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The Soulless

Kazak’vur glared at the human priest who glared back saying “You are the Dragonkin Champion of Glalik, sworn to obey the King who sent you to protect the Glalikan Priests and you are telling me that you don’t take your job seriously?”
“Bah!” Kazak’vur scoffed in derision and growled. “I take my job very seriously, but I fail to see how this trip was worth the effort on my part. You can see the stars just as well in Glalik. Because of this trip, I have missed my chance to take part in the Xorvintaal! What am I supposed to protect you from out here? You are making all this fuss but there is nothing here to be of use and it is a waste of time regardless.”
Glalik's head priest was making wild gestures with his hands and shouting at him in exasperation “You should spend more time protecting me or at least acting like it instead of grumbling over how pointless this is!” The priest, Folkher, gathered some measure of control over himself and continued, “Do you realize that this is the best place in all of Sena’ka to see the stars? That is the reason that we are here, Champion. Tonight, the Crown of Heaven will be completed as the planets, Melliador, Dor-Ruamor, and Uvweya get into position. It is a once in a lifetime event! It only occurs once every century and-”
He paused as Kazak’vur rolled his eyes and snapped “If guarding you was so important, then why am I the only guard? For a human, this is a once in a lifetime event but for one of the Dragonkin, it happens 5 or 6 times in our lifetimes. Not so special. The Xorvintaal, however, has become a rare event and I am missing it!”
Folkher stared at him in disbelief "The Crown of Heaven is a sign from the Goddess, Sena! The positioning of the stars holds the secrets to our futures! They tell us how to best win the wars of our countries and those who will be defeated-”
At that point Kazak’vur stopped listening, he wasn’t impressed. As far as he was concerned it was a bunch of superstitious nonsense to describe a pretty picture in the sky. He paid the proper respect to the warrior Goddess but he found no reason to fawn over Her as the priests did. Besides, the stars were too far away to conquer so why bother with them? The Xorvintaal, though...
Folkher growled in frustration and demanded, "What is this ksorvintal thing that is so much more important than the Goddess?"
Kazak'vur scowled "Xorvintaal, Priest, the Great Game of the Dragons... Bah! You wouldn't understand! Go prepare for your ceremony, priest. The sooner you are done the sooner we can leave these Sena-forsaken lands!” The land was groaning in the distance but they both ignored it.
Folkher, gasped in outrage “How dare you sully the Goddess’ name! Especially when we are here to receive Sena’s blessing. Wingless Dragonkin!”
Kazak’vur bared his fangs, growling at the insult “I will use the Goddess’ name however I wish, maunthreki. Though I hardly sullied Her name. Save your ‘holy’ anger for the sailors.”
Folkher sniffed “Sena will curse your soul for treating her servant this way.” he said then turned on his heel and strode or waded back into the camp almost tripping on his thick robes and stumbling in the deep snow. Kazak’vur gave a loud snort of sullen laughter. Folkher pretended not to have noticed and re-entered the tent that he had been doing his priestly thing in before deciding that it was time to reprimand him for not guarding the camp efficiently.
The remnants of the meager sunlight glinted off of Kazak's golden scales as he shook his head in scorn of the humans. There was no need for tents. It was just as cold inside as it was outside of them in this miserable tundra. He grudgingly began to patrol the camp parameters.
All-around as far as the eye could see was flat, snow-covered, sheets of ice tinted red by the glow of the setting sun. The sheets of ice would often shift, rubbing against each other and groaning. A cold breeze blew in Kazaks face bringing only the cold, wet, scent of snow, some of its flakes melted on his warm scales. Annoyed as he was, Kazak did take his job seriously no matter what Folkher said. He scanned the area around the camp, watching for any signs of movement, claws resting on his broadsword hilt. But there wasn’t sight, sound or smell of anything as far as he could tell, probably because they were on an uninhabitable, miserable expanse of ice. As he watched, there was a loud moaning and cracking sound as the ice shifted and drifted apart.
“It’s an utter waste of time to come here,” Kazak growled to himself. “They can see the Crown of Heaven anywhere that they want to on Sena’ka. There’s no need for me to miss the Xorvintaal just so they can get a crick in their necks staring up at the sky,” he muttered. He glanced upwards to see the intricate mass of stars made up the Crown of Heaven and the three other known planets; Melliador, Dor-Ruamor, and Uvweya which had gathered to become the jewels on its points. There was no denying that it was a beautiful sight but in the end… it was still nothing more than stars. But priests would find omens in anything if it suited them.
Turning his attention back to the task at hand Kazak thought he saw movement near the camp, he narrowed his gaze and prowled in that direction. When he got there, however, he frowned. There wasn’t anything there. No tracks, no smell… He scanned the ground again and found a depression in the snow that looked like a vague footprint, maybe. But he could just be imagining it since it only sunk in a few inches, he was sunk in to his knees. The humans, though they were lighter than he, sank in the snow almost to their knees as well. Elves were rumored to be light enough to walk on top of the snow, but he had never seen an Elf, the mythical race was too rare. Some people believed them to be extinct or to have never existed at all. He searched the ground and found a few more of the odd depressions. Kazak scanned the area watching for movement. The depressions were to regular to be coincidental. He leaned forward, narrowing his gaze, thinking that he had seen movement when;
“Dragonkin! Kazak’vur!”
A glance behind him showed him that one of the priests was coming his way, looking concerned.
“What do you need, Priest?” Kazak’vur asked, still watching the faint movement. If he lost track of it, he was certain that he would lose it for good.
“The Head Priest, Folkher... He’s dead...” The priest was panting after having to struggle through the snow.
This got Kazaks full attention, he turned to the priest and demanded in complete disbelief “What? How? What happened?”
“He was preparing the ceremony, it happened just as the planets began to align! It’s a sign, somehow he has encouraged Sena’s wrath.” The priest murmured in horrified tones.
Kazak’vur looked back, trying to find the movement again but it was gone as he had feared would happen. He followed the priest back inside the camp.
They made their way to the center of it all where the ceremony was to take place. The rest of the few lesser priests and apprentices in the company were crowded around in a circle and murmuring. Some were kneeling in the snow begging the Goddess for forgiveness. Kazak’vur shoved his way through them.

Folkher, the head priest lay sprawled motionless in the snow, Kazak might have thought that he was merely unconscious but for the fact that his skin had become a dull grey color. Folkher's dead eyes seemed to stare at Kazak accusingly as if to remind him that it had been his duty to keep them alive and he had failed.

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Hir i-Chorvath
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