He ran, ran as he hadn't run in years. Broad sticks splintered beneath his heavy boots, driven deep into gritty soil. Branches whipped his face, scrub scraped at his calves above his boots, raising welts that remained all but invisible against skin red enough to suggest an agonizing sunburn. Or at least it would have, had he been human.Read the rest of the story here.
On an ogre, it was typical enough, no more abnormal than the single eye that darted frantically left and right, seeking any possible escape, or the horn that snagged on overhanging boughs and left a rain of dismembered leaves falling in his wake. He crashed directly through the trees where he could, snapping branches and saplings without slowing, darting around the larger trunks where even his prodigious strength proved insufficient to clear his path. And still he heard the sounds of pursuit, drawing ever nearer. The trees were not tightly packed here, and those who followed him could fit between and flit around far more easily than he.
Damn it all, he hadn't even wanted this! He'd killed neither man nor woman, save when forced to defend himself, in almost three years. Not since he'd turned apostate, forsaking the worship of Chalsene Night-Bringer. Since he'd given up serving Lord Corvis Rebaine, the so-called Terror of the East.
Since he'd abandoned his tribe, in search of something better. Something he still hadn't found, and was starting to doubt even existed.
He'd been on the hunt that morning, seeking a deer or perhaps an unguarded sheep or cow on which to munch as he made his way across the plains of Imphallion. He traveled mostly at night—even before Rebaine's campaign of terror, an ogre near any of the nation's cities or highways could expect a welcome carried on the fletching of arrows—but he'd thought himself far enough from civilization that he could risk a daylight excursion.
No such luck. He never learned why they were there—perhaps some nobleman just wanted a change of scenery, or maybe this misfortune was the vengeance of Chalsene himself—but even as he'd darted across a length of back road that should have been empty, he'd stumbled directly into the path of a small procession. A heavy carriage-and-four, its wood painted black and emblazoned with the ensign of a golden gauntlet, was trundling up the path, surrounded by no fewer than a dozen mounted knights.
Knights who were, perhaps understandably, unwilling to wait and find out just precisely why an ogre twice their own height had appeared in their liege's way.
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