The night was warm and humid, as befitting these southern lands, yet dark, but not too much so, for the stars and moon shone brightly and illuminated the village. Not that they needed the light, for a bonfire burned in the heart of the small community. Huts were ringed around it so that everyone faced their neighbours.
The huts themselves would've seemed rather ramshackle to a visitor from more civilized climes, if one could call those distant civilizations civilized, but to the residents, they were home, and far more meaningful than the luxuriant manors and elegant palaces of civilization. For this village was special - it had been built by it's inhabitants in only a day. They were nomads, wanderers, travelling wherever they could find food that wouldn't eat them or water that wouldn't drown them.
When they found a place they liked, together, they would make a ring of huts from mud and leaves. The work was done, but the village was still in construction, for they also planted trees around the huts. The trees would grow, tended by the village's shaman, until they formed a dome which would protect the inhabitants from the elements. When they had to abandon a village, they would gather their belongings and leave. Soon, the untended huts would melt back into mud and the trees would disentangle, breaking the roof of the carefully-made dome.
A grove of trees would be all that remained of the village, and anyone who walked through that patch of jungle would never know that once, people had been born, lived and died here. And what they never would've dreamed was just how many people died in this particular village, for on that warm, humid, dark night when the bonfire burned bright, the people of the village had gathered to decide whether to go to war.
"It went this way!" Sarine yelled to the other members of the hunting party, her mount wheeling to pursue their quarry.
The others followed, brandishing spears and bows to kill the beast and axes and knives to harvest it's meat. Sarine saw it ahead, crashing through the bush and squealing in terror. It was getting away.
If the parag reached the river, they'd never get it, for they made excellent swimmers, far better than the dinords they rode. Gritting her teeth, Sarine spurred on her dinord, heading to Baran at the front of the party.
"I have a plan," she yelled over the thundering sound of the dinords' feet, "go to the right and get ready to cut the parag off!"
Baran nodded, and he turned to the right, breaking away from the rest of the hunting party. Sarine did the same, but she wheeled left.
The forest turned into a blur and her dinord squawked in protest as they closed alongside the terrified parag. Noticing Baran coming from the right, it barrelled left, right within range of her spear.
The spear shot out twice, drawing blood from the parag's shoulder. It stumbled, and that was all the hunters needed to catch up. It was all over in seconds, with only a few feet to the riverside to spare.
As Magaw and Hormal carved up the kill, Sarine helped to skin it. The shaman could use it's skin to commune with the animal's spirit. Baran was sharpening his knife nearby, and he smiled at Sarine.
"Good job today." Sarine nodded.
"Bah!" Magaw snorted, "child's play! What'd you think you were doing, charging away like that? You could've lost the parag." Sarine had to acknowledge the old woman was correct.
"You may be right," she admitted, "I don't know what came over me. I just-"
"Hang on," Hormal interrupted. He stood up, confusion written all over his face.
They found Dabo by the river, pointing at something emerging from the mist. The object itself was nothing ordinary, but what it contained was like nothing they'd ever seen before. Curious, Sarine edged closer. It was clearly a boat, with a very unusual man in it.
He looked ill-suited for these lands, in strange clothes which covered most of his body. He was sweating and exhausted, and he appeared to be lost. Seeing Sarine, he looked even more confused. He rowed the boat towards the shore and got out, walking towards her. He spoke something in a foreign tongue, but Sarine couldn't understand it.
"Who are you?" she asked. The man repeated his previous request, seeming annoyed.
"I don't understand you. Are you lost?" Shaking her head, Sarine turned to Magaw.
"We'd better take him to the shaman."