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       Fio, p.1

           Andy Marr
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  Andy Marr

  Copyright 2015 Andy Marr

  Thank you for downloading this ebook. This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their favorite authorized retailer. Thank you for your support and respecting the hard work of this author.


  Gargantuan clouds moved across the sky migrating slowly solemnly with infinite displays of charming ever so slow eruptions.

  Beneath the underbelly of one of these clouds a speck of a hawk hovers watching the earth way down below. Far north mountains line the horizon, rocky and grass laden plains roll away to the south, stretching from the West to the East is an expanse of forest its canopy dappled in shades of dark green forever hiding its lofty heights.

  The hawk passes it’s gaze over a mass grouping of mountains completely surrounded by the forest their landscape strewn with ruins of rock, their fringes combed by the forest. The mountains are covered in weather worn cliffs, crevices, winding ledges, dead ends and dark pockets of which mostly all is passed by a winding maze of animal trails either above, below or dangerously in-between. Offspring of the forest clings where it can to the mountainous terrain: stout thickets, ruff tufts of grass, contorted pines, and adventurous daisies. This environment thawing an endemic microcosm of fat little lazy lizards, moths migrating from shrub to shrub to spiders nest in stone concave. Obliviously adrift a warm breeze specks of seemingly busy bugs cluster in a bubble formation with flight paths of one eyed sparrows, one choosing to fly above it all slowly departs on an off shoot gust.

  This setting of an ebbing ocean of tree tops and sun-bathed, wind-carved and ruptured rock now begins to dim. The skies dying with bold oranges, pinks and a swathe of gold as the sun sinks further behind the mountains casting their shadow over all but the beyond where light shone ever brighter. The once blue sky had now emulsified and like summer rain drops upon a pools surface stars unceremoniously began to appear.

  The hawk’s eyes jerked and taking on the wait of stone it plummeted. Swooping above the forest canopy, gliding amongst tree tops cutting through a chill wind to follow a hunt. Flying above a creature running in dread the hawk caught glimpses where it could and where it could not followed the noise of it.

  Wolves behind gave chase on the putrid smell of it and although the human was nimble through fern gullies, under fallen trees, around boulders and over dry creek beds the pack was forever gaining. The pair of fleeting feet and pack of chasing paws paced over the forest floor inching ever closer in the direction of the solitary mountains.

  The ground grew rocky and began to incline more and more beneath the man’s feet. He could sense a means of escape ahead and no sooner than this thought occurred with lungs stinging, feet slipping, torn muscles aching he was jumping from boulder too boulder until a sudden silence gave-way as he jumped to hit a steep slope scrambling for an escape. A wolf landed below clawing.

  Hands grasping with all might left to get up and away.

  Blood is tasted.

  The wolf had lunged for him managing to catch a foot and as it fell tearing off a piece of flesh the rest of the man got over a crest where it disappeared. As the wolf fell back to the forest floor the hawk swooped in clutched it crushing an eyeball deep into its skull. Although the wolf was in its grasp it could not make any attacks against it safely as it gnarled and thrust about with tremendous muscle. The hawk elevated as high as it could with the wolf swinging like a pendulum before having to let go. In its fall it made no sound and after impact it moved no more except for when the hawk tore off pieces of flesh. The undergrowth of the forest was left with the noises of the snarling, restless wolves that had not only lost their prey but one of the pack.

  Flickering flames of a small campfire lit up around it a small clearing surrounded by soft barked tree trunks. The ground was a dry firm soil plumed with small feather like ferns amidst which a spring trickled and wound its way over small pebbles and course sand. A wounded man lay face down, carried to his position unconscious by the three strangers around him. “He’s managed well to upset the furs.” The one looking down into the forest said over his shoulder to the others sitting behind him. He had been admiring a wolf on the forest floor below almost imperceptible only for its lucid black eyes. It had been lying on the forest floor for some time now.

  “Him and that crazy bird, bird brain.” Said another anxiously.

  “Have you got a thing with birds...” Said the one sitting near him under his breath trying in vain to draw some amusement out of this to relieve the tension.

  The strangers had come to find the man quite easily from the sound of the chase and upon seeing his plight had leapt down to help him over the ledge. Knowing the wolves to be unable to climb to their position anywhere nearby they spared time to dress the now unconscious man’s wounds after which higher ground was sought and climbed with a sturdy pace. The steep slopes and jagged terrain surrounding the base of the mountains was safer than most except for maybe being amongst them.

  The standing stranger moved away from the edge and walked over to the spring, kneeling down to fill his costrel he then walked towards the fire and holding it high poured the water upon the sleeping man’s bare back. The cold water splashed over his head and naked body; he shook awake. Upon elbows he lifted himself and raised his eyes then head slightly to look around. Hair dripping wet he wiped his forearm across his brow and could make out two feet attached to a pair of legs. Most instinctively he felt the warmth of the fire and turned towards it. He did his best to crawl nearer to the heat only to faint.

  “I can't help but laugh at this poor fellow."

  "At least a month’s rest I am thinking?” muttered one of the men scratching his head gathering his thoughts.

  “I’ve seen much worse.” Another said out loud with a sigh putting his hand over his mouth to cover a burp. “Not sure they made it through though.” He said looking back at his comrades as he nudged the body with his foot.

  "Here give me a hand please." Two of them picked him up by ankles and shoulders to move him closer to the fire.

  “No. Agreed a month should do it. I don't mind I mean this was the plan.”

  "Sure. But it's all kind of noted that we need to get him up as soon as possible”


  “It’s like I said were all for sticking around here for that long but if we take him along we probably wont have a choice about it." One said shrugging his shoulders looking for a consensus but finding none. He began to draw on the ground with a stick only to throw it over his shoulder.

  The camp fire was left to die as they all got some rest for the night.

  The next morning the sun rose as did the fallen man.

  A face loomed into view: “You will find your injuries cared for.” It said.

  Rubbing his eyes and shifting his head slightly he saw better who was talking. “Thanks.” He croaked and rolled over onto his back watching the fires embers float up into the trees.

  “We are up high enough near the mountains so it seems we will be safe, enough."

  "No safer place can be found, I assure you." Said another from behind. “We have walked what we could around the mountains and found no trace of the furs although as to why this is we do not know, there is game here." He shrugged and smiled.

  “You were a slave of the Exgruin correct?” Another of the strangers asked. “I ask this out of concern for all present. We are here to help you.” Leaning in a little further he said. “It’s the marks on your body.”

  Closing his eyes and putting a hand on one of his wounds he spoke again as he looked up int
o the trees, “Yes, for as long as I have known”. At receiving this answer the man gave a small sigh and they all looked at each other.

  One eventually swallowed and said "You’re lucky to be alive."

  "They must of let him go in sport no doubt or possibly malice, well both. You have come across some uncanny luck.” He ended saying in a cheerier tone.

  "Yes." He replied. "I thank you." as he groaned to sit up thanking the gods they were not Exgruin nor in parley.

  “Don’t sit up you need rest! Just give it a few more days. Please." He said directing him to lye down. "My name is Pell by the way. Behind me is Brewr and to my right behind me is Kaiver." Kaiver waved. "We are vagabonds of a world we have already ascertained you most likely know next to nothing of.”

  Brewr the one in front knelt down “Do you have a name? Will you join us for now? You honestly don't have much of a choice really your options are a little thin if you plan on surviving.”

  “My name is Fyodor and yes of course I will join you.” Forgetting the advice given just moments ago he tried to raise himself with his right arm. He had some success but short lived suffering striking pain down his left side.

  “We welcome you Fyodor.” Said Kaiver politely only to turn his head
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