The Omens of a Crow

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It was Wodensday when a pale horse rode into Bliss. The man on it was fate, and death followed after him.

Lina watched the pale horse and its rider approach with wide eyes. The mount was the soiled white of curdled milk and as large as an ox – enormous, like the giant steeds in the joust at the tourney last spring – but the rider didn't seem a knight. He had none of the lordly shine, none of the romance about him. And no knight ever looked so menacing.

The horseman sagged in the saddle like a dead carcass. Every bit of him was veiled in a long black cloak against the damp; only the bottoms of his mud-spattered boots emerged from beneath the shroud. It must have taken years to spin and weave such a garment, for he was the tallest man she'd ever seen, with shoulders broader than any blacksmith's.

As the rider loped closer, the face beneath the hood became visible. It was an unusually solid face, so hard and angular as to be alien. The jaw and chin were strong enough to give the appearance of a slight underbite, emphasizing the mouth that was set in a firm line above it. Even the brow and nose were brutishly thick, though softened somewhat by a sharp, refined quality that drew attention to the eyes between them...

Lina recoiled in terror, though the horseman had given her naught but a glance as he passed. A glance was enough. Golden eyes flashed from under the dark hood. A predatory, luminous gaze like that of a wolf on the full moon.

And red hair. Not like that of the ginger miller's daughter, but a deep shade that brought to mind only thoughts of blood. Lina would have fled if she could, but her feet refused to obey her. She stood rooted to the muddy street with her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth.

It was Wodensday when a pale horse rode into Bliss. The man on it was fate, and death followed after him.

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