The Nature of the Beast - Page 7

It was particularly cold on top of the hill overlooking the battle to come. The snow would start falling in a few hours, joining its brethren already on the ground, and by then the battle would be over, but at least the snow would cover the bodies and the blood.

It gets a little colder every year, not by much, and certainly not so that most people can feel it . . . but I can. The harvests are a little smaller each year, and the wild berries get a little harder to find. Again, not by much.

But enough.

From my vantage point I watch the beastmen begin to gather – sad brutes clad in crude furs and wielding stone tipped weapons. A product of another age, at one point in time they might have ruled the world . . . but they didn't, and now they've come to this. They are neither the demons nor the monsters they are portrayed as in tales; they're only hungry and too stupid to ask for food, too stupid to even have a concept of “share.”

Not that there's anything to share.

Judging from their numbers, this is almost all of them – even the too young and the too old. The only ones not present seem to be the ones that, one way or the other, age precludes them from wielding a weapon at all. They're just smart enough to hunt and forage in their territory, a concept they do understand, and to understand that there's no longer enough food there. This battle is their last hope to expand . . . to eat . . . to live, and they know it.

I wonder if they also know they're going to lose, and those who don't die here today will freeze and starve because those able to provide for them will be dead. I look at their numbers, and their almost aware eyes, and I have my answer.

They know.

Page 7

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