It was a dark night, darker than any the hunter could remember. Save for the moon, the heavens were completely black, adding to the difficulty of this hunt. The man and his hunting party had been tracking a pack of hjort, four legged game animals common to the forests around his village, and they all were tiring of the pursuit. The hunt had been arduous, and they had strayed far from home, but the hunting party could not return without meat for their families, else they starve or worse, find disfavor with their gods.
As they neared a clearing, the man behind him, called Herleif, grasped the hunter by the shoulder. Herleif silently pointed to the heavens, and the lead hunter along with the rest of the party gazed skyward. Across the pitch black of the sky, a single shooting star fell. This was an omen, good or bad the party did not know. Never had they seen such a thing, for how could a star fall from the sky if they had not come out that night?
Herleif approached the lead man, whispering into his ear “This is a bad omen, Heinrich. I fear witchcraft or worse.”
Heinrich, the leader of the group, did his best to calm his pessimistic friend’s fears. “Do not fret, Herleif. This is a sign from the gods by my reckoning, but a good one. The star will guide us on our hunt. Look now, it is falling close by. There we will find our prize.”
The two men broke contact and picked up the pace, following the star to the terminus of its journey. Though they moved swiftly, they were as ghosts in the woods. A lifetime of hunting, and being hunted, in these woods had honed each of them into masters of the silent hunt.
They ran for a time, until they all reached where the star had landed. Without a hjort to be seen, Herleif voiced his displeasure; “Heinrich, it was an ill omen as I said. There are no beasts to be slain, and we are surely too close to the lands of the Ranulfri! We must leave, quickly, else we invoke their wrath.”
Heinrich felt his stomach turn, as he was sure this was a sign from the gods. He felt something important was close by and stood as still as a tree in order to discern what it may be. Herleif beseached him to leave, to which Heinrich replied, “Leave if you wish. I will return when I am ready, with a carcass over my shoulders, not my tail between my legs!” With that, Herleif and the rest of the party retreated to the safety of the clan’s territory, while Heinrich continued to search for whatever he may find.
Nearing a gulley, Heinrich bent down to drink from the stream. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw something, but he could not put words to it. Silently, he approached the object. It had rolled down into the gulley, and a doorway of sorts had opened up from within it. Heinrich swore that his must have been what had fallen from the heavens, wrought by the smith god's own hand, for its construction was beyond Heinrich’s imaginings.
Despite this incredible discovery, something else was nearby, disturbing the ferns on the bank of the gulley. Drawing his knife, Heinrich approached, not knowing what to expect, but as he neared the disturbance, he was even more astonished than the moment before. What he had found was a child, not more than two winters old, crawling away from the gulley. He made no noise, not even a squeal. Heinrich swore this was what the gods had meant for him to find, and he picked the child up. Looking into his eyes, he saw how there was something different, something great, within this little babe.
Taking great care to do no harm to the child, Heinrich made his way back to their village. He would take this foundling into his family as a son. To do anything less would bring dishonor to his clan and surely draw the ire of the gods of the hunt.
Last edited by Therizza; 06-04-11 at 06:28 AM.