(Taken from When Kings Clash, J.E. Lowder)
“Vonn, Mälque, wake up,” their mother whispered as she jostled them from their sleep.
The boys, recognizing her voice, rolled over and opened sleepy eyes. Their mother stared at them with a wild look, her face aglow with bluish light from a MerriNoon firestick clutched in her hand. Despite its brightness, it was cool to the touch until heaved onto a stack of wood where it would spark with fire.
Mälque opened his mouth to ask a question and she clapped it shut with her free hand.
“Hush up. Listen. It’s your father. Somethin’s happened to him. Somethin’ bad. Now get up. I need your help, but be quiet. Don’t need anyone followin’ us.”
As the boys rose, she fired off more instructions. “Vonn, grab a shovel. Mälque, bring an extra firestick. Hurry.”
She spun on her heel and disappeared into the gloom.
“Here we go again,” Vonn mumbled as he searched for a shovel.
“Yeah,” Mälque huffed as he reached for their stash of firesticks. Like everything they possessed, these were acquired from thievery. “When is she gonna quit?”
When they were little, she took them on walks in the woods and pointed out what she ascribed were omens: A fresh pile of gor dung was a sign that death would visit their tribe; a white stag – rare indeed – prophesized that a chieftain would be born; a hawk feather was a portent that great fortune would come their way.
As they matured, they noted that more times than not, the grand events the omens foretold never occurred. Vonn found a hawk feather but riches never followed. Death often visited their tribe, with or without dung sightings. When Vonn and Mälque pressed her for an explanation, she reinterpreted the portents in light of a new day. They accepted her explanations faithfully until the day she heard whispers, voices from the dead. From that moment on, they dismissed her beliefs as Superstitious nonsense.
They grabbed their tools and caught up with her.