Beyond the mouth of the cave the spirit-blizzard raged. Within the cave a miserable figure huddled up against a curious flame. The flame was green, and came not from coals, wood or other fuels, but instead issued forth from the sockets of a beastly skull that had long since had lower jaw, teeth and fangs removed. A wet sneeze came from the owner of this fire. Perhaps he was a great hunter, but wrapped up in furs and a pelt of a fuzzy tiger-like beast he looked more like a sick child looking for his mother.
“Never should have come to Nortrieln” the hunter complained.
Another sniffle sounded.
“You’ll find grander prey, they told me. The finest hunts! Well, I did, but…”
A painful cough forced its way out from the hunter.
“There’s no end to these relhs spawned winds! It’s no place for an orc to live!”
The hunter was indeed an orc, beneath the furs and cloakpelt was a greenish being with bulging limbs covered it what looked like the lines of muscles. Yet, he even had these lines on his head. Rather than muscles, they were the lines of his exoskeleton, for in the world of Kigan, the orcs are insectoids!
No matter the dimension, mages cause all sorts of trouble and problems. The race of orcs was just one of the things unleashed upon Kigan before the Great Prohibition.
This orc had what looked like fierce tusks, but these were actually a kind of mandible and indeed an orc’s lower jaw is actually just their two mandibles. As it was, the unfortunate hunter Bonestripper Cugog was rubbing his manibles trying to keep warm. Of course it was mostly just done on impulse the only true warmth Cugog was gaining was from his skull’s fire and from his body enhancing skill.
A bit though, that his body had a fundamental incompatibility with cold.
In spite of being an insectoid, Cugog as his kind do, had a pig-like nose, and from this was streaming various fluids. Without a care for his fur clothes, he would wipe his freezing nose now and then.
“Oooooh, when that blizzard lets up I’m gonna go to underground. Hunting in Holn, that’ll be the life!”
Cugog stopped his sniffles and grabbed his axe, a mighty thing in the shape of two dark beaks, as he sensed the presence of something at the mouth of the cave.
Blocking the mouth of the cave was a mound of hair! It was actually a kind of flesh eating bovine! This bull had long drooping locks of steely hair, yet the shadowtrample catogulu has no horns to speak of. Instead its hooves carry the strange power to tread on shadows, catching the shadow’s owners in place or even wounding them. A deadly predatory bovine to be sure!
Tension threatened to edge out out both hot and cold from the cave, and an air of bloodshed arose from the bodies of the two hunters, man and beast. It was Cugog who eventually lowered his spear.
“This is no weather for us to fight a life or death battle” he stated.
He pointed to the side of the fire opposite himself.
“I’ll share my flame beast, rejoice”
The fighting spirit from the catogulu lessened. Though it was a beast, it was somewhat more advanced than many and while it could not grasp the speech of higher willed beings, it understood the intent. It was however wary. Cugog however cared not for its worries. He settled down before his fire again. Of course, his weapon was not far from his grasp.
The howl of the blizzard and warmth of the fire won out over the catogulu’s wariness, and soon it had taken a place opposite Cugog.
Sneezes and snuffles came from Cugog and the orc could have sworn the catogulu was snorting in bovine laughter at his condition, still he ignored his uninvited guest and pulled out dried meat, made with the smoke of his obscure fire no less. There was something about the fire that always gave the meat a nice edge to it. As he was about to dig in he felt a hungry gaze on him, his mandibles froze half open.
“Give a slice of the leg and some will take the boar. Do you still have dignity, looking so pitiful beast?”
With a snort the catogulu turned its head from Cugog, but moments after it did, it twisted that head to avoid something slapping into it. Before it could get truly angry and ready for battle, it spotted some of the dried meat on the ground. It let out a low bellow of approval.
“Away with you best, I don’t need the favour of a beast!”
So the time passed as man and beast shared a meal.
Cugog stared out into the savage blizzard, thinking of a warmer home and youth. A part of him almost worried about the future, but he was not that kind of man, and soon enough the thought vanished as snow melting in dawn.
“Hardship makes foes of friends and friends of foes, but what foe and friend remains when it passes?” Cugog mumbled repeating a mentor’s words.
In time, the blizzard passed and in a little cave, a pair of hunters were sleeping huddled together before the flame of a hunter long hunted.<< A Match in Gold and Silver