Echos of a song ran through Mishtil’s head. The words and melody were far away and it seemed she forgot more of it with every fleeting moment. The child god’s eyes were closed against the light. It had flared unimaginably bright for a moment and created an impossibly loud boom that seemed to split the very sky asunder. Everything was disorienting and she could no longer feel Yurilda. It was as if some sixth sense she has always had but never recognized was suddenly gone. A surge of anxiety welled up in her throat.

Then she opened her eyes.

Gold, red, and yellow displayed themselves against a pristine back drop of blue. Autumn leaves swirled and leapt through the air, creating a dance Mishtil had never before seen. The ground was cool and muddy beneath her, though the onslaught of rain had ceased. The pounding sound of the storm and the waning song was replaced by a cacophony of birds sounding their calls. It was one of the most beautiful things the Goddess had ever seen.

“Tadis, oh Tadis! Isn’t it beautiful? You must be so happy!”

Mishtil scrambled up, ignoring the mud that clung to every part of her. Her eyes took in her surroundings, verifying why there was no reply forthcoming. The child did not see any of her companions. She was alone is the strange wood.

“Oh, worry. Where have they gone? They must have followed me! Drugar wouldn’t have let me come alone. Tadis! Druhaus!”

One by one, she yelled the name of each of the Astar Uln. The only response she received was a strange sniffing grunt. She turned to see a small animal with a grey pelt and white stripped face waddling toward her. It stopped a short distance away to scratch in the dirt and extract a plump worm into it’s mouth.

“Hello, little friend. Have you seen anyone else around here?”

The badger looked up with a curious glint in it’s eyes. It sniffled a few more times before waddling over to Mishtil, butting it’s head into her leg. The Goddess began to giggle.

“Oh, you’re silly. I bet Tadis could speak to you. Come on, help me find them.”

Mishtil scooped the badger up into her arms with a grunt. The animal was quite hefty, looking well fed with a pudgy belly. It placed it’s little arms over her shoulder, distributing it’s weight across her chest. The Goddess giggled again as it continued to make it’s little grunting noises in her ear.

“You’re going to need a name. Hmmm… I think you remind me of Drugar, so I’m going to call you that. He’s big like you. You’re not as angry, but that’s okay.. Do you like that name, Drugar?”

Wormchomper the Badger grunted contentedly, rubbing her head against Mishtil’s face in response.

“Well, then. Let’s go find my friends.”

With that, the pair set off into the woods.

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