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Birds of Prey

By Thomas Prill

They waited patiently for what seemed a long time, stamping in the snow to keep their feet warm. Even in this hidden corner of the mountains, one could still hear the noises of the battle, which had been raging in the valley for weeks.
"Do you think this is a trap," Baddun asked. "Where is he?" "He's going to come. The sign was definite." "But what if they're to detect that we left the camp?" "They certainly will. We, however, will be far away then, on our way home." "I don't know. Got a bad feeling about it."
Their fingers were freezing in their iron gauntlets. Time seemed to stand still. "Don't worry. This is not our war. These lords wouldn't give a damn about us either." Traik whispered. "Look forward to seeing your wife and your little daughter when we return home. One leader is as good as the other. Why shouldn't we serve the winner? Shhhh, he's coming." They put on their heavy helmets, starting to hide behind a rock.
A dark rider appeared on the way, his charger wearing heavy black armour like the rider himself. A grey skull crushed by a battle-axe stared on the ground from the warrior's black shield. He was carrying a mighty long-sword with innumerable marks of enemies who had been defeated by it. All of a sudden, his horse stopped. The figure was completely silent in his saddle. After a while, they could hear him sniffing at the air, not moving or saying a word.
"Look at the skull. That's their sign," Baddun whispered trembling in the darkness. You're right. Get the uniforms!" Traik told him. "Hail thee, mighty warlord!" he spoke to the rider, leaving his hideout. "We have got here what you wanted us to bring you." Baddun came out of the dark, carrying two large sacks. Then he turned to fetch two more. "Here are twenty of our uniforms, as you demanded. More than enough to get into our lord's tent and win the war without any further battle."
Baddun threw the second pair of sacks on the ground. Four of the rider's men immediately rushed out of the dark and grabbed the uniforms. As suddenly as they had come, they disappeared again. Baddun started to shake. Traik stared at him with a feeling of remorse, too. "It's just the snow."
Baddun gazed up at the horseman with a treacherous smile. "It was a pleasure to serve you, mighty warlord. I hope you will remember our faces after you have become the king of this realm. I mean in spite of a small appreciation." "Don't worry, soldier, you shall be remembered. And you will get what you deserve." The figure turned and rushed away into the darkness. "Come on, let's get away from here," Traik whispered.
On their way home, they passed a campfire, with five men sitting around it. When the two approached the group silently, they found that they were just clothed in blankets. They regarded the lifeless bodies. "This one is the lord we were talking to. I recognize his face from the battle," Baddun cried. "No, he can't be. Their wounds are already frozen. They must have been sitting here for hours." They heard a 'crack', just like the noise of a crossbow, firing a bolt...

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Eingereicht am 07. April 2004.
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