Sweden was true to his word. He rode his horse hard and fast toward the caramel twilight of the firewall. At this latitude the Firewall was an effective light source, once the sun had set the earth was bathed in its dusky half-light.

The horse managed to carry him a further three and a half miles before finally succumbing to its fatigue. Sweden pulled up dismounted when it started to stumble. He walked beside the struggling horse for a number of yards before it collapsed with an excruciating squeal and lay panting and snorting on the dusty ground.

Sweden watched the horse dispassionately as it writhed in agony, legs twitching feebly. He looked up at the circling vultures estimating that he was roughly a mile from their source of interest. He sighed, walking was so tedious. He stooped down to his dying horse, placed his hand on its head for stability and in a swift motion slotted his dagger through the animals eye socket ramming the full ten inch length of the blade deep in to the animals brain cavity. The horse spasmed sharply and lay still.

Sweden withdrew the blade slowly from the animal’s head. He examined it curiously as it dripped a viscous combination of blood, eye-ball juice and brain matter. He licked the flat of the blade and savoured the unusual warm salty concoction. He made a mental note to discuss the possibilities with the canteen cook, horse brain was a taste he wanted to explore further.

He reached over the horse’s saddle and detached his leather knapsack and bed roll. He checked the contents of the knapsack and when satisfied that everything was in place, strapped it on. With everything ready he turned to face the column of vultures,grunted and took off at a dead trot. He estimated that at this pace he would reach the source in about thirty minutes.

It was then that it occurred to him that being on foot, alone and in the open might be a bad thing. He pushed the thought from his mind.

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