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Hi, stranger, come around here, sit by the fire and share my humble cadarul soup. Don't be afraid of me, I'm an old, weak man and soon I will go to wherever the four Gods think I deserve. Do you dread death? Do not, worse fates abound in this world as I can sadly recall...

I was about that strange age in which you are but a chunck of meat not yet a man but no longer a child either, or maybe a little younger or older; ha! nobody would care now, let's proceed with the story. My family had a home in the badlands close to a river bend that was but a muddy path for the better part of the year. It was a good, tough life; we herd one hundred cadul which was little trouble for us, ten brothers, two sisters and the old man. None of us knew mom. I, Qedim, was the fourth eldest which was about right; tough good life, I miss it.

I remember his eyes, Ladeni, our brother, lied on the earth, dead and Cadihn, the eldest, still bleeding from six wounds had also started its walk to the lands of no return. Seven cadaruls were also dead and, between them, with an arrow piercing his belly our little brother, Neen.

Ladeni, Cadihn, Neen, Kavui, Redom and the old man left two days before to take the herd to graze along the creek, while the rest of us stayed to tend to the corn fields. We heard of shoutings and strife and ran to find them.

"Slavers, they took dad Kavui and Redom"

To the day I die I will remember Neen's words, this I know for sure, as my death is at hand.

Relizing I was then the eldest, I sent Nina and Gina, our sisters to care for him while we took our weapons, shoed our sandals and parted away. Two javelins, a spear, a mace and a shield, we were not just farmers, the old man had taught us well; nor were we weak, surely young but Cunste, Pitro, and Nocas, the remaining three, were only a few months younger than me and their muscles had been hardened like stone since their birth.

It was not but two hundred paces that Nocas found their trail; the dried scrub they had stepped on told us not only their route but that they were walking and not running, like if they felt nothing wrong could happen to them. The old man had taught us well so we knew what we had to do, round them about and await them ambushed by the rocky grounds that lied half a journey away.

On the way Pitro spotted hoofmarks and while the old man had told me nomads used to roam around there, I decided to play a little safer so we went on we our bodys bent forward as fast, hiding in the grass, as fast as we could. One hour later we saw them!

They were but two, covered in steel, gold and feathers mounted on horses almost slept by the fatigue, dressed in silver and stinking of perfume, not ordinary slavers; but young as I was, I did not burn my head, just attacked.

They had bows, horses and armour and were older and better fed than us, but we knew to sneak through the high grass; slowly we rounded them pass their backs and as we stepped on their shadows, we jumped!

My spear broke on his cuirass but the sheer force of the impact unsaddled him so my brother Cunsta could crush his head. As for the other rich boy I only saw him whizzing to death, face up on the ground, on a reddened earth. Pitro and Cunsta were untouched but Nocas had a dagger slash on his stomach. We could stop the blood all right, the old man had taught us well, but we had to leave Nocas hidden.

We kept on moving through the hunting grounds of the shadiar - the mean beasts which while often preyed on our flocks have learnt to fear us - till we reached the rocky grounds, the land of the six devils of fire, the remainings of a volcano dead eons ago at the wars of the God. There we waited.

The night came first, then the slavers; ten spearmen, the old man and my brothers and two horsemen, we left the first half pass by us and then we threw our javelins and ran through the rocks without even watching the result of our attack.

The slavers, or some of them, pursued us but we kept close to each other while they dispersed in the shadows, then we ran back to the location of the ambush to find two spearmen, the two horsmen, the old man and our brothers. I could stop not Pitro who shouting at them like a wounded beast, charged; so we followed, were we to die, we would die as brethren. I remember my shield pierced by a spear and my mace crushing a shoulder and then the leg of a horse; I remember the slavers falling to our savage arms and the stench of blood but, of all I remember dad attacking me.

He had a sword, a weapon of the civilized man, I had never seen him using before. I ran from him I am not ashamed to confess, how could I bear an arm on my father? Our brothers and me ran through the night and we never saw him again.[detail the persecution]

That day I did not understand, but today I do. The old man had trained us well, too well, to be the sport of bored nobles. We were slaves and children of slaves, marked by iron before we learned to walk, and from that time one hunted as rabid shadiari.

Know young man, that I am no stranger to death, that I fear not anything, now that I know I am to go to the land of no return soon, but not by your hand, assassin; the soup we share is poisoned. You are sleepy right now, don't you?, so I do, no reason to feel pain on our last voyage, don't you think? I'm old, wasted, too sad to live, I will just sleep here a little; sorry young man I had no better way to fight you, wake up with me in the land of the silent as friends because your mission and my quarrel ends here...


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Playing is the most important thing life...


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by ursus





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