in front of them. It didn’t help that their guardian was mere inches from Adelaide’s face. But Freyar was majestic, almost beautiful in its bestial form.
The creature’s mouth didn’t move, but a sudden and deep voice shook Adelaide to her core.
“Geoff speaks truth, as well as very highly of you, young Adelaide.”
Adelaide gulped. She wouldn’t be able to keep herself from thinking of Freyar as masculine with that voice and appearance. Hopefully he wouldn’t mind her doing so.
Freyar was easily the size of a house, if not larger, with thick, shaggy fur covering his entire body. He was very lion-esque, but also appeared to have qualities similar to that of a wolf, as well. He looked agile, lean, and his maw was filled with sharp teeth–she only knew because he looked like he was smiling at her. The deep voice laughed inside of her. She blushed at being so easy to spot gawking.
“What will you have her do, Freyar?” Geoff asked, his face still distorted by his smile. “She is eager to learn of her duties.”
“I can see the curiosity practically oozing from her,” Freyar boomed in agreement, shaking his great head in amusement. He turned to her, large eyes seeming to glow. Adelaide had to blink her own eyes at the intense gaze.
“For now,” Freyar began, “I would like you to come with Geoff when I call, and once I have sent him to return I shall keep you here to teach you of your general duties, as Geoff has done for me these past years. You will work together, as some messages may need another voice to relay them.” Freyar’s great body sagged a bit in a sigh. “As years go by, faith is lost. One voice isn’t always enough to convince. But I believe the two of you will be more than enough.
“As for what else I have planned for you…” Freyar paused, reaching a massive paw back and to the side and shifted a large, rolled document towards them. Glancing up for permission, Adelaide bent down and retrieved it, unrolling it to reveal a map.
She had seen maps of their country before, of course, but this map was of the world. It was much larger than she might have guessed. She quickly spotted their region, colored in with a dark green and Freyar’s name stenciled over top of it. Other areas were filled in similarly, but with other colors and names, some of which Adelaide had no hope of pronouncing.
“Am I… am I to be travelling?” she asked, unable to keep a hint of nervous excitement from her voice. She’d longed to travel, but had always been told it was far too dangerous. People didn’t typically stray from their guardian’s regions, anyway.
“Indeed,” Freyar answered. “I have occasional need of conversing with my fellow guardians, but it is becoming a task to do so on my own anymore. As the world grows, more of us appear, seemingly further and further away. Being gone from here for so long is risky. I would like for you to help me with this.”
Adelaide was beside herself with glee, and eagerly accepted her new duties as a Messenger. She, Geoff and Freyar spoke a bit more about the upcoming tasks, and Freyar gave Geoff another message for the people before sending them on their way.
As they turned to leave and were partway down the hill, Freyar’s voice calling to her stopped Adelaide. Geoff continued down the path back home.
“I am quite impressed,” Freyar said, kind eyes regarding Adelaide as she moved to stand before him again. “Geoff is an odd case regardless, but even he was very tense and worried upon meeting me. I expected the same of you, especially after presenting you with such a task.”
“Geoff said nothing but kind things about you, Freyar,” she said, her smile betraying some of her nervousness. “And travelling is something I’ve longed to do. I will admit I nearly lost myself when you suddenly appeared before us.”
Freyar huffed a loud laugh, a small gust of breath blowing back Adelaide’s hair. “The fact that you can admit so easily is a good character trait. Keep this with you in the coming years, Adelaide. Such honesty is hard to come by these days…”