A/N: I suppose I will either get flames for this or be deeply congratulated for thinking up two, new slash pairings. I was reading the books the other day and suddenly realized that Felix/Rook and Stob/Rook actually existed and after a quick search, I realized that no one else had thought of the possibility of the pairing. Has it not occurred to anyone yet or has everybody been too lazy to post a fic? Anyway, allow me to be the ice breaker. Constructive criticism will be appreciated.
It was their third day riding through the Deepwoods and Rook had more or less lost interest in his surroundings. The towering trees that had seemed so mesmerizing two days ago had become a regular part of the canvas of the Deepwoods and the only occasional cause of excitement was a stray Deepwoods creature who dared to venture into their path. Conversation did not pose much entertainment either as Hekkle was too busy keeping a look out for bugs to eat, Magda had plunged into her own thoughts hours before and Stob would not answer even if Rook had tried to strike a conversation with him.
Rook hated these silences. It forced Rook to think about the Librarian Knights, and thinking about that was not something that he particularly enjoyed. It wasn't the Librarian Knights however that bothered Rook- he would gladly dream about being a real Librarian Knight, flying over the Deepwoods- but a person, Felix Lodd to be exact. Felix had been on Rook's mind since the moment Rook started the journey to the Lake Landing Academy, either dominating his thoughts or tucked at the back of his mind, poking into his thoughts at various intervals.
Rook remembered Felix's shocked face as Rook was announced the last apprentice and his mysterious disappearance. Rook had not a clue as to where Felix might be and suspected that he had left the Librarian Knights altogether. If he had left the Librarian Knights, he would have most certainly resided in Undertown. Undertown was dangerous however and the thought that Felix could be amongst those cut throats and thieves was almost too much to bear. "Oh Felix, where are you?" Rook whispered softly to himself.
"Alright brave masters and mistress, let us rest here for the night; it's as good a spot as any to set up camp" trilled Hekkle, as his shrill voice bought Rook out of his thought and his prowlgrin dived downwards and landed on the branch of a large, sturdy tree. Hekkle, who was usually the most cheerful of the group next to Magda, was for once in a terrible mood. He had found not a single bug during the entire day, despite having assured the three apprentices that there was an unlimited amount of bugs throughout the Deepwoods. Even after Rook, Stob and Magda had fixed the hammocks and Hekkle had gone out for the third time, there was still no dinner, despite the fact that Hekkle had assured them in the beginning of the journey that they would never run out of bugs in the Deepwoods.
"I can't understand it brave masters and mistress" Hekkle trilled worriedly, twisting his wings nervously as Rook, Stob and Maugin watched him from their hammocks, "There must be some reason that not a single bug has come by me. Perhaps I'm losing my touch" he added, loud enough for Rook and the others to hear him. Rook looked sympathetically at Hekkle, wanting to comfort him but with no idea as to how. Rook liked Hekkle very much indeed; he was caring yet comical in his ways but there was no doubt that his heart was in the right place.
"Maybe you need a fresh pair of eyes Hekkle" Rook suggested tentatively as Hekkle turned towards Rook with a sad look on his eyes. "You must be tired, maybe if one of us went with you we could find more bugs" Rook hurried on; worried that Hekkle would mistake the suggestion as a snide comment on Hekkle's part.
"I could help you Hekkle" Magda interrupted however as Rook was just about to volunteer himself. "Stob and Rook could stay here and light a fire while I could help you find something to eat," she continued and Hekkle tilted his head to one side, considering it. No Hekkle, please take me instead of Magda. I couldn't bear to be left all alone with no one for company other than Stob, Rook thought to himself; trying not to betray his emotions through his face.
"You would do that brave mistress?" Hekkle asked disbelievingly and when Magda nodded her head, the hope returned to his eyes and he laughed good-naturally before getting up and hurrying over to his prowlgrin, preparing for a ride. Rook sighed inwardly and sagged into his hammock. Once Hekkle and Magda were gone, there would only be himself and Stob and there would no one to stop Stob's cruel words. "Brave masters, please start a fire, I have a good feeling that this with a new pair of eyes we should have an armload of food very soon" Hekkle said, sounding very much like the Hekkle that they all knew and despite the position Rook was in, he smiled at Hekkle's excitement. Rook nodded and watched as Hekkle climbed onto his prowlgrin and Magda onto hers and launch off into the trees. Then he was alone.
For a moment, there was a complete silence and Rook could hear the sounds of the fromps calling to each other as they went to go and find their loved ones. Then a gruff, "Well, we should start working" sounded from the hammock below that belonged to Stob, who had remained quiet throughout the whole exchange and without a word, Rook slid out of his hammock and let his bare feet touch the thick branch of the tree. Stob was already on his feet, searching for the sturdy branches that would be used to feed the flames of the fire, and Rook rushed to join him.
They worked in silence, and soon they had collected a good amount of sticks between the two of them and had managed to start a fire. The two sat at opposite ends of it, pushing the branches into the fire every now and again. Once again there was silence, but this time the crackling of the fire made the silence less awkward. Rook chanced a glance at Stob, who was gazing at the flames, deep in thought. Rook bit his lip and looked away, before Stob caught his gaze and sneered at him and called him an under-librarian for what seemed the umpteenth time. Rook looked at the fire himself, and gazed at the flames licking the sticks that they had pushed in, enthralled by their constant movement. He closed his eyes and let his mind wander off, and before he knew it, he was reliving the dream he had had so often.
This time it was different though. He could smell the homely scent of his mother, like fresh flowers and the musky scent of his father. He could hear the creaks of the cart they were in and the sounds of the creatures of the Deepwoods calling to each other and he remembered all its glory and splendor. He could remember the faces of each of the slave traders and the stench, oh the stench of sewers and dirt and grime. And then he could remember himself, standing alone in the Deepwoods, all its beauty now lost and he could taste his salty tears and they slid down his face.
He blinked, tearing his eyes away from the mesmerizing flames and realized with a jolt, that tears really were running down his face. He brushed them away quickly and sniffed as quietly as possible, the last thing he wanted now was for Stob to ridicule him about crying for no apparent reason. Stob however, hadn't seemed to notice Rook at all and was still staring at the flames, his expression calm.
Rook looked down at his hands and wondered why the dream had felt so real today, as if he could remember more of it than ever before and bit his lip again. He couldn't take it anymore, he had to talk to someone, even if it was just to distract him and if it had to be Stob, then so be it. "Stob?" Rook called out quickly, so he would not back down.
"What?" Stob asked and Rook was surprised to find that the question was not a drawl and there was not a single trace of cruelty in his voice, it was just a simple statement. "Well, are you going to tell me or not?" Stob snapped impatiently, but Rook still found that it lacked the ordinary tone of anger that was always used when Stob addressed him. "I…I uh… You see…. I…" Rook floundered, trying to mask his confusion at this new side of Stob he had never said before. "Do you know anything about Deepwoods creatures?" he blurted out quickly and mentally kicked himself immediately after, of course Stob had probably read the barkscrolls just as eagerly as Rook had and had probably had exams on this sort of thing!
Stob looked at Rook strangely and Rook cringed, waiting for the scorn. Instead, Stob surprised him once more and replied, "of course I know about Deepwoods creatures. I used to read about them all the time" and turned his attention back to the crackling fire. "So you know about fromps and Bloadoaks?" Rook asked, eager to continue the conversation as best he could while Stob was still evidently in a good mood. "Well, I have read about them briefly before but I read more about hammelhorns than anything else" Stob said hesitantly and stared back at the flames.
Rook remembered a treatise he had read in the Great Library about hammelhorns talking about everything from the food to their communication. Rook had found it most interesting, if only he could remember the name. "Have you read The analysis of the ways of the hammelhorn yet?" Rook asked, finally remembering the name of the treatise and looking up at Stob for an answer. Stob nodded and smiled before replying, "it's one of my favorites. One of the most interesting treatises I have ever read."
Rook had no idea as to how to deepen the conversation and so they sat by the fire in silence for a while, admiring the dancing flames. Suddenly Rook heard the sound of branches creaking and before he knew it, an excited Hekkle was rushing down from his prowlgrin closely followed by Magda, a good sized sack in his hands. "You were right brave master" Hekkle trilled, turning his head to face Rook's, "all I needed was a fresh pair of eyes and I must say, the brave mistress was a wonderful pair of eyes! Once again brave mistress, thank you very much for your help!"
Magda smiled and nodded her head in acknowledgment and Hekkle turned back to Rook. "Now brave master, I believe it's your turn to cook our dinner?" Rook nodded and took the sack from Hekkle, admiring the nice, hefty weight of it. There were more bugs than expected. "Would you like some help with that?" asked a voice and turning around, Rook's eyes widened in shock. It was Stob who had spoken, Stob was the only one close enough to have asked. If Hekkle and Magda hadn't been taking care of their prowlgrins, Rook would not have believed it.
Stob's face was expectant and was not as arrogant as it had been when they started the long journey to the Deepwoods and his tone did not have a sense of cruelty about it. Rook nodded dumbly and pushed the sack of bugs between the two of them and they began to work. It was hard work skewering bugs onto sticks and cooking them over the fire but after Hekkle and Magda started helping as well, they managed to cook all the bugs. The four of them were hungry that night and ate as much as their stomachs could hold and very soon they were sitting by the fire, content and happy before Hekkle announced it was time for bed.
As Rook huddled under the covers and closed his eyes, the sound of Stob's snoring reached his eyes. Stob wasn't as bad as he seemed, Rook thought, he is kind after all. With this in mind, Rook smiled and fell asleep.
This is basically the starting chapter. What do you think so far? Reviews would help greatly, especially help with the eventual pairing.