This is a part of the story of the first Reaper, the master reaper Silthos.

Millenia ago, in the valley now known as the Cradle of Humanity lived a small tribe of primitive people. They were very simple folk, being of the hunter-gatherer persuasion who had just developed the art of cultivating crops to help them survive. A man of this tribe, called Cartec (which means 'strong one') found himself in need of a wife. Unfortunately, none of the women would have him because he was known to be extremely abusive, and was grotesquely ugly in the bargain.

Cartec had been born with a deformity of the spine, causing him to have a slightly hunched back; this caused him to be very unseemly in the eyes of the rest of the tribe. So, in his quest for a soul-mate, he asked woman after woman, only to be humiliatingly turned down time after time. He finally asked for a meeting with the tribal elders, requesting that they order a woman to marry him.

Now, one of these elders had a particularly strong envy of Cartec despite his appearance, because of his large home and fields. He planned a joke to play on Cartec, and persuaded the other elders to agree to his scheme.

So it was that the day after the meeting, Heeg (who hated Cartec) summoned the hunchbacked one to the house of the elders. 'Cartec,' he said, 'we have found a woman for you at long last.' Cartec shouted in joy, knowing that at last he had an outlet for his cruel lusts and brutish desires..

'Who is she?' he said.

Heeg replied 'She is Arina, daughter of Arin. You are a very lucky man, for Arina is the most beautiful young woman in the tribe.'

Unbelieving, Cartec looked at Heeg with a glint of suspicion in his dark eyes. Heeg hurried to reassure Cartec of his sincerity, and at last the brute was satisfied.

'Now you must go to your home and make yourself ready for your wedding,' Heeg told Cartec.

Cartec immediately rushed to his hut and bathed (for the first time in months) and donned his best clothing (which, admittedly, was none too good). The custom of the village was for the soon-to-be-wed couple to meet in the center of the village, before the elders and the rest of the tribe to recieve the blessing of the ancestors. When Cartec had finished his ablutions, he left his home at the edge of town and went to the grassy field at the center, where lo and behold! The entire tribe had assembled to witness his wedding to the beautiful Arina.

As the hulking man jostled his way through the crowd to the front, he heard whispers of surprise, as well as a few mutters of anger. When he finally reached the half-circle of elders, he was shocked to see Arina smiling at him, clad in a new smock with embroidery on the shoulders and at the bosom.

Heeg, who stood at the apex of the semi-circle, greeted Heeg as a brother and said 'Shall we begin?'

Cartec replied, 'Just get this over with. . .I wish to be alone with my new bride very soon!' So happy waas the bridegroom, so overcome with passion that he did not notice the meaningful glance that Heeg shot to Arina, or the rustle of mirth among the elders.

Heeg intoned, 'Spirits of our ancestors, look with favor upon the union of Cartec son of Ronan and Arina daughter of Arin. Give to them your blessing, and make them happy.' Then he looked out at the gathered tribespeople and said 'Are there any among you who have any grievance with this bonding?'

At that moment the brother of one of the young women who had been savaged by Cartec leaped forward, followed by several of his friends and shouted 'Yes! I will not allow this monster to defile the purity of Arina! Let this man be banned from our village and outcast forever!'

Suddenly, the young man's sister (who had previously refused to admit to having been raped by Cartec) came out of the crowd and screamed 'Beast! Go to the woods and die alone like the animal you are!'

At this an outcry arose from the tribe, and the young man and his friends attacked Cartec, driving him from the village while Heeg and Arina looked on in glee. Hours later, having managed to flee the angered mob, Cartec collapsed against a tree and vowed revenge against the tribe that had wronged him.

More to follow....

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