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Tor was not his actual name; it is only the name modern man can give him, since he spoke a proto-European tongue that would be unrecognizable to any but the most advanced linguist. But he was named after Thunder, one of the gods he worshipped, along with river gods and animal gods. Thunder, though, was the most distant, the least understood, and therefore the most worthy of worship out of all the gods. Thunder rumbled, brought rain to nourish the earth, brought bolts of lightning to demolish trees and huts and put a proper fear of the gods into the hearts of men.

Tor was considered tall at a height of five-foot-six. His muscular, long-limbed body bore scars from the hunt: a long stripe across the thigh, the result of a boar’s angry charge, and a series of pallid stripes across the neck, the result of an encounter with the claws of a prehistoric lion. Tor knew that he survived the attacks because his god protected him. His head was covered with thick blond hair that he wove into long braids and secured with thin strips of leather. His eyes were pale blue, the color intensified by his thick blond eyebrows.

Tor was what modern scientists now call a Cro-Magnon man, a creature identical in most ways to modern man, with the exception, oddly enough, of a slightly larger cranial capacity. He and his tribe wandered the fields of what is now France, just south of the immense ice sheets that covered all of northern Europe at the height of the last ice age. Cro-Magnon man, like modern man, was adept with language, speaking dialects rich with color and metaphor, with complex grammar and subtle linguistic nuance that could match the eloquence of Shakespeare or Homer, though their languages and poems were never written. Tor was an artist, a poet, and a priest, his talent with language and metaphor giving him a position of honor and authority among his tribe. As a child, he had memorized hundreds of stories and poems, the rhythmic quality of the language being useful as a memory aid as well as adding aesthetic beauty to the verses. The poems of the hunt, of love, of the gods, of the beginnings of Man, had been passed down for hundreds of generations, each succeeding generation adding slight changes as needed to make the gathered lore fit their particular view of existence. Because he was particularly adept at the singing of his tribal lore, Tor had become a Shaman, possessing great power in both the politics and religion of the tribe.

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