Starless Sky Preview #1 – “Of Brothers and Friends”

The Dark Eye takes place in a living world. For 30 years, that world has grown and changed through events that have marked it in a variety of ways – some minor and some more dramatic.

One of the most dramatic developments of recent years is the Starfall, which is the direct cause of the harrowing repercussions in Arivor’s Doom. But the Starfall is even bigger than that. Its effects are felt throughout the continent of Aventuria and even beyond. There are many more stories to tell.

The upcoming short story collection Starless Sky presents two dozen of those stories by a wide variety of authors, all of whom are closely involved in the development of the living world of The Dark Eye. For the next couple of months, we’ll be previewing a few of those stories so that you can get a taste of the variety of fascinating fiction you will find in this book.

Our first preview is by Jens Ullrich, from his story “Of Brothers and Friends.” It focuses on two ogres who are enslaved by an orc shaman.

A long time ago, there were two suns. Krog had learned this from his mother. Both hung in the sky unmoving so it was always day, and the suns burned the mountain tops. Ogeron, father of all fathers, climbed up to the sky. He was hungry and wanted to eat the suns. But when they saw him getting closer, large and hungry, they fled over the firmament. Bellowing and snarling, he followed them. Then they blinded him with their light and hid away. Thus the world experienced its first night. But in the darkness Ogeron’s eyes healed and soon he found his prey. One of the suns escaped, but he seized the other with firm hands.

Hungrily and greedily, he tore chunks of flesh from its body with his teeth and chewed enthusiastically. Scraps and shreds fell onto the firmament until only the bare skull remained. To this day the first sun flees from the hunger of Ogeron, and when it hides you can still see the glittering scraps and the bare skull rolling slowly across the sky. Contentedly, Krog looked up to the sky. The story reminded him of his mother, of her warmth and smell, of the time before the chains. But it wasn’t the chains on his legs that troubled him, for he could easily break free of them. The problem was the chains in his mind.

The blood-pelt had enchanted him, put a spirit into his head. And he knew that it was the same for his brother. They were slaves. They had to fight when their masters said fight, and, even worse, when they weren’t fighting, they had to sit still and wait for orders. He wanted to eat, not sit and wait. Bears and deer weren’t good food, but better than orcs, whose meat was bitter. Goblins were good. Small and weak, and their thin bones snapped quite beautifully. He liked to hold them over the fire for a moment to burn off the hair, as he didn’t care for hair in his food. And then he would pretend they were humans—hairless ones—which he liked the most. They were best young, warm, and fresh. Once you ripped the hair off their heads, they were a treat, a soft delight. Only once had the blood-pelt given him a hairless one to eat. But it had been old and it had whimpered and begged the whole time. Supposedly there were houses full of the young ones beyond the mountains.

He felt his stomach rumble. He could eat as many hairless ones as there were lights in the sky. His gaze happened upon one of the flickering lights just as it vanished. Krog raised himself up and nudged his brother. “See! Ogeron has eaten the little light!” The brothers grinned at each other. They might be slaves, but Ogeron ate whatever he wanted.