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“I Am Brahkis” Episode 27

The Adventures of an Intellectual Barbarian

My instinct is to turn and run through the open gate back toward safety, but I force myself to stay rooted – if we give up the gate now they’ll just shut it again, and our whole endeavor will be rendered useless.

“Keep your back to the gate!  Don’t let them around us,” I yell, then tap Nertram’s upper arm and nod to my right.  He understands and spreads wider, giving me room to swing the Founder’s Blade.  I don’t have time to calculate how long we need to hold our position until the main force arrives, but I have enough experience to know that even a few minutes in battle provides ample opportunities for dying.

My clan’s warriors are stalwart, every last one readying for the coming onslaught.  In the last moment I have to consider such things, I am proud.  Then axes, clubs, and a few thousand pounds of Roaring Bears bear down on us.  Our enemies snarl and scream as if animals, but for all their ferocity, none carry anything to match my steel.

As I swing the Shadowwolf falchion, I realize it can’t actually be steel itself.  Though huge, the weapon is too light for a ferrous base, but it is sharp and strong enough to bewilder my foes.  I can move it more quickly than the Roaring Bears imagine, at least, and sever body parts from the nearest two who underestimate me.

I am possessed by a spirit of battle claiming dominion over my consciousness.  My swinging blade brings death and fear to my enemies.  There are more of them than us, but you wouldn’t know it by the way the Roaring Bears hesitate.

“Rawr! Die, interlopers!” I yell, though the voice sounds like it belongs to another.  I lop through a man, opening his chest cavity, spilling vital blood and organs.  Before others can close, I spin with my blade outstretched, forcing them to draw back.  I pursue a second kill, then a third.  Red splatters across my hands, my arms, my face.  I taste the blood with my tongue and continue forward, seeking more.

I’ve left my brethren behind now but hardly notice, looking only to fell the next man I fail to recognize.  I don’t see the rope, pulled taut from either side, but feel it yank against my calves, sweeping me to the ground.  I nearly drop my sword as I release one hand to try and break my fall, still landing on my back with a jarring thud that pushes the air from my lungs.

 Struggling to breathe, the disorientation compounds after a hard blow to my head.  My brain quivers in my skull and my sight momentarily fails.  It returns after a quick blink, but already a Roaring Bear has lunged upon me, trying to tear the Founder’s Blade from my weakened grasp.  I grab the back of his neck with my free hand, pulling as hard as my tenuous grip allows while kicking my legs to buck off my assailant.

I only succeed once he goes rigid, the curved blade of Nertram’s axe wedged into the Roaring Bear’s spine.  With my head still ringing, I grab my clansman’s extended arm and let him hoist me to my feet.  Before another breath passes, enemies are upon us again.  It is all I can do to deflect their blows with the flat of my blade.  Nertram and I press back-to-back to limit our exposure; I have not yet the clarity for aggression.

“We are surrounded, Brahkis!” my companion yells.  That much I can tell for myself, even through the blood splattered across my face.

“Is the gate still open?” I ask, my focus returning with the realization of peril.  I’m facing the shadowy forms of three Roaring Bears and the back of the fort, unable to see the fate of our primary objective.

“They’re closing one side, but Shadowwolves still hold the other!”  Nertram grunts and I hear the clang of metal as he breaks contact with me to purchase space.

I’m forced into action as well.  My enemies coordinate their attack, seemingly by telepathy as I heard none of them speak.  One lunges low for my legs, unconcerned for his own safety as long as he fulfills his role.  I have to respect such selflessness.  Still, I thrust my knee into his face, feeling the satisfying crack of his jaw as the middle Bear swings a stone-headed club horizontally at my chest.

With my weight resting on one leg, I can’t move sufficiently to avoid the blow.  The only choice I have is to let it crush my ribs or turn into the swing and let it hit my arm instead.  Fresh pain erupts in my left bicep, and the strike has enough force to knock me to the ground again.  I’m lucky that it does, for the third barbarian aimed his sword for my head.

I hear his swing slice through the vacant air, and quick as a hunted hare I push my free hand against the dirt floor to spring back to my feet.  My attempt to raise the Founder’s Blade is answered by the protest of my left arm.  It demands to remain tucked in and limp, throbbing in agonizing revolt.

The shrill call of a bird and the fluttering of passing wings cuts through the cacophony of battle to reach my ears from overhead.  My eyes lack the freedom to follow, for they are trained on the pair of enemies rotating toward me as I back into a vacant portion of the yard.  They grin with the assurance of victory, reading my predicament and the odds stacked in their favor.

“Brahkis!”  Nertram screams.  He lies on the ground to my left, his legs grappled by one opponent as a second beats his upper body repeatedly with a bludgeon.

Abandoning the silver falchion that is now too heavy to raise, I unsheathe my trusty knife with my right hand and spring back into action – I cannot allow my only true ally to be savaged like this while I still draw breath.  I leap forward and plunge the blade of my weapon into the back of the Roaring Bear striking Nertram.  He yells in shock and pain, dropping his club and twisting to shake me off.

My aggression surprises my own attackers, and it takes them a few heartbeats to respond.  Before they can reach me, a burst of golden light floods the yard of the fort, causing everyone to stop and turn from the blinding source.

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