1. How We Die
My first memories are of my mother singing to me in the womb.
Through her I learned of love and honour, of bravery and sacrifice, of joy and victory- of the legends of my people, of the deeds of my father the Chief, of the prince that I was to become.
As I grew older she was always there for me- she and my sisters and my aunts and my cousins- and through their songs I learned of family and friendship, of heroism and laughter, of the history of the World, of the bounty of our land.
There was nothing I could not do with her by my side. My father was aloof, but that was only to be expected- he was busy ruling, busy preparing the way for me, busy readying things for me to take his place at the head of the tribe when he died.
Then the black days came.
The waters failed, and many of my people died of thirst.
The great sickness struck us, and many of the songs we had once sung fell silent and forgotten in the dust.
Then, worst of all, the slavers came.
Cruel Men they were, cruel Men with whips and spears and songs of hate and fear, of blood and fire, of death and of rage and of misery.
Many of my people fell before them- many sisters, many aunts, many cousins...
My mother herself died defending me, though she slew many before her song was silenced.
He was the last of us to fall, cut to pieces before my very eyes, slaughtered and screaming, bellowing and butchered even as I wept bitter tears for him and begged for mercy that never came.
My people shattered, our will broken, we were painted and branded and shackled by the slavers and driven from our lands tortured and tormented, our songs now only of misery and grief, of sorrow and of loss, of a dream become nightmare.
The cruel Men mocked us; they put us to the hardest of labours; they forced us into wars for them, forced us to kill and maim and scream even though all we longed for was peace, though all we wished for was life and love and song.
The end came, of course.
Torn far, far from our long-lost homes by the whims of our new masters, we were marched through scalding desert and stinking swamp, freezing night and treacherous waste until we came to a great plain. Hope sang one last time in our breasts- was this our final reward for our serving so faithfully such foul monsters?
It was not to be.
They wanted us only to fight again for them, to kill and crush once more for them, to howl and smash and mangle one final time for them.
When the horse-lords took my sisters with their spears and their bows, it was almost a blessing- no longer would they have to fight a war that was not theirs.
When the warriors of the White Tree took my aunts with their catapults, when they skewered them with their bolt-throwers, it was almost a relief- no longer would they have to toil for masters who starved them, who taunted and teased them, who cared not whether they lived or died.
Now, as the Dead rise against me- as they swarm over me stabbing and slashing with their cruel blades- as they drag me down to doom and darkness in dire and deathly silence- I am glad.
Last of my tribe, I am, as my father was before me-
last of the Mûmakil
- it is almost a blessing.
My last thoughts are of my mother, singing to me in the womb.