Atrum

Posted: July 18, 2011 in Family, Fiction

I first saw them at the zenith of my daily journey. Two mortals sat deep in the heartland, far from any of Man’s domains. Each resembled a man, but the truth of each man shone through clearly as day. One was a wolf; an Alpha who had no pack and desired none. The other was clockwork given life. Yet, they were no less men. Their presence in the rolling fields seemed unnatural. I left my Chariot hanging in the sky, finding I had need of a closer look.

The two sat across a fire from each other, feasting on the remains of a game bird. The smell of roasted meat filled my nostrils. I stood in the deep grass just outside the tiny clearing and listened.

“Well done, Atrum,” the smaller of the two praised the other. Atrum tore a mouthful of bird flesh free of the bone with a predator’s teeth.

“Hmph,” Atrum grunted through his food. The smaller did not seem displeased. Perhaps this was not the dismissal of praise I would have taken it for. I inspected Atrum. He hunched over his food, but this did little to conceal his stature or his powerful musculature. Blood stained his forearms and his neck. So, he had hunted their meal. Atrum’s eyes were dark, predatory. They sparkled with the intellect of a man. Ares would love this one, I was certain. He bore no marks of favor. None of the Gods had claimed him as a pet, yet. Atrum stopped chewing. He held his head up and turned from side to side.

“What is it?” The other man asked.

“I don’t know,” he mumbled through his food. Could he somehow perceive me? Impossible. No man could find a god against the god’s wishes. “Probably nothing,” Atrum said. He hunkered down and resumed working on his meal. His thick brush of brown hair was now on end, though. Muscle rippled through his tunic. He was not relaxing. Amazing. The brutish figure finished off his meal in short order.

The smaller of the two had eaten substantially less. There was plenty of the game bird left. I suspected it would go to waste, as Atrum stood and announced that it was time to go. The smaller one nodded, and carefully wrapped the remnants of the bird. He deposited it in a sack, which he slung over his shoulder. Atrum unfastened his coal-black breeches and proceeded to extinguish the fire. The smaller one gave him a look. “What?” Atrum asked. The smaller of the two shrugged his shoulders. “It isn’t as though we could just leave the fire burning, you know.”

“Of course not.” The smaller one shrugged again. “Nevermind. Shall we?” The two men turned to the West and broke into a saunter. They cut twin furrows through the deep grasses, and soon broke out into the plain. I hung in the sky, watching them. As the land opened, the pair increased their pace, breaking into a dead run. I returned to my Chariot, but I was captivated. How had these two come to be travelling companions?

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