The Dark Shore (p1)

Warmth hovered out of mind, out of reach. The air around Jattel's blind existence was a fire that couldn't reach him. He floated on the waves of air, the bellowing horn blast confumed him. He was of a single mind, warmth. His gut ached, but was filled with the music of the unknown land. He had crawl up out of the sea, like a creature from the depths to walk upon the land and had been struck down by the song that pulses through the stones and frozen earth that was this land.

Voices. Strange voices echo through his mind. They sing to him of peace and strife. The voices speak to him of the constant struggle against that which would kill them, that which would strike their heel and leave them to rot. The voices sing of the struggle against the greatest of powers in the land, fate. They say the words and Jattel's mind understands them, though the words make no sense. He is lifted from the fiery waters of his mind and is settled into the snow, warm snow that covers him like fur. The fiery snow fills his soul and he opens his mouth to scream in pain, but nothing happens. He has no voice here in this land of dreams.

In the distance there stands a tall figure. He wears a ragged cloak and a long staff in his left hand. He turns and one eye burns with the fires beneath the earth. With his right hand, he reaches out across the vast leagues between them and grabs hold of Jattel by the throat.

“Listen.”

The word reaches across the world of dreams and cuts into Jattel's mind.

“Listen, Traveller. You are he who comes. You fate belongs to me. Listen.”

Jattel opens his mouth to speak, but the gnarled and crooked hand grasping his throat tightens.

“Don't talk. Listen. You will know my people and they will guide you.”

The hand around his neck tighten more and Jattel began to struggle. The iron grip held him still, though his arms and legs flailed of their own accord.

“Listen, that is your first lesson. Know the runes and they will guide you.”

As the final word left the old man's mouth, his grip loosened and fiery shapes filled the air. Jattel knew these were the runes the old man spoke of and he saw them. Sixteen were their number. Sixteen runes that combined to make more complex shapes, but sixteen originals. Each one flew at him and burned into his mind, a searing poker in his mind, imprinted upon him. Sixteen runes burned into him, emblazoning themselves on his chest in a circle. At the center was a complex rune made up of six simple runes and he knew its name. It was rueska, or first man. He didn't know why, but he knew that it was spoken true by the old man.

As the burning in his chest began to dull, icy shot through his body, a cold wrapped itself around him and filled his nostrils. Light cut across his vision and the sound of horse's hooves filled his mind. His chest felt raw as he came out of the dream. The horse stopped and a large figure shifted weight on the horse's back. He was laying on his belly across the horse's hindquarters.

Jattel let his eyes creep open as the large figure dismounted and saw that it was the large man that he had first encounter upon arrival in this strange land.

“Thuclod. Yebjath hethag yn fage.”