* adapted from the opening lines of a sci-fi saga style story that is in outline only
It had been a long journey – and hard.
In the first years of the conflict he had been hailed as a hero - fought with valour - defeated many – the saviour of the tribe, a gift from the gods.
Those had been good years.
And then the second wave came, more men, new techniques, and new treacheries as the lure of riches and power seduced the elders and some of the warriors.
It had been a valiant fight. They had been outnumbered, but for many years more the fight was not lost.
But in the end it was, as it was destined to be.
He had lived, but so many had died, and in dark moments he wished that he had perished alongside his lost companions.
The cost had been terrible.
A love lost - one so precious that the unbearable agony of losing her would never leave him.
A family abandoned – knowing they would never understand why, and that there would never be a chance to explain the reasons.
Friends destroyed – their lives torn apart by the treacherous ones.
Warrior companions killed – mutilated in front of his eyes, some protecting him as they lost their own lives.
The shame of conviction – murderer, traitor – disgrace and rejection that would remain as scars in his soul, and in his people’s memories, for ever.
And then the journey - every step his body racked with pain, his heart aching, his will to live seeping away as the blades and leaves tore at his limbs and the icy rains broke through his skin.
There were bad moments.
Memories of his enemies that still lived - enemies forever.
Times of hardship when struggle seemed endless and pointless and times of despair when death would have been welcomed.
It had been a long journey – and hard – but he had survived.
Thanks to good friends he had met, moments savoured, friends for ever.
And moments of love - gentle touches that had sent fire coursing through his veins.
And now, his strength returning, flowing back into his body and his soul, as he drank from the fruit that his finders had left him, he looked down across the valley.
Swirling mists moved across the plains, cutting a slow grey swathe into the shadows. Fire-trees, alight with flames burning gold and red, sent pathways of light into the darkness. Clouds, rain heavy black, crept silently across the purple sky.
He knew that his destiny was to be found across the valley, far beyond the darkness that stretched beyond it.
There would be new enemies there, perhaps old ones too, bent on revenge.
New challenges, more pain, more loss, more heartache too.
But the finders had told him that there would also be new friends, allies, companions, and, perhaps, a chance to love again
He closed his eyes and remembered how it had been, before the journey, and smiled, sadly.
And then, softly at first, growing into a dull, aching murmur, the sound of gentledeath began to fill the emptiness.
Turning his eyes to the creeping noise, his fingers tightening around the golden shaft, Zannak tensed.
He was ready.
The sounds had arrived.
It was the beginning.