The bitter wind tore at their skin as they marched through frozen field and barren woods. Huddled, broken, wearing the ragged furs and leather of prey beasts, they pressed on.
Leading the march was the Yaga, the apprentice witch, marching them towards a promised vision of a haven for the children of rape. Half Orc bastards, scarred, beaten, mutilated, trekked across the harsh winter lands, clinging to the thin hope that there was warmth and life somewhere.
A young boy marched in the middle of the pack, his body wrapped in stinking old furs, sweating beneath the layers. His mother, a slave to the Orcs, stole furs for him, and suffered for it. He remembered her dying words “Be a shadow. And run.”
So when the Yaga promised a new home for the bastards of the tribe, he followed, lest his father find another reason to beat and scar him. He still had scabs healing over the last time.
The pack halted. The older men and women sniffed the air. Quickly, they closed in around the children, and The boy watched in horror. He knew what this meant. From the woods emerged a gigantic beast, a bear of some kind, but larger than any theyd ever seen. It walked calmly to the pack, sniffed, and seemed to look over them all. It’s eyes fell on the boy.
The boy stared into the deep pools of black, almost lost in the eyes of the beast. The Yaga emerged and stood before the great bear, seemed to whisper to it, then she, too, turned to the boy.
The bear stood, let out a terrifying roar, then turned and padded calmly back into the woods.
The Yaga turned to the boy with a smile, but said nothing.
The next day, they found the valley, sheltered from the harsh wind, with a steam full of succulent salmon and many prey beasts lingering in the forests around them.
The boy ran swiftly through the woods, his feet silent, not even crunching the leaves on the ground. His prey was fast, antlers snapping branches and hooves smashing fallen sticks and leaves, but the boy was just as fast. His blood burned with joy, the thrill of the hunt, the anticipation of the kill, he would soon bring a great feast home for the village.
The beast broke through a tree line, stopping to rear up, kick its front legs. The boy did not see why at first, but then he skidded to a stop, clumsily, his noise spooked the beast even more. He knew it was now caught between two predators, and the boy might have to kill two beasts just to survive hunting the one.
The deer turned, kicked hard, and now the boy could see the great mass of dark brown fur, hear the defiant roar, and with a sound like thunder the paw of the great bear came down on the deer. There was a snap as loud as an exploding tree in the dead of winter. The deer fell. The boy readied his spear as the bear examined the fallen prey.
The boy stayed still, silent, but the bear had seen him. It turned and stood up, roaring defiantly. The boy hurled his spear, it struck hard and true, but the wound and smell of blood only sent the great bear into a rage. The boy drew his axe, his only other weapon, and readied for his likely death. To fall to such a predator was no shame, and he would not be easy prey.
They fought, and the boy killed the beast.
It took four men to carry the carcass back, and the boy earned his name that day, Kodak, the Great Bear.