Monday, September 17, 2012


Envoys. Photo by Gaines Post, 2012.The band of killers crested a hill and had a view of the Harbor behind and the snowy mountains ahead. The wind blew down the little alpine valley, carrying with it a scent of manure. Olion raised his gauntleted hand, and without a word his men stopped behind him. Vaardvir the Boot sidled up and leaned close.

Olion pointed at a shady rock outcropping half a dal ahead. The Boot followed his gaze and nodded.

A tiny pair of figures was there; children probably, tending a fold of shemgar near the lake's edge. Now the bleating sounds of the animals could be heard intermittently on the wind.

"We're close," Olion whispered, scanning the valley for smokesign. The Boot tilted his head and signaled the men. They touched their fists to their chests silently and followed him and Olion, charging along the icy shore on black-veined legs with inhuman speed.

They swept upon the two little boys like a wave. The older of the two shouted something and tried to grab the younger one in a frantic effort to escape, but the Boot tackled them and pinned them to the ground, one in each arm. Soon the others had rounded up several of the shemgar and were already beginning to butcher them.

Olion stood over the children. They were perhaps ten and twelve in age and appeared to be brothers. He cleared his throat.

"We are envoys from Vogroth Castle," he lied. "We require these animals for our sustenance. Tell me, boys, what is the name of your village?"

The older one met Olion's black eyes defiantly and tried to shrug off the hands that held him down. A smart one, Olion thought. He frowned, but the boy did not lower his gaze.

Vaardvir the Boot tightened his grip, pushing the wind out of the boy until he winced and stopped struggling. But Olion waved him off. Letting go, the Boot stood slowly and loomed over the boy and his little brother as they wheezed for breath.

"Pyelmubrr'on," the older child said finally. "Our village is Pyelmubrr'on."

"And your name?"

The child hesitated. "Danloro."

Olion leaned over him. "Well, Danloro, I can see that you are quite brave. But do not forget your manners, young man, or those shemgar will not be the only ones to lose their pulses this afternoon." Olion nodded meaningfully at the boy's little brother.

Danloro sat up and brushed himself off. "Yes, darr'a," he said.

"Myotdarr'a," Vaardvir the Boot growled.

"Yes, Myotdarr'a," the boy repeated in a tone rich with irony.

"Dan," his little brother whimpered next to him.

"It'll be okay," the older boy whispered.

"Quiet," the Boot menaced.

Olion stood and glanced at his lieutenant. "We will take these two with us. But first we eat."

The Boot tilted his head in acquiescence and turned to organize the men.

Squatting next to Danloro and his brother, Olion placed his weapon on the cold mountain grass and said, "Now then, boys, my men are hungry.  What do you know of starting a fire?"

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