The Trial of the Cotton Sage(Story)

quadraptor's picture
Continuation of The Trial of the Battle Born, a part of The Totem Quest series.


It was the following morning when Quad awoke. He went straight to the Twin Gods' hill, where oddly enough they were waiting for him there.

"Hello Quad, did you enjoy your trip to visit the Battle Born?", Auriea immediately asked as he approached.

He hesitated, "It was...interesting...though he certainly put up a fight. I feel much stronger now, maybe even ready to take Iugulare on now...", Quad replied.

Michael and Auriea looked to one another, then back to him. "We're not through with your training, unfortunately. There are other trials we want you to take. Many more teachers that are very, very eager to meet you.", Michael spoke.

Quad blinked in confusion, "Wait, you mean there are more trials? You don't...have faith in me?", he asks

The two gods shakes their head, "On the contrary, we know you will not let us down. But we want you to be as prepared as possible. Quad...", Auriea says, "once we transport you to the next trial, you will be doing them consecutively from here on out until each one is finished. You will not be brought home until they are done."

"Do you accept our training? We want the fight to be as easy as possible.", Michael asked.

Quad hesitated. This may be a long time, they didn't even say how many trials were involved. But with a slow gulp, he nodded, "Y-yes...I'll do them..."

The gods smiled. "We knew you would. You will be leaving immediately to visit the Cotton Sage.", Michael spoke, and Quad began to blink. The second his eyes closed, he opened his eyes and found himself in a springtime meadow. He looked around, blinded by the sunlight right at first. He wasn't used to being in the open like this. "Right...Cotton Sage...I wonder what a Cotton Sage even looks like. Could be another bear..."

"Hoo hoo!", an owl hiding in a tree on the edge of the plain called out, "You seek the Cotton Sage?", he asked. The antelope went over to the tree and nodded, "Yes! Do you know him? What does he look like?"

The owl blinked, and replied, "Her! The Sage is an old rabbit! The silver of her fur glistens in the blinding gold of the meadow."

Quad nodded, "R-right, a lady rabbit then. Thank you!", he began to turn when the owl spoke once more, "You are a fool to help her. It is a death wish. Of all those who live in the meadow, she is the most wanted, her feet are desired as trophies! If you value your life, you'd stay away from her!"

The antelope turned to speak, but the owl had vanished. He tilted his head, "What...?", but shrugged and went into the golden meadow. He continued to squint at the almost unbearable glare from the sunlight. The strands of grass were golden and reflected it well. He finally ducked under the grass, and was able to see a little better.

There was a shimmer in the distance. For a second he thought he saw a pair of eyes looking his way, but they were gone in an instant. Silver. He swore he saw that glint of silver.

"Hey, are you the Cotton Sage?", he calls out. No response. He ran in that direction, the sunlight blinding him once more, so he was running aimlessly. Moments later, he emerged in a small barren patch, the golden grass surrounding him on all sides. He huffed and huffed, catching his breath, already lost the trail. It was like finding a needle in a haystack.

"You asked for me?", a voice spoke. Quad nearly jumped, turning to see a silver rabbit looking in his direction. It was those eyes that caught his attention - they were glazed over. It took him a moment to realize she was blind. "Y-yes, you startled me. Erm...m-my name is--", he began, but the rabbit spoke, "Quad, right? The Grand Talux? I've been expecting you. We have a long way to go."

Quad blinked a moment, "Oh, uhh...wh-where will we be going then?", he asks. The lady rabbit smiled, "My new home, a warren not too far from here. I'm afraid my old home was destroyed recently. I'm not safe here I'm afraid. Very many enemies, you see."

The antelope relaxed a little. He could relate, with crazy aliens, mutants, and such always after him as well. "Oh yes, I know the feeling. Well, I'm ready to go when you are."

The rabbit smiled, and turning she began to walk in one direction. Quad followed close behind, being her escort. They cleared the tall grass and went into the treeline, the antelope staying right by her side as she moved. It was clear she knew this land far too well, even when blind.

They went on without saying a word, until she stopped, her ears raised just slightly, "Danger...protect me, Quad. I hear...three, small feet...weasels..."

The antelope quickly stood above her, his head down, antlers and legs ready. He just needed a visual. "What direction?", he asked. Her ears were much finer tuned than his, and she looked in three different directions.

They were surrounded.

"Listen. You'll hear their chatter. They're closing in...", the Cotton Sage spoke. Quad closed his eyes, relying on his ears now rather than his eyes.

He heard it, and pinpointed the closest one. As he opened his eyes, he spotted the weasel, slinking toward them quickly. As soon as it was in dangerous proximity to them, Quad kicked with his front leg. The weasel was fast, and sprung back before pouncing toward the rabbit. Quad was quicker, and his antler slammed into the predator and sent it flying into the nearest tree.

The second tried to catch him off guard while he was distracted, and bit into his ankle. He gasped in pain, but kept on his hooves and quickly flung the hind leg backward, the weasel kicked off. He swung around to stomp on it, but it was too fast and scampered away.

The third watched the failure of the first two, and hung back, chattering. The two he had defended against vanished into the brush. It seemed they were safe for now.

"How...have you stayed alive from all of this?", Quad asked the Cotton Sage. His ankle was bleeding just a little, but he would be alright. The Cotton Sage spoke slowly, "My senses are tuned for such constant danger. I have had many close calls, and have nearly been killed many times, but I've survived because of both drive and heart to do so."

Quad nodded. There was much more to her than he thought. They finally continued on in the direction to her new home.

He spoke up a few moments later, "I hate to ask, but are you alone out here? Do you have"

The Cotton Sage let out a slight sigh. "My family has been killed off, one by one, my dear. Some of them were foolish and easily picked off by foxes and weasels. Others went down bravely, fighting with every once of what they had left. Eventually I was all that was left of us."

The antelope blinked, "You're the last of your lineage? I'm...I'm s--", he began, but the rabbit chuckled, "Don't worry about it, dear. We've lived a long time. Not everything lasts forever, and I'm thankful for every day I have lived."

Quad smiled a little. She was very high spirited, and they continued on. They finally cleared the woods, and were in a wildflower field. Quad had already taken a few steps out into the meadow, but turned and saw the Cotton Sage had stopped. "Is something wrong?", he asked.

Her ears had perked again. She spoke quickly, "Fox...coming quick...behind us!"

The antelope tried to get back to her, but it was too late. The fox had taken her, and ran into the meadow. She was screaming, "Argghh!! Quad!!"

The antelope gasped and ran after, shouting, "Get back here!" The fox carried the Sage into the flowers, his scent masked by the thick flower aroma, where he seemed to disappear. Quad slowed, no visual, and losing his scent, he did the one thing he could think of. He shut his eyes and listened.

Snap! He caught the direction, and sprinted as fast as he could. He ran what seemed like an eternity as flowers brushed past, getting slight whiffs of the fox's scent, and hearing slight sounds in that direction.

He caught a flash of fox fur through the flowers. He had gained on the predator, and leaping up, his Grand Talux wings burst out. He wished he had thought of this sooner, he was much faster in the air, and had a better view. The fox had no idea he was overhead, and he swooped down and slammed into the predator.

The fox dropped the Cotton Sage, and Quad quickly scrambled to cover her. He got over her, wings around to protect her. The fox had gotten up and was already charging at him, trying to get its trophy. But Quad tapped into his light abilities, and with a burst of blinding light, he caused the fox to stumble dizzily, blinded and disoriented. It had gotten close enough that he dug into the earth and charged, his antlers slamming into the fox's skull. The predator, defeated, cowered and ran into the wildflowers.

He had won the fight, but the damage was done. The Cotton Sage lay bleeding, gasping for air beneath him. "Oh gods! I'm so sorry! I--", he began, but the Sage only smiled, " did e...everything I asked for...", she coughed here, "It was...only a matter of time...before they got me...don't you...apologize. did your best..."

He began to sob. In Quad's mind, he had failed, and it would be his fault that the Cotton Sage's lineage would end here.

The Sage could tell he was crying, and reaching up, she put her paw on his chest, right where his heart would be. "Don't...don't you cry my dear...I'm very...proud of you. Hold...your head high...for you have a...a wonderful heart..." Her eyes closed, and Quad felt warmth on the spot where her paw touched his chest. He looked down and saw a glowing red there, as an engraving etched into his body much like that of his encounter with the Battle Born.

The light subsided, and he felt...different. It wasn't like the first time this happened with the Battle Born, where he felt stronger physically. Rather he felt...calmer, more relaxed...

The Cotton Sage's paw left his chest, and she was breathing slower and slower. Quad had stopped crying, and only stood over her, watching her last moments, protecting what remained of her.

She spoke one last sentence to him, "My dear...let them take doesn't matter now. They...they can have...their prize...", and with that, she breathed her last.

He stood there over the deceased Cotton Sage, his wings now vanishing, and as he listened, he heard those sounds once more. There were more now, he could pinpoint at least seven weasels from the chattering noises, and a few foxes in the wildflowers. He finally left her side, walking away, actually passing by one of the foxes as the predators moved in to collect their prize. He would walk on into the woodlands, eventually collapsing somewhere.

The Trial of the Cotton Sage was over. He received her blessing despite the failed protection, and as he closed his eyes, he would disappear from this place, and be transported to the next trial.

The End
quadraptor's picture

This story's finished, I

This story's finished, I err...hope it's not too depressing, but it was what I wanted to happen in it. May write the next one in the next day or so, haven't decided among the wolf, goose, snake, or deer which I will write next. So uhh...feel free to just say one of those animals in the comments and I'll most likely write that one next.