Part 15: False Light
Halthor was on the predawn watch. It was decided between the cousins that one would gaurd Halthor as he rested for a time after they were awake. The fire had consumed a goodly lot of the wood piled at the windward side of the building. All night, he had evil dreams. Visions of war filled his sleep where figured of astounding inhuman beauty battled each other in terrifying slaughter of any who were between them. He saw a black haired woman clad in bright armor bearing a sword he was sure was barely into womanhood. Still, in his nightmares, this young woman rode screaming into battle with a taller woman of inhuman grace at her side, also wearing armor. Both suits of armor bore stylized images of leaves upon them and were so finely crafted that Halthor was sure no human hands could manage such a thing.
As he watched the embers of the fire glow, all he could think of was this young woman that could have been his own child leading a howling horde of men into battle against another group with which there were two of the terrifying but beautiful people arrayed in black. He tried to tell himself it was just a dream. He did his best to tell himself that no one would let a mere girl dally with such men let alone take arms and attempt to battle them, nay, lead them in battle. Halthor shuddered.
Outside, the voices on the wind began to stop begging for entrance. They sang of dawn and daylight. They called out for him to step out into the day. Halthor's right hand gripped and released the haft of his hammer rhythmicly. It wasn't a conscious gesture. "I wish they'd shut up and let me think," he muttered. Ewen scoffed in his bundled up blanket.
"That'd make it easier. You sleep and I'll mind the night singers," the ferryman said. Halthor looked over at him as he sat up. Ewen paused a moment and tipped his head slightly to the right to listen better. "They're singing of day break. That's a good hour off. This is when they get you," he said, shaking his head, "You hear a choir singing of dawn and rising light. It sounds beautiful and as though it was a thing of the world that should have been. Then you open the door and the screaming horrors come in. And slaughter comes with the wind that puts out most of your hearth light."
Halthor looked over at him. "I thought that was just a story," he said.
"After last night?" Ewen said dryly and Halthor looked mildly chigrined. Ewen waved a hand. "It's a good hour to be up. Then I won't be away from Grand-da too long. Last night was not good. I am concerned for him."
"What happened to your father? Was he a priest as well?" Halthor asked. Ewen shook his head. He looked over at the door that rattled slightly with the force of the wind blowing on it, making it press insistently into Halthor's broad shoulders.
"I was seven. I woke up early because I hear voices singing. I wanted to see who was singing so early in the morning. I opened the door. A woman walked in with her feet not touching the ground. She opened her mouth and it was full of teeth like knives. I screamed and ran. Grand-da heard my scream and my parents. Uncle Mavora ran in and pulled him out as the gore eaters were clawing for him. They ripped out uncle Mavora's tongue as he threw Davian to safety. Stag's grace that dawn came when it did, for they very nearly pulled my uncle into what was once my home." Ewen looked at his cousin that was also his brother. "Until we were of age, I was raised by Grand-da and Davian by Mavora. Then my older brother came here to mind the traveler's rest. I became the ferryman after an arguably short apprenticeship and uncle Mavora went into the temple. Davian doesn't think of himself as my brother. We were but a year a part. Some thought us twins. I doubt that wound will heal. I understand why."