The walk was long, cumbersome and tiring, though far shorter than it would have been if they'd walked as Varthakh. Totrial, they lived as Reiner, their Lurker of The Plains totem. In tow, they dragged the twenty-ton corpse of a Sakarum by the horn-like stretch of its head. The beast weighed so much, in fact, that its corpse was ripping up the grass of the plains as they moved toward their destination; Kaer Jeger.
Through the Sakarum's head was one of the lurker's severed horns. In their fight, Reiner had been unable to break the shell of the monster with his fists; it was too hard, too accustomed to absorbing the shock of battering down stone walls. So, in an act of desperation, they'd stabbed it mid-charge with their freshly severed horn. Simply lowering their head would have ended with their neck and back absorbing all the shock, it would have killed them, they knew. Their tactics in the fight ultimately didn't matter, they'd done well to defeat it on their own.
Soon enough, they found themselves back in Kaer Jeger's front yard, which was little more than a rolling field of grass. As expected, the bells rang and the submission chains were deployed along with shell shatter harpoons along with a dozen or so hardy Jeger. They could only see the blur of their movements in the sea of green, almost invisible to them while they walked, but they knew it to be home. As usual, they advanced to their usual distance and stopped at the yell of the Packmaster.
When ordered, they dropped the carcass with a thud, then kneeled. "Welcome back, brother," said the Packmaster once the usual processing was done. To be addressed as 'brother' stirred uneasy feelings within them, for they knew the Packmaster was referring to Fridgar, and not Varthakh. "We almost didn't recognize you, what with that magic on your arms and legs. Are you letting that totem see the sun at all?" jested the Packmaster in regards to their pale complexion. The other laughed with him; their warped, monstrous chorus of cackles resounded more like a clan of Hyenas than men.
"Well," they spoke in the Lurker's vicious shrike of a voice, the sound that curdled the blood of even the bravest Jeger. Their laughter all stopped and they looked to the monster. With a sigh, Varthakh echoed the voice of Varthakh as a permanent echo, and they spoke without moving their mouth in a chorus of three voices. "Whenever we let him out, you lot pick on him. He's sensitive," echoed the beast. All the Jeger went quiet for a moment or two before their laughing resumed. The idea that they could bully a lurker was funny to them, even Varthakh found it somewhat amusing. Reiner was less impressed with being the butt of the joke.
"Alright, go ahead and change back," said the Packmaster. "Actually," added the forty-foot giant, which drew the Packmaster's attention, "We were hoping to drop off this Sakarum at the arena first, Ganren needs the meat," they summarized. The Packmaster looked over the carcass and the obvious head wound that heralded certain death then nodded laxly. "Sure, just don't step on anyone," he agreed, and Reiner nodded in gratitude.
Once they were cleared for entry, they applied six runes of strength to their body and diffused them all, making them far stronger all over their form. Reiner then lifted the twenty-ton beast overhead and climbed over the wall with some difficulty. As they carefully made their way through the roads, Jeger all around beheld the spectacle of the pale lurker, carrying the fallen Sakarum like a sack of potatoes. When at last they made it to the arena, where they'd left their Scalv eggs, they gently lowered the Sakarum onto the arena floor where A Lothar from the Bonde was working with the eggs.
He was quite small for a Lothar, clean and shaven too. He adjusted his glasses as he looked up at the Lurker, then at the Sakarum. "O-oh... Is that the feed?" he asked with a nervous stutter, "You're just in time, they should be hatching in a couple of breaks now," informed the Bonde. Reiner nodded, then spoke their chorus of voices without moving their mouth. "Thank you," they said, then looked to the carcass again.
With an idea for a totem, they gripped one of the creature's burrowing appendages and pulled hard to rip it off. It was a hard outer shell, almost like chitin. "We need that," they explained simply. "Thanks again for all your help," they said with a wave, then disappeared over the wall of the arena again. It was time to visit an old friend of Fridgar's.
With the severed digging claw of the Sakarum as well as one of its toes in the other arm, Varthakh made their way through the streets of Uthaldria. Despite reaching thirteen and a half feet in height, carrying the large appendages was still something of a struggle for them. The weight wasn't much of a bother as they still had the runes of strength to empower them on their scales, but the sheer size of the parts made it difficult to navigate the streets without slapping anyone with them on accident.
The Lothar that filled the streets, despite being regarded as a tall, strong race by many in idalos, hung at around half their height, barely above the base of their tail for most of them. They had to constantly watch their feet as well as whoever ended up behind them, lest they accidentally knock someone out with a severed leg. Lothar all around stepped aside as the blindfolded, pale, giant Ithecal made their way through the streets with a specific place in mind.
Keanu's shop was ahead of them, open for business despite the hour. They strode forward, avoiding the passing Lothar as they approached the door, then kneeled before the door and knocked carefully with their giant fist. "Come in!" Hailed a voice in haltunga. "We cannot," they replied with their low, booming voice. There was a pause before the door opened slowly, and who they assumed to be Keanu strode out to meet the giant lizard. "Shit!" he yelled and backed up a little. Varthakh grinned.
"Ah, sorry," said the Lothar as he adjusted himself. "It's no problem," replied the Protean with a grin. "By Thetros, you're a big one... Come around the back, I've got an outdoor forge there for the hot cycle," explained the blacksmith. varthakh nodded, then rose to his feet as Keanu made his way through the house. Carefully, they felt their way through the alley and found themselves in his green back garden, where there was indeed a forge burning. Keanu was stood there in his doorway, eyeing them.
"Your Haltunga is great, friend," he said, believing the Ithecal to be a foreigner. "What can I do for you?" Varthakh placed the Sakarum leg and toe on the ground and motioned to them. The blacksmith looked to them a glance, then widened his eyes. "How the hell did you get a hold of Sakarum parts? So fresh, too!" Varthakh laughed. "Isn't that the Jeger's job?" They asked as they crossed their arms. "I believe you're quite skilled with crafting weapons from bone," said the Ithecal as they produced the Lurker bone ax, the same one he had forged.
The Lothar looked over the weapon briefly, then widened his eyes. "I remember that weapon, a customer-" "-Alistair Calder," they finished his sentence. "Yes, he gave this ax to his husband," explained the Protean as they stowed the ax. "Fridgar? Yeah, Alistair wanted to make him a totem if I remember right... Where is the big guy now?"
Varthakh's grin faded, and they looked to the floor. Keanu covered his mouth in shock. "The sixty-fifth of this season," they explained, "it was in battle. I held him while he died, then destroyed his enemies."
Keanu leaned against the frame of the door, then held his head. "I'm sorry," said the Protean, to which, Keanu shook his head. "Did he at least find Alistair again? Is Bellator in good hands?" Varthakh paused, then nodded to relay that it was so. "Alright..." he exhaled again, trying to compose himself. "Thank you for telling me... What did you need, anyway?" If it weren't for their dead empathy, the Protean might have shed a tear to know that Fridgar was so cared for. They'd never thought it so while his totem lived.
"I need these parts crafted into a Gauntlet, a totem, like the ax you crafted." Keanu looked at the parts then nodded before he looked to Varthakh with suspicion. "A becoming totem? You're a becomer? ...What did you say your name was again?" Varthakh nodded at the query of their magic, then spoke their new name "I am Varthakh," they clarified, "Can you do the job?" Keanu, disappointed, looked to the parts again and nodded carefully. "Yeah, I can work the shell just fine," he said, and the Protean smiled before producing a pouch of coin. "I'll be around to collect it before the eightieth," he said as he handed the man the sack of gold nel.
Keanu sighed, then accepted the bag. "Alright, thanks for the business, Varthakh. Good luck with the Jeger." The giant gave a respectful bow of their head, then left their old friend to his grief, unburdened by guilt or remorse.