The prairie grass was a deep shade of lifeless brown in the dying light of the sun. The sky looked like it was exploding in pinks and oranges, hazy where the great burning sphere had begun to vanish behind the tall mountains. A soft wind blew through the prairie, creating a strange music as the grass swayed and the leaves of the sparse trees wavered and flailed.
Trenuss esk Viel-Shá found a feeling of peace here, among the faint songs of nature. In the distance, he heard a trihorn call its calf, the sound a long, guttural rumble sent birds flying, soaring in a symphony of high pitched chirping. He turned his head to watch them ascend, taking a deep breath and framing the image in his mind; countless birds taking flight, the burning heavens as their background. There was something sobering about it, he thought.
Two fortnights ago, Trenuss had learned to savor these moments. There were so few things to enjoy anymore, for him. Life had gone stale like bread; hard, a thing eaten with reluctance while mourning the lost better days. He laid back and disappeared among the tall stalks, stretching his arms and legs out wide. In his right hand, he was still holding the short spear of his father, Viel esk Godder-Nos. He felt the worn wood in his large, calloused palm. It was smooth from years of sweat, a dark brown from stains of blood. But still the spear was functional, and still it lived on to stab and cut the enemies of its wielder with the cold iron on its tip. The weapon had not failed his father when it was in his possession.
Strapped to his left arm was a large, circular shield, a brown leather strap fixing it tightly to his forearm. Its façade was marred and chipped with spear thrusts and sword slashes, much like his own body. There was the flaky red paint still, depicting a giant wolf-man fighting off a a handful of crudely drawn warriors.
His right hand released the spear; his father had called it Fengir, Storm Shaker, and let it sit quietly, undisturbed among overgrowth of greenery. His thick fingers rose, dreamily tracing figures among the clouds, a half smile on his lips, and the glee not touching his eyes. There were a hundred faces to draw, a hundred lives to trace. That or they were forgotten. In his memory, or forever gone.
Behind him, he heard movement. Men were moving quickly, and with obvious urgency. The harmony of the natural world broken; his reverie dispersed like valley mist at the rising of the sun. Absently, he began to hum an old song, a song his mother had used to help him and his brothers bed down for the night. The song had deafened them to the sound of wolves howling in the dark, and winds besetting their home from all sides.
Trenuss had always thought his mother a wonderful singer. He'd told her so, on many occasions. But she always laughed, particularly when he told her she should've been a Vandi, a song-singer to chieftains across the Hjallmarringa Plains. A person the kings of all lands would beckon into their lavish courts to soothe their ears. He told her this in what she thought was child-like sweetness, though he still told her as a man of thirty winters.