A Day Like Any Other, part 2

The road to Borojhem was ancient.  The stones set in the ground were worn and weathered, but only along the short stretch Varkof was traveling were they also occasionally broken, bent upwards by a particularly aggressive root from the nearby trees.

The eitar tightened his grip on the heavy hammer held in his hand.  The road was clear with little cover to either side over most of its length.  This one segment of the trail dipped close enough to the treeline to be at risk.  He heard the orcs following him grow quiet.  Even his aviar's crow had stopped cawing, though the crowmaster himself was usually quiet.

Varkof's eyes suddenly caught movement, homing in on a man, a human man, standing with crossed arms beside one of the trees.  The tone of the furs covering his bulky form and his general stillness had made him hard to see until his shoulders had given a shake.  The man's arms unfolded, each holding a heavy axe.

"The tribe of Mork is here.  Turn and ready."  The templars needed only a moment to reallign themselves with spearpoints facing the treeline.  The human seemed to be in no rush, waiting until the Order's warriors had turned to face him before he tilted his head back and gave a howling scream into the air, long and loud.

The barbarian took a step forward as more of his kind stepped from behind the trees around him, including a massive two-headed wolf,  the spines rising from its back bristling as it tensed in eagerness.  Varkof's eyes widened as he took in the number of barbarians.  He raised his hammer high, bellowing into the air as he charged forward, his brethren taking up the cheer and following along at his side.  The barbarians likewise howled into the air and charged forward, the canine beast outpacing them.

Varkof gripped at his hammer with both hands as he turned to meet that wolf, the realization that his band was outnumbered lending his steps urgent speed.  Something struck his shoulder as he ran, a shaft of wood standing rigid in his shoulder.  Varkof growled and tore the projectile free, ignoring the pain and using it to push himself harder and faster towards his foe.

His aviar's crow reached his target a moment before he did, swooping at the beast's eyes long enough to distract one of its heads just as Varkof's hammer swung towards it.  He struck it squarely in the side, the orc smiling in satisfaction at the feel of ribs breaking under his heavy blow.  His smile faded as the beast twisted, not even losing its balance as one of its heads snapped at him, the teeth missing only for the deadly-sharp blades he could only just now see strapped to the sides of the creature's heads to scrape along his armor.

Before he could draw back for another swing a rush of air washed outwards from the canine monster, unbelievably foul in both stench and humor, the eitar only able to backpedal to keep from retching.  The beast bounded away, it's legs carrying it around behind the barbarians already engaged with his templars, moving to flank his soldiers.

Varkof gave a nod to his aviar as the dour orc rushed through the space the beast had occupied, an arrow thudding into his arm even as he passed the eitar, the crowmaster's eyes on the barbarian firing them.  

Varkof turned his gaze to the nearest of the barbarians, a man even less well-groomed than the others, clad only in dirty furs and mud.

He rushed the man with a steadily-growing growl.  The ram engraved into his hammer slammed its head into the human's chest with a satisfying crunch, the blow lifting the man from his feet and throwing both him and the notched sword he'd been drawing back to swing into the tree behind him.  Varkof did not need to check to be sure he would not rise again.

Another primal scream pulled his attention away from the kill, the man he had seen first shaking his shoulders, what Varkof now recognized as having been laughter, howling as he barreled into the templars nearest to Varkof.  The orc's eyes could see the tell-tale waver in the stance his templars held as the fearsome human kept his scream even as his weapons danced among the orcs.  Both found their mark, dropping the templar closer to Varkof even as that massive wolf turned towards the remaining one.

Varkof raised his hammer high as he charged into the fray, the monstrous beast mimicking him on the other side of it.  His templar turned to the wolf, his arm sure even with his obvious terror as he jabbed forwards, his spearpoint finding its mark and sinking into one of the wolf's mouths, the great beast stopping as if having hit a wall and simply crumpling at his feet.  The eitar himself brought his hammer around in an arc to mirror the one he'd just dropped the bestial barbarian with, striking the howling human with another satisfying crunch of breaking bones, cutting his howl short.

The orc's eyes widened as the man, impossibly, remained on his feet.  A wide grin split his expression, the barbarian of the Mork tribe's eyes glowing an unholy scarlet as both of his axes struck out, Varkof only just managing to turn the blow aimed for himself to the side sufficient to be a scratch only, even that enough for him to feel a burning poison on the blade.  The templar took the axeblade aimed for him in the chest, his heavy plate armor splitting like a log as he fell silently.

With a snarl, Varkof struck again, the man still laughing until that hammer struck again to silence him.

Another sharp burst of pain erupted in Varkof's shoulder, a glance showing another of those wooden shafts in his arm.  He looked up to see the barbarian who'd shot him already standing over the body of his aviar, a pair of the shafts in his chest alongside the human's sword.  Varkof gritted his teeth and rushed, ignoring the painful shaft throbbing in his arm, ignoring the next one he felt strike him in the leg, ignoring the human's attempt to pull his sword from the dead crowmaster as that hammer fell on his head without slowing.

Varkof turned without hesitating, eyes searching for enemies.  Everything was still.  The barbarians were lain low, each of them a broken heap on the hard ground.  The eitar could not savor the victory.  The humans were dead.  His orcs, too, were strewn amongst the barbarians.  There had been more than expected, and at least the beast and leader had both carried demons within them.

The eitar hefted his hammer, finally letting himself feel his wounds as he began to make his way back to the road.  Borojhem would have bandages to mend his wounds."

by Brian  Nelms

A Day Like Any Other, part 1
A Day Like Any Other, part 3 >