1- A Stranger in the Village, Part 1

The wind rustled through the trees along the bank of the long, winding Maradeno River. Spanning from the Leriand Mountains in the North, to the bays of Kadres in the south it was the longest river in the land. Waves rippled along its surface, and the sun created a sheen which reflected brightly back.

Markus lifted his face, catching the cool breeze as it rolled over his skin; refreshing. His black hair waved in the wind. Casting a glance to his right, he ran a careful eye over his lines. He had cast three; each was awaiting a bite. Markus returned his focus to the task in hand. He held his spear ready; the spear he had fashioned from a length of wood, and a rock he had handpicked from this very riverbed.

His sharp eyesight picked out a fish as it sped by; he struck with the spear and skewered a trout. It was a big one, at least ten pounds. He chucked it into his waiting meat-sac.

Through the corner of his eye, Markus noticed the tugging on one of the lines. He dashed across and took hold, pulling back heavily, his muscles rippling. The thing on the other end gave a sharp tug, pulling Markus face first into the water. He kept his hold on the line; he would not let it go. Standing firm, he rose from the river and pulled hard. The fish flew above the surface. It was huge; four feet long, two feet wide; must have been nearly a hundred pounds. Markus couldn’t identify the breed; but he knew it would pay up well. He hurled the thing at the shore and jumped after it, landing atop the beast. He pulled a knife from his waist-belt and plunged it into the creature’s head, killing it to stop the thrashing. He hauled it over and shoved it into the sac.

He stood straight, and released a steady breath, then proceeded to draw in his lines. He rolled up the wires and strapped the rods to his back. He bent to pick up his hand-made bow; another piece of his own craftsmanship, strapped it along with his quiver next to the rods. Markus turned his attention to the fish-sac. He crouched down, grabbed the strap and heaved it up onto his shoulders. It weighed nearly four times its usual weight; the work of the hundred pound fish. Stepping carefully, Markus left the river-shore and began to follow the trail back to Carromsford; his village.

He crested Ornaom Hill, passed the burial site of Arither Carroms and watched as the village began to unfold beneath him. He took a moment to take it all in; a sight he had seen hundreds of times, yet he never got tired of it. The spire of the chapel came first; a place where some of the villagers worshipped their God. Markus didn’t believe in a God; it seemed too far-fetched for him.

As he moved lower down the winding stone trail, the Village Inn came into view. It stood two storeys high; it had a small number of guest rooms, and also played host to the Village Council. The rooftops of the other buildings soon came into view; the Blacksmiths, the Butchers, The Apothecary’s and all the rest. Markus reached the end of the trail, and cast a glance up at where the canopy of trees began to close in over the path. They lined the edge of the road as it led into the village, forming an archway of sorts. It was a beautiful sight.

The End

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