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Page 4 "The omens"

That morning, it was not the mountain water that would finally awaken Hanor. The first omen occured as he descended the ladder in the half-light. As he turned, a dozen terrified pairs of eyes darted towards him. The sheep stood motionless as if awaiting judgement. He shuffled to the barn exit, not wanting to risk that there was a plan behind that look. As he opened the creaking wooden door, the day greeted him with the amber glow of the sun just making its way over the massif. A gust of wind swept over him delightfully with a mountain chill. A few moments later however, a stench of digested wine pierced his nostrils - another omen, a forerunner of bad news. Lark, guarding his property like an Argus, emerged from the void with his characteristic stubborn face.
'Dug Kolmen' Hanor preempted him with a salute in Holkonian. Lark, without wrapping his mind around redundant greeting, immediately threw his cards on the table 'You best be movin' along! Those dog sons of Jugh came by,' he spat hissily at his feet. 'They're looking for scoundrels like you - no job, no report!' he tugged ostentatiously at his worn shirt.
'But what about our agreement, my sheep...' Hanor muttered uncertainly.

'Vargar!' Lark cut him off, 'I've no wish to lay eyes on you here again!'
It took Hanor a long moment to grasp the meaning of those words, but surprisingly for himself he responded with conviction, adhering to the tenet of hospitality: 'Nobody dismiss guests without breakfast!'
Lark pierced him with a look of resentment, and without breaking eye contact, shouted in his face with sour wine breath, 'Leeeenaaa!
'What!' The landlady's coarse voice came from inside the hut.
'Hand 'im a piece to nibble!'- Lark gasped and disappeared somewhere behind the barn.

He followed the voice of his stomach, which was now in great need after fasting for hours. He entered a hut made of roughly hewn stone. Its interior was lined with brown wavy bedding. In the centre stood a cracked clay oven, essential for surviving the long and cold Holconian winters. A short, corpulent landlady was bustling about at the stove, beads of sweat on her forehead. Yet she was able to smile so warmly, that it instantly made you feel better. And this time she did not disappoint, grinning at him her even teeth and hands on her broad hips.

'Don't worry Hanor, he's furious because they've taken the lambs, the war contribution...pff...who saw it coming! You'd better look elsewhere - he could have sworn she said it all in one breath. - Don't you have some maiden down there? - she smiled at him rather lasciviously, which made him feel uncomfortable.
- I can take care of myself.
- 'You need to eat something before you set off,' she said, and a moment later a bowl of steaming scrambled eggs in butter landed on a bench against the wall - a most perfect meal that spreading a pleasant warmth over his bowels. The strong kaffa served in a wooden mug stimulated his circulation and chased away the remnants of sleep.


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