Running Heartless

There had been nineteen springs of the Treaty of Eyes. In his treasure pouch Eyeless carried one of the small metal foxes from the negotiations. The passage of the moons had been kinder to Eyeless than some thought he deserved. Early in the Aylaw some bravos of his tribe had seen fit to rebel against the strictures of the Treaty, but a summer of bloodshed saw Eyeless named a Walking Death. To challenge him was certainly fatal, and the elders sought to save Eyeless’ hand the trouble. Now a generation had been raised in the ranges agreed in the Treaty, and Eyeless roamed, alone. He was hunting auroch, the huge cattle of the plains, each near three times the size of a man. There was to be a ceremonial gathering at the trading post, a celebration of the peace, and Eyeless was to bring the offering.

Eyeless stood, the first rays of sun playing across the scars of his station, the blocky tattoos of his time with the Aurcs, the fine red and grey hair that covered his chest and ran like rope from the back of his head almost to his waist. At his feet lay the curled form of his familiar, thinner now, its fur almost white with age. Its delicate hands formed a pillow beneath its vulpine features, its long ears lying flat against the neck. Eyeless gently fitted its harness, then chose to leave it to rest, smiling along with the dreaming curl of its mouth.

He slipped down from the Last Guardian, pausing on the crude shoulders to rescue his gear. He took his time checking the ornate headdress that was his sign of office, and clambered the remaining distance to the ground. He gathered handfuls of bread grass, whistling as he did so. He soon had a small fire built from stalks and began grinding meal. As his pancakes began to heat on the cooking stone he scattered snares on the edges of the stand of bread grass, and sat down to break his fast. He had to rummage in his pack to find the small metal container the Aurcs had given him for honey, and by the time he had done so he could see his familiar poke its head over the brow of the Last Guardian.

You can find the complete version of Running Heartless in issue 64 of TBD.

Andrew Robertson