The Tengrem Sword
the shouting started, Rani Fost dropped the belt he was tooling and
slipped out the front door of the shop. Del was already in the stable
yard next door, shading his eyes and staring in the direction of the
river. He pointed. There!
Peaked-roofed houses and summer-clad trees blocked much of their view,
but Rani spotted two riders, a man and a woman, barely keeping their
seats as their horses neighed, reared and plunged in fear of the large,
dark creature that pranced in the middle of the normally-peaceful street
near the lumber yard. Other villagers milled around the creature at a
Howling its defiance in the center of the commotion was the monster from
Ranis dreams, the one he had been desperate to see in his waking life
for the past three days. At first glance the tengrem could have been
another horse and human rider; but there was no saddle, no rider.
Instead, the equine back extended into a furry torso, like a bear on its
hind legs. Two elongated, hairy arms ended in pink-clawed,
five-fingered hands. The dirty yellow horn in the forehead was slightly
The tengrem tossed its head and again opened its wolf-like snout,
revealing teeth so large that Rani could see them even at this distance.
A moment later its mouth exhaled fire as a hunter ventured too close.
The hunters horse neighed and shied as flame touched its legs.
Other horses reacted, creating a momentary opening in the rough circle
of villagers. The tengrem bolted through it, quickly followed by the
shouting hunters. By the time it reached the trees that covered the
hills at the villages northern edge, the tengrem was well ahead of its
pursuers. The hunters plunged into the woods anyway.
Rani and Del watched for a few moments longer, but saw no more of the hunters or their quarry.