Beneath the Dogwood Trees

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    Masoninarion, called Mason in these lands, sat beneath the flowering pink branches of the great tree that the locals called a “dog wood.” It reminded him of the great trees of his homeland and their once great branches lined with the enormous blossoms that hid behind them the carved beauty of the high blood homes. Those homes were gone now, the trees torn down and burned by the Tundran Horde to fuel their great war forges as they marched south and west across the Thirteen Provinces of the Empire.

    The scar on his side ached with the memory, the missing tips of his ears burning in phantom memory of the day he had failed the Empire. He had been on the Wall, he had seen the Hordes pour across the mountains, the very wind itself seeming to pour behind them, rushing in great gusts that split the flights of arrows and shattered them back against the stones of the wall.

    He pushed the memory from his mind, concentrating on his breathing, attempting to find the great emptiness that had eluded him this past three centuries. The fog of his mind began to settle and creep back, clearing away. Once again the pain called to him, making him aware of his body and crushing the fog back into his mind. He opened his eyes and watched the wind dance through the pink laden limbs above him, something seemed different about the day, a smell in the air seemed off, and thick.

    He stood and dusted the dirt from himself. The air was heavy here, sticky, and the smell it carried was that of death.

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