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Artimus Beana: Aarkhaen War 4

:4:

 

 

WedonKIND!” The shout came as a surprise; which was itself, surprising; Wedonkind thought he’d lost the ability. Was it a fellow soldier or someone else who called his name?
        Like a cat, he whirled to face what was behind him, the sound of pounding feet making itself more than evident.
The drums ceased.
        Before reasoning could explain what was coming, a blackened longblade jetted toward his neck from thin air, its yielder invisible.
        “Fall back!” Wedonkind screamed, letting the tarred blade rush over his head.
        Air from the weapon’s passing roiled his golden locks as his dagger left his scarred palm toward the invisible foe. It met naught, but heavy atmosphere, until slamming into another figure behind his attacker.
        A Drothim Shauligoth, whose gnarled blade rested at the very end of an equally gnarled staff held by just as gnarled hands. Unkindly eyes hid behind a black-skinned indifference.
        More of them poured into existence at the crests of nearby hills
        No time.
Women yelled, horses whinnied, warriors shouted, babies screamed.
        Unsheathing his war-sword, Wedonkind ran into the maze of tents and huts. He could very well have walked, for the black-skinned Drothim illusion-masters stalked, if not sauntered, toward the camp, pacing in unison. More of the Shauligoth – what they called these masters of illusion - appeared out of nothingness, flanking their leader.
        Why would they walk? He asked himself.
They knew something. They knew their prey would not escape. Why?
        The answer came. A trap. It could be nothing else.
        Men began to force the women and children inside of a thick circle of armed soldiers, moving at almost a run toward the western side of the valley.
        More shouts, commands and otherwise, rang like an echo of death upon the high hills.
        The silent Sun stood, uncaring, in the sky.
        “Dresena!” he cried, “Dresena!” The Shauligoths entered the camp unhurried, bladed spears poised, keeping their identical poses, marching one fear-inspiring step at a time.
        The soldiers on the hill behind them marched equally as slow.
        Those were Mordin, the Accursed Souls. Puppets of the Drothim. Mordin and Drothim, here? He did not expect to fight them here, so close to the realms of Men.
        This was Reldrin’s doing.
        Wedonkind could not shake the feeling of a trap, “Dresena!”
        In answer, a teenaged boy, equally as blond as Wedonkind, emerged from the crowd, breathless, “Yes, Masta Wed-a? I’m ‘ere!” A wood-dwelling Easterner by origin, Dresena’s dialect was a little out of form.
        “Wedonkind, boy, its Wedonkind. I wish you to scavenge every last weapon you can from the camp. Do not get too close to the enemy, understood?” a nod answered. “See to it that everyone - man, woman or child - gets a weapon - Go!”
The boy scrambled out of sight, saluting as he ran.
        Bedlam ripped at each soul whose eyes glared toward the hills they ran to, as ranks and ranks, and ranks of stout Mordin soldiers decanted madly down toward them.
        Panicked, most of the frightened civilians stopped in their tracks, causing the whole to lose its momentum, its collective mind.
        The pounding of drums began again, in unison with the enemy’s pounding feet. A far steadier beat than before.
Horns and war-cries joined the grand orchestra of war. Weapons unleashed from their confines, steel from steel.
The cry of innocent children bore into Wedonkind’s conscience. How could such cruel beings exist? They had hoped the valleys would hide their presence as they traveled to safer Western strongholds. Instead they became a weapon of the enemy.
Men had not been at war for centuries - such wisdoms were lost to them. Too costly to learn now.

The first of many arrows flew like eagles, the mounting chorus. Wedonkind faced his fear with indifference – a horrible habit he had to develop. Cries for help were cries for help. He could not stop them.
He closed his eyes. I am gray, he thought. His mind became the color, and noise, worries, pains fluttered away for a brief moment.

My name, Narrem. You must live to know my name.

Wedonkind stepped forward, keeping his eyes fastened like purse-strings. In his mind, he could see himself also stepping; stepping from that hill’s crest, the gusting wind at his back. The ruins stood closer now.
Whatever drove him was a force he could not control.

He opened his eyes. Time hastened.

The lines met.

Next issue:

Thunder.

The ground beneath trembled in sheer trepidation at the terrifying sound.

Chaos, as though an entity, struck with a thousand fists at the heart of every living being that fought in the valley.

And the orchestra of war fell writhingly out of tune.



 

 

-

 

 

Copyright 2004 Thomas “Artimus Bena” McInturf

 

-Feedback can be sent to ArdiaDrendalor@yahoo.com

or to “Artimus Bena” through Castle Paradox.

 

 

-

 

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