Join My Newsletter and get "Ascent of the Demon" for Free! Just Click Here...Click here for a Free Book!

“I Am Brahkis” Episode 35

The Adventures of an Intellectual Barbarian

I back off, hoping to find more stable ground to make a stand, but slip in the process. I land hard on my back, knocking the wind from my lungs. Not being able to breathe is panic-inducing, though I suppose it could have been my head splitting open on a rock.

Shadow snarls menacingly at the approaching creature, which pays him no mind and continues straight for me. I flip onto my hands and knees, trying to hurry the recovery process so I can stand and not be murdered while defenseless.

“Brahkis, behind you!” the Eladrin yells, but I’m aware of the situation. I hear the thundering footsteps of the mountain monster bearing down on me. With no time to spare, I lift my hands off the ice to grip my sword, then rock back on the pads of my feet into a crouch. Spinning, I swing upward, leveraging the twisting motion into power – but the monster is closer than I thought.

It reaches down and arrests the progress of my arc with what passes for a hand. The monster grabs just above the sword’s hilt with his right fist, and the reverberation of metal on stone hurts enough that I loosen my grip. My assailant yanks the weapon from me and tosses it down the slope. Not good.

My entire body recognizes that it has to move faster to stay alive, and I step back as I rise, trying to put distance between us. The monster’s left hand swings like a club, whooshing through the space just vacated by my chest. I can still hear Shadow snarling as he circles the engagement, but don’t hold out hope he’ll save me as he’s done before.

If I can’t escape the ice, I’ll have to use it to my advantage. I draw my knife backhanded and wait for the stony creature to come at me again. When he does, I close the distance between us with quick steps, dropping to my knees and sliding under the blow aimed at my head. I skid past the monster, then stick my boot in the ground, and once again rise to my feet.

Now behind the creature, I have an opportunity to strike what I hope is a weak spot. Before it can turn, I leap onto the monster’s rigid back, one arm hugging its neck to hold on as I drive my knife toward what would be the top of a normal person’s spine. Only, instead of sinking into the icy flesh beneath me, the force of my blow shoots the implement out of my hand, stopped cold by solid rock.

From what I can tell, my knife didn’t even chip the thing. Momentarily frozen by the shock of utter failure, I linger too long on the monster’s back. It grabs the arm I was holding on with, and with incomparable strength, pulls me up and over its body, discarding me on the ground in front of it.

My knee banged and scraped the top of its head as I passed over – the joint screams in acute pain, but I cannot afford to divide my attention. As the monster bends forward to seize me with both hands, I scamper on hands and knees, scooting between its legs just in time to avoid capture.

Coming through on the other side, my eyes make contact with Shadow’s, and his expression suggests an uncertainty I’ve never seen before. There’s no time to contemplate my wolf companion’s mood, however. I scramble further, now on the pads of my hands and feet, judging it the surest way to maintain traction on the slippery surface. My fingers are numb from the cold, but instincts and adrenaline have taken over.

I finally rise to my feet, having bought a little time as the monster is slow to turn. He hasn’t forgotten me, though, and my mind races for a solution. Perhaps fleeing is my only real option, but if I can’t pass the first obstacle, what hope do I have on continuing on? Has the Great Mountain defeated me so easily?

Turning, I scramble uphill, once again using all fours to keep from slipping. Maybe gaining the higher ground will allow me to hurl something that might knock it off its feet. I wager a ride down the mountain itself would be enough to break apart even this toughest of foes. I need to find a boulder – small enough to lift but large enough to make a difference.

I never get the opportunity. Despite my efforts, the ice and the slant of my ascent conspire to steal my grip once more, and I slide in precisely the manner I sought to inflict upon my enemy. My momentum carries me past the monster’s intended intercept point before it can reach it, but shortly after, I realize I’m headed for a sizeable drop. I must stop or risk cascading over the edge of the cliff like a living waterfall.

Spinning onto my stomach, I dig my elbows into the ice as sharply as I can muster. It hurts like a ram-butt to the testicles, but does the trick. I skid to a halt a dozen paces down the slope from the monster, who appears to be assessing me, though it’s impossible to tell with no face.

I curse my collectively aching joints as I struggle to stand. I’m ready to give up and head back to Treehorn Hall. The Grackle has chosen poorly and can find someone else to send on this hopeless quest. Once I’m up, I turn back the way we came and flinch when I find Rhiannon standing directly beside me.

“I think you’ll need this,” she says, extending the Founder’s Blade. “It was forged by the supernatural.”

I don’t have time to ask how she knows, seizing the weapon and huffing out a blast of misty air as I prepare to engage the mountain monster once more. It bounds down the slope toward me, oblivious to the uneven ground. Rhiannon slinks off like a wisp of wind, and like Shadow, she seems beneath concern for the creature.

I act quicker this time, timing my swing to strike before the long arms of the monster can reach me. I put every ounce of strength I possess into my blow, and the sword sings as it slices through the beast’s rocky hide.

It may be a projection, but the monster looks surprised as a diagonal cleft rips through its entire torso. The next moment stretches on longer than seems possible, until the creature’s top half slides from its bottom and hits the icy ground with a thud. Both the embodiment of the Great Mountain and I are stilled, but I know from my ragged, panting breath that at least I’m still alive.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: