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 Tomorrow I go down to the dying place to walk with the iron birds. Today I sit and watch as the sun sets in shades of firelight, turning the long grass into a wind-ruffled sea of brown with shimmering crests of gold and bronze. Behind me the hills of the ancestor lodges stand like lanterns of promise cut by shadows of inevitable death. This place is my homeland, where my sept has abided for generations beyond memory. We honour our dead and revere the spirits of the land, rivers and skies.
 Any warrior who falls in the hunt or in sept duels, along with those too life-worn to continue, are taken to those valleys so that they may journey to the stars to fight alongside our ancestors in the eternal battle of sun versus moons.
 Five ancestors ago, the sun sent down towers of glory on pillars of flame. From those towers came the iron birds. They told us that the battle was going badly for the sun. He had asked our ancestors for counsel and they had said that he should send messengers down to the septs, who were people of honour. Their warriors would not shy from the challenge of duelling the moons.
 Every year the towers descend at the start of the snows and settle in the valleys of the ancestor hills. They take all those who present themselves to duel among the stars.
 I am a man of the sept, a warrior of two hundred moons. My family died in the great cloud battle at the peak of the high sun, as the moons struck at us with spears of blazing silver light from clouds that concealed the warriors that threw them, a coward’s trick. It was then that I knew my path lay in taking vengeance to the stars in my family’s name.
 When the sun has set, I will return to the camp and lay with the women that are ready for warrior’s milk to give them sons of clear brow and straight body. Then with duty done, I shall come to Matea who holds my heart and linger with her, exchanging tears and loving cries until the dawn.
 As the sun clears the ancestor hills I will carve my name into the wayward totem, put down my weapons of sept war and set off for the dying place. Matea will be there to watch me stride forth. I shall not dishonour her by looking back.
A little piece that arrived a few days ago amidst the writing-fest that October has been for me.

This story is one of the many in my first science fantasy anthology, Destinies.

Which can be bought in paperback form from here: www.lothp.co.uk/2.html (scroll down, it's the last book on the page).

Or as an ebook (multiple formats) from here: www.smashwords.com/books/view/…

And for Apple devices from iTunes: itunes.apple.com/gb/book/desti…

For further details, the Destinies page on my website is www.lizardsofthehost.co.uk/13.…

:iconrafellin:
Rafellin Featured By Owner Edited Oct 29, 2014  Professional Writer
Updated to published version and book links added.
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:iconrafellin:
Rafellin Featured By Owner Oct 29, 2011  Professional Writer
Thank you.
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:iconsimonjm:
SimonJM Featured By Owner Oct 29, 2011
Nice piece, full of pathos
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