He looked at the bones once more, as if doubting them again. His cool, blue eyes were open, wide open, spying the pattern once more, teasing meaning from it. The bones were from a dead heifer, stolen from the local Golgotha, a place were corpses of after-the-slaughter livestock were thrown and forgotten. The stink of the place was enough to drive a sane man mind, but sanity was a long-forgotten comfort for the Nameless. Nameless, yes, that was title he had given himself this time. It was not the only title he had carried, no, not by a long shot. Some of the old-timers called him Shadow, others Blinded One, a thousand names had been cast to define him. Snake, Render, Mirror Gazer, Smoke, Rain, Faint One, Pale, Grim… more names than the Nameless could recall. He had had a name once, but it was again like a dream on waking. The bones could tell him his name, if he asked them kindly, but he didn’t want to know it. To know was to hurt. There was so much hurting. How could her letter find him, out here, amidst the hills and the forests, far from the world of light and moving steel? The Nameless did not know, but the woman (Eliza, her name is Eliza) had power, like his own, she was an Opener. Finding a lone shaman hiding amidst the charnel piles was child’s play to an Opener. The Nameless could hide; this was true, but from what? The bones told him the Opener’s letter brought with it no ill will of its writer, what then was there to fear? The Nameless was afraid, afraid of being afraid, and crouched beside the old rotting stump, looking at the bones he had looted from the dead bovines. He had old blood smeared on his hands from his bitter harvesting, and fat droning flies occasionally buzzed around him. Sometimes he would grab one from the air and crush the life from it, as if in retaliation for the offense. A crow landed on the stump, perching atop ayohuhisdi, the rune-bone meant to give an estimation of the future near at hand, and startled him out of his reverie. The crow had a bundle tied to one of its legs, as if it were some sort of demented carrier-pigeon.
“Osiyo, tsadayvladv kogi…” he said carefully.
The crow looked at him meaningfully. The Opener had found him.
“I will take your message.” He spoke in the Opener’s tongue.
The crow allowed him to untie the message from its foot without any fuss, standing stolidly. Almost as soon the message was taken the crow launched into flight, knocking ayohuhisdi into utananvnohi and rearranging the pattern of the bones. Transfixed by the message, the Nameless did not notice.
If you are reading this, then my courier has found you. It is time. This is hard on you, I know. You know the place, even if you cannot recall the name. The courier will show you the path, if you need. I have made arrangements for a place for you to stay. I am sorry about the bones.
The bones… the Nameless (David, my name is David) looked down and saw what had been done. A slight shift, no more than a few inches, yet the pattern was completely changed. Dangers from the north and from the east then, avoid roads and people until you come to the crossroads where the Opener would wait. The Nameless bowed in front of the runes, speaking his prayers to the forces that had guided him to this place and would hopefully guide him to the places he must go. There had been five of them, including Eliza, the uwosulotsv kanuyoladia, the Opener. The others the Nameless could only remember partially, there had been the ganohalidohi tsadayvladv, He Who Hunted in the Lonely Wastes. He could remember that one well; he still bore the scar across his chest that this one had etched on him in the sunset years of their childhood, before the Dark Dream had consumed the Nameless so completely. The kogi, the messenger bird, had smelled almost subliminally of the Hunter… the Nameless thought that it might have perhaps belonged to him and not the Opener. He had sensed no outside strangeness about the kogi however; the bird had chosen its role without coaxing of that kind. The message had stated that it was time, but the Nameless could not remember what it was supposed to be time for. He fingered the turquoise and silver spider-pendent about his neck absentmindedly, his other hand picking up the rune-bones and placing them back into the chamois bag he used to carry them. There was one last thing.
“I Rename myself David, let the spirits know and let them tell those who need know, from stream to mountain to forest-glen. In five night’s time I will return here in body and give myself another Name to dance in the dance of dreams and visions. Else, I will not return here in body, and my Name will be lost except for a whisper on the western wind. Do you hear and understand?”
The wind sighed like a mother remembering its lost child, and David bowed low to accept its answer. The name was ill in omen, but it belonged to him until he returned to this place or the jaws of ayohuhisdi swallowed him up. The casting bones had been unspecific about which of the two might occur first, and although this was discomfiting, it was the standard fare when one dealt with Sendings. The note had said it was time, and that he would know the place, even if it knew not its name. The bones had spoken of danger from the north and east lands, so his journey would obviously take him that way.