Previous  2. Chapter 

Trarel kept running even though his lungs were on fire and he could no longer feel his legs. Time seemed to slow down, it felt like he had been on the run for hours. By now the shouts of the Magmars that had been chasing him down the slope of the mountain and into the trees started to sound fainter and less urgent. He could only hope that they would cease their pursuit soon as he was staggering through unfamiliar woods in almost complete darkness. Just as he thought this, the ground dipped beneath his feet and he slid down a brush-covered slope and suddenly stood on the banks of a small river, fed by the glaciers further up the mountains. Dark crystal waters glistened in the night. Trarel did not waste any time: He jumped into the river and half swam half ran with the current. The freezing liquid burned on his skin but at least feeling crept back into his extremities. Distance. That was the key. Get as much distance between himself and those unholy Magmars. But wait! He realized he had to get some rough bearings if he ever wanted to be able to find this place again. And that he must! All that gold he had seen in the caves, all those riches. Struggling with the now quite fast current he cast about for landmarks that he could fuse with the memories of the caves. There to his right rose a distinct row of mountains. Three volcanoes, their peaks covered in snow except for the one in the middle which was bellowing smoke. Right. A lush valley below them, shaped like a “V” with tall fir trees and ferns. And with a waterfall by the sounds of it... Damn. Trarel realised, why the current had picked up. Desperately he tried to swim towards one of the banks, but the waters were to swift and strong now. He prayed to Sheara that in her wisdom she had made this waterfall one of the smaller ones. Looking downstream the river had a cut of look and Trarel took one deep aching lungful of air as he went over the edge, one last thought of the gold under the mountain on his mind.



 
“The last of the men have returned, Elder. They reported that they saw the human jump into the waters. Last he was carried over the edge, being swallowed by Zu'Chrachyn.” said the young captain bowing to Man'gar who nodded and turned to his pupil sitting next to him by the fire. “These are dark tidings. And we have to make haste if we want to keep the initiative.” He sat brooding for a while, scraping the remains of tobacco out of the bowl of his pipe. Grador, the young priest was watching with alert concentration the features of his old master. Over the past three years he had learned some of the language the mimics spoke: Man'gar's eyebrows were raised as always when he encountered something of interest. The wrinkles of a long live seemed to have disappeared and Grador was looking at the face of a mighty warrior who had seen and lived through many battles. He understood the situation, he thought. Surly his master was not going to let this slide, surly he would pick a search party in a few moments and set out after the human to avenge its blasphemy and take his head as a trophy. Lost in thoughts of the joy of fighting and valour Grador realized Man'gar was by now looking straight at him. The Elder winked at him: “Getting ahead of yourself again, my lad?” Man'gar got up and lit the now refilled pipe with an ember from the fire. “Ah, and here's my old bones thinking old thoughts when the world is ever changing.” He rolled the glowing coal in the palm of his hand for a moment, inhaled deeply and blew a huge ring of smoke towards the heavens. Turning to Grador he dropped the red glow back into the flames and rubbing the warmth into his hands he spoke. “On your feet boy! There are things that need doing! First of all you go and fetch me Fragnir, he's one of the guards on the northern perimeter and the best rider of our lousy outfit, if I can trust my old eyes and ears. Tell him, he'll be on his way to Dartrong within the hour and to leave everything behind except his weapons and weather gear.  And get me some parchment as well and the satchel from my bag.” Again he turned his gaze upward.  “I should have looked closer in the nights gone by. The stars tell of violence to come.” And grinning at his excited novice he added “I can smell blood on the wind.”
 

 
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