Actually, it wasn't until an arrowhead cut open his cheek that he really got to be worried. Before that point all of the arrows had either fallen short or over shot him, or had just plain missed. For a while he'd actually believed that there was no threat to him from the archers chasing him down. There had actually been a point that there had been no fear at all in him that he'd make the mountain top without problem. Of course, at that point he'd had his pack, his weapon, a bow and quiver, and water left over. At that point it hadn't been snowing and he hadn't been tired. That point had been a day of pursuit ago. Now he was sure that if he could just make the next cliff he'd be safe. Or so he'd been telling himself for an hour.

Another black arrow sunk into the snow just a foot to his left, and he swore violently. Warmth, the kind you really didn't want to feel, even if freezing, rolled down his cheek, making the air taste of metallic tang. He would never escape, the blood would draw them closer and closer. If they could taste it, if they knew he was growing weaker with each step, they would come faster. All he was now was a fast food meal. The thought of it actually amused him for a moment, but when you were this close to being eaten alive a lot of things became funny.

A grunt that was probably more of a command of one of his pursuers to another cut through the crisp air, echoing faintly in the mountains, but far from loud enough to cause an avalanche. For a few moments there were no longer shafts flying around him, and relief that he knew was probably pointless, washed over the man like the waves of his home. Then it happened. A sudden, sharp pain in his side, followed by a menacing spear, or maybe more like harpoon, landing in the snow before him, splattering the perfect white with the crimson of his blood. Half of him wanted to collapse, give in now that he was truly wounded. The other half refused to remain. Sure, he could feel that there was a long, messy, and probably tainted, gash stretching across his right side, but he refused to let it stop him. If he was going to die today, it was going to be upon his own terms.

"Oh gods of Carodos," he wheezed out, still running though he was quickly growing weaker and weaker from the wound, probably indicating that the weapon had been poisoned, "if you really are out there, please hear me... I know I haven't been the best worshipper or anything like that, but I don't wanna die right now. Wouldn't be very convenient for me. Just get me away from these things and I'll handle the rest. I'll do what you want of me..."

No answer seemed to come. There was no parting of the skies and smiting of his foes, no sudden appearance somewhere else, no random healing of the wound, not even the pity of suddenly passing out from the poison. It seemed as if the gods did not care about one lowly mortal man in his desperate attempts to live.

But the gods of Carodos, like most gods, worked in mysterious ways. It was in such ways that they allowed people to choose to believe in them and their works. Or, maybe it really was just coincidence. Either way the fleeing man caught sight of something just before him that he took as an answer to his prayers. It was a change in the rock path rising up the mountains. While he had known that soon the path he'd found would wear out, that he'd have to climb, he hadn't know that there were caves. This one was perfect. The man sped towards the opening. It was perfect. Just big enough for him to get through the crack and into the natural cave, and small enough to keep his pursuers out, and it would save his life.

For an hour he sat in that small cave, the smell of blood sickening him as he attempted to use what little he had to stop the bleeding. The pursuers grew quiet after thirty minutes trying to get in, but he didn't once entertain the idea of going out, or that they had left. Snow started, beginning to bury the entrance to his small cave, becoming the nail in his coffin...

Part 5
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