Introduction:This is a small part of a larger fantasy story that I’m writing. It should be seen as a work in progress, and I should very much appreciate any feedback. Enjoy!
It was said that the hill shamans commanded the spirits of the weather. Perhaps the tempest that had raged across the Sea of Doorways last night was their doing, summoned from the pit by some bone-white animist. The truth of such yarns the man called Veheruth could not attest. But he did know, with the certainty of grim memory, that the tales told of Yerayka warriors were true — that they cut the hearts from their living foes and ate them, raw and still beating, to consume the strength and virility of those they conquered. His eyes had seen it, and the pale daughters and sons of long-fallen Mánthezar had fallen far indeed.
The frozen ground crunched relentlessly beneath his feet as he ran, away from the rocky shore where the splintered timbers of the Red Ox’s hull lay dashed upon the stones, and where lay the lifeless bodies of her sailors and of the legionaries she had carried north from the colonial capital of Shentégha. He darted between the frost-rimed pines and aspen, making his way inland. His breath, for now, was hard but even and measured. The pace he set was rapid, but he could sustain it for hours yet.
He wore only what he had worn aboard; stained leather jerkin over a tunic of thick linen, rough-spun woolen trousers and — thank all the gods — his tough and well-worn legionary boots. He would be warm enough in this still air so long as he kept running. But he was unarmed; the knife he carried at his belt was lost in the wreck. Here in the wild lands he had the means to forage, or even to make crude weapons for himself given enough time. And he would need food and water; yesterday’s ration aboard ship would not sustain him much longer, especially if he were forced to run many miles, even more if he were forced to fight. But at this moment, as the light of the descending sun turned gray, filtered through the white-strewn canopy, he sought only escape.
Behind him he again heard the howl of Yerayka war-cries, closer this time. Veheruth ran faster.