TITLE: The Watched Men
A woman hunched over the ground in front of the gates, shaking, leaning on her shovel for support. Black scarf tied around her neck, pulled up to cover her mouth. Dark hair with streaks of grey flowed down her shoulders and pooled on her chest, covering her broken heart.
She sobbed as she worked.
Her shovel cut into the hard-packed earth, loosening, turning over the burgundy path, deeply stained from so much blood. All of his blood.
It had always been that way, when a body was found outside the city gates. Not a drop of blood was left in them, but no wound had ever been found on any of the dead to explain how this was possible. Only a twisted look, desperation preserved on their stiff faces, and all of their blood spilled on the ground where they lay.
This was the power of the Nagiris Lion.
The Old Ones called it the Iliagrinnos, the Silent One. Most others dared not speak a name, lest it should hear and come for them. The blood belonged to her husband, whose body had been burned the night before, as was their way. Now it was her duty to cover the blood since no one else could touch it.
Arnot watched through a hole in the palisade wall, heart aching for this woman he didn't even know. He wanted to go and help her, to do the job for her so that she could rest, and grieve.
But it was forbidden.