You decide to survey what exactly it is that you have procured from the man. You look over to him. His lips and fingers are slowly turning blue. You cannot see his chest rising or falling. He wears only his undershirt and undertrousers. He looks to have passed.
You were never very religious. You may have grown up in a religious household, but once you escaped to join the band of thieves, you forgot about the spirits and the saints. You feel, however, that it is right to pay your respects to the man you have just inadvertently taken the life of. You approach him tentitively, your feet making deep indents in the mallow-like snow. You bow your head, and raise your hands, palms outstretched, to the sky. As you do, your hand brushes a branch of the tree above you, causing a little snowfall onto the corpse of the man below. You murmur something in a lost languauge, and your hands return to your sides.
Returning to the spot in which you stood prior, you kneel down, slipping the man's bag off of your shoulder. A deep brown leather makes up its body, and the strap is of a sturdy canvas. Two shiny claps hold it shut. You take off a stolen mitten and carefully prise open the clasps, one after the other. A damp smell wafts from the bag. It is not lined, and has a dilapidated feeling to it. The bag had lived a life with this owner, you presume.
The contents of the bag prove are made up of a strange assortment of items. Some look to be of use to you, the others seem worthless.
A well-thumbed map is the first item that you find. It is poking out of the top of the bag. Whilst worn, the map is detailled and you set it aside to look at once you have seen everything else; it appears to be of the forest you are currently in.
There is also a large bag of meat jerky. You are unsure as to what meat it is, but food is food, and you set it aside for keeping. There is also a half-full water skin, a scratched but still readable compass, and a large packet of what appear to be boiled sweets. A small, sharp knife, engraved with a strange pattern catches your eye, its blade glinting in the cool sunlight. The inscriptions baffle you. You suspect that it may be an ancient language, but you do not know.
You put the knife down on the snow. Almost the second you do, it rises and seems to float away. You turn, tracking it with your eyes, and to your absolute horror see the man whose clothes you now bear reaching for the knife. As it passes your eyes, the inscription becomes clear.
'Cursed be the being that stops the bearer from seeing,
Blessed be the one that aids.
Cursed be the one who has silenced my tounge
Blessed be the one who speaks true.'
You gasp, and as you do, the knife meets the man's hand. He approaches, his pace quickening with every step, until he is but three steps behind you. Frozen by fear, you cannot move, and can only hear his footsteps approaching. They are slow, a macarbre introduction to your doom.
The frozen metal meets your neck, and you feel a sharp push upwards as your veins and windpipe are severed. You fight for life, hoping that sheer will alone will stop you from what is inevitable.
But no one can cheat death. Not even the great Karo.