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Northborne: Chapter 3

By: Deft

Chapter 3

The following day I entered my village one last time to gather any belongings that I might require on my journey, or anything that held special meaning for me. Our house was not nearly as burned as most of the other dwellings in the village, and I was thankful to find plenty of dried meat and water to help me survive the coming weeks. On my way around the house, I suddenly noticed the mirror hanging on the wall. We were a simple people, so mirrors were considered a luxury, and only elders or very rich warriors could afford them.

Our mirror had been my father’s pride and joy. He had told me that he bought it in the south, when he was serving as a mercenary in one of the wars. It was richly carved and covered with writing I could not understand. I stepped in front of the mirror and stared blankly, remember all of the times I had seen my father looking at it. He always said it reminded him of my mother, but I never understood why.

Now I saw myself, and realized I hadn’t washed in days or even weeks. I went into the kitchen and found a basin of water which I used to wash my face and arms. I also realized that I needed a change of clothes for my journey, no telling how long it would be before I came upon another village or city. Once I had changed, I gathered my things and walked past the mirror once more. I had decided to dress in comfortable traveling cloths, with a shirt of light chainmail in my pack just in case I ran into trouble. My favorite trousers were made for the men, but anyone in the village had learned not to make note of it, lest they wake up with a black eye. I wore a comfortable shirt with long, wide sleeves which was customary for our culture. My dark red hair was seldom braided or held, as was the custom for other women or even some of the men. Wistfully I remembered how my father mentioned that my hair also reminded him of my mother.

I had never been popular among the men in the same way as the other village women. My father had told me often how I was beautiful like my mother, but none of the other men I had grown up with ever made mention. This was perhaps because of the many black eyes and bruised bodies which resulted from their flirts attempted in our adolescence. It would be fairer to say that I was respected by the men far more than the other women. Ever since I could walk I would accompany my father on hunts, and I had even gone alone on hunts since I was twelve. I could beat nearly any man in a fair fight, except maybe old Rorj, who was a war veteran like my father. He was over seven feet tall, besides.

Shaking myself back to the present, I took one last look in the mirror, and then walked out of the house. Turning around I looked back pensively at the home I had lived in my whole life. I was frightened to be leaving the village, even burned and destroyed as it was. True, I had left in this fashion many times before on hunts, but I had always returned victorious to a warm fire and hot meal. Now, I was leaving on a new hunt, a new journey which would be more perilous than any I had undertaken before. I trudged solemnly out of the gates and climbed up the hill to my father’s cairn. I decided to sit down and decide which direction to head.

To the north was icy mountains and waste, with hardly any villages.

“No good there.” I thought to myself.

To the west were the great plain lands and steppes. It was usually unwise to venture there alone, because of the lack of food, water, and danger from beasts.

“No good to the west either.” I mused.

Suddenly I remembered the raven from several days ago. It had flown towards the east, and I looked expectantly in that direction. Nothing was there, except a shadowy horizon of hills and trees. I had been that way before, deep into the forests on the great hunts with the tribe. It was a dangerous area, but also rich with wildlife and streams of water. Finally I decided that eastward would be the best direction to head.

“Besides,” I thought lightheartedly. “I still have my axe.”

I looked down at my axe and saw that it was notched and dull to the touch.

“Great,” I sighed, and began walking east.