stalked his prey with the focus and intensity of a lifelong hunter.
He moved low to the ground, hunched, almost crawling, one foot
crossing over the other as he crept across the recently tilled field.
He was bigger now
that he was a Champion, but he felt like he was moving with more
grace. Further, the wind was in his favor, and his approach lead
directly through the shadow of Jericho’s walls, so his advantages
more than made up for his larger profile.
The sheep didn’t
appear to have noticed him, placidly grazing in the strip of grass
between fields. They didn’t range over the Smoke Mountains, and
those that he’d seen since his arrival in Jericho had remained
largely oblivious to the locals that walked among them. Was this
magic cast upon the sheep, to make them dull and easy to kill, or was
it cast upon the locals, to make them invisible to the sheep?
know, and he didn’t want to take chances. Farmers — that’s what
he and Broad were now — were well fed with plenty of bread,
porridge, and beer, but very little of the meat that that the
tribesmen were used to eating. Meat that his new Champion body seemed
to crave. He needed this hunt, this kill, this sheep. It was all he
could do to keep from salivating at the prospect.
Closer and closer
he drew, moving when the sheep lowered its head to graze, freezing
when it lifted it to look around.
Broad had spotted
the animal, and it’d been his older brother’s idea to hunt it
down. Clay had readily agreed; in addition to missing the taste of
meat, he missed the thrill of it. Farm-work might suit his brother,
but Clay was a hunter, and hunters hunted.
The sheep lowered
his head and began grazing once more. Clay moved.
It wasn’t that
he was ungrateful for the hospitality of the city and the opportunity
to work. The labor had become a trifle since he’d used the Old Ones
magic. He could have easily tilled a field on his own each day, but
had refrained when Broad had pointed out that that’s exactly what
would have become expected of him.
supervisor Forkbeard had noticed Clay’s increased strength and size
he hadn’t said anything, though the hunter did catch the older man
eying him speculatively a few times. If asked, Clay would have told
him the truth, that he had taken some of Bear’s power into himself,
that he was now more than most men.
But nobody had
asked. That was just as well. It would have meant more questions,
questions about what he intended to do now, and Clay didn’t know.
He wanted revenge upon the tribe that had killed his father, but how
he could accomplish such a feat short of leaving the city and
tracking them down — an endeavor doomed to end in failure and death
for one who had no experience in hunting men — he had no idea.
But now was not
the time for thoughts of the future. He was hunting. All that
mattered was the kill, and the meat that came from it.
Clay was close
now. Close enough to smell the sheep, its scent of grass and mud and
wet cloth. He hefted the till-stick, the only weapon on hand, and
rose from his couch, ready to close the distance and crush the
He was halfway
through his lunge when the stone hit him in the forehead, smashing
his sense away, knocking him off of his feet into the mud.
Dawn didn’t know whether to be relieved that she hadn’t killed
the tribal farmer or disappointed. On the one hand, he was trying to
kill one of her sheep, and no one would think ill of her for stopping
the theft, particularly from one of the city’s recent immigrants.
On the other, she’d never killed anyone before, and wasn’t
terribly keen to start.
There was a large
welt on his forehead where she’d struck him, but he was breathing.
He was lucky. She was no slouch with the sling; her missed shots
could chip stone and crack mortar.
She realized that
he was the tribal she’d seen coming through the gates the other
day. He was larger up close, lanky but not as skinny, and almost
unbelievably tall when he was laid out and not slouching. The tribal
immigrants in the streets were all tall, but this one — it was
almost hard to trust her eyes. His life as a hunter must have been a
healthy one, for there wasn’t an ounce of fat on him.
Not so lucky,
perhaps. He had several large scars, one on his shoulder that looked
like two jagged semi-circles, and a thinner line across his chest.
caught in her throat as his blue-gray eyes opened. She scampered back
as he sat up, holding her knife out, pointed at him, like a
“What hit me?”
His voice was deep and bass.
“I did,” she
said. “You were going to kill my sheep.”
His eyes focused
on hers, and she was instantly and entirely aware of the difference
in them that her father had spoken of. They were wild and alert in a
way that she couldn’t quite articulate, savage and untamed. Her
“I am sorry,”
he said. “I did not know anyone else was hunting it.”
eye-contact to look back towards her sheep. “I wasn’t hunting
her, she’s part of my flock.”
people keep animals?”
“That is not a
magic we possess.” He lowered his eyes. “Forgive me, shaman, I
saw the one alone and did not know it had been bound to you.”
Dawn said. “I’m not a shaman. I’m a shepherd.”
His eyes rose. “I
don’t know that word.”
break away from his gaze. “I… it means one who cares for the
sheep. I watch them. They are my flock.”
sort of.” She tried to figure out how to explain the concept. “The
sheep belong to the city. I watch them, and keep them safe from
wolves and… people who shouldn’t take them.”
nodded, seemingly satisfied with the answer. “You watch them the
way Forkbeard watches the plants to make sure they grow right.”
The tribal looked
back over at the sheep. “Can I have one?”
She was startled
by the question. “What?”
“I am of
Jericho now. Do you mind if I take one of the sheep? Forkbeard
doesn’t give my brother and I much meat.”
just… take what you want,” Dawn said.
“It is of the
city? I am of the city. And I need meat. Why can’t I take one?”
just take what you want,” Dawn said. “Do you know how many people
live in Jericho?”
said. “So many more than I have ever seen.”
realize that everyone cannot just take what they want when they
glanced towards the walls. Dawn took the opportunity to look away.
“There are more
men than sheep. Men would fight over who gets to eat them.”
“Yes! So you
see why you cannot just take them?”
He rose to his
feet, towering over her, almost half as tall as the city walls
themselves. She felt small, tiny, like a rabbit in the shadow of a
hawk, and it was exhilarating.
“How is it
known who gets to eat sheep?”
“The elders decide how much meat, beer, and grain to give each
“What do they
He looked down at
“I am Dawn
Spring. My father said that that my eyes are the color of the rising
sun reflected in the spring’s water.”
Clay stooped and
looked into Dawn’s eyes with an intensity that almost stopped her
heart. “Your father is a clever man.”
She clenched her
fists, nails biting into her palms. “Why… why do they call you
He grinned. “When
I was a child I used to play in the stream alongside our camp, and
would come out covered in mud. When it dried, my mother said it
looked like I was turning to clay.”
from his smile that she was falling into a deep infatuation. She
sighed in resignation. There wasn’t anything to be done for it. She
held out her hand, and the tribal hunter helped her up.
Her hand felt
enveloped by his rough warmth. “My father is important among the
shepherds. We have meat. Maybe I can ask that he invite you and your
brother over for dinner?”
“That would be… my brother and I would be grateful.”
burned in her chest. “I will ask. Where do you live?”
“Broad and I
are staying with the farm supervisor Forkbeard.”
She nodded. “You
had best get back to your field, then, before he notices you are
Clay picked up
his tilling-stick. “Thank you, Dawn. You are very kind.”
She felt her face
redden. “You are welcome.”
She watched his
long strides as he loped away, letting the color slowly flush from
her face, and began leading the flock back towards the city gate. The
further she got from Clay, the further she got from his smile, his
scent, his muscles, the more acutely aware she was of the task ahead
of her. Many men came to court her, both because of her looks and the
power her father held with the city elders, and always Squint had
refused their offers. They were not, he maintained, good enough for
agreed, having never been particularly interested in any of her
suitors. They were always rich but ugly, or coarse, or cruel, or
boring. None had thrilled her in such a short time as the tribal
refugee Clay had, and none had a more difficult path with her father.
Squint had never made his disdain for the immigrants a secret.
Convincing him to
host for the tribal brothers wouldn’t be easy. Convincing him to
let Clay court her would be nearly impossible.
care. Her heart had found what it had wanted, and she wasn’t going
to let mere impossibility deter her. She would have Clay.
He would be hers.
He would be hers.
wasn’t terribly enthusiastic about the meal invitation at first.
want meat?” Clay asked while the pair walked back through the city
towards Forkbeard’s home.
“Of course I
want meat,” Broad said. “But good honest hunted meat, not magic
shepherd meat. They don’t have shamans here. Who will tell them
what the spirits say is taboo? Is eating magic meat safe?”
“All of the
grain in the bread and porridge is magic, too.”
said. “But there is a difference between bad meat and bad plants.
Eat bad meat and you get sick and die. Eat bad plants and the spirits
send you on a terrifying vision quest.”
“I am sure that
if the meat was bad half the city would have died,” Clay said.
“That is only
my first concern. This girl. She likes you.”
Clay tried not to
smile. “Do you think so?”
is giving you meat.”
“She likes me.”
“Of course she
does. The weakest Bear Clan hunter is more man than the strongest
watching as an old woman carrying a bundle of sticks on her back
passed them in the street.
“Are you ready
to take a mate? Have children?”
“Is that not
what Champions do?”
think. Your plan. You want revenge on the men who killed Father?”
“And they will
towards the western wall, towards the Sea of Grass, towards Smoke
Mountain, towards where the foreign tribe lay. “Eventually. So the
Old Ones told you.”
“Then would you
bring a child into this world, only to be slain by your foes if you
Clay set his jaw.
“I will not fail.”
and he was stronger than you. He had more experience fighting than
you.” Broad put a hand on his brother’s shoulder. “Clay, all I
am saying is that you should tackle one impossible task at a time.”
Clay shrugged the
hand off. “We are meeting for a meal, Broad, not to mate with her.”
grinned. “So you say, but who knows how these Jericho women do
Clay laughed and
gave his brother a playful shove, almost sending the man sprawling.
met the brothers in the courtyard. “Squint, one of the shepherds,
has invited you to dine with him at the communal hall.”
“That is good
news.” Broad grinned. “They serve beer there.”
“There would be
beer with the meal no matter what,” Clay said. “But to meet there
instead of his home. Does this mean that he does not trust us?”
not care much for tribesmen,” Forkbeard said.
“That is a good
thing,” Broad said.
Clay turned to
his brother. “How is that a good thing?”
“It means it
will take longer for you to win his daughter. You have more time to…”
his eyes flicked to the overseer. “More time to settle in.”
“You aim to
court Dawn Spring?” Forkbeard asked.
was her idea,” Clay said.
frowned. “You had best be careful, young one. Squint is a powerful
man with much influence. And he has tried to get the city elders to
close the gates to newcomers.”
“I do not think
that you do. He will be watching you carefully, looking for any
excuse to exile you and your brother from the city. Or worse.”
asked. “But why?”
“Does a father
need a reason to be protective? But there are many who would court
Dawn. If you return her affections, you may make many enemies.”
Clay bowed his
head. “I thank you for your wisdom, elder, but it is just dinner.”
“You are in
Jericho now, tribal.” Forkbeard turned away. “Dinner is never
watched him go.
Clay turned to
Broad. “What do you suppose he meant by that?”
will be beer with dinner?” Broad said.
Clay pushed into
the brothers’ room, laying his tilling stick near the door. The
girl was pretty, and she had been kind — after hitting him in the
head, anyway — but was she worth risking his and Broad’s place in
the city for? He had enemies to the West, he did not need more. The
last thing he needed was to get himself or his brother exiled. The
girl was trouble.
Turning her down
would be trouble, too. His only real hope was to build a rapport with
her father, this Squint. Perhaps if he made it clear that he had no
interest in Dawn, the old man would take to him, give him a sheep. A
highly placed ally would be useful.
matter, turning down the girl without hurting her, for that too would
anger her father.
Things were so much easier on the mountain.
resolve lasted until he and Broad entered the dining hall, and he got
a good look at Dawn Spring. She’d been pretty enough out in the
field, but in the candlelight of the hall, in clean crisp linen,
adorned with bronze and silver bands on her arms, her lips rosy,
color on her cheeks, she was beautiful.
Broad looked at
him. “You, brother, are in trouble.”
between the long tables of the hall, acutely aware of the stares from
the other diners as he passed.
“You are the
one my daughter spoke of?” The man next to Dawn spoke, glaring up
at the young man with a mixture of distrust and annoyance.
Clay bowed his
head briefly in the manner he’d seen of the residents of Jericho, a
sign of greeting or respect. “I am Clay.”
Broad cleared his
throat. “You honor my brother and I with your invitation. We have
heard that you are a great man in Jericho, and we come to you with
respect, bearing gifts.”
Clay was in
sudden appreciation of the way his brother was picking up the manners
turned his gaze on Broad, seeming less impressed.
Broad gestured at
the nearby table. “May we sit?”
and sat on the bench. Dawn sat next to him.
still had the older man’s attention. “Clay may be bigger, but I
am the elder brother. His only kin. He is my responsibility, and I
want you to know he is a good man.”
“I wouldn’t expect anything less from you.”
didn’t fade. He put the basket he’d brought onto the table,
effectively creating a divider between Squint and his daughter.
this?” the elder asked.
Broad said. “To show our respect.”
forward behind the basket, eyes on Clay. “You groomed your hair.”
it was a good idea,” he whispered back. “We wanted to make a good
“You look nice.
You smell like flowers.”
Broad pulled a
pair of horns out of the basket. “Gazelle antlers. Collected by my
brother and I as we hunted through the Sea of Grass.”
Squint sounded taken aback.
“The only goods
we came to Jericho with,” Broad said. “Clay insisted we give them
to you, as a sign of respect.”
Squint picked one
of the antlers up, with a grunt that might have been appreciative.
sidelong at his brother.
surprisingly well. Squint largely ignored the younger hunter, and
instead spent his time talking to Broad. Clay felt like what they
were saying was important, like he should be paying attention, but he
was finding it difficult not to focus entirely on Dawn and her smile.
She wasn’t anything like the women of the Bear Clan.
roast mutton as well as strong beer, and Clay realized he must have
consumed both, for his platter was empty, but he didn’t remember
that either. All he could think about was Dawn’s eyes, the way they
seemed to burn into his, and the shy smile she would flash him.
realized that his brother was talking to him.
turned and saw that both Broad and Squint were staring at him.
“Clay, tell him
about the lion.”
shifted to Squint, then back to Clay. “The one you killed. The one
whose skin you took.”
Clay’s face burned and his scalp pricked. “The lion. Yes. I was
tracking it through the Sea of Grass. Only it turns out, it was
hunting me too.”
Dawn gasped, and
Clay smiled at her, then turned back to her father. “It jumped out
at me — bit me, scratched me, broke my spear, but I was able to
wound it with the tip. The beast ran, but I followed it until it had
lost too much blood. Skinned it and made a fine wrap.”
“Hunting a lion
is dangerous business, boy. Some might say foolish,” Squint said.
“If I had known
what a lion was, I would not have tried,” Clay said. “But I
thought from the tracks that I was following a leopard.”
“The tracks are
very similar,” Broad said. “And we had no lions in the
“Do you have
the skin?” Dawn asked.
“We gave it to
the men at the gate as a gift,” Clay said. “And they sent us to
terrible,” Dawn said. “You should have kept it.”
you from the mountains?” Squint asked.
Clay exchanged a
glance with his brother.
“It… is not a
good story,” Broad said.
“Some say that any tribal coming to Jericho is an outcast from his
tribe. Is that so?”
that at all,” Clay said. “Our tribe—”
His words were
cut off when a man across the room suddenly stood, knocking a wooden
platter out of a servant’s hands. He was tall, like a tribesman,
but his features were strange, and he was dressed like one of the
locals. He snarled something in a language that Clay didn’t speak,
then pushed the servant back.
the servant said. “The brewmaster says you have had enough to
“I will tell
your brewmaster when I have had enough.” The stranger’s voice was
thick and slurred, heavy with a deep accent. “Bring more beer.”
Squint stood up
and pointed at the man. “Be quiet, barbarian. Leave if you cannot
drink like an honest man.”
focused on Dawn’s father. “Who are you to tell me what to drink?
Don’t you know who I am?”
drunken fool,” Squint said.
Others in the
crowd agreed, loudly. “Get out of here, tribal.”
Clay looked at
Broad, hoping his brother would know what to do.
“Please, let us calm ourselves. Shouting doesn’t help.”
tell me what to do.” The drunk kicked the heavy wooden table away
from himself. It easily weighed hundreds of pounds, and even as a
Champion Clay would have been hard-pressed to lift it, but it went
skidding across the room towards them like it was made of feathers.
Clay was out of
his seat instantly, grabbing it and stopping its slide before it
could strike them. His hands stung with the impact.
Clay glanced at
Champion! And he’s drunk!”
Clay looked at
the table he’d stopped, at the approaching drunk, then at the
shocked faces of Dawn and her father.
- 2 cakes (8 oz each) sprouted barley
- 2.5 quarts water
- 1 3/4 cup barley, crushed
- 2 cup spelt flour, crushed
- 1 cake (7 oz) sprouted wheat
- 1 1/2 cup pulverized sprouted barley gruel
- 2 quarts barley rinse
- 2 cups cracked wheat
Break up the barley cakes and let them soak in a pot with the water, crushed barley, and crushed flour, slowly heated to boiling. Break up the wheat cake and let it soak in a second pot at room temperature with the gruel, sprouted flour, sprouted barley, cracked wheat, and barley rinse. When the first pot has come to a boil, add the wheat cake soak to the barley soak and return them to boiling, mixing the contents. Once boiling, push the mash aside and collect the liquid and transfer it to another pot.
Add a quart of boiling water to the mash, stir, and repeat collecting the excess water until you have collected several quarts of brown liquid.
Boil the collected wort to sterilize it, let it cool, and pitch it with a wild yeast.
Rack into bottles. Ferment.