The Darkness

Trok watched the procession. They came winding their way up the damp street. Their worn garments muddy from the many puddles in their path exhausted by the burden they carried.

To his right stood a dark figure, he had seen this being twice before, once when he was born, ripped mercilessly from his mothers blackened womb. Then again ,on a hill when he was snatched from the All Mothers arms and dragged away by orcs. This being was an omen of death yet a sign of hope. Every time he was taken he survived and grew stronger. Death had become a welcome sign to the boy ,and he spoke freely of this until they came. The strangers who now marched his fathers carcass through the streets. One last time then salvation is yours. How fitting the mans name had been Calvary. He had taken Trok as his own a long time ago. Now he too was gone .

Trok turned away. The apparition called Death had disappeared. He began to walk as the wind grew stronger and rain poured down around him.

He heard the wheels a long ways off. It was an old oxcart , from the sound ,it was carrying a load including two men and a female Giwil tied in back. Trok didn't think of how he knew this, just that he knew and it was not right. He stood in a field atop the hill overlooking the small town of Hapshire. There were many small cottages dotting the country side west of the hill. Tiny whips of blue smoke snaked out of the chimneys of the houses in the distance. The town was a mask of gray on gray. Black umbrellas jostled along the cobbled streets, the sounds of animals could be heard above the rain. The wagon drew closer ,the voices came harsh against his ears. They spoke the southern dialect. A language of course sounds and harsh vowels. He sighed as they called out to him but did not respond.

The cart driver jumped to the ground and roughly spun the boy to face him. "You cant hear boy!." He bellowed his blackened teeth were a testament of bad health and smoke. His eyes were yellow almost the color of dried leaves, a small darting circle floated in each yellow pool. "I said what do you call this place!"

"Tis the place of my father and his before him." Trok answered in the northern dialect with an air of arrogance as he turned up his nose at the cart driver.

"Hey!" the driver bellowed at his partner still on the cart. "This un here thinks he's a 'belonger'.I tell ya they get bolder every day!" with that the filthy traveler set a heavy hand on Trok's shoulder and leaned heavily before speaking again.

"Lisen' here boy!" his breath wreaked of sour ale and dried thrish. " I gots some business to tend to in this here country .Alls I need for you to do is tell meh if this filthy lil burg below there is Hapshire, eh ?"

"Yes, this is Hapshire sir." Trok answered trying not to breathe. He could tell the old wayfarer was intoxicated.

"You know what Khol ," he said addressing the man on the wagon." I like this here kid .He's gonna be our guide. Aint that right boy ?"He leaned harder on Troks shoulder . "Sure it is !" he answered himself thrusting Trok towards the wagon and pushing him up onto the seat.

Trok nearly gagged as he sat between the two filthy men .The drivers rotund form jostled with every rut the cart hit. The other man ,a rather lean guy with straggly black hair and deep set eyes remained silent as his partner continued to talk rather boastfully. It would be a long ride back to town.

The stable was a stir of pedestrians and equestrians all vying for the same space. Trok couldn't decide which was worst ,the noise or the smell. He usually avoided the stables after his job as a stable hand during the summer. But this was the first place his new accomplices demanded to be taken.

The ox were very cumbersome their wide girths and long pointed horns seemed to be a great help as well as a hindrance . With the bellowing foreigner at the reigns the animals had the freedom to turn their heads and look about as they moved inch by inch up the crowded main street nearly goring half the pedestrians they passed. But the long javelins proved a problem when they were ushered into stalls fit for horse. The oxen couldn't see over the doors and their bodies were too wide that they couldn't turn around once they entered the stalls.

While the two travelers berated the stable hand for lack of adequate facilities, Trok wandered back out into the rain. The amount of traffic slowed as the rain poured down in wild wind blown torrents drenching the country side. Trok looked scanned the street for signs of the shadow ,wishing he had somehow misinterpreted the beings wishes and somewhere on the hill another ox cart was approaching Hapshire with two more competent companions aboard. After ten minutes in the rain he realized that there would be no such luck for him today and headed back towards the stable.

"Wha's the matter with ya boy! Ain't cha got sense not ta stand out in the rain?" The large man barked as he saw the dripping Trok enter the stable. " Come here, Old Gray and I are headin up to the Shade .Go backs to where ya come from and get your things. Then come back here and watch the wagon but stay off that back!"

"Why should I bother ." thought Trok rolling his eyes as he left the stable and headed through the town out towards the farming district and down towards the foot hills. He took his time strolling along in the rain until he came to the door of his fathers hous. It had only been a few days but after the old mans death the place had become rather run down and shabby. Pushing open the door the boy stepped into his home. It was a rather small hut with only one large room partitioned into two separate quarters.

"Welcome home " he thought aloud as he began gathering things for the journey.