A wagon lays overturned on the forest road, bodies savaged by tooth and claw lay strewn about it, their weapons clean of blood, seemingly unused.
A lone man runs from an unseen threat, deeper into the forest, away from the grisly scene in the road. He stumbles, his foot having caught on a root. He lands hard, his lungs feel like lead. Panting, he comes to his knees. Two eyes of emerald light meet his, a low growl emanates from the beast, and his death is swift.
The Nomin gypsies have a fiddling competition every year, known as the Danse de Velose. Beaters hit out the rhythm on taut drums and the competitors start to play, slowly at first. Youngsters can compete, but are soon pulled away by worried mothers, before the competition becomes too dangerous. After two hours the haunting tune has become dazzlingly fast. You can resign at any time, but the moment you make a mistake you receive an arrow through the neck. Strings may snap, but the players must play on. The whole affair never lasts much longer than three hours, and the last fiddler playing is crowned king of the gypsies.