"No! You are doing it all wrong, you mustn't tear the leaves apart with the pestle, you need to gently crush it to bring out the liquid," Trune was irritated and with good reason. The herb was rare and the leaves too delicate for untrained hands, he snatched the mortar away. He then went back to check the next ingredient for the powder he would need. Trune studied his notes flipping agitatedly from page to page and mumbling to himself. He felt close; like a discovery was just out of reach. He looked again at the samples he had, they were already full of decay after just a day, he would need fresher samples.
"I am missing something," Trune said to no one but himself.
"My Lord?" One of the young men asked.
"Nothing," he snarled toward the young man and the young man jumped a bit.
He mourned the lack of better trained Magi. At the height of his power before the war, he had some of the most powerful magi clamoring pathetically to have a taste of the power he offered. Now he was left with easily frightened boys, pledged by families who had secretly gained political or monetary favor from the group. He picked up his knife and picked out two glazed clay bowls. The natural bowls did not interfere so much with the results like other materials could. He did not want skewed results.
Trune made a cut on the woman's arm and collected the blood in a cup. He let the apprentices bandage her. Not even a whimper from the woman. Admirable. He looked over to the man chained to the table. Trune could feel the Death Hand wraith inside of him. It was not normal for one to have to wrestle control so actively as this one had to. He picked up a second cup and cleaned his knife. He walked to the man and held his arm tight to reach the forearm.
"Hello, what's this now?" Trune had to hold onto his arm tighter for suddenly the man did not want Trune to see what his tattoo was of. He looked closer and saw it was a bear's head, "Shame on you for lying to me Marta. It seems you carry very old blood magic indeed."
Trune was pleased. Now he would see if the rumor was true that the hunter clans were all children of Delphina. Oh, that wonderful winsome bitch. Trune smiled again. He cut the man under his mark and collected the blood. He then went quickly to his desk and pulled from his tome a single beautiful peacock head crest feather. He took a little bit of the feather and put it into another cup. He then put in a bit of powder in the blood cup, stirred it and then put powder and water in the feather cup. He ground the feather with a pestle until it was all the same fine paste. He then put one bony hand over the blood cup and his other hand over the feather paste. He muttered a few words and the feather paste and the blood both lit up.
"Well, how about that. Blood does call to blood. At least for the Fae, and your blood or your clan's All Mother's feather will lead me to your daughter." Trune laughed with an overwhelming giddiness, "Prepare the blood, we will need it preserved to hunt down the child of the prophecy."
He ducked between a partition and clutched the crystal. His triumph was everything. It was an extraordinary breakthrough, and he was proud to have made it. He sought out his God. The link felt weak, distant.
"My Lord?" Trune asked. Slowly he felt the reply materialize.
"Yes." came Nidhuggr's low booming reply.
"I have a way to track the girl, by her Fae blood," Trune was exalted.
A reply never came. Trune was alarmed. He came to from the broken link and heard an awful noise. He rushed out to see a bear devouring his apprentices. The bear roared once more. Trune opened a portal to the mountain in the wastes. He closed it quickly but not before he saw the bear destroy his tome and his feather, along with the blood sample. He feared what his God would do until he turned to see his God huddled in a corner covered in patches of skin, scale, and hair. Too weak to even acknowledge Trune's presence. Trune rushed to his side and used some of his own mana to strengthen His God's hold on the dragon body, soon the flesh smelled of decay again.
"This can not stand," Nidhuggr said aloud and startled Trune.
"No, My Lord," Trune whispered.
"That man-child will not take my body from me," Nidhuggr bellowed in anger then stopped to cough.
"It is not your body, shed it and let us see you in your glory, untouchable and immortal!" Trune cried.
"No, I can not let myself be seen," Nidhuggr pulled away.
"The Gods punished your brother, they know nothing of you," Trune begged.
"He calls to me, my father, The Creator. His voice forever stuck in my head, he is coming to punish us Trune," Nidhuggr cried as he put arms around his head as if shielding a blow. Trune knelt beside him uncertain about everything. The sooner he could pry his God from his earthly armor, the sooner everything would be put right.