In one of the several villages that dotted the country, the mortal who would become the Swordhand sang a slow, sad melody for his dead wife. She had drowned in the gushing river following which he vowed to never ride the water. To his mind, the water god was a murderer and a raper, and he was powerless in front of such corruption. He was known to be a simple man – a little passionate in his passions, but otherwise a sundry farmhand who would not venture anywhere near the river – nor harbour any love for the sea like some of his juniors.
His mind was younger than those of his age – sharp but naïve, able but untrustworthy. When Elentyaro would engage him in a battle with his battered hand, the Swordhand would not give the Rider his fight – at least not the one Elentyaro would expect. A strong, slow hand that was suited to maces and flails would greet the Rider with a clumsy cudgel, yet a mind that would not waver at the strongest of suggestions – an ear that would not falter to the velvet bass of the Starlord. It would be a long time before the two would come to amicable terms and Elentyaro would explain the reason for seeking him out – at the deathly hour of the forest wisps.
It would be a still longer time before the Swordhand agreed. “There is devilry at work here, I know it” is what he would keep repeating to himself a countless times before his mind pieced together several unrelated events that Elentyaro told him and showed him after their tiring fight.
“There is devilry at work here, I know it, Rider.”
“If that is what you think of it, so be it. But I can tell you one thing – you can ask a fey of the river that burning question in your heart.”
“If such a thing were to exist, the first thing I would do it slake it on a hot and dry slab and let it rot in the midday sun here.”
“She does exist, Hieger. You’ll see her soon. Ride with me.”
“I will. And I will know why.”
Ottor had now hired a young boy to refill the little pool that was evaporating at an alarming rate. Goldberry tried to croak out a song, but soon fell into a stupor that was interspersed with tales of great battles, a story of fey wife and a husband who was at once the Eldest evil and the Eldest good – someone that kept the peace but made the war. When the water was refilled again from a pool far away from the little tavern, a little measure of gold returned to her cheeks and her eyes refocused on the Shipwright.
“You should start building, now shouldn’t you?” Her lilting whisper scared the man who took two steps back and started assembling all his notes. He knew his work, but did not know why.
Beta Runok pinched the earth beneath his claws and turned it around over him. His sinews pulsated with every rushing step and he let out a shout that ended with a howl. He did enjoy the moon. But he was troubled more by the dreams.
Runok’s people believed moths in the sky secreted the ingredients required for dreams into the entrances of caves – caves his people inhabited eons ago. This potent mixture from the moths entered the nostrils of only those who were to have the dreams that day. But sometimes there was an armada of moths that covered the sky like locusts and the entire race dreamt one dream.
The Wolf Dream.
For Beta Runok, something in bluecloak’s eyes told him this was a dream across races. A Dire Nightmare.
If the bluecloaks were having the same dreams, he had to find out why.