Danielle awoke to a soft scrunching sound, like light footfalls in the dirt. Deep darkness still filled the night sky, but it was less gloomy beyond the eastern ridge, so she guessed it would soon be dawn. She was lying on her side, with just a soft bed of leaves for a cushion. Drowsy, she looked to where she heard the noise, expecting to see her mother’s feet before her. Though it was very dim, enough light came from the rocks Ercen set glowing earlier that, with a start, she realized the feet just inches from her nose were those of a marble-colored gargoyle, but a much smaller one than she’d ever seen so far. Before she could sit up, the gargoyle dropped his face down to her level, very close, parallel to the ground. Pale lavender eyes gazed at her. Of course, Danielle was looking at him sideways, so she pushed up on her elbow to get a better look at him. She’d never seen such a big smile on a gargoyle. In fact, she’d concluded there was some muscle group missing in their faces that kept them from making a good smile. Before she knew what was happening, Danielle grinned back.
“Hullo there!” she said.
“Good morning, small human! Did you sleep well?” the gargoyle’s voice was gentle, with a curious raspiness. Now that she could get a good look at the creature, Danielle was struck by how small he was.
“Uh, I guess, although I’d still like to be asleep. And what do you mean calling me ‘small human’? You’re smaller than me. In fact, you’re the smallest gargoyle I’ve seen. Are you a child, then?”
“No, young one! I’m not a child—I am Lohxnahr,” the gargoyle stated clearly, as if he was making a momentous pronouncement and had just made everything abundantly clear by doing so.
“Oh, I see…now I don’t need to ask your name,” Danielle replied, giggling.
“No, of course you don’t since I’ve just told you my name. I am Lohxnahr!”
“Yes, thank you! I remember…” Danielle couldn’t help but giggle some more.
“Is there something I can do for you, Lohxnahr?” she continued, grinning from ear to ear. She’d not had such a pleasant wake-up alarm as this, ever.
“Oh my, yes!” Lohxnahr’s cheeks were all scrunched up from his enormous smile.
Since no further explanation seemed to be coming, she asked, “And what might that be?”
“What might what be?”
“What might I help you with?”
“I have no idea what you might help me with,” Lohxnahr replied, his cherubic face beaming in the strengthening sunrise. “But I’m sure it would be most welcome, whatever it is.”
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