A pale, scrawny man sits on a long wooden log. He picks up a fistful of coal from the burned-out fire with his left hand and puts two fingers from his right hand into the coal. His fingertips glide slowly across his scarred face, leaving a long black stripe. He repeats this three times, a patchy beard interrupting his fingers’ journey. Years of war and battle has left their mark.
A woman walks over and crouches down, her back facing him. The man draws on her back in a similar fashion, making his way all around her body. The woman returns the favor shortly after. Tens of other men and women do the same. Fires burn high around the village and lighten the otherwise misty mountainside. The chief and his wife walk out of the village first, followed closely by the beast—a man so large he barely can be called human. They are the only three who don't draw on themselves with coal; they are already frightening enough by nature.
The scrawny man only wears caribou pelts that cover his legs. His upper body remains bare to show off his black stripes. The dagger in his hand is recently honed, crafted from the finest flint, smooth, wavy patterns etched in the dark stone.
Others are also equipped with weapons of various kinds. Some carry daggers and some carry spears, while others brings bows and quivers holding a dozen arrows.
The spears are of simple design: daggers placed in front of long wooden sticks, held together with a wet spun bark. The arrowheads can also be made from flint, but the majority are made from lesser stone materials. The arrowheads are shaped wide into a point, and are adhered to a small stick, held together in the same fashion as the spears. Steering feathers are placed on the other end to improve the accuracy of a shot.
Every single warrior has now left the village. It’s unusual for a tribe this large to be settled so far north. No one lives in a place like this for long. The conditions are simply too harsh. Yet these people seem to possess skills no other tribe does.
The black-striped army leaves the light of their village and disappears into the darkness. They are the demons of the mountain. Even the strongest of tribes know to keep their distance when they go out to raid.
Up on the mountain ridge, the scrawny man overlooks another village. Even in this fog, the flames of their fires brighten the otherwise pitch-black night. The black stripes barely cover his face's violent past. Maybe some new scars will be added tonight. He can feel it in his gut. The other village is about to fall.
Night glides over into morning. The fog lies even thicker down by the village. The fog must be a sign from the gods, as if this morning was meant for them to attack for the enemy would have no time to prepare.
The chief, his wife, and the beast stay in the background. They will not make a move until the palisade has been breached. The warriors know what to do. The army walks silently all the way around to the other side of the village. Only the scrawny man remains. He bends down and makes a fire for two torches using the hot sparks from striking two pieces of flint together.
With the torches lit, he holds them high. The black stripes function as camouflage in the forest, but here they will strike fear into his enemies’ hearts.
This is it. On this day he will serve as a distraction, gladly giving up his life for the tribe. With a deep breath, he starts to walk toward the village. Small steps turn into a slow sprint before he releases a terrifying scream and starts to run with all his might. The village becomes visible as an arrow soars toward him.