The heart of the eternal

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In the shadows

Bagir had never spent a night at a place like this, he was very nervous for he didn’t like the fact that the murderers could be nearby. The skies were so large there and so open and it did remind him of some jewel studded dome over his head. The stars looked as if they were close enough to touch but he did recognize the constellations and that was comforting. Resh’kha was chewing away at some dry meat and she did look very relaxed. Igkhan was sleeping, it was obvious that the medicine did work for his fever had gone down considerably and he wasn’t delirious anymore. Bagir tried to sleep, but he was too wired up and he just kept staring at the stars. Resh’kha sighed and shook out her blankets, then she too stared at the stars and Bagir didn’t really know if he should say anything. She did point at one of the constellation. “We call that pattern “the maiden”, others call it the hunter. We think it is a maiden who was denied the one she did love and when she died the gods put her up there”

Bagir had to frown. “Really? You orcs aren’t renowned for being the romantic type?”

Resh’kha did chuckle. “But we are, it is just never shown to you weak ones, to find a good mate is crucial. That was where I made my mistake, I didn’t think”

Bagir felt a bit insecure but he did dare to answer. “You have started to see things differently?”

She did nod. “Yes, I was…stupid. Not worth it, not good male at all”

She made a gesture. “Big and strong but not wise, wise male would not have chosen that woman, but me”

Bagir had to grin. “Yes, I don’t think you and her could be compared, judging by what I now know about you”

Resh’kha made an odd sound, it did almost sound like giggling, could an orc even giggle?!

“Thank you Bagir, you smart man, for weak one”

She fell silent again and Bagir laid back down and tried to sleep but it did evade him. He was trying to at least doze off when he heard something in the distance, it was some sort of distant rumble and he did tense up and Resh’kha got up, her eyes narrow. “A herd of wild antelope”

Bagir took a deep breath. “Are they dangerous?”

Resh’kha shook her head. “No, of course not, why fear deer?! But shouldn’t run now, in the dark”

Bagir felt cold, she was right. Pack animals wouldn’t normally run at night unless something had startled them. He got up too and grasped for his blade. Resh’kha did tilt her head, she closed her eyes. “Big herd, many many feet. Perhaps Athi?”

Bagir knew that the orcs didn’t have a real way of telling large numbers, everything over a hundred became Athi, and if there were very many it became Ad-athi. It was a large herd of antelope then. Resh’kha did raise her head. “No wild wolves, haven’t heard any. No bears here, cats maybe?”

Bagir knew of the many species of big cats which roamed the plains but somehow he didn’t think that this was a herd chased off by a predator. The wild animals didn’t waste energy by running for a long time, a lion or other predators would give chase and either catch a prey or fail and the herd would stop running very fast. These antelopes were running hard, and they were heading their way. Resh’kha did cuss. “Take horses, hold them”

Bagir did walk over to where the horses were tethered, he did calm them down and took the reins and tied the animals to a huge boulder. It wasn’t a moment too early, suddenly ghostly figures seemed to almost fly by, the thunder of hooves was almost deafening and Resh’kha did drag Igkhan in under a log to protect him. There were antelope running everywhere, the animals did see them but didn’t veer off at all. Something had to have startled them to such a degree that the sight of some humans didn’t even matter anymore. The poor animals were gasping for air and their eyes were wide and white rimmed, speaking of dread. Bagir had to struggle to keep the horses under control, they wanted to run too and he had never seen this many antelope at one time. Resh’kha did use her axe to kill one which collided with a rock and she pulled the body closer to protect it. “Meat, we need meat”

The herd passed by, a cloud of dust hang in the air after them and Bagir did cough and wheeze, the sky was gone for a while and the animals probably kept running until they collapsed. Resh’kha did shake her head. “What wrong? Mad beasts!”

Bagir wanted to say that this could be a case of panic in the herd when they both heard something else, a loud scream coming from some distance, followed by more and they told of agony and dread. Resh’kha did gasp and sort of fell into a combat position and she hissed. “The attackers, they are being attacked”

Bagir felt a chill running down his back. “By what?”

Resh’kha did grind her teeth. “Not know, hurry, we hide”

She gestured for him to pull the horses with him closer to the steep embankment by their camp and she did look very scared. “Maybe monsters, what the clans did keep out. I can smell something”

Bagir did turn his nose to the wind but felt nothing, then again, orcs do have better noses than humans by far. Resh’kha did pack up everything and her eyes were dark. “If need come we ride, even if dark”

Bagir nodded and they fell silent. She was leaning against the rocks and her eyes were closed but Bagir knew that she was feeling for vibrations in the ground, for anything approaching them. He felt terribly scared but he had to keep calm and Resh’kha did not move for several hours. Finally the sun did rise and she got up and her eyes were still rather dark. “Come, we move on”

They woke up Igkhan who did feel better but he was very weak and Bagir saw that the wound was looking a lot better. He got more medicine and some grog and a piece of meat and he did eat it even if it was raw. Resh’kha did gut the antelope and cut it into pieces and placed the pieces on the pack horse. She was impatient and they moved the moment Igkhan and Bagir were in the saddle. She ran and that forced the horses to trot to keep up with her, she seemed to be fed by some sort of frenzy. They did travel for a couple of hours and Bagir was stunned, they did find dead antelope in a wide track left behind by the herd. It was animals which had quite literally run themselves to death and she was taking them towards the source of the stampede.

Bagir didn’t protest, they had to find out the cause of the panic and soon they saw something which weren’t antelope. It was dead horses and Bagir did see that it was about five small stocky horses with long coats. The animals were more or less ripped apart and he felt nauseous. Igkhan was wide eyed and shocked and Bagir knew that horses to him were almost sacred. A good horse was so expensive nobody could afford to kill one unless the animal was injured beyond healing or so old it was bound to die anyhow. A few hundred yards from the dead horses they did find the owners, men who looked just like their steeds, ripped to shreds. There were bodyparts everywhere and putting the bodies back together for burial was impossible, it was like somebody had taken several jigsaw puzzles and just mixed them into one huge pile.

Resh’kha did spit. “It is monsters, no doubt. Bad, very bad”

Bagir did look at her with worry. “So? What do we do?”

Resh’kha did grunt. “Hurry, even more. I need steed”

Bagir did frown. “Ah, are there horses here?”

Resh’kha did shake her head. “No, orcs ride different beast”

She did turn around and her eyes were distant. “Wait here, must do ritual, call one to me”

Bagir felt a bit confused but nodded, he couldn’t protest. She did run off into the terrain and disappeared and Bagir did feel alone and lost. He did trust her with his life and Igkhan did cough and tried to grin. “Don’t worry, she wont be gone for long. She will come back soon.”

Bagir shrugged. “So, what sort of steed is she talking about?”

Igkhan chuckled, he was still pale and he did shiver a lot. “The very best for an orc, believe me”

They sat there for a while and Igkhan did cough again, he was really very weak. Bagir did ride closer to him and he saw that his friend was trembling. “How do you feel?”

Igkhan tried to grin but it became something of a snarl. “Terrible, my head hurts and I feel weak like a piece of wet string but I am gonna make it. I want my revenge, nothing is gonna stop me from achieving my goal.”

Bagir smiled. “That is good, you will avenge her most certainly”

Suddenly they heard hooves and Bagir turned his horse to see Resh’kha coming along a river on a most peculiar animal. It was a buffalo. A huge black buffalo with fierce looking horns and a long and thick coat. He had to shake his head in disbelief, but the two did fit together, it was truly a perfect steed for an orc and Resh’kha was grinning from one ear to the next as she stopped next to them. “He listened and he did accept my call. Now he will carry me for as long as I like”

Bagir blinked twice. “He is impressive, truly. What is his name?”

Resh’kha did scratch the enormous animal behind its hump. “He is Steelhoof, he will trample our enemies. Now, let us make haste”

She just steered the beast with her legs and took off and the two men had to spur their horses in order to keep up. Bagir had to stare at the peculiar sight, buffalo aren’t exactly made to be ridden and it had to be completely horrible to ride one without a saddle or any tack at all, but Resh’kha didn’t seem to bother with it at all. She just looked proud and Bagir knew that the orcs did have a rather strong connection to nature, it was just not as deep as that of the elves. The buffalo had to be Resh’kha’s totem or something, it would explain the connection. As they rode on Bagir started to notice tracks, and they were unusual. He had never seen animals with feet like those and Resh’kha did stare at them with a narrow gaze. “Monsters!”

Her voice was calm but Bagir did notice the tense tone and her obvious fear.

They kept riding hard, resting only sporadically to spare the horses and Resh’kha did keep pushing on even after it got dark. She didn’t like it and Bagir did see this clearly but she didn’t allow them to stop until they reached a cliff where they could seek refuge above the level of the plains. She didn’t allow any open fire and she kept watch. Her eyes were better in the darkness than those of a human being and Bagir was so tired he fell asleep like a log even if he was hurting everywhere. The horses too were exhausted and he knew that they couldn’t continue this wild ride for much longer. The animals were being worn out completely. There wasnt much good feed there on the plains at this time of the year and they were out of oats. Igkhan was still trembling and Resh’kha did give him more medicine and some meat. He did eat willingly but he did look a bit pale still.

The next morning Resh’kha did chase them out of their beds before sunrise and she did look if not eager then tense. She pointed at the mountains in the distance. “We are turning west soon, on the right route.”

Bagir did nod and felt his body creak, he wasn’t a young man anymore and now he did truly feel it too. He wasn’t exactly in the shape of his life anymore. When he was young this would have been a piece of cake but now his body did complain, a lot! Resh’kha did decide the pace now and it was punishing to say the least. The terrain was more ragged here towards the north and it did slow them down. They had to cross canyons and rivers and here and there were dense areas covered with a sort of bush which almost made it impossible to move forth. The horses legs did snag all the time and even the buffalo did struggle.

They did ride on for several days in this terrain and Bagir was getting very tired indeed. Igkhan did regain some strength but Bagir was getting worries for their steeds. The horses weren’t bred for such endevours and their strength was coming to its end quickly. The mare Bagir preferred to ride was stumbling all the time and Igkhan’s mountain horse was lame and struggled to keep up.

Bagir was thus very relieved when they saw what could only be a camp in the distance, it wasn’t Ohtanar but it had to be the camp of one of the twelve clans, those who were stationary and didn’t follow the annual migration. Resh’kha did look relieved too, she did ride on with zeal now and Bagir saw that riders appeared and they were heading in their direction. Resh’kha did stop the buffalo and she waited patiently. Bagir saw that the approaching riders were all human, wearing some thick clothes and they rode tall long legged horses without any bridle. Resh’kha did look relaxed and Bagir did ride forth a bit and raised a hand in a greeting. The first rider was a slender fellow who wore his hair in a long thick braid and he had a goatee and wore a sword at his side. He did look curious but also friendly and Bagir did bow his head and smiled. Igkhan did also bow his head and Resh’kha put a hand over her heart in a greeting. The man did stop his tall gelding and tilted his head. “Travelers at this time of the year? “

Bagir did nod and Resh’kha did point towards the direction from whence they came. “Yes, have to reach Ohtanar, Beasts roam the plain, we saw dead men, bad men. And…disease is there”

The man did frown. “Disease?”

Resh’kha nodded solemnly. “The bad one, leaves men like dead yet not”

The man did go pale. “Oh Gods, we have seen…and monsters? We have seen dead animals, and our shaman…Do follow us, please, we need to talk!”

A while after all three of them were ushered into a huge hut and an elderly woman with lots of jewellery sat there and looked a bit shocked by their arrival. The man who met them did bow deeply. “Honoured mother, we have met these travellers and they tell us about monsters and a horrible disease, I think it is…”

She got up, her eyes were dark and she stared at Resh’kha with obvious worry. “Is it the illness which makes you rot and takes away your spirit and yet you keep wander and attack everything?”

Resh’kha nodded. “Yes, bad omen, bad magic back”

The woman nodded and stared at Igkhan. “He is ill?”

Resh’kha did look proud. “Got scratched by ill orc, but I know medicine, he okay”

The woman did tilt her head, there was respect in her face. “Very good, you are no healer young one but you are wise for your age”

Resh’kha did blush and hid her face and Bagir remembered that someone had once said that older wise women were held in very high regard among the orcs. To be praised by one like that had to be very flattering for the orc female. The woman did turn to Bagir. “I sense a strong determination within you, a purpose. What may that be?”

Bagir did take a deep breath. “We have to reach the Ath’ir and warn him of a danger, a man is going to try to harm his new wife, a man from my village who is mad with jealousy and greed”

Igkhan coughed. “He did rape and murder my sister who was just a child and he is a wicked and evil person. It is my duty to avenge her sweet soul”

The woman did stare at them, her eyes were burning. “I see, and you have encountered monsters?”

Resh’kha nodded. “And demons, they killed men and women of my tribe, we saw them, glowing horrors”

The woman did nod. “There have been sightings yes, and warnings have been felt in the air. Yes, the Ath’ir has to be warned.”

She made a shrill sound which made Bagir jump and some of the men of this tribe did enter the hut. They did all bow their heads and Bagir realized that this woman was very powerful indeed. Like a chief or shaman, probably the last. She did stare at the men. “Get good horses for these men, and equipment. Make sure they reach Ohtanar fast, this has to be known all over the plains”

Bagir did frown. “Pardon me for asking but the disease, you have encountered it?”

The woman nodded and waved the men off, they just left without a word and she did sit down again. She gestured for them to join her on the mats and they did, Resh’kha did look as if she was overwhelmed somehow, being this close to a shaman had to be special to her. The woman did take a deep breath and stared straight at them. “A moon ago hunters from our tribe came across a man from one of the nomadic free tribes, he was wounded and very ill and they took him inn and tried to heal him. But he only got worse and suddenly it was as if his spirit was gone and he tried to attack them. They had to kill him and they burned the body. Then they saw a young girl who walked around naked and bloody and she tried to attack their dogs, they shot her with many arrows and that body they burned too”

Resh’kha did move her lips and her eyes were large. “The illness.”

The woman nodded slowly. “Yes, and animals have been behaving strangely. The darkness has come again I fear, and with it deviltry we have not seen for ages. “

Bagir did wet his lips. “I see, is there anything which can be done”

The woman did smile, a wry grin. “Maybe, there are old prophecies which speak of such a time but nobody can tell for sure wether or not they are true. “

Bagir just sighed and Igkhan did cough again. The woman looked at him. “You will rest here tonight, there will be food and you young man will spend some time in the sweathut. It will do you good”

Bagir felt grateful, food did sound wonderful and he wanted to rest in a safe location. The woman did nod towards the door and another woman did enter, she was younger and rather pretty with a very elaborately embroidered skirt. “Follow Akha, she will make sure that your stay is pleasant. “

Bagir did bow deeply. “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts”

Resh’kha did start to walk immediately and Bagir and Igkhan did follow, both were hungry and Akha did lead them to another hut where several women were busy cooking. They were placed by a huge table and plates placed before them. Igkhan and Bagir got some sort of stew and bread and cheese to go with it but Resh’kha got a whole side of lamb which had been carefully grilled. She did almost drool from the smell alone and didn’t hesitate attacking the meat. Bagir knew that orcs preferred meat and these people did probably know this. The stew was delicious and Bagir did eat until he felt stuffed. Igkhan was taken away by some young men, they were probably healers and Bagir was shown to a bathhouse, it was a hut where they kept several tubs and he did enjoy the warm soak immensely. It was heavenly to just rest and feel warm again. He did almost fall asleep in the water and the one tending to the bathhouse did shake him gently, chuckling while he did it. Bagir got some new clothes on and also some he could bring for later on, he felt immensely grateful and realized that these people indeed were very generous. They had taken the news Bagir and Igkhan brought seriously indeed. Bagir was given a bed in a smaller hut which had to be used for guests and after a while Igkhan did join him there, the young man was wet and he did look very tired but he wasn’t as pale and he did sit down on the bed and grinned. “They do know how to get nastiness out of you, that is for sure. The wound looks normal now, and it is itching”

Bagir nodded. “That means it is healing alright, what did they do?”

Igkhan did lay down. “Chant, a lot, and I had to breathe inn all sorts of odd smoke, and they rubbed me with some oils while I was sweating. I feel odd but better, definitely better”

Bagir smiled. “That is good. You will reach Ohtanar and you will avenge your sister”

Igkhan did close his eyes. “Yes, I cannot stop thinking about her, she was so sweet and innocent and she never anticipated anything bad from anyone. We did even encounter orcs who treated her as if she was the most divine thing ever. Imagine? Old gnarly orcs, sitting there sweet talking to a kid, letting her braid their hair or decorate them with flowers.”

Bagir had to swallow. “She must have been a wonderful person”

Igkhan did sigh. “Aye, she was. Innocense incarnate. I hate Mjorr Bagir, so much it hurts. She should never have suffered such a horrible fate, she wasn’t able to understand at all.”

Bagir felt a bit sad again. “I know, but Mjorr will be punished Igkhan, believe me. And we will stop him from hurting anyone else.”

Igkhan did yawn. “Yes, good night, I am so very tired now”

Bagir did lay down too. “Me too, sleep well my friend”

Wenja and Ahravan did sleep for quite long and she did crawl very close to him, he found that to be adorable and he did love it. To wake up with her resting almost on top of him, hungry for skin contact and as clingy as a kitten was so sweet and he just loved it. He didn’t move until he had to use the privy and then he did extract himself from her arms and legs with great care. She slept on and he had to lean over and kiss her shoulder before he got up and sauntered off to do what he had to do. Afterwards he did wash and returned to the bed, somebody had been there and left some food on the table in one corner and he did feel his stomach rumble but he didn’t want to eat until she was awake again. The warm furs were like caresses and he did find a good position and closed his eyes again. He dozed for a while, feeling more content and happy than ever before. He could feel Rhawan touch his mind and he opened his bond and allowed his si’ish to share the memories of the previous hours. A feeling of joy mingled with slight envy did return and Ahravan had to chuckle. “You are welcome to join us this evening brother”

The answer was a burst of anticipation and love and Ahravan closed the bondlink with a grin, he was looking forward to this too. He did run his fingers through Wenja’s long hair, the colour of deep dark wine and he remembered the dream he had had while waiting for them to return. The woman in that dream had to be Wenja, he couldn’t remember the face of that dream figure but he was sure, it had been the same hair. What had the dream been about? He didn’t care now, all that mattered was that his brother was there and safe and that he now had a new love in his life. For it was love he felt, he was old enough to know what the feeling was. It was odd for he wasn’t one to fall in love easily but he had to analyse the emotion and he knew that he wasn’t as much in love as he did love, unconditionally and completely, already!

It was nothing of that flighty floating madness of his youth when he did fall in love with oh so many for a few decades, this was solid and real and he couldn’t deny it in any manner. Wenja was already a part of who he was and he kissed her forehead with reverence. He would do whatever he could to keep her safe and happy and the idea of losing her was like being stabbed in the chest, repeatedly. No, that couldn’t happen, ever. He would die too, he was sure. There was something about her, something so special and pure and wonderful and she was not meant to be gone from this world, not if he could prevent it. He of course knew that she would age much more slowly now that she was married to him, and he swore to himself that he would do his outmost go keep her young, even if that would wear him out. He had to snicker, Rhawan would do his fair share of that job for sure, he was eager, Ahravan had felt that through their bond. The other women of the clans would mourn this day, he doubted that his si’ish would look at other women with the same amount of lust as he had used to.

Wenja didn’t stir for yet some time and when she did wake up she did yawn and stretch and then she blushed and giggled and to Ahravan it was the sweetest thing ever. He did take her hand and kissed it and helped her sit up. “How do you feel?”

Wenja did check herself, she felt a bit tender here and there but nothing bad and she smiled. “I feel good, I truly do. I am not afraid anymore”

Ahravan had to grin. “That is wonderful my sweet, are you hungry?”

She nodded and he pointed at the table. “We have food, and then I think it is time for a thorough cleaning.”

Wenja could feel how sticky she was in some places and cringed. “Oh yes, no doubt”

Ahravan did grin and helped her up, they sat down by the table and Wenja found that she didn’t feel bothered by their nakedness at all. She felt that it was natural and she did attack the food with fervour. It was cheese and bread and some dried meat and then something which had to be scrambled eggs mixed with pieces of fried bacon. She hadn’t seen pigs there and Ahravan saw her confusion and grinned. “It is wild boar, there are some herds by the rivers. We hunt them every now and then, just to keep the numbers down”

Wenja did nod. “We kept a pig back home, we got a new one each spring and it got slaughtered in the autumn. Father would send us kids away when it was done, but we heard it and we cried every time.”

Ahravan tilted his head. “I understand, we are like that with our horses. They do grow old eventually and if you don’t want the animal to suffer it has to be put down.”

Wenja did wince. “Oh, I haven’t thought of that, I thought that your horses…”

Ahravan did smile. “What?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know, lived for as long as you do?”

Ahravan did sigh. “I am sorry, they don’t. Elven bred horses can live to be a hundred but nothing more than that. Eventually we have to say goodbye”

She swallowed. “That is too bad, they are so lovely. What…how do you do it?”

Ahravan did sigh. “The horse is put out onto the pastures unless it is injured or sick, and when it is grazing and expect no danger it is shot with a strong bow, straight through the skull. It is instantaneous and they don’t have time to feel anything”

Wenja did try to smile. “That is good, I have…”

Ahravan caressed her hand and refilled her cup with wine. “You have seen something bad?”

Wenja did sigh and took a deep sigh. “Ah, yes, when I was little more than a kid. I was following my father to the village for a ceremony and when we did exit the temple some of the men of the village had to put down an old horse which had collapsed. It was…ghastly”

Ahravan did put a hand around her shoulder and leaned his chin on top of her head, he felt her sorrow and knew that the life she had lived had been brutal in many ways. “ I am sorry”

Wenja did shiver. “They cut its throat, and it struggled, it struggled for so long and the screams and the trashing and the smell. I had nigthmares for weeks afterwards”

Ahravan did sigh again. “Children should never see such displays of horror Wenja, believe me, here children are protected”

Wenja did nod. “That is great”

Ahravan wanted to lead the conversation over to something more cheerful. “So, tonight Rhawan will join us if you agree on it?”

She blushed. “Oh is it morning already, I had no idea we have slept for so long”

Ahravan did grin. “The tree doesn’t let light in so it is natural to be a bit confused. What do you say?”

Wenja felt a jolt go through her body at the idea of having Rhawan there with them, it made her lick her lips. “I agree, I want that.”

Ahravan did kiss her hand. “Wonderful, he is looking forward to being here with us both”

She did giggle. “I remember what he and Sefa did show me and …am I being bold to say that I want him?”

Ahravan did shake his head, there was joy in his eyes. “No, not at all. I am glad you do, we share so much Wenja and I can feel all that he feels through our bond, he does love you Wenja and among our people love is sacred and shouldn’t be restricted in any manner. If you love someone then you have the right to be with that person, even if they already have a spouse. Keeping people apart does never bring anything good if the feelings are true”

Wenja smiled softly. “Yes, your people are wise, we humans…not always so much”

Ahravan did have some wine and there was mirth in his eyes. “Yes, you have some odd quirks which we find intriguing at times.”

Wenja did tilt her head. “Such as?”

Ahravan did take a piece of cheese and did bite into it, his gaze was distant. “Ah, you do seem to prefer that the male in a relationship is older than the female? Often by a lot! But a young male are vigorous and a mature woman can handle that, a mature man cannot always keep up with a young bride”

Wenja had to blush. “I know, it is weird but…some seem to think that a woman is only valuable as a maiden, or as a mother”

Ahravan did scoff. “They should have seen our women then, healers, warriors, lovers and wives of males way younger than themselves. They would have gotten a nasty shock”

Wenja did remember weddings at the village where the bride was a mere child and the groom old enough to be her father, in some cases old enough to be the grandfather. It made her cringe. Ahravan did caress her hair. “You are blessed Wenja, and I am twice blessed to have you”

She giggled and had some more cheese and they sat and ate for a while, the food was wonderful and Wenja found some vegetables in the basket which she did find extremely tasty. They were green with a white center and the taste was so fresh and sweet. Ahravan did smile when he saw how eagerly she devoured them. “You like those?”

She nodded and finished one of the crunchy stalks. “Yes, what are they?”

Ahravan did grasp one too, before she ate all of them. “A very luxurious food, they are rare and grown only in the sacred grooves but they are so wonderfully sweet and it is food reserved for newlyweds and pregnant women”

He did hold the stalk in a suggestive manner. “See? It is said to make one very vigorous and it is also said to make a woman stay strong during pregnancy”

Wenja did giggle and took the last one. “So they are not common?”

He did shake his head. “No, not at all. Getting them out of season is almost impossible”

Wenja did take a taste and grinned. “Can they be stored?”

Ahravan nodded. “Yes, they are peeled and put into a huge jar which is filled with strong wine and then sealed. It is safe to eat them but of course you get drunk if you do”

Wenja nodded and finished the stalk, she did look sad that it was all gone. “You do have much wine?”

Ahravan nodded. “Yes, we make wine from many things, and we do also trade for wine from the south. The cities in the south crave furs and gems and our dwarven friends do dig for gems and we provide them with food and protection.”

Wenja smiled and stretched her legs, she had such a natural elegance and Ahravan couldn’t tear his eyes away from her. “That sounds great, cooperation I mean”

Ahravan nodded and took some more cheese. “Yes, we do depend upon that Wenja, we cannot make everything we need here and thus we need to get it from elsewhere.”

Wenja did cringe. “You mentioned washing?”

Ahravan did smile. “Yes, one moment and there will be water available”

He did get up and sauntered off towards the door and he did stick his head outside for a moment and shouted something. He came back in and sat down again. “They will bring a tub soon.”

Wenja did look forward to a bath, she felt as if her entire body was covered with dried fluids and she did smell too. They finished eating and put the basket with the remaining food away and now an elf did stick his head in the door and smiled. He did pull a sort of tub behind him, it was placed on wheels and made from wood and it was very large. Wenja did cover herself up with some furs but Ahravan didn’t bother at all. The elf did place the tub in the middle of the floor and then he went outside and started returning with buckets of hot water, it did take some buckets to fill the tub and he did also leave towels and what had to be soaps and shampoo and then he did wave goodbye and left and Wenja felt relieved that they were alone again.

Ahravan did put a finger into the water. “Ah, it is warm, but not too warm. Come here my sweet, let me wash you”

Wenja did walk over and he helped her over into the tub and she felt that the water indeed was warm but not uncomfortably so. He did pick up a sponge and started to wash her gently, not leaving a square inch of skin untouched and she did enjoy the attention fully. He made her feel worshipped and special and it was wonderful. He used some sweet smelling soap and it made her skin feel like velvet and then he made her sit down and washed her hair with slow gentle movements. Wenja had never felt thus before, as if she was a goddess being tended to by devoted believers.

Mjorr had been riding hard the entire day and he kept riding most of the night until the mare he rode collapsed. He didn’t bother with the dying horse, he ran off and before long he did see lights in the distance. He was dead set on reaching the city, and he did almost regret that he hadn’t told the men he hired to kill Wenja too but then again, he wanted to do that himself. He wanted to ruin her thoroughly and absolutely. He found a small camp with herders and stole a horse from a pen not far from the huts. The dogs did bark but he didn’t care, he just took the horse and rode off and before long he was miles away from the camp. He clenched his teeth together, he wouldn’t let anything stop him, no way. He was rather sure that he would reach Ohtanar without any problems, his father was probably in hot pursuit but who cared? He would get there first and then the problem would be solved. He did ride the smaller gelding until way past midday, then he ditched that horse for a very tall bay stallion which were grazing among a herd of other horses and it wore a halter so it was probably saddle broken. Mjorr didn’t even think about the punishment for horse theft, he took what he needed and that was that. He had no idea of how far it was before he reached the goddamn city but he would get there eventually, it was for certain.

Bagir and Igkhan did sleep for a long time and when they were woken up both of them felt dizzy and heavy headed. They weren’t used to sleeping for this long but their bodies had needed it. Igkhan did look a lot better now, and he whistled as they got dressed. The new clothes did fit them well and then they were fed. Resh’kha did show up and she too did look well rested and she smiled at them. “Ah, you look good, not tired, that is good”

Bagir nodded. “Yes, so do you”

Resh’kha did throw her braids back and sniffed the air. “We are making way, today we ride fast”

Bagir smiled but he felt worried still. “Yes, we have to. I fear that Mjorr is near by, he and his father didn’t have wagons. They have travelled light and even if they started a week after the caravan they can catch up with it.”

Resh’kha tilted her head. “Caravan in Ohtanar by now, I feel it”

Bagir did look puzzled. “ How do you feel that?”

Resh’kha just shrugged. “I just know”

Igkhan did pull on a jacket and put his belt on. He did smile. “I am ready, I feel a lot stronger already”

Bagir petted him on his back. “That is good.”

They left the hut and saw that some men were standing there ready, they held horses and Bagir did see that they were all the overly tall elegant horses the elves did breed. Two of them had saddles and he realized that they were for him and Igkhan. The animals were both dapple grey and the eyes did watch the two men with calm intelligence. The men did see them and smiled. “We are to follow you to Ohtanar, we will ride now for there is no time to waste”

Bagir nodded. “That is true, our things?”

The man did point at one of the horses, it carried a huge pack instead of a rider and the man did bow his head and touched his chest. “I am Churul, I am one of the hunters within this clan. It is a honour to escort you”

Bagir did bow back. “We are honoured to be escorted by you Churul. What are the names of these steeds?”

Churul did smile. “The gelding is Ashstorm and the mare is Dove”

Bagir did get Dove and got up onto the tall mare with some difficulties. Igkhan did look very eager to ride Ashstorm, he had probably never been on a horse that fast before. The group did take off without anymore chat and Bagir saw that the old woman stood in the doorway to her hut and stared at them. The horses did run lightly and the buffalo did look peculiar compared to them but it did keep up just fine and Resh’kha did look almost jolly this day. She had been afraid, Bagir did suddenly realize this. She felt responsible for them all and now with several warriors by their side she felt safer and protected. It was obvious that Resh’kha was the type of a person who tries her best all the time and sees it as a complete failure if she doesn’t succeed in whatever task she has agreed upon doing. Bagir did ride next to Churul. “How long will it be before we reach Ohtanar?”

The hunter pointed towards the horizon. “Four days, if things go well”

Bagir did take a deep sigh of relief, four days, that wasn’t much at all. What could possibly happen in just four days?

In the city everybody were celebrating still, a wedding was a grand event and nobody wanted to end the festive atmosphere. Sefa and Imh was sitting by a table watching one of the young girls of the clans dance. It was a dance which was reserved for such moments since it was a bit risqué and very sensual. Sefa did sigh, she felt somewhat conflicted and Imh did stare at her. “Why the long face pretty one?”

Sefa did shrug. “I guess I wont be enjoying Rhawan that often from now on, if at all. He will join his si’ish and their new bride tonight and if I interpret his behaviour right he will favour her over everybody else for a long time”

Imh just chuckled. “Oh but Sefa, there are plenty of other fish in this pond, and some of them are grand indeed. “

Sefa did laugh. “Yes, of course. But I sort of like Rhawan, he is so very good at what he is doing”

Imh chuckled. “Oh you remind me of myself after I got married, me and my husband did stay in bed for weeks. We couldn’t keep our hands off eachother”

Sefa smiled widely. “I can imagine, you are still a very pretty dwarrowdam Imh”

Imh did blush and gave Sefa’s hand a tiny smack, just to prove a point. “Thank you pretty one, if I wasn’t this old I would seek a new husband, there are many strong and vigorous young males out there, with a core of stone if you catch my drift?”

Sefa had to giggle, the dwarves were often very direct when it came to such matters, even more so than the elves but they did wrap everything up in euphemisms which everybody knew. Imh did look serious again. “I just wish that Prina would leave the hut and see this, she locks herself away from everything”

Sefa did cringe. “How is she doing?”

Imh shrugged. “Badly, I must admit that she is a bloody nuisance, if she just could open her eyes and start acting like a mature woman. I know what happened to her and I do understand but by every God, she is endangering both herself and her baby. She is five months on the way now, she is showing and she should start to prepare herself for what is to come eventually”

Sefa sighed. “She cannot accept it Imh, her mind has locked itself.”

Imh nodded and crossed her arms over the substantial chest. “I know, I hope the shamans can help her become free from what happened to her. “

Sefa smiled. “When is that to happen?”

Imh pulled her shawl tighter around her shoulders. “The day after tomorrow, they are finished with all the ceremonies then. I have spoken to one of them and she is optimistic. They have treated people with such illness before, the mind is a fragile thing and it can shatter like glass, they will make sure that this doesn’t happen to Prina”

Sefa did take a look at the party goers. She snickered. “Wenja has started a new fashion trend, I haven’t seen this many redheads here before”

Imh nodded. “Yes, henna has suddenly become sought after, everybody wants to copy her hair. I think the tribes already love her, they saw her sweetness and innocence and took her inn right away”

Sefa nodded. “Indeed, she will be a good Eth’ir, the best I bet”

Imh got up. “I got to go now, I have to check inn on Prina again, Theka is with her but she does need some breaks”

Sefa did tilt her head. “Ehbrial has agreed upon watching her, has he?”

Imh nodded. “Yes, quite often too, he does manage to get through to her, has made her eat and drink and she even smiles when he is telling stories. If there wasn’t for her past I would hope for a union there but as it is? I don’t think so”

Sefa grunted. “No, that creep which is her brother has ruined her, she may never seek a man’s touch again. Bloody bastard!”

Imh nodded. “Yes, I agree fully to that statement.”

She did take off and Sefa did relax against the table, she was a bit tipsy and she felt good. The celebration had been a grand one so far and she didn’t doubt even for a second that Wenja was having a good time now. Several nights in the holy tree with not one but two gorgeous males? Sefa was envious and couldn’t deny it. She wondered if she should join in on the dancing? Yes, Khirien had often shown some interest and she wouldn’t mind a tumble again, she was rather sure that he would be just as satisfying as Rhawan. Yes, some seductive dancing and then a very pleasant night indeed, it was a plan.

Wenja and Ahravan spent the day laying in the bed just chatting and getting to know each other and as the night fell Ahravan did send for Rhawan through their bond. The dark skinned elf did appear just before the moon did rise, he had taken a bath and his hair was still wet. He did enter with his eyes on the ground and he did look almost nervous but Wenja saw that he was very eager and his eyes did shine. Ahravan did reach out towards him and Rhawan did take his hand and allowed Ahravan to pull him down next to them. Rhawan did bite his lower lip and Ahravan did take Wenja’s hand. “I ask you again, do you accept also Rhawan here as your spouse?”

Wenja did nod and smiled, she felt very self assure right there and then, Ahravan did that to her, made her feel empowered and strong. “I do”

Ahravan did kiss her forehead. “Then let it be, we are one as three, and three as one”

He did remove the cloak Rhawan had worn and he was naked underneath it, and already fully erect. Wenja had to giggle, she felt warm all of sudden. Rhawan did hesitate for a second until Ahravan did give him a silent nod, then he leaned inn and kissed Wenja for real, and she did answer the kiss eagerly. Rhawan was suddenly frantic, almost feverish, as if he wanted to possess everything she was at once. He was kissing and licking and touching and almost sobbing with need and Wenja felt herself getting ready for him, she did truly want him now. Rhawan did push her over onto her back and she did lift her legs and locked them around him as he got into position. He did cry out as he did take her and Wenja had to gasp, there wasn’t that much difference between having him in her or Ahravan, it felt rather similar but it was good and the position was amazing. She felt his every move and he moaned her name and appeared to be completely consumed by bliss and awe.

Ahravan did lay next to them and his eyes were dark with desire, watching his bond brother fuck their wife was so arousing he had a hard time containing himself. He wanted to get in behind Rhawan and take him as he took Wenja but that would have to wait for later on. Wenja did whimper with pleasure and Rhawan did groan and grunt and he did push himself up so he held himself up with his arms straight, he stared down at where their bodies met and his black skin against her light one was such a stunning contrast, he held his breath and rolled his eyes and Ahravan smiled, almost panting too. “Yes brother, don’t hold back”

Rhawan could feel that Wenja was coming, and it was the most wonderful feeling ever, he did scream as his own climax overcame him and he shuddered and ejaculated forcefully, sensing how her strong inner muscles did caress him. He did almost pass out but as he did come down from the high he did notice that he now did feel her mind. Ahravan did smile. “You bonded too? Wonderful, I expected that”

Rhawan fell onto his side next to Wenja who was heaving for air and smiling from one ear to the next. She did kiss him and she smiled and stretched herself like a cat. Ahravan was dark eyed and breathing hard and she did turn towards him and wriggled her hips invitingly. Ahravan didn’t hesitate, he did pull her butt towards his groin and spooned her, he did slide inn with one forceful thrust and Wenja did moan with pleasure and tried to meet his thrusts with movements of her own. Rhawan did stare at it, he was almost gaping at how fast she had become wanton and unafraid. It was amazing, and he saw how Ahravan did fuck her from behind with a slow and steady rhythm which made her yell and whimper. It was the most erotic thing he had ever seen, and he was becoming aroused again. Ahravan did change his speed, to fast smooth thrusts without any pause between them and Wenja did scream and writhe as she came again, her body taught like a bowstring and her face contorted by ecstasy. Ahravan did roar and spilled, knowing that his seed and that of his bond brother now mixed in her was a strange thought but it was somewhat reassuring. Also this they would share and he hoped that Wenja one day would bear them both children.

Rhawan was panting again and he sent Ahravan an apologetic grin. “I want it brother, so much but we shouldn’t wear her out”

Ahravan did send him a quick grin filled with mirth and he flipped Rhawan over onto his back, the dark skinned one did yelp and then Wenja saw how Ahravan did hold him down and started to go down on him. She hadn’t really imagined that two males could do that to each other but seeing it was very enticing. Ahravan was obviously good at it too for Rhawan was moaning and gasping and sweat made his skin look like oiled obsidian, every muscle visible and she did let a hand glide over his chest and just out of curiosity she pinched one hardened little nipple slightly. It made Rhawan jerk and cry out and she giggled, so that was his weak spot? Good to know. Ahravan was using tongue and lips for all they were worth and before long Rhawan did scream again and arched off the bed, clawing at the furs as Ahravan did swallow and afterwards cleaned off him with his tongue. There was a devious glimpse within his eyes and Rhawan did pant as if he had been running hard for a long time. “Gods Ahravan, you did almost kill me there!”

Ahravan did shake his head and laid down next to them. “No way, nobody has died from too much pleasure. You owe me this one”

Rhawan did grin and closed his eyes, he appeared to be close to tears out of sheer bliss and Wenja did lay down and embraced him. Ahravan did the same from the other side and since they all were rather spent they did drift off into sleep rather fast. Happy and content and filled with a sensation of love and peace.

Bagir and Igkhan got to know the riders pretty well, they rode in a tight formation and the long legged horses made the miles fly by as if it was no effort at all. Bagir had never ridden that fast before and he did feel nervous at first but then he did relax and let the horse find its own path and before long he did enjoy it a lot. Churul and the others were talkative guys and Bagir had to listen to several rather rowdy tales and also some stories about the fights they had had against the monsters from the north. Strangely enough nobody did brag about their exploits when it came to those fights, they did openly admit to being scared shitless by the beasts and Bagir was glad they hadn’t met any of those during the journey.

They didn’t stop that much, just short rests to eat and take a piss and let the horses rest and Bagir felt how his age really did bother him now. He wasn’t as strong as the others. Resh’kha did enjoy the journey a lot, she did actually warm up to the riders and showed them some orcish fighting tricks and they did in fact flirt a bit with her, very discretely but it was enough to make the tall she orc blush and stutter.

Bagir knew that Resh’kha in fact could be very sweet behind that rough orcish bruteness she so openly displayed. You just had to get inn under it to see the true personality of the intimidating she orc. They had been given provisions and Bagir had to taste some types of food for the first time. He had never had dried fish before and it did remind him of salted old shoe soles but at least it did hold some nutrition and did fill you up. The cakes made from fat and berries and ground up beef were good, he loved those but the wine these riders drank was horrible. It was sour and acidic and left a dreadful taste on your tongue. Igkhan did drink it though and so did Resh’kha, with delight.

As the days went by Bagir fell into the rhythm of the plains and the riders did show them things they otherwise never would have seen. Dens where foxes used to live, bushes which could provide some food in times of need, the leaves were edible. They showed the mountainfolks how to find water in seemingly dried out riverbeds and also how to cook using a piece of rawhide and warm rocks. Bagir did learn a lot but he did think about Wenja all the time and he was afraid for her. They didn’t encounter any dangers, the nights went by without any incidents at all and one morning they saw smoke on the horizon and Churul did grin. “Ohtanar, just a couple of hours away”

Bagir did take a deep deep sigh of relief, he did feel tired and sore and Igkhan did snarl. “If Mjorr isn’t already captured and killed I will have his head”

Bagir nodded. “Yes, we will see”

They rode on and before long they were met by guards, some were elves and Bagir did swallow, he could never really get over how inhumanly beautiful and majestic these creatures were. Churul did explain why they were there and the leader of the guards did gasp and his eyes got huge “Our Ath’ir did marry his wife a week ago, they did move into their common hut just a few days ago. He is sharing her with his si’ish.”

Bagir did blink, sharing her? With Rhawan? He remembered the tall dark skinned eternal and remembered how gentle he had been to Wenja, perhaps that was a good thing but the idea of one woman and two husbands was unusual. But here it was perhaps just natural. The riders did speed up and rode hard towards the city and Bagir did feel his heart speeding up, he was longing to see her again, badly, and he wanted to make sure that she was safe. She had been like a beloved niece to him and he hated the idea of her being in any form of danger.

The city was impressive, huge felt huts and so many people and elves and Bagir felt overwhelmed right away. Many did stare at Resh’kha and her unusual mount but nobody did question her right to be there and she did her own fair amount of staring. They did stop in front of a huge hut and the lead guard did dismount and went inside. Bagir did hold his breath, he had to fight to control his feelings. Rhawan did exit the hut and then came an even taller eternal who was extremely majestic and masculine looking and behind them…Bagir couldn’t contain a gasp, it was Wenja but she was so changed! She was radiant, her hair did shine like rubies and her skin was clear and smooth and she had put on weight and she was probably the most beautiful woman Bagir had ever seen. She saw him and let out a shrill cry of shock and joy and he got off Dove and ran towards her, embraced her with a sense of profound joy. “Oh sweetheart, I am so so glad to see you again, you look wonderful, are you happy?”

Wenja did hug him back, there was some true strength in her arms and she did almost sob. “I am, I am so happy I cannot express it, but why are you here now? Is something wrong back home?”

Her voice was thin and he shook his head. “No, not at all. Everybody is fine Wenja, or at least, they were fine when I left, but we have come because of Mjorr”

Wenja did hiss, her eyes did shoot lightening and Rhawan did frown. “Mjorr? What has that creep done now? Do you know that Prina is here with us? She did sneak into one of our wagons when we left your valley”

Bagir did blink. “What? We know she went missing but Dagar did never tell that…oh gods, then she is in danger too! Dagar and Mjorr left the valley a week or so after you left, we think Mjorr is after you Wenja and if Prina is here then Dagar wants to punish her for having disobeyed him”

Ahravan had been silent but his face told everybody of his feelings, he was fuming with rage. “Mjorr did rape her, his own sister. She is kept safe her, and is expecting his child in some months”

This time Bagir had to gape, he felt faint. Rape? Mjorr had raped his own sister? There weren’t words for such a horrible crime, no concept for it. It was….he was panting and his eyes got huge. “Then guard her by every God, Mjorr won’t let his father find out about that, the shame will be too much”

Igkhan did growl and his eyes were dark with disgust. “I am Igkhan of the mountains, I have come to avenge my sister too. Mjorr raped and killed her and she was just a child, it is my right to seek justice on her behalf”

Ahravan did stare at the young human and he did nod. “And justice you shall have. We will send out guards and if Mjorr does come near this city he will be caught and he will be punished according to his crime. You young man may claim his life”

Wenja was pale and she did breathe hard, Rhawan did embrace her and Bagir was comforted by the obvious love he saw in Rhawan’s golden eyes. It was very clear that Wenja was happy and taken well care off and Bagir felt relieved, as if a huge load had come off his shoulders. Resh’kha had just stood there next to her buffalo and Ahravan did nod his head. “And you sister orc, why are you here?”

Resh’kha did take a deep breath. “Ath’ir, I have come because of our shamans. I did…I did a foul deed and I was sent here. I was gonna find my truth here on the plains, and pay for my sin”

Ahravan did look intrigued. “Your shamans are strong sister orc, we put trust in their words. You are welcome here among us and I pray you will find what you seek”

Resh’kha did blush and lowered her eyes to the ground in submission. Bagir stared at Ahravan, he was impressive and beautiful and he did guess that any woman would be very happy to be his spouse. Heck, even many men wouldn’t have said no to a night with somebody like that.

Wenja did take Bagir’s hand and she smiled. “Ahravan will organize the guards, now, let us celebrate, I am so glad to see you Bagir, you have travelled very far and very fast too. It is a deed which must be appreciated, and rewarded”

Suddenly there was a flurry of activity, tables and chairs were found and orders were shouted and the horses were lead away and Bagir did sink into a chair for the first time in many weeks and it felt wonderful. Wenja did smile, her eyes were shining. “How is Halda doing? And mom?”

Bagir did smile and felt how the fatigue did sink away. “Halda is sitting upright now, without any support and she is getting stronger by the day. Sina is doing fine too, she hadn’t given birth yet when I left but it was just days away for sure”

Wenja did sigh. “Oh I wish I could have been there for her, but alas, here I am. But I am not complaining, I have never been so pampered before and everybody here is so nice.”

Bagir did take a deep breath. “I don’t see Prina here anywhere?”

Wenja did nod. “You won’t. Her mind…her mind has crumbled, she isn’t well. She was doing so good at first but then she started to feel safe and then the memories came back and she became lethargic and ill. The shamans have tried to heal her but to no prevail, she has sort of locked herself away within herself”

Bagir did sigh. “Why am I not surprised, that poor child. Nobody in the village liked the way she was being treated but this…Oh Gods, if people find out…”

Wenja nodded and made a grimace. “Yes, Prina is being guarded all the time, she has already tried to kill herself once”

Bagir moaned and closed his eyes. “If they catch Mjorr, what will they do to him? I hope they do torture the beast for he doesn’t deserve a nice clean quick death!”

Wenja swallowed hard and took his hand. “A man who has raped will be raped in return, and strangled as it happens. It will be slow and terrible and painful”

Bagir raised his head and his eyes met those of Rhawan. “Good, he deserves that”

Ahravan did smile but the smile was hard and he did nod at Wenja and wandered off, probably to give orders. Resh’kha did bow her head before Rhawan. “We have seen demons, shiny ones, transparent”

Rhawan did sigh. “They have been sighted here too, and other calamities as well. Bad times are coming I fear”

Resh’kha did put a hand in front of her chest. “I am strong, I can fight. Let me be with the warriors”

Rhawan did smile at her, a very pleased smile and he did put a hand on her shoulder. They were of equal height but Resh’kha was way more stocky than him and did probably weigh half as much as the elegant elf. “And that you shall, one more strong arm is welcome now. I will see to it, you will be given a tent and weapons and everything you need”

Resh’kha did beam, her grin was wide and her eyes were shining. To her this had to be absolutely wonderful. A chance to redeem herself and prove her worth, she was almost shivering with zeal.

Food was being served and Bagir and Igkhan did eat as slowly as they could, but they were hungry and this was better than the stuff they had had on the journey by far. The main dish this day was grilled antelope and the use of spice was masterful. Bagir had never tasted meat that tender and tasty before. Igkhan became almost lyrical as he did brag about the skills of the cook and Wenja did giggle and had some too. She did look relaxed and at peace and Bagir did burp and tilted his head. “So, I take it that they do treat you well here?”

Wenja nodded. “Oh yes, I have been given so many presents and everybody is so polite and kind, I am the luckiest woman alive I am sure”

Bagir sent her a wry grin. “So you are pleased with having two husbands? That is rather odd for us but I guess it is nothing out of the ordinary here?”

Wenja did nod. “I am always guarded, and taken care off, I do not need to ask for anything and they are so considerate. Since Rhawan is Ahravan’s si’ish they do share everything, and it is just natural for them to share a wife too”

Bagir chuckled. “And they aren’t wearing you out sweetpea? I mean, two such studs?”

Wenja did blush and giggle, hiding her face. “No, like I said, they are considerate and kind and yes, I do enjoy being with them, immensely, but they do never demand that I bed them, and they do always think of me first and themselves last”

Bagir sighed. “A most glorious way of seeing things. I wish the people of the valleys were as enlightened as this. But alas, they are not.”

Wenja did take a piece of venison and ate it slowly, she did enjoy the food a lot and Bagir did lift an eyebrow. “So, I have heard that these people are different than men, but there will be babies in the future?”

Wenja did scoff. “Of course, I do long to give them heirs but not yet, we can wait and I am young still”

Bagir nodded and had some wine, it was like honey compared to the wine the riders had offered on the last leg of the journey. He did grin and petted her hand. “That is good, I bet your parents will be overjoyed to become grandparents.”

Wenja did chuckle. “So, what has happened back home since I left, have they moved?”

Bagir did start to tell of everything which had changed and Rhawan went off to meet with Ahravan. He had just sent out groups of scouts to be on the lookout for Mjorr and he had also sent some of the fastest riders south towards the trading routes to see if they could gather any information. If Mjorr and his father were heading their way somebody were bound to have seen them. Rhawan did take Ahravan by the arm and lead him away from the others, concern was written all over his face. “I do not like this at all”

Ahravan nodded sternly. “Neither do I my brother, I feel fear. We have to be careful, if this Mjorr is fanatical enough he may try to sneak inn and Wenja is too visible, she cannot just sit and hide in a tent all day long. She will fade.”

The days since they had moved into the main hut had been blessed and peaceful and they had sort of fallen into a routine by now. Each night the three of them would share Ahravan’s huge bed and the bonds between them grew stronger and more true each day. Wenja was already loved by the entire city for her gentle nature and kind disposition and she was still being given gifts. Rhawan did sigh. “I should have killed that piece of filth back at the village, it would have saved us much trouble”

Ahravan did give him a swift hug. “You couldn’t have forseen what Mjorr would do, we just have to make sure we find him before he find us”

Rhawan took a deep breath. “Yes, there are guards everywhere now, getting through will be close to impossible”

Ahravan smiled. “Yes, we will never leave her side just to be on the safe side but the city is well guarded.”

Rhawan shrugged. “The other things are also worrying, the monsters and the demons and the things Bagir told about”

Ahravan nodded slowly and they walked towards the corral where their horses were kept. Flint was there too and Wenja had visited the huge stallion each day and their bond was getting strong, the horse knew her now and knew that she was the person he was to protect at any cost. The zahar had also stayed there, and it did graze among the other horses, Ahravan was puzzled by the fact that it liked Wenja so much, he had no idea of why. Zahars didn’t bond with others at all, they were solitary animals and would stay away from cities and villages. There had to be some sort of explanation but he hadn’t found it, yet.

Bagir and Igkhan were shown to a hut which was to be theirs for their stay there, it wasn’t large but very nice and Bagir did look forward to some days and weeks with luxury. Soon Ohtanar had to be moved again and he was looking forward to witnessing that too, it had to be quite the operation. Igkhan was tired and went to bed but Bagir went for a walk before he rested, he wanted to see more of the city and he was impressed by how elegant every possible problem was solved. The latrines were something he never had seen the likes off before and also the huge amount of extra material for huts was impressive. They thought of every possibility and that was wise.

There was some more food brought forth and Bagir had some bread before he went to bed, also some thin wine. He had a feeling that his stay there would be pleasant and he knew he couldn’t return home until Mjorr was caught and punished. He had to see that this threat was gone forever.

Wenja did talk a lot that evening, she laid in bed speaking of all the things Bagir had told her when she was a kid and what he had taught her about the mountains and Ahravan did understand that he had been almost like an uncle to her, and a person who she did trust completely. That Bagir had helped keeping her safe made Ahravan very appreciative of the man and Rhawan did also like him a lot. He was a hardened person, well used to a rough life and yet he had a kindness and a good heart which was rare these days. He had endured a tough existence within the steep valleys but it had transformed him into a person of generosity and understanding, the elves did admire that. Bagir would be well respected there, and also appreciated.

The next day Wenja did show Bagir more of the city and Igkhan was already out with the young warriors, testing his skills and flirting shamelessly with the young females. He did enjoy himself a lot and told them about his injury and got a lot of sympathy, which he used for all it was worth. Resh’kha had ridden out and Wenja was impressed by the huge orc. Floth’bha had also joined that group and Wenja hoped that the two could become friends, Floth’bha needed someone like herself.

For the next days Bagir spent his time getting to know the daily routines of the city, he did try to make himself useful by helping with the sheep and he did soon gain a reputation as someone who knew sheep very well. These animals were way larger than the ones he was used to and they had long legs and were fast like weasels but sheep will always be sheep and he did know how to deal with them. That earned him some respect from the herders and he became a part of their group and was invited to join them for meals and some light partying. That was when Bagir did notice three men who clearly wasn’t members of the clans, they did look as if they came from the mountains and Rhawan said they were servants of some lord to the south who had wanted to buy some stallions. Unfortunately there hadn’t been time to deal with them yet and they were patient and didn’t complain at all. Bagir couldn’t help it, he felt a bit nervous, he couldn’t think of anyone who would send people out there just to buy a horse. It was a thin story and he promised himself to keep an eye on them, just in case. The city was surrounded by guards now and also dogs and Bagir had seen the enormous long legged hounds the elves did breed and knew that Mjorr was in for a nasty surprise if he tried to sneak by the guards. The dogs would attack and they were trained to bite and bite hard.
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