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Omens – by Jada
A raven and eagle struck at one another in a frenzy of feathers and blood. Shrieks sharp as blades split the air, and wings beat like peals of thunder before a storm. The birds locked talons and plunged to the earth. The instant they hit the ground, a wolf and fox leapt into the fray. The wolf snapped at the raven’s legs, drawing blood.
The fox leapt atop the raven, clinging to the bird like a second shadow, and the eagle clawed at the raven’s eyes. The raven let out a wrenching cry and burst apart into a cloud of black birds. The flock descended upon the wolf, fox, and eagle. Talons and beaks tore into flesh.
Soren sat up. He sucked in deep breaths. His body was covered in cold sweat. He gripped the edges of his rough wool blanket between his fingers, felt the pricks of the straw pallet beneath him and shivered. The dream had been recurring for several months now, and it wasn’t the only one.
There were always dreams now, some of places he’d never seen and strange creatures from old legends. He’d prayed to the gods to free him of the visions, but obviously the gods weren’t listening. Or they didn’t care. Soren dragged himself from his bed and clambered down the loft ladder. The home he shared with his father Gurin was small, comprised of the loft, a solitary shuttered window, a blazing hearth and a few simple furnishings, but the familiarity was comforting after the terror of his dreamscape.
“Good morning, Da.” Soren greeted his father.
Gurin looked up from his breakfast and nodded. “Morning.”
Soren sat beside his father at the table. Gurin had already laid out a bowl of porridge and a mug of water. Soren shoveled porridge into his mouth. They ate in silence. It was a familiar routine.
Soren glanced at his father. Like most Tenedorian men, Gurin was tall with fair skin, angular features, and hair the color of sand. Soren inadvertently touched a lock of his own hair. He looked nothing like his father. Gurin glanced at him.
“Granny Hilda was asking about eggs. I told her you’d bring her some.”
Soren nodded. “Aye. I will.”
“Good.” Gurin set aside his now empty bowl and stood up. “I best be going.” He picked up his satchel and pickaxe and headed out. The door shut with a thud, and he was gone.
Soren gulped down the remainder of his porridge. “Best get to work,” he muttered to himself.
Soren tossed handfuls of feed to the chickens. They squawked and ran about the yard, clucking to one another. Soren smiled. “Frothar above, you girls are impatient.” He scattered the remaining seed and gathered up the eggs, four in all. Soren’s mouth watered at the thought of fried egg, and his stomach growled in disappointment. The eggs were not for eating, but for bartering. In a small village like Rorikstead, everyone bartered. Iron and silver gelds were a rare sight.
Soren watched the chickens as they clucked and scratched the ground. The dream flashed through his mind. Soren’s stomach twisted into a knot. “What easy lives you have,” He muttered.
“Talking to the hens again?” A familiar voice asked.
Soren’s heart skipped a beat, and he whirled around, nearly dropping the precious eggs. A red-haired boy stood a couple paced away, his arms folded across his chest. A moss-colored cloak hung from his shoulders and leather boots graced his feet, evidence of his wealthy status. “Ingmar! Do you always have to sneak up on me?”
Ingmar shrugged. “You make it easy. Say, I’m checking the fish traps today. Want to come?’
Soren nodded. Any distraction was welcome if it would take his mind away from the dreams. “Sure, but first I have to give a couple of these eggs to Granny Hilda.”
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