Dinald’s comedy songs were going down reasonably well, thought Rasha. Ungo and Ragnar were approaching a state of insensibility, while Ailukka’s approach was more measured, as though she were unable to throw herself completely into the evening’s entertainment.
For the inhabitant’s of the steading however, this was one of those chance’s to blow off a little steam from their hard lives in this forsaken place. Outside the night was now chill with the cold mist rolling in from the surrounding downs. From the talk around him he surmised that such opportunities were rare, though in fact there had been a similar feast only a few days ago, when one of King Opir’s Hirdmen, Thane Guthric Hardfist, had visited overnight while on some errand for the King.
Dinald had now staggered off to a mixed reception of cheers and hurled chicken legs, and Ameiko moved to the centre of the tables with the strange Tian stringed instrument she favoured-the Samisen. For a human she really was very beautiful, thought Rasha, and her Tian features added an extra aura of exoticism and mystery. “This isn’t going to be a bawdy song”, he predicted, and he was right.
As she played her high voice sang out sharp and clear, like a blade piercing a curtain of ice. A few in the room may have understood the words she sung in the strange Tiannese tongue, but it didn’t seem to matter.The burly warriors and miners all fell silent, and her playing and her voice called clearly to them of lost dreams and heartache, regardless of the tongue she used. When Ameiko finally fell silent and bowed her head, there were tears being wiped from the eyes of the majority of the grown men in the room.
There was a very short pause, when suddenly the front door was jerked open, and one of the guards, bloodied and shaking, staggered in, and attempted to close the doors.
“My Thane” he uttered, and then suddenly the door burst open and a horrific skeletal figure strode through the door, cutting him down in an instant. Clad in ancient armour, its eyes glowing with green balefire it stared at the assembly.
“Weregild” it hissed in a voice cold, empty and distant. More dead figures crowded around it, and a chill white mist started to fill the hall through the windows and open door.
“Oh good” thought Rasha, “Our weapons are all outside.”