- Paperback: 286 pages
- Publisher: Impulse Books UK (9 Jan. 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0954512200
- ISBN-13: 978-0954512200
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.6 x 21.6 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,737,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Shelim shielded his eyes and pulled his mask up over his face a little more. He staggered forward having to lean into the wind to stay on his feet. The wind was incredible. This must be the worst winter of his life. The wind howled over the plain and blasted everything with its fury. He was covered in frozen slush, but his concerns were all for the others. Just a few yards ahead, the warriors struggled with the frozen bodies. There were hundreds of dead families here. All were Lost Ones. Shelim had no idea why they had come, or why they had chosen this time, but whatever the reason it was a stupid thing to do. None outside the clans could survive the plains in these conditions, a fact these people should have known. Why hadnt the fools left in the spring? Maybe it was so bad in their cities that they preferred death. He could understand that up to a point, but surely the monster Navarien could only be in one city at a time. Why hadnt they made their way to one of the others?
Shelim shielded his eyes and watched the indistinct forms of Mazel and his warriors prying stiff bodies apart. The huddled forms had tried to protect their loved ones from the blizzard, and now Mazel was having trouble separating them. Although Larn had told him none lived here, Mazel could not accept it. He had ordered his warriors to check each one while he did the same. Shelims other sight showed him nothing when he turned it upon the Lost Ones. They were dead and had been for days. The childrenthe children had died last. The small forms were packed together in the centre shielded from the blizzard by their parents bodies.
"This is pointless!" Larn called to Shelim over the howling wind.
Shelim agreed, but he knew better than to try convincing Mazel. Mazel was chief of Horse Clan and would not take kindly to anyone trying to overrule himespecially not a shaman.
Shelim pulled the hide covering away from his mouth. "Theyre nearly finished!" He shouted over the howling wind. "We could better use our time locating the next group!"
Larn waved a hand in agreement and they huddled around the mirror. Snow kept falling and obscuring the image as Larn called a view of two shamen huddling together around a mirror being obscured by snow. Shelim thought for a moment and grasped his magic. He warmed the air directly over the mirror to melt the snow and kept it that way. Larn nodded his thanks and tilted the glass slightly to allow the water to run away as it would.
"Which way?" Larn said through his mask.
"We know theyre all dead to the west. How about trying more to the north?"
Larn agreed with an exaggerated nod.
The image in the mirror blurred as Larn made it race northward. There was nothing but whiteness to see. The image slammed to a halt, but the shadow was simply a group of strays from the herd. Larn moved on. Nowhere could Shelim see signs that the Lost Ones were out there. The blizzard made it hard to see detail, but whenever the slightest doubt arose, Larn zoomed inward to make certain. They had found three groups like the one here almost straight after leaving the clan. Those people would have survived if they had kept moving for another half day, but they hadnt. On average, they had found four groups a day, never more than five and never less than two. Twenty groups then, some with hundreds of dead, some with as many as a thousand. The scale of the disaster was staggering. Twenty thousand deadat least twenty thousand and more on the way, Shelim saw as Larn zoomed into another huddled group.
"By the God, please tell me this isnt happening!"
"I cant Larn!" Shelim yelled. "You can see it as well as I can!"
Larn was silent as he widened the view, and widened it, and widened it, and widened it
Shelim groaned. This group was by far the worst. Larn had to pull back so far to encompass it that the Lost Ones were reduced to dark spots against the snow. If Larn pulled back any further to fit them into the mirror, they would have disappeared into the whiteness.
"Theyre all dead!"
"We cant be sure," Shelim replied.
"All dead I tell you!"
"We have to check, Larn! Just think of a child in the middle of thatwe have to check! Have to!"
"All right," Larn said unhappily. "Ill tell Mazel." He put his mirror away and struggled through the snow toward Mazel who it appeared had finally acknowledged the worst.
The Lost Ones were all dead here.