Abiorn prowled. He prowled and prowled and the bit of him that was human hoped that someone had picked up his cloak because he liked that cloak and fixing it to break away easily upon transformation had proven to be difficult. But mainly, he prowled.
He encountered little wildlife on the ice. For that, he felt grateful and grateful felt better than anything else he could be feeling right now. His animal mind wrestled with the feelings without having the human mind dwell on their meaning.
How could he feel betrayed that Godric died? His commander. His leader. His boss. He felt betrayed, let down, angry. But he did not feel those things toward Godric, did he? But the man should not have gone off on his own, he knew better, he was the commander, he was his commander, he shouldn’t have gone off on his own…
Salmon. He could smell it. He lifted his head to sniff the air and followed the naked trail of fishiness to the bay. Catching a fish came easy. Thinking about Godric was too hard. Being a human was too hard…
What happens when a man dies?
After Godric fell from the fort’s wall, Taja had sat down to lead his spirit to where spirits go. Not the Henki-maa. The other place out of reach and time.
When he died, where would he go? He was more than a man. Would he be stuck there on the spirit plains? Would he descend into a hukassa? Would he join Joren and live with spirits of the bear-men instead? What about his brother and sister…
Fish. Focus on fish and sweet berries. There are no bees in Forochel.
The cold seeped into old bones. It crept into the marrow and stopped the heart though the lungs kept breathing in and out. In and out. In and out.
He did not want to breathe in and out anymore.
The boy had used his power enough to close the wound and stop the blood from draining out, but to what cause? Zabathôr knew that he was not in a pile of Lossoth furs being tended to by one of their beautiful women. He knew he was truly alone in the world for the first time. No slaves. No servants. No hope.
His crusted eyes fought to open beneath the warmth of the summer sun. He could not understand why they tried. He could not fathom how they succeeded. The white and grey blinded him. The blue suffocated. The world around him weaved in and out of his vision in a waterfall of colour. He could not stop looking.
His old bones ached from the cold.
Slowly, he turned his head to look across the parapet where that cursed boy cut him down. The Angmarim had fled quickly, but thoroughly. Only a broken barrel remained in his field of vision. A barrel and blood on the cold stones.
Weakly, he lifted a hand and the wood ignited. It flared brightly, blinding his tired eyes and then settled into a low burn. It would not last long. He would not last long if he remained exposed to the Forochel air. Perhaps something remained…
Above him, a black shadow circled.
Slowly, he rolled over to his side, wincing and biting back a groan. Even though only the cold stones towered around him to hear it, he kept it inside as he pushed himself up into a sitting position. His hand braced his torso. Pain exploded beneath his cool composure, but he was used to pain. He had not always been the most powerful of the Four Lords. He knew how to bear the fires of pain.
“My poor chest,” he murmured as he pulled himself closer to the fire. “All these years and I managed not to mar it…”
He pulled the sliced pieces of his robe tighter over his cold chest to hide the angry red wound.
The black shadow above cawed down to him to die. It was hungry. So was he.
Gritting his teeth, he lifted a hand and murmured the words. He was too tired to do it without the words. Even as the carrion bird fell to the stonework of the fort, he paled. It would be a while until he could do that again. Its feathers smoldered nearby. He could not let the fire he had go out…
It would be easier to die. He wasn’t sure he could stomach the bird after he defeathered the carcass. He used a fine dagger used for decoration more than slicing flesh and severing ligaments. He skewered a bit of meat on its end to hold over the barrel fire. He managed to eat a few bites and then he set the rest on the cold stones and looked around himself. Saw the door. Managed to stand with the help of the low wall that their commander had toppled over so poetically. He smiled.
The Ironspan claimed many men in its time. It would claim many more in the times to come. But Zabathôr knew that it would not claim him that night.
((Sidenote: Because I am indecisive, I rolled a lot for Zab’s situation. 14 to survive the night. 18 to survive waking up. 6 to be found by someone. 17 to stand and make it to shelter. He clearly wants to live. 😉 ))