Hadde ignored the bitter wind that swept the Great Forest as she scanned the column of raiders passing through the trees ahead. Stronger than the smell of fallen leaves and earth, she could smell their filth and sweat. She smelled something else as well. The scent of rot. The scent of death.
Fifteen of the raiders wore the bright tunics of Kiremi nomads, although they only had four horses, and those half-starved. The Kiremi themselves didn’t look much better. They seemed weary and defeated, not like the last time they had stormed her village. The Wasting is as bad on the plains as it is in the forest, Hadde thought.
Five strangers marched with the Kiremi. Unlike the nomads, they wore bear-skull masks and padded leather aketons and carried javelins and axes instead of bows and sabres. Their long fur cloaks and heavily bearded faces made them look like huge bear-beasts. They looked fiercer than any people she had ever seen. And there was no sense of defeat in the way they carried themselves.
Not only did the Kiremi bring allies, they also brought a captive. She recognized Geros, a young hunter from Fallingbrook. His hands were tied behind his back and his mouth was gagged. Two Kiremi walked beside him. One held a rope tied around his neck.
“The Kiremi are back,” Hadde said as Belor and Calen joined her behind the fallen tree hiding her from view. “They have Geros.”
Belor stood, dropped his axe and waved his hands in the air. "That's it, I'm outta here."
"What are you doing?" Hadde whispered angrily. "Don't screw this up!"
"Sorry, I can't be a part of this. It just doesn't feel right."
"What are you talking about? We evoke the senses, we describe the situation and the scenery, we have military strategy coming into play--"
"Yeah, but . . .don't make me say it."
"Just say it already!"
"Fine . . . this reminds me of Eragon. Oh God, I didn't want to hurt you. Forget I said anything."
"You bastard. You cruel fucking bastard."
Opening: Matt Heppe.....Continuation: Matthew