The Great Hall was empty, though it had rung with peals of hearty laughter, choruses of song and the clash and clatter of good-natured rough-housing late into the night. Now an icy wind blew in from the wide ventilation slots in the roof above the central firepit; a massive circle of stone filled with bones and ash.
Nosnra's footsteps echoed across the hall as he followed Ursoth's snuffling path. The bear padded slowly on all fours nosing among the sawdust liberally thrown over the floor to soak up spilt ale as well as spilt blood, and stopped from time to time to swallow some tidbit left by the now slumbering revelers. The pair made a slow, directionless journey, the bear at its own pace and following only its nose, Nosnra walking behind, uneasy but distracted by stray thoughts and half remembered dreams from his interrupted sleep.
The hall appeared to him layered in memories of the past; His father, Tofig, sitting at the high table while he, a mere boy, carried forward the body of a centaur warrior and placed it before him; His father stepping down and proudly cutting the heart from the beast, placing it into his youthful hands then marking him with the centaur's lifeblood, placing on his brow the symbol of adulthood. Engulfen, his father's witan, a priest, wielder of magics and advisor combined, stood at his shoulder.
Laying his hands upon the heart Engulfen summoned the power of the kindred, living, dead and yet to be. There was a burning that passed into Nosnra's outstretched hands then the heart began to beat. It pulsed with an eldritch life and burned at his mouth and tongue as he bit and chewed the tough flesh.
"Now the beast's strength is yours!" Engulfen said to the crowded hall. "Now the strength of the kindred is yours!" he called out. "Now your strength is one with the kindred!" he shouted.
Tofig stood before his son and held out a knife, its blade made of jagged rock, its hilt carved from the horn of some ancient beast. "Now you are a Warrior!" he called out, and his voice rang with the pride that was his renown. "Take this warrior's blade," he said to Nosnra, "as my father gave it to me, and his to him, as the first father gave it to his son in the dawn of days when the kindred were born."
Nosnra reached out his blood-covered hands and took the blade reverently from his father. The dagger felt alive in his grasp, like an extension of his own self, and for a moment he felt the presence of each hand that had held it as he did now, a line disappearing into the distant past. Kneeling he severed the beast's tail then stood, feeling taller than any other within the hall and held it for all to see. The cheer that met him almost knocked him back; it roared till the rafters shook then faded into the grey mist of memory and times past.
Nosnra stood alone amid the Great Hall, but for his bear Ursoth. The wind blew a bonechilling stream and moaned a sad wordless tale that he could not understand.