maandag 29 oktober 2012

The Pass

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The frost had frozen the pass, turning the grey stone of the mountain slippery and slick with a flim of ice and hardened snow. A faulty step could mean a life's end, at this height. Still, the pass was the quickest way home, and none of them was apprehensive.

Least of all her.

Triskele sat back in the saddle as her grey mare loyally climbed the pass, sure-footed as always. Up in the mountains, when on horseback, it was always best to let the horse find the way, and not interfere. The less interference, the less likely you were to fall to your death. She tilted her head in her neck as an eagle cried over their heads. A few feet behind her, her brothers formed her tail, their garrons following the steps of her mare. It was always like this. When it came to leading the way, they left it either to her or to Triwold. And when Thorald would sometimes stubbornly insist, she'd simply not follow at all.

The eagle flew out of sight, and Triskele turned her blue gaze back on the thin path ahead of them. They would be fine. Before nightfall, the horses would have led them over. She had no concerns, not in this season. The snows were still gentle. Behind her, Ysengrim called out.
“You're sure quick to put yourself in charge again, Tris, as usual!”
“Shut up, Grim. You know it's the fastest this way. Creidne's step is as certain as a goat's, and Tris has better eyes than you.”
Triskele smiled thinly as she heard Triwold silence both her brothers behind her. They held her little trip against her, they usually scoffed at her strongheaded outlook and actions. But not Triwold. He understood.

She swayed slightly in the saddle when Creidne, her mare, trotted under a sole pine tree, the branches drooping under the weight of fresh snow. As she brushed against the snow-caked green, the snow fell over her shoulders. Behind her, she heard the muffled curses of her brothers sharing the same fate. Triskele did not mind Skyrim's cold kisses. It made them who they were. As her mare turned a corner, she bit her pale lip, thinking about her last three days. She had left her brothers, deciding they'd be more of an annoyance than aid in this matter. For the past years, the Grár-siblings had hunted together, gathered game, sold hides, taken on jobs to aid those who could afford some helping hands with a delivery that needed protection, a troublesome pack of bandits, whatever there was to do. But when it came to tombs, her brothers had always stayed away.

She didn't.

Triwold knew what she was doing, the other two could probably figure it out. Triskele did not fear ancient curses, if nothing else she enjoyed defying laws, old ones and new. She looked down at her hands in fingerless gloves, holding Creidne's reins. The dark leather was still dappled with dusty spots. Bone dust, it got everywhere, like that fine sand in the southern reaches of Tamriel. She hated it. Her mare snorted as they reached the summit, and Triskele held still.
“I told you it would be fast. The snows have barely touched the road. Down there, see? We'll be home before dark.”
Up here, there was room to gather. Triwold moved his garron to stand beside his sister, and gazed down into the valley of the hold they called home.
“It will be good to be home, at least for a while.”
Thorald snorted. “I will not leave again for at least a fortnight, you have all been warned. Gerthrud has missed me, I'm sure of it.”
Ysengrim ran a hand through the manes of his garron with a snort. “She hasn't. There come a dozen men like you in the tavern every day, little brother.”
“There are no men like me!”
Triskele smirked at the banter, and gently planted her heels in Creidne's flanks. They began their descent.

When the reached the lower slopes of the mountain, Triwold came to ride beside her. For a time, they both did not speak. They were the only two Grárs who could ride beside each other in utter silence and be content, something neither Ysengrim nor Thorald would ever understand. After a while, however, Triwold spoke all the same.
“So, did you find it?”
“Find what, Wold?”
“Whatever it was that made you go there.”
Triskele curled her lips slightly. “No, but I know where to look next.”
Triwold shook his head, locks of black hair much like her own dangling around his stubbly cheeks.
“This can only go terribly wrong one day, Tris. Sorcery, curses, ghosts, what do we know of that? Let us stay where we were born and belong – in the woods, not a crypt.”
She did not reply. She knew he didn't expect her to either. The sun was starting to set, and they reached even ground again. Ahead of the company lay the road that led to Falkreath. Tris had only one thing to ask of her brother.
“Just don't tell mother.”
“Of course not.”
Both of them nodded, as the horses quickened their step. They could smell their home.

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