At the very bottom of the mountain’s sheer southern face, a group of three had gathered in the shelter of a lush green valley. The trees and bushes around them were hidden under a thick blanket of snow.
The campfire at the centre of their bivouac threw red and gold light against their faces, making them appear like bronze statues of malignant gods. Though no gods carried such weathered cheeks, creased brows and calloused hands.
“Well, what do you make of it?”
The first to speak was Burr, a woodsman with a long-handled axe slung across his broad shoulders. His beard hung so low over his muscled barrel of a chest and round belly that he could have tucked it under his belt.
He was answered by Cati. She was a trapper and trader in furs. Her legs were narrow and her figure nymph-like. It was said in the lower valleys that if a rabbit escaped one of her snares, she could chase it for a day before tiring.
“Night has fallen, that’s all I see.”
“Have you ever seen night fall from four sides at once, darkness meeting in the middle of the sky? This is no natural night.”
“I never said it was natural. But night it is.”
Tired of their squabbling, the third bronze figure spoke up.
“Hear me when I say this is the work of forces outside this world.”
His tone was sage and his voice carried crisply over the crackling fire. Dura scratched at the grey stubble of his chin and spat into the glowing coals. He was a wise man by all accounts, even if some called him a charlatan.
He was a man of only one talent, but he put it to many uses. He told tales of sorcery, mixed potions for the weak and helped in the birthing of babes. A physician, he called himself, others naked him magicker.
“It’s a spell then, an enchantment?” Burr ventured.
“What do you know of magic, lumberjack?” Cati asked.
All three had spent enough nights beneath the stars to hear when a stranger approached. They turned towards the edge of the clearing and an unfamiliar voice spoke out of the gloom.
“I reckon it’s a curse, but one that can be broken.”
Three pairs of hands slid along faded leather belts towards the hilts of three honed knives. But the sight of a poised arrowhead and a taught bowstring arrested their movements.
“Let’s be civil.” The bowman said. “Is there room by that fire of yours for one more?”
You might also like:
- Through War, United which can be found here on John H. Loase’s blog.
- A great One Line Story on Kimberley Crawford’s blog.
Don’t forget to have a look at my book here on Amazon Kindle.