The snow crunched under my boots as I neared. I noticed the finger cut from his hand, the ring gone with it. I spat a curse at the moon, maybe he didn't die on his own accord, perhaps someone else has plans; a game of chase that I grow wearier of by the passing of each day. Anger boiled inside me. How could I let him slip from my grasp? I had the game all but won and I let my guard down. I glance again at what remained of a face. A man of many enemies it seemed. A liar, a thief, a cowardly fool, finally met with an end. Whoever had the grace to catch him knew exactly what they were looking for. It couldn't have been local bandits, no, they would have never came this far up the mountain. The finger, the ring, it seemed to be the only things they'd taken, all his other belongings still lie with him in his rotting pile of disgrace.
I scavenged for anything of use and found much of nothing, a few scraps of jerky that the crows must have pecked through as dessert. I took the dagger and a half-full bottled spirit. I ran my thumb over the faded label, "Shordonire," if I could say anything at all, at least the bastard had taste. Stolen, without a doubt, but I couldn't complain. I set out to find salvation for the one's I've wronged and in exchange found one of the finest drinks in the north. What luck. I took a swig to celebrate my victory, it settled on my stomach with welcomed warmth, another day, another dead end. I laughed. When will the cycle cease? When will something happen that doesn't end at a dead end or a slaughter.
I take another drink.
"Daegan," his name fell from my lips with such weight. My son. I'll never forget that look on his face when I left. Helpless, confused, the blissful innocence of a child unknown to the savage ways of a vile world. How I miss that smile of his, his heart - full of hope, love, just like his mother's. I lost mine somewhere along the way. The things I've done, the lives I've taken. I saw their faces in every woman and child that bled out before me. My heart bid me farewell long ago, what remained was a frozen stone, black as the dark shores of Ebon.
The moon hung full and lit the world with its icy sheen, mirrored by the sea in the distance. A good three days travel at least, that sea. I had to find shelter and regroup and the coastal city of Myra was my best option. I took another drink and put the bottle in my knapsack. I slid the dagger into the empty sheath my blade once kept. I had lost mine days ago at the base of the Hallow. I guessed it must have fallen out in the thicket. I haven't seen it since.
I looked out over the horizon. I saw the subtle speck of campfire far down below. I pondered if they had a hand in the thief's death. Judging by the age of his ravaged body, whoever had done it should be long gone by now, then again who knows. I really didn't want to think about it, my bones ached from the bitter cold, my body exhausted from the climb. My obsession with finding the ring skewed my instincts of survival. Night came and I had not the means to even begin thinking of a fire. I sighed and watched my breath dissipate into the cold. The caw of a bird pierced the silence. I look again at the light from the camp, Rothir thugs more than likely, either way, I would find out. Whoever it is down there, they'd better pray they don't have what I'm looking for. What's the world with a couple less degenerate pricks like them anyway. Before I set off down the Hallow I took one final glimpse of the pitiful bastard's mangled face and then toward the crow watching me grimly from a flagged waypost.
"On my name, bird. If they have what I want, I'll give you what you want. I'm sure you and your kin would love that, wouldn't you?
It cawed and cocked its frozen gaze sideways.
"If the crows want a feast, I'll give them a fucking feast. "
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