Whisper followed a kinked and random trail as she travelled, roaming, without no destination but the next village on the horizon, wherever it may be. She learned. The red rune began to shift and shuffle on her surface, finding the right configuration.
It will not have polarised inflection, nor superimposition of voices, she thought to herself. I'll retain as much as I can, but it will be entirely kinetic and kinesthetic.
She had maintained what passed for a low profile, given her dealings with the mortals. Not all had been as pleasant as the first, but she could endure being skewered by arrows and slingstones, learn at the point of a spear. It was painful, and it was exhausting, and Whisper would have it no other way. For all this she hunted rarely, ate little, and strained against every instinct that told her to follow the scent of elemental magic. Life had become a tasteless well of determination and divine sustenance.
The Djinni came for her anyway, as she knew they would. But they were small. They'd stumbled on her trail by accident and curiosity and the word of their mortal allies. They were not killers like she was.
The first was an air spirit, a hot sandy gust of the type that shamans send to plague their enemies in the desert. He kept his distance, and Whisper's suffering became impatience.
"Show yourself," she said to the creature that thought it was hidden. "You're not in danger."
It was a mistake; the djinni was large enough to speak yet too small to materialise, and so she had humiliated him. A biting zephyr of grit whipped across her surface.
"I don't need to show anything to the likes of you, Yivvinitic beast. Don't you know that these lands are preserved and guarded by my brothers? And the whole world, too, besides!"
"Yes," said Whisper, choking on the little pride she had. "I'm the intruder here."
Her honesty seemed to take the spirit aback somewhat. "You admit it, then? Hah! Even Yivvin's own abominations admit to what a pitiful life she has given them! Go back to her, monster. I hear she keeps a menagerie of other ugly animals in the sea with her."
It burned at her brighter than the blue-filtered sunlight, the awareness of how vast she was in comparison to the being she now had to submit to. How easily she could just... Reach out and scoop him out of existence, like a spoonful of dirt. He could not understand the magnitude of her power, nor her pain. He was nothing, walking a road to nowhere, somehow blocking the holy way of a lord among monsters.
Whisper pressed the comfort of those cathartic thoughts aside. No, she was not here to claim the supremacy she so easily could; she was here to suffer. Of course. Who am I kidding?
"I can't do that," she finally said. "Yivvin cast me out. She is unfair." Blaming Jvan helped. Besides, most of the blame actually did fall on her.
"Then I recommend you die, lowly creature. If not even the Cancer God would accept you, then you must be vermin indeed." A twitch was the only sign of how close the Djinni came to death.
"Can't." She flexed amoebically, rocking back and forth, wishing for the encounter to end. "I need a song. Will you sing for me?"
This, too, was confusing. The wind spirit soon reasoned an answer to this fresh mystery, however. "Ah, so you're one of the Yivvinite Monks! And stranger than any legend I've heard of them, too. I'd thought the honourable Lord Murmur had already rid this land of your kind. No, devil, I won't sing for you."
There was a pause, neither party willing to leave. The elemental was too curious, the change-eating Sculptor too determined.
"I swear, by every God more righteous than my own," grated Whisper at last, voice so quiet it could be mistaken for shadows creaking, "That for each verse you give me between now and sundown, I will let you land one blow on my body. And not hit back."
That got him. Sadistic bastard.
"Dare I say, I wouldn't much care if you did hit back, exile," scoffed the Djinni, and burst into rhyme.
"For listen now,
And listen long,
Be not morose,
And hear my song-"
The wind seared Whisper's side in a burst of heat.
"Your vermin kind,
Your ugly folk,
Will soon unwind
As Nature's joke."
Again the hissing gust. Whisper hardened herself, forming an exoskeleton.
"Rhyme harder, boy.
Don't be so coy.
Your words are soft-
A baby's toy.
I'm here to learn.
You're here to burn.
I'm waiting, brat.
Go take your turn."
The spirit halted, as if shocked to find that things wouldn't be so easy after all. "You'd challenge me to flyte in the middle of our fair and honest exchange?"
"Never said I wouldn't," muttered Whisper.