by J. Miller
Prologue to a future long form work
"Once again into the fray my friends!" came the words unbidden to his mind. Memories of a time long gone and loves long lost clamoring for his attention, their presence an unwanted distraction. To hearken to their call meant death. He closed his eyes momentarily; feigning exhaustion. His ears tracked the enemy, however. He knew too much of this one to let down his guard, even for a second. He smiled slightly as he caught the sound he had been waiting for. He opened his eyes and the grin broadened.
The jaguar had tracked the man for miles; seemingly secure in its superiority, the large cat approached with caution, nonetheless. The large man sat cross-legged in the middle of the small clearing with his eyes closed, motionless. He was tall and muscular, with long brown hair tied behind his head and a braid in his beard. He was the prey. The cat could smell the sweat on the man; and, could smell the blood within. There was something strange to the man's scent. The jaguar sniffed to make sure, and then settled into its crouch. Nothing was going to stop this meal. It leapt.
The man heard the cat crouch, and, in one fluid motion was on his feet, even as it jumped toward him. The black shape hurled at him and he twisted and bent with almost supernatural speed. The jaguar seemed to brush across his shoulder with just a paw and then was on the ground, snarling. The prey had become the hunter. The man pulled a large knife from a scabbard at the small of his back and stood in his own warrior crouch. In the few seconds they spent appraising each other, the hunter and the man killer, the man's eyes seemed to become sad. He brought his arm to his chest, the knife, held pommel to thumb, touching his heart, and spoke softly. "Til pess Valhalla."
The jaguar leaped.
The man buried the body, as per the old ways, with respect. He took only a small portion of the animal's hide, as proof of the job’s completion. As he left the clearing, he turned back. He silently raised fist to heart and nodded. He turned away, and began the walk home.