The Dimblethum stopped, looked around, sniffed the air. For a moment the huge creature thought he had caught the scent of something unpleasant… something dangerous. Holding himself as unmoving and silent as the silvery-blue trunks of the eldrim trees that surrounded him, he stood and listened intently.
He waited another moment, then moved on. The shambling creature had parted from the gryphon, Medafil, only two days earlier and now was making his way back to his own territory. Though he had never crossed this particular stretch of Luster before, the manbeast was guided by powerful instincts that pointed him back to his home ground. The long journey to help his friend Cara rescue her grandmother had taken him far from his own territory, and the Dimblethum was eager for the comfort and familiarity of his own cave.
An hour or so later he stopped again, this time to gather sunberries from a low-growing bush. Savoring the sticky-sweetness of the bright yellow fruit, he remembered how much Cara had liked these berries and wondered how was she faring with the unicorns.
Without realizing, he curled his upper lip in something between a sneer and a snarl. Save for Lightfoot, the Dimblethum had little use for unicorns. Nor they for him. There was a reason for this, but he could not remember it. It was lost in the mist that clouded so much of his memory.
With a growl, he put the thought aside. He would have no more cause to deal with unicorns for now. Trying to think of more pleasant things, he decided he would catch a fish for dinner that evening, maybe one of those sweet-fleshed silvery ones with blue stripes.
The sun, hot against his shaggy hide, was making the Dimblethum drowsy. He yawned, opening his great muzzle so widely that the ferocious teeth were on clear display. Then he shook his head and rubbed his paws over his odd face, which looked like nothing so much as that of a bear who had begun to turn into a man and stopped halfway in the process.
Insects droned in the trees above him, their slow hum contributing to his drowsiness. He wanted a nap, but decided he wanted to be home even more. He pressed on.
The Dimblethum was passing beneath a quilpum tree when a low voice whispered, “I know what you want.”
The Dimblethum stopped, looked up. There was no one in sight. Even so, the voice spoke again. “I know what you want.”
“Go away!” growled the Dimblethum. He shook his head and started forward.
“I can go a world away and I would still be close by,” whispered the voice. “And no matter where I go, I'll always know what you want. The question is, do you know what you would give to have it?”
“Go away!” roared the Dimblethum.
“As you wisssssh,” sighed the voice.
The Dimblethum heard a rustling sound, then nothing. He waited in the silence for a long moment, then leaned against the tree, covered his face with his paws, and began to weep.