Pictured there is the ranger of travel known as Eskar Shard. He played a pivotal role in the Lace chronicle, O’TAN’S GATE. Dosh, the hutkeeper questing to solve random rain riddles, introduces Eskar Shard as she begins to tell her story to Lace and to Frad, the nester musician.
“It all began on a cloudless day,” said Dosh, turning her back to us and directing her speech out the window and into the sky above the Woods Beyond the Wood. “It was a day like this one. My pleasure imagined, I was in the process of completing my morning kneebends by the side of my own precious honeyhut on the Road to Dragon’s Deep Pool. My happiness was honey pure. A newness of life had begun for me, a new chapter. It was my first day alone with my very own precious honeyhut … Precious honeyhut … It was stocked with pots of Clover honey and casks of honeymead. I was prepared to refresh all wanderers that might appear and to engage them in friendly conversation. Such was the so of my hutkeeper heritage. I had chosen the path of honeytender. A truth, I never wanted another. Service to Royalty was the passion of my ancestry, not mine. Dripping honey from pots and pouring honeymead from casks was my heart’s safety. And so there I was on my first full day alone with my own newly thatched hut filled with pots and casks to be tended by me.
“As I stretched full stand from my hundredth kneebend, I spied a traveler cresting the hill. With a hoisted pack slung over his shoulder, he appeared to be a ranger of travel with a long orange beard, a brown crafted coat, and dusty black rim jangle tallboots. I heard the jingling of his boot jangles as he drew closer. ‘What tell, imagine my pleasure! I am Dosh, hutkeeper on the Road to Dragon’s Deep Pool,’ I called. ‘You are wingless, I see. You must be aware, I am certain, that you are walking the Road to Dragon’s Deep Pool. No turning back without wings or magic. This, for you, is not news, I can see. Have some honey?’ The stranger approached with a nod. He stopped and wiped a green hand across his brow. He took off his hat and fanned himself with its feathers. Glorious fat plunch feathers, I remember them. ‘Hutkeeper, I thank ye, but no honey for me. I be Eskar Shard, a ranger of travel,’ he said. ‘I range on this path for to taste of the famous beet soup. Have ye heared of it? Have ye tasted it?’ I, of course, had heard of the Dragon’s borsht and told the ranger so. I had even seen the Dragon and sprite in flight, but had never tasted the famous soup. The ranger accepted the handled ladle of honeymead I offered as we traded words politely. Then he saluted me in the ranger manner, and I wished him fortune on his quest for soup. He started down the road, paused, and turned back. ‘Hutkeeper,’ he said, ‘I like the likes of ye. Ever have I fairly been greeted by such as the likes of yourself. I be of a thought to give ye something.’ He jangled slowly to my hut. He swung his red and yellow crosspatch pack from his shoulder. ‘Imagine my pleasure to serve you, I mean ye, honeymead. I ask no payment,’ I objected. ‘Nonsense,’ he said. ‘Here. Ye keep this. A waterwizard gave it to me once upon a time. He said I would know when to give it away. Well, hutkeeper, I just now heard a blang of bells and chimes in my head telling me to give it to ye. Here again.’ I took it. What else could I do? The ranger winked, shouldered his pack, and marched jangling away down the road.
“I need … I feel a nince overtired. Is there more of that water? A taste of that honey? A song from the musician – Frad, is it? – would be a welcomed thing.”
I gave her water and another taste of the inferior Blossom honey. Frad sprang to his ziler and wove a beautiful morning song into the air. The smile on Dosh’s face remained constant, but in her eyes I could see the madness beginning to flare.
“You need to rest longer before you continue,” I said. “Slumber will refresh you. We will return later, and if you feel your strength growing, we eagerly will listen to all you have to tell.”
Frad snatched his ziler from his lips and glared at me. I led Dosh to the sleepshelf and settled her under the rainbow puff quilt.