of the Last God
(Book II of the Oerth Cycle)
(C) 2000 BY
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The flickering firelight illuminated the two mus warriors as the sat across from each other, one in the brown livery of Clan W'Mefa, and the other in the gray livery of Clan Xaa. Nearby, the other nineteen warriors of Clan W'Mefa that had accompanied Lord Xaa to the northlands sat together in groups of two or three, cooking their evening meal over small campfires. Surrounding them were the rest of the thousands which comprised the host of army of the northlands. The two warriors kept their voices low, though only one did so out of choice.
"My lord is beside himself, I think," Lord Y'dahk said, poking at the fire with a stick. "I have known him a year, now, and I have never seen him like this."
Gnatchok nodded as he finished whittling the stick in his paw into a spit, then sheathed his knife. "I have known him longer - perhaps eight years, now, in all, though really I saw little of him before five years ago," he hissed in reply, scratching at the scar that crossed his throat. "I have seen him like this before."
Gnatchok reached for the rabbit carcass P'jasta had left a few minutes earlier, spitting it on a stick and setting it to cook over the fire, next to the one Y'dahk had set. "When he would come from seeing his daughter," he replied, and stretched, yawning into the cool evening air.
"Hrm? I don't understand," Y'dahk replied, raising a furry eyebrow.
"Well, you may have heard she was poisoned by the cats. She was mindless for years before the Little One, Tinker, found the cure for us," Gnatchok whispered, and Y'dahk nodded. "Well, many times he would return to Castle W'Mefa, spend a few hours with her, then sink into... This mood. He would then be eager to ride out again, and slay more cats," Gnatchok explained, then paused a moment, remembering.
"Old Tlahn said once that when his wife died, he raised his sword to the heavens and swore the cats would pay in rivers of blood. And he has made good on that vow - and then some. He's personally slain over two hundred - I don't know the exact number. I've lost count, myself. Now, we've cut off the retreating cats from that castle they were headed towards, and are driving them south. Within a week, perhaps two, we'll corner them, and wipe them out," Gnatchok whispered, then shrugged. "I would say that he will probably make good on his vow until death overtakes him."
Y'dahk stroked his whiskers. "They say... They say the cats call him 'The Slayer.' They say they fear him."
Gnatchok nodded. "I believe they do."
Y'dahk pulled his rabbit from the fire, and set it to cool for a moment. "Still... I've never seen him like this before. At times, one can almost feel the hate he has for them."
Gnatchok nodded. "You've only seen him since he met Lady Merle. Before she came into his life, he was like this often."
"Ah, that explains it."
"Oh? How so?" Gnatchok whispered curiously.
"She's gone off with Lord O'dmemet to try to rescue the Little Ones. The cats had kidnapped their entire village - we received word of it just before we left. They apparently were taken by a small group of cats, but they've almost certainly been taken deep in the cat's territory. There was none better to translate for Lord O'dmemet than Lady Merle, so she went along. Unfortunately, your lord only had two hundred riders to spare for his son. They might rescue the Little Ones, as Lord O'dmemet is quite a skilled strategist, but it will be a near thing. They might all be killed."
Gnatchok shook his head. "Ah, I see. She was the balm that eased the hurt in your lord's soul. Now, he may, perhaps, never see her again. How sad," he whispered.
"Fate," Y'dahk replied, nodding.
"Fate," Gnatchok agreed, pulling his rabbit from the fire.
The two friends sat in silence
after that, eating their evening meal, lost in their own quiet
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