Mists of llorn, p.1
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       Mists of Llorn, p.1

           Runar Thor
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Mists of Llorn

  Mists of Llorn

  By Runar Thor

  Copyright 2013 Runar Thor

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  This story is dedicated to all the people that took the time to read and review my work, helping me notice what my eyes failed to see, suggesting ways to improve what my mind was unable to piece together. I hope I shall be able to count on you again for my future works.

  Thank you.

  Myrsade kept her stomach pressed against the grass, her hands clawing at the edge of the cliff from where she watched the strange men below. They were hairy men, dressed in tattered leathers, with splintered shields and notched axes. Berserks, she thought. The hills were teeming with them and, until now, they had been able to avoid them completely thanks to Yko Dali and his knowledge of the land. Three berserks made their way through the woods below, one considerably taller than the others, wearing a fancy-looking iron and bronze helmet on his head that conflicted with the appearance of the rest of his armor. He held a massive battle-axe over his shoulder while his right hand gripped the ankle of a mutilated female body that looked to have been dragged through Hell and back.

  Myrsade cringed and fingered the hilt of her Kaspian blade.

  „Don't do it, half-breed." She felt a hand on her calf and jumped, spying Niall Caddla's freckled face as she glanced back. Niall was an Andvári, born and bred, and carried the color of earth in his hair as was common from his kind. It was wild and untamed, more so than usual and the braided locks that always dangled at each side of his face looked worn and tangled. He had deep emerald eyes that always regarded her with prejudice and his mouth seemed to know no expression other than a smirk.

  „Damn you!" she quietly cursed. „Scared the shit out of me." She‘d had little interaction with him during the journey as he preferred to stay close to Yko Dali, like a child clutched around its parent's leg. She was there for one purpose and one purpose only, to make sure Yko Dali returned to Andvárin unscathed. When the men of books were huddled around a campfire, exchanging words and writing notes she preferred to stalk a solid perimeter around them, keeping watch for anything that might put an abrupt end to their mission.

  „It was not my intent," he said. „I just wouldn't want you to do anything drastic. Remember what Yko said? Wherever-"

  „Wherever there is one Berserk," she interrupted him, „there are sure to be more around. I remember." She gave him a hard frown. „Get your hand off my leg."

  „Then keep your hand off the blade." He had a firm tone she hadn't heard before but she could see the fear in his eyes, the fear all ignorant men carried for her kind.

  „You think I'm stupid?" she hissed, almost losing the grasp on her hushed tone. „As much as I'd like to race down there and show those savages how the Bruhrim do battle, I have orders to follow and I won't jeopardize Yko's mission."

  „Yko's mission or mine."

  „What is your mission exactly?" She eyed him with a curious arch of her brow. „I did wonder why Yko saw fit to bring a herbalist along."

  „And I wondered why he saw fit to bring you..."

  „I am Yko's Ydaari, his life's protector," she proclaimed.

  „You're not Yko's Ydaari," he replied. „You're an Ydaari of the Order."

  „I am with the Order because of him. I owe him my life."

  „As you say," he muttered. „It actually wasn't Yko that brought me along. My mission comes from the highest offices of the Lycaarum, the Gaelarts themselves assigned me to him, to accompany him to Llorn and record the plant-life that's grown there over the ages." He gave her a slight smile before glancing around thoughtfully. „This land fascinates them. It has not felt the touch of civilized feet for a very long time."

  „Plants?" She scoffed. „Those must be some remarkable plants if you were willing to leave the safety of Andvárin and travel across the entire realm for them?"

  „It is my duty," Niall replied with a smirk. „Just as it is Yko's duty to seek out the journals of Jarl Frynn, it is my duty to seek out any herbs, plants and minerals that might improve the Order's healing capabilities."

  „Healing," she murmured. I'm sure. She had seen the lower levels of the Lycaarum, partially at least, where masked men in dark robes brewed strange elixirs. She remembered the stories from when she studied for the Ydaari trials, no more than rumors spread by the students but they had always unsettled her.

  „You must be hungry."

  She glanced down and saw the Berserks had gone by. She spared the poor woman a final thought before turning her head back at Niall. „You haven't come here to feed me. Why aren't you with Yko?"

  „He sent me to come get you," he said, as he raised himself up. „We're moving in a few hours."

  „Moving? Already?" She stood up, dusting the grass from her leather tunic.

  „Yes. Yko says we're only a short walk from Llorn." He swung his small brown satchel over his shoulder and walked off. „We've prepared food back at camp. Lamb, berries, honeyed beer and surprisingly fresh bread that Yko picked up in Terisse."

  She stood for a moment, staring at Niall as he walked away, brushing a hand over her stomach. „That does sound good." She spared a quick glance down the cliff before following after him, wrapping the fur on her shoulders around her neck. The Ordossi sun was a distant memory, but she still remembered how it used to kiss at her flesh. She had failed to get used to the cold winds of this realm, even after twelve long years.

  As they returned to the camp, they found Yko sprinkling salt on a leg of lamb that roasted slowly over a roaring fire. He carved off a small piece and put in his mouth, humming a tune as he chewed. „Come," he said without looking at them, „have a seat and breathe in the delicacy that awaits." Yko Dali was tall and well built for an old man. His dark southern skin had become lighter over the years spent in the cold, but still carried the copper hue of Ordos. The white robe he wore was covered in metal platings, made from the finest ores available in Andvárin, engraved with a plethora of strange runic phrases and glyphs. He turned around and looked at them, smiling through his thick black beard.

  „Come," said Yko as he took a seat by the fire. „Sit with me." He broke off a piece of black-bread and offered it to her.

  She gave the roasting lamb a glance filled with wanting before taking a seat at his side. She accepted the bread from his hand and took a bite from it, unable to prevent herself from moaning slightly as she chewed. „Mmm... it's good."

  „I got it from an old friend." He smiled, taking a bite from his own piece. „She may not be the most graceful of women, but she is the finest baker in all of Yewland."

  „No argument there," said Myrsade, giving him a smile stuffed with the last of her bread.

  His smile vanished as soon as her own appeared. „I see trouble in your eyes. Sadness... empathy... mourning."

  She turned her eyes from his, avoiding his gaze by staring at the fire. „I don't like it when you read my eyes." Once, he had stared too long and caught a glimpse of the dark memories that screamed from her past, things she had chosen to forget.

  „You have nothing to hide, child. Tell me what troubles you."

  She sighed quietly and looked him in the eyes. „I saw berserks, by the west edge."

  „Ah yes, the scourge of Yewland. I knew our paths would cross eventually. Hopefully we may be able to avoid their attention."

  „They had a woman."

  „A woman?"

  „Her corpse, actually."

  Yko pursed his lips and sighed. „Yes, they... they do take the women. Dead or alive, matters not. I could tell you what they do with them, but I fear it will only make you feel worse."

sp; „Don't... I don't want to know any more than I already do." She watched the fire tongues dance around the leg of lamb, caressing it with burning passion. She caught a glimpse of Niall behind the flames, sitting on the grass, watching Yko with a blank stare.

  „I must say," Yko began, the hint of a smile forming on his lips, "it warms my heart to see you feel empathy for a human. When I first found you, you could hardly stand the presence of one. As you woke from your coma I thought you might kill me then and there, the way your eyes regarded me with such searing hatred."

  „I was afraid."

  „And rightly so. The way your kind is treated in Eikgard is appalling, but understandable. Sayrenok's invasion left all the realm with a misunderstood view of the Bruhrim race. They see you as they saw him - evil, terrifying, monstrous." Monstrous... That word bothered her. Her crimson eyes were disturbing to some, and her rock-hard grey hide bore resemblance to something from the Nethers, but she never felt monstrous.

  „They forget that it was another of our kind that ended the war."

  „The truth of history is molded into
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