The first settlements they looked upon from above, having bent northwards rising through a pass in highlands, until breaking through as the sun was waning in the west. Far below they could see homes and fenced pens, gardens, but no movement, no smoke from the homes or places of work; no birdsong in the silence, only patches of a fog moved here and there over the land. Zhera’ knew of this place, where his father’s clan ascended for many generations into the hills, and he thought perhaps should one come looking after his name, to this settlement Orkos would they be directed.
And so it was, for as they walked near to the first farms, they scared away carrion birds pulling at strings of flesh, and dogs fighting in the distance; inside dwellings, and places to keep bred creatures, fighting, barking, howling, dogs weeping. The first human forms, some were discovered nailed about the dwellings and fences, buried to stand askew rising from the muck, dried and cracking, scarlet and green crusted. As the sun was setting, more howls upon the hills could be heard, yet Zhera’ as one mad led the company through, peering by torchlight and then setting home and lofts and cellars alight in flame, and the scent of their burning drove out the shock, and a sickness came upon all, and Zhera’ first of all vomited, when he looked into the clan house of his fathers: their bodies had been sliced finely in dissection, unfolded from a side, or unseamed from mouth to bottom, and opened for drying, preservation, or display. He cried, amid the gut wrenches, that wrongly they came to this land, hacking, cutting, these men of the sea-west, singing as they carved up a peaceful dwelling, that the gift of passage they brought: an encircled people, circling about, giving the Gift of Eru to His children, that One Gift.
These words as a song Zhera’ had heard from his stone, many nights earlier; though he guessed at its meaning, he could not imagine the singers’ work.
Similar scenes and worse were found throughout the settlement, and that night none slept, for the burning light of fires was too bright, and the scent too daunting for dreams, and they huddled, and wept, and held one another til dawn brought calm, and resolve, and new birds overhead to sing in the hills.
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