Yaun hid. The men roamed about the village, looking for him, two at a time, their feet treading down the soft earth of the smouldering village. Each footfall like a battering ram.

“God and his saints will protect us,” his mother had said, but they hadn’t. His mother had been split from nape to nave by a broadsword. He had never know there was so much blood in a person.

Yaun would have survived, would have stayed in that village, but he was the unluckiest son, and always had been. In among the men came Jantris, tallest of the dead men. He was a star warrior who wielded a vorpal sword art. His brow was clad with precious stones and his clothing was finer than the others, and less smeared with blood. Yaun could feel the heat of his breath even from his hiding place, but his limbs were too frozen with fear to move.

It took them less than an hour to find him, petrified, under the old water trough where he clung to the mud. He had been bathed in that trough, when he was a baby, and played with the pigs.

He was brought before Jantris, and the men laughed like hyenas, and made a motion as if to chop off his head with their bare hands, but they didn’t. Instead, Jantris, tallest of the storm lords, leant down to Yaun. His eyes were bright, like glowing smoke.

“Now you are dead,” he said, and handed him the hilt of a sword.