In the morning, I woke to the smell of strong tea and the loud voices of men complaining about the weather. I pushed aside the curtain they had hung for my privacy and found a trio of men at a small table. In short order, I knew their names, Aron, Brom, and Isaiah, the last of them the leader of the village I had been brought to.
We were in a place called Akatuy, and it was far from pleasant.
There were less than a hundred men and women in Akatuy, and it took all their skill and determination to remain alive. They had been part of a prison convoy, separated ten years earlier by a storm in their own country, which was – and was not in the way of the Hollow – Russia.
This group of convicts had carved out a place of their own, waiting for the weather to break, and when it had, they were not in their Russia. They didn’t know where they were. With each storm that swept over them, the landscape changed. Yet despite the shift in scenery, one constant remained: they were always in danger.
Unimaginable beasts came out of the storms, and the people of Akatuy spent most of their time fighting to live.
I was not the first person they had stumbled upon, but I was the first armed and unafraid by the storm that had raged.
From outside alarm sounded, and the men snatched up crude spears from the corner of the room. Together, we raced outside. From a watchtower, a man with pointed, and all of us turned to see a great wolf charging down the center of a battered dirt road. As the men lifted their spears, I drew one of my Colts and put a single round in the wolf’s forehead.
The shot echoed off the walls of the buildings around us as the wolf tumbled, slid, and came to a stop, its tongue lolling out of its mouth.
It was then that Isaiah turned to me and asked if I would help them find a home.
I nodded, replaced the spent round in my pistol, and smiled.
What the hell else was I to do?
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