The Goatherd

Until that day, he was another ordinary boy of his tribe. He spent most of his time out on the bare, windy hillsides watching the herds. He had little more than a sharpened stick and a knife to protect them, should any predators come down from the hills. If any raiders rode across the plains from the lands of other tribes, Saman was to race for the warriors, calling for them to help.

Most of the time, though, he and the other boys sat, or stood, on the hillsides watching and waiting as the days turned to nights and the nights turned back to days.

It was a cold misty day, fading into evening. Already, in the distance he could see the glow of fires in the village. Saman wished he were there, back in front of the fires, or as close as the boys could get, listening to the warriors telling their tales of battles, skirmishes and victories.

He would be out there on that hillside all night. Already, he had a few twigs and some moss gathered to keep his own fire burning, but he needed more. Up the hill from where he sat, under the overhang of a rock, he knew there were the remnants of a lightning-struck tree. It would give him a few sticks, perhaps enough for his fire to last until the dawn’s blood kissed the sky.

‘Saman.’

He turned. There was no-one there.

He turned back, dismissing it as a trick of the wind, or a cry from one of the goats a few strides away.

He was young, but he knew all about the way the night could play tricks. He knew all about the caprices of the demons and other creatures that hid in the shadows of the night. He took a twig from the fire to light is way as he peered into the shadows around the rock.

‘Saman.’

He looked up and she was standing there.

‘Who…? What…?’ Saman yelped as the flame burnt down the twig he held, burning his fingers. He shook his hand, burying it in his armpit.

The woman reached out a hand. ‘Let me.’

Tentative at first, he held out his red and sore fingers to her.

Her hand was cool. She kissed his fingers and the pain was gone.

‘Who…?’

‘I have come for you, Saman,’ the mysterious woman said. ‘You are to be mine.’

Published by David Hadley

A Bloke. Occasionally points at ducks.

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