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

“I Am Brahkis” Episode 4

The Adventures of an Intellectual Barbarian

“I tracked the poacher to the edge of a wood, my Chieftain,” I reply, not daring to raise my eyes to meet his. I know the fury burning within them by the tone of his voice. “Hagen rushed in before me, eager for glory.” Rulgor would hear of his son’s folly, even if he chose to ignore it. “We were beset by spiders, huge creatures bred in the darkness of the forest. Your son fell to their poison.”

I look up after speaking, just in time to feel his palm slam against my jaw. My head jerks sideways, and I can taste blood in my mouth.

“My son fell to your neglect, Brahkis. Where are the others? You were the tracker, you should have warned them of this danger.” Rulgor turns his attention to the healers. “Bring him!” he commands.

I remain on one knee as others lift Hagen’s body and carry him to the healing tent. Weariness has almost claimed victory over me, and there is nothing I can do for the chieftain’s son now. I would collapse in the mud if I thought it was safe. It is not. My clan believes in punishing weakness, and I know others who would see Rulgor’s displeasure with me as an opportunity to carry out their own agendas. I do not think like most of my brethren, you see.

With effort I stand, stumbling back to my tent on the fringe of our walled settlement. It will be better if I remain out of sight until I regain my strength. Too tired to address even my tremendous hunger, I collapse on the bearskin bed covering most of the dirt floor and fall into an immediate slumber.

I awake to my hands being seized as I am lifted to my feet. My arms are swung together and cords quickly bind my wrists before I can gather my wits. Rulgor stands before me at the lip of my tent, and two of his warriors flank me. “Bring him!” my chieftain commands.

They pull the cord around my wrists like a leash, leading me to the healer’s tent. It is twilight or dawn, I cannot tell, having no idea how long I slept. Hagen lies on a raised bier inside the tent and I wonder if he has died. His stillness in the torchlight does not bode well for me.

“My son clings to life, just barely, because you failed to protect him!” Rulgor announces from behind me. Telling him he has it wrong will not change my fortune so I save my breath, not knowing how many more I might have.

“Can the healers do nothing?” I try, hoping to at least deflect blame without denying my own.
“There is only one who might know how to battle poison such as this… you know who I mean, Brahkis?”

Of course I know. Our clans’ Spirit Shaman – but he was just as likely to drug you into a stupor as to help you cure one. His motivations rarely coincided with the needs of his petitioner.

“You will seek out Yorilis and tell him his Chieftain needs him. That my son needs his medicine. Return with the antidote, or do not return at all!”

With Rulgor’s final word his warriors release me with a shove. No one else in the tent is moving, so I lower my eyes and make for the exit before he changes his mind. Not that he did me any favors, sending me to Yorilis.

The shaman lives in isolation, preferring to commune with the wolves rather than his brethren. Whether living alone made him mad or he did so because he was mad, I could not delineate. The cause makes little difference to me – either way, the madness remains, and now I have to seek him out. Alone.

I return to my tent to gather supplies and fill my pack once more. I dare not sleep again while inside the walls of our settlement, even if my body screams for it. Not with Rulgor’s ire so focused on me and unpredictable.

The journey is not far, but as my Chieftain said, I know I may not return, so I decide to bring more than I should need. Along with food and water, I take my knife and fur, in case I have reason to sleep under the stars. Even in summer, the taiga can spit frost at night.

I have never been to see the Spirit Shaman, but I have heard the rumors. He lives in a lodge covered in wolf pelts atop a lonely hill, howling at the moon at night. I know this spot, because it also holds the cairns of our Shadowwolf ancestors. It is a good place for Yorilis to commune with the dead. I hope I will not be joining them soon.

When I step out of my tent night has fallen, and the stars are bright above. The moon is quarter full and I offer it a quick prayer to watch over me. No one else seems keen to do so. I grab a lit torch from the gateway on my way out. One of the guards, Nertram, quietly wishes me luck. I taught him how to set better snares just this spring, and it has served him well.

To stay warm I keep a brisk pace. I think about the poacher who escaped our justice and imagine he will not be the last to do so. Not with Ruglor’s blindness and a son as rash as Hagen. There is nothing I can do about it until I clear my name, though, so I shift my thoughts to the moment, placing one foot ahead of the other, maintaining speed and balance, and listening to the tales of the wind.

The moon has passed across half the sky, but the night air invigorates me and my previous weariness is forgotten. I slow my pace to a walk as the shaman’s hill comes into sight. The stars are like a cave of jewels overhead and I decide this won’t be so bad after all. That is, of course, until I hear the first howl.

Leave a Reply

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

%d bloggers like this: