The words of Zerog as recored by Moddop

The humans have this word – hope – which I don’t really understand. I spent some time with one of them recently and we talked about it – very strange.

I had captured her and was bring her back to camp. I’m sure she knew what her fate was going to be – we capture lots of humans for slaves and food – but she was happy. I asked he why she was smiling and she answered me, “Because I have hope.”

“Do you think you will be rescued?” I asked her.

She said, “No,” and just kept smiling.

I didn’t believe her so I took her off the trail and made her sit – I figured we would wait and see if we were being followed. While we waited we talked some more.

“What is this hope?” I asked her.

She thought for a few moments before saying, “It is the knowledge that God will use what ever happens – no mater how evil its intent – for good. It is the knowledge that I am safe in him.”

“Do you see where you are? Do you know where you are going?” I asked her.

She nodded yes.

“And you believe that you are safe?”

She nodded again and then said, “You may hurt me. You may even kill me. But I know that I am safe.”

“What are you safe from if I can hurt you and kill you?”

She lifted her hands up towards the sky and said, “I am safe in the eyes of God.”

I didn’t know what to say. “Safe in the eyes of God.” What kind of God does she worship? The only thing I know is fear. In the eyes of God, the only thing I know is failure. I have not sacrificed enough; I have not worked hard enough; I have not finished the tasks given to me.

I finally asked her, “How can you not tremble in fear before your God? Are you perfect?”

She shook her head no. “I am not perfect. No, from from it. God may be disappointed in me, but he has forgiven me. All he asks is that I try to share his love with others, and even when I fail at that, he still loves me.”

“He loves you,” I said almost hissing in contempt, “How can a God love someone like you?”

“Because his son loves me, and he loves the ones his son loves. Doesn’t your God love you?”

This one who was about to become a slave surly had nerve to ask if God loves me. One could be struck down for thinking so highly of oneself. God is to be feared and obeyed – he has no time to love me – and even if he did have time, how could he love something like me – my own mother can hardly stand me.

I jumped up. “I should kill you for saying such things.” I yelled at her.

But she didn’t flench, she just sat there smiling. When I sat back down she said, “Would killing me make your God look at you with favor? If so, maybe you should kill me.”

I sat there a long time thinking – or trying to think. My mind didn’t know what to make of this woman. She seemed so out of place. She should be crying and begging, but instead she is happy and even suggested that I should kill her. Maybe I should have. I thought about it, but my fear got the better of me.

I reached over and cut the rope that was tied around her neck. She sat there with a puzzled look on her face. “Run away,” I yelled at her. She sat there. I stood up and pulled her to her feet. “If your God loves you so much that you are not afraid of him, perhaps I should be afraid of his wrath if I hurt you.”

She nodded understanding and took a step backwards.

As she started to walk away, I said to her, “Today your God has saved you.”

She looked over her shoulder and said, “My God saved me many generations ago, and he saves me everyday I walk with him, and he will save me every day to come, until I am with him in glory.”

I watched her walk away.

I wondered at her faith.

I’m still wondering about this thing she called hope.


The words of Anik

My heart broke today. I was going to visit Helgon – I wanted to show her my water skin. When I reached her hut and looked in I saw her sitting there with Brutts. They were holding hands and talking. I didn’t know what to do so I just left.

I know I’m just a boy now, but I thought she was waiting for me. In another three months I can compete for her affection. I don’t understand. I wonder if I did something wrong? Did she hear about the fight and decide I wasn’t good enough for her? Maybe she’s just cold; it has been a cold winter.

Helgon is the only one I ever really wanted. If I don’t have her to look forward to, what’s the point?

What is a father to do?

My son seems to be unable to do even the simplest of tasks. He keeps bring disgrace on my name. Just this week he lost a fight with a boy two years his junior and twenty pounds lighter in weight.

In a few more months he will go off on his vision quest. If he returns triumphant he will be an adult. If he returns a failure I will have to banish him – no father should have to banish his own son. I fear that he may not return at all. If he can’t win a fight against a child, how can he survive against a wolf or a lion?

Perhaps it would be best if he just diapers into the woods and I never have to admit how much of a failure he is. Still, he is my son. I shall make a sacrifice and pray for him. Perhaps there is still hope – he has not given up and he has focused on one to be his mate.

Even so, it is hard to listen to others talk about him and to know in my heart that they only speak the truth. I have heard others commenting on how cold this winter has been, but how much colder is it when your heart is broken. It feels like the spring may not come this year.

I Lost

The words of Anki

I don’t know what happened. I thought I was ready. I must have out weighted him by twenty pounds. The men had formed a circle and then pushed me into it. There he was, Maul. He had just been pushed into the circle, too.

I was looking him up and down, trying to see how he was setting his muscles so I might guess how he might attack, when someone pushed me from behind. I stumbled forward and I guess that was the opening he was looking for. In a flash he charged me and threw himself against me.

We both toppled over, me backwards, he landing painfully on top of me. He lifted his head and then brought it down against mine. Light flashed through my vision and I instinctively pushed up on him – throwing him back. I rolled over onto my hands and knees.

I was about to push myself up when his knee landed in the middle of my back, followed by the rest of him. Luckily my arms slid out from under me instead of breaking. I landed painfully on the ground and my face smashed into the ice covered ground.

When I picked my face up I saw that the ground was covered in blood. I turned just in time to see Maul’s foot streaking towards my side. I didn’t have time to get out of the way, but I did have time to reach up and pull his foot into my side and hold it there. With his foot held, Maul couldn’t control his momentum and continued forward falling over me.

He screamed as his leg twisted the wrong way at the knee and he continued to the ground. I smiled thinking that I might have just turned the direction of the fight. As I got up, he had pulled his legs close to his chest and continued to scream. I charged him, ready to put my knee in this face. At the last moment he spun on his back and placed his good foot in my gut and flipped me over him.

I landed painful on the ground and before I could react he was on top of me. He pulled my head back and then slammed it into the ground. I don’t know how many times he repeated this because everything soon went black.

When I work up my whole body hurt. I was cold and wet, and covered in a fresh coating of white. I managed to get up and walk slowly back to the boy’s hut. It felt like every eye in camp was watching me. I guess I was lucky that nothing got broken. I wish I knew who pushed me.

I Won

The words of Maul

It was great. I got to fight the chief’s son today and I won. It really wasn’t that hard. I just never gave him a chance to attack me. After I finished pounding his head into the ground the men carried me back to the single men’s hut.

They gave me grog to drink and we all ate venison that one of the older men had caught. It was great. My knee was bothering me, so someone went and got the shaman and he healed it. We drank some more and then I fell asleep.

I hope I get to fight Anik again soon. I know I can beat him again and I sure do like the benefits of beating the chief’s son. Life is good.

My son is gone

The words of Sarhbub

It has been ten days since the whiteness took my son. With our son gone, my mate left, too. It has been very quiet in my hut. It is always quiet when the whiteness is here, but this year the silence seems to scream at me. The coldness in the air seems to be deepening the coldness in my heart. Just as it makes it hard for me to move my joints, the coldness in my heart is making it hard to care about anyone else.

One of the boys in camp, well almost a man, was struggling with a rabbit skin. He was trying to tan it, but the brine kept freezing. I thought about going over and helping him – telling him to take his bucket inside his hut, but I didn’t. Instead I sat in front of my hut thinking about how my son will never learn how to tan leather or hunt deer.

No one taught my son the hard lessons that he had to learn on his own. No one stopped him from playing under the white covered trees. So why should I help this boy. He was learning on this own, and if he doesn’t learn he will just die like my son. It seems that is just the way things work.

But still, maybe I should have helped him. I’m alone now and can use all the friends I can find. If I see him tomorrow I’ll see if I can help.

Water Skin

The words of Anik

I finished my water skin today. It took much longer than I thought it would. I think the fact that it is so cold made it take longer for me to get the stomach and skin ready. The point is that it is done now and actually holds water.

I took it to Zerog and he said it was good and that all I had to do now was wait for the spring to come and I can go on my vision quest. I hope I’m ready.

It’s cold alone

The words of Eevla

Life is hard – and the hard things all seem to come together.

The whiteness has come like it does every year and like every year it changes life. It’s cold. I’m sure it isn’t colder than any other year, but it sure feels like it. Most years there would only be a fire in the hut at dinner time, but his year I’ve had a fire going most of the day.

Maybe I’m colder because I’m with child? Maybe not? I think I would be warmer with all this extra weight I’m carrying.

Maybe it’s because I’m in my own hut this year? I’m not sharing it with twenty other women. Or maybe my hut isn’t built as well?

Maybe it’s because I’m colder on the inside – Zilreleon went hunting two weeks ago and hasn’t returned. I’m afraid he’s not coming back. I know that he won’t help with the baby much, but a baby should at least know its father. Also, I miss him laying next to me at night.

My food is going quicker this year since I’m eating for two. I may have to go and ask some of the other women for food, especially if Zilreleon doesn’t come back. I hate the thought of having to ask for help, but I will if I need to for my baby.

My Son

The words of Sarhbub

My son died. The place in my heart and my home that he once occupied have been replaced with sadness and memories. I asked Hodish about my pain. He said that he understood, he too had lost a child many years ago. He said that I should focus on the good that has happened to me and not on the bad. I said I didn’t understand, so he gave me a list.

Because of my son Krig, I have had four years with my mate Prurz. I still have another son, Kolg, who is now a young man and may soon have a mate and a child of his own. I have my own hut and much wealth.

I told him that I lost my son, and now my mate Prurz will move out and I will be on my own again. Without a mate I will have to work harder to trade for meat and will have to spend my wealth.

He smiled at me and then asked me some questions. “Would you have rather not mates  with Prurz at all?”

I said, “no, the last four years have been good.”

He said, “Are you more grateful for your life or are you more sad?”

I had to think about that one for a while. Finally I said, “grateful.”

“Then remember,” he said. “Remember and be grateful – the sadness will seem less.”

I’ve been thinking about what he said. I think I am glade there is a hole in my life, for without it I would not have anything worth living for.


The words of Chief Torin

God has hidden his face from us again. The great Whiteness has come and covered the world. He has left traps for the unwary.

One of the young boys went into the woods. He started to play a dangerous game. He jumped up and grabed low tree branches and then ran away as the whiteness traped in their branches fell. He challenged god too many times, the last time the whiteness caught him and knocked him to the ground. A rock waited for him hidding under the whiteness on the ground.

When he was dug out, we found that he was dead. How many more will the whiteness claim before god sends his curse away?