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Author Topic: Guided: The Great Raven's Faithful  (Read 2219 times)

Drufice

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Guided: The Great Raven's Faithful
« on: July 26, 2018, 03:53:17 pm »
Guided
The Great Raven’s Faithful

1.


   “Who are they?” The question was posed so quietly, he could hardly hear it himself, though he knew his companion’s ears would register his words. Eyes never leaving his targets, he waited patiently for the reply to come, knowing with a certainty that it would.
   
   “Blodmenn. Seven of them.” came the second man’s answer. “Elgenhelm’s men.”
   
   “Mmm.” replied the first man, by way of acknowledgement. His eyes scanned the surrounding area from under his raised mask.
   
   Both of the men in the grassy ditch were clad in leathers and furs, sewn together to offer a balance of protection and mobility. The masks were both made from the skins of bear heads, the first man’s brown, the second’s black. Small leather pads were attached around the eyes and on the sides of the face, offering a modicum of protection while the masks were down. The eyes were left uncovered and hollowed out, allowing the wearer to see through, showing only the warrior’s eyes and the blue band of war paint they each had across them from temple to temple.
   
   “I see no sign of any others.” The second man stated, answering the question before it had even reached the first man’s lips. “We’ll have to be careful.”

   After a moment’s thought, the first man gave a slight nod and said “Get the twins.”

   Before the second man could push off the small ridge that they peered over, the first man reached over without looking and clasped his arm. “Fjern…” he began “You still have your spells today?”

   “I do.” Replied Fjern, looking to his side at the first man.

   “Make the big one quiet” came his order.

   “Heh” chuckled Fjern under his breath, flashing a slight grin at the other, though no sign of any emotion was visible on the face he saw. There was only focus. “Understood.” was all he said as he pushed back off the ditch’s ledge and rolled back, skulking in amongst the brush.

   The first man waited only few moments before he was joined by two similarly clad warriors. These two, however, while having the same leather fixtures, used wolf skin instead of bear. One was a medium built female the other a large male. As they joined him against the bank, they both tipped back their masks and gazed ahead through the forest, observing the targets they had obviously been summoned about. To look upon their faces, you would be able to identify the family resemblance. The young woman’s hair was fire red, the young man’s a blonde red and both had the same blue-green eyes.

   “Hvisk, Rød.” The man greeted them quietly without looking.

   “Bjørn” replied Hvisk, the female sibling. She was nearly always the one to do the talking when it came to orders. She was a renowned force within Eikfjord, known for wielding magic and blade together with a skill no living memory could outdo. “Trouble?”

   Nodding quickly, he gazed a moment longer before saying “Seven of them. Blodmenn. Fjern doesn’t think there are any more of them but we can’t risk giving away our numbers and position.”

   Hvisk scanned the area knowing full well she was no match for the eyes and ears of the ever watchful Fjern Plage of the Stor Bjørn warband. “Well, we’ll find out. We’ll take care of it” she offered, before even being asked.

   “We will spread out and around just in case.” Bjørn stated “If more should show themselves from the surrounding forest we'll be in position.” His words came matter-of-factly, before he pushed himself back and retreated into the bush, leaving the twins alone on the bank.

   Hvisk looked over at her brother. His face was set, eyes narrowed, watching the enemy with an absolute focus. He was sizing them up, she knew. “Looks like it’s you and me again, little man.” she teased.

   “So it is.” Agreed the big man, casting an instantaneous glance to his left, giving her that reassuring look of affection and companionship. “Same plan as last time?” he asked, setting his eyes back on the seven men eating and drinking by their fire.

   “Hasn’t let us down yet, but…” she paused for a brief moment “… seven of them?” her words, half-question half-statement, she looked once more to Rødregn’s face.
 
   “We’ll do it as two, two, and three. Leave me the three on the right.” Came his answer to the question she hadn’t quite asked. She was aware, from their 16 years together, that this had been on her twin’s mind from the moment he peered past the embankment.

   “Right.” she affirmed, looking back at their prey. Her eyes now focused anew, preparing herself for the battle she knew was about to befall them.

   Rødregn nodded and after just a moment of his serious resolute gaze, he narrowed his eyes and stole a teasing sidelong glance at his sister. “You go first.” He stated in mock seriousness. His beard helped hide his grin.

   “Fuck yourself.” Her answer, right before whispering a few words in a language Rødregn would never understand and seemingly fading into nothingness.

   “Right then.” his grin wide now as he began pulling the wolf’s face down over his own. “Great Raven guide you.” was all he said as he pushed himself up, drew his axe and shield in one swift motion and hurled himself up over the bank in a one man charge.







2.


   
   The man’s ears perked briefly as he sat around the fire with his comrades-in-arms. Instantly forgotten was the tastes and effects of the meat and ale.

   “Quiet!” he demanded in a loud whisper, his eyes meeting the rest of them one by one to assure himself that they were all listening. It was plain from the looks on their faces that they were. He hadn’t imagined it. Foot falls. Running towards them. “UP!” he shouted, turning to face the direction of the approaching threat and drawing his axe and shield.

   The seven, now standing ready, formed a line with shields raised, half-crouched in a readied combat position. Ahead of them, and approaching fast was a single large warrior in furs and red leather, racing towards them from no less than thirty yards away.

   “Stor Bjørn!” cried the warrior who had heard the approach, his voice resounding in a commander’s tone. His confusion at there being only a single warrior was amplified tenfold, when the large assailant dropped to one knee, sliding across the damp forest floor and coming to a dead stop, crouching while peering at them silently over his shield.
   
   The next three breaths seemed to last a life time, both sides looking at each other in silence before the leading Blodmann opened his mouth to speak.
   
   “What is th…” his words were cut off, mid question, as it seemed an invisible force made contact with the crouching attacker’s left shoulder and then shoved him downward ever so slightly. The Blodmenn’s brows furrowed in a shared confusion, lasting a split second as nearly instantaneously a smaller form in garb matching the crouching man’s, blinked into view with one hand extended and open, in the air above him.
   
   “Burn!” the figure yelled in a young woman’s voice, as a rush of flames burst forward from the palm. The fiery cone engulfed the third and fourth Blodmenn, igniting them instantly, scorching them where they stood and forcing the men on either side of them to break their line, scrambling to avoid the searing lick of the flames.
   
   Their numbers divided, the three men on the right spared only a brief moment for a horrified glance before looking back toward their attackers. It was too late.
   
   The big man was on them. His slightly larger than average axe smashed across the lower jaw of the left-most man with a wicked back handed swing, half-slicing, half-ripping it from the man’s skull. A sickening gurgle came from the opening left by the blow, spattering blood from the throat, now half-hanging from the back of his newly halved mouth. Wasting no time, continuing his swing in one fluid motion, the large man brought the axe up, arcing it around into a downward strike, burying it hard into the chest of the victim in the center, the Blodmann still too off balance to react.

   The blow, perhaps too hard, crumpled the man where he stood, the thick muscular chest holding the axe blade fast, forcing it’s wielder to release it, lest it take him down with it.
   
   The last remaining foe wasted no time, bringing his axe to bear on the now weaponless attacker. Swinging with full force, thinking his target was at a disadvantage, he recklessly brought the axe head down for the kill, only to have it jolt to the side with a crack as his foe caught it and batted it to the side with his shield.
   
   His frustration was short lived as a large hand, the free hand of the Stor Bjørn, shot up fast and grabbed the Blodmann by the throat tightly. Holding him there, he pulled his shield hand back, rotating it, and rammed it’s edge into the helpless Blodmann’s face.
   
   Once. Twice. Thrice. By the fourth strike, the man’s body went limp, his face smashed and unrecognizable, beaten to death by the sheer force of blows. A fifth blow came for good measure, adding to the blood spatter that now coated the victor’s wolf skins, adding a chillingly beautiful crimson to the strands of white, grey and black.
   
   Dropping the lifeless corpse he reached down, placed a foot on his second kill and yanked his axe free. He wasted no time in his advance to the other side of the fight.
   
   The female Stor Bjørn danced between her two enemies with a graceful fluid precision, her axe deftly parrying the incoming blows, while her shield followed suit on the other side. She took opportunities where she could for her own strikes but this, she knew, was a waiting game, one she had played many times before and was happy to do so again.
   
   She felt strangely at peace in these moments. A peace that she could find nowhere else in her life. She had peace when she was with her brother but this was of a different breed. Her movements the dance, the blade falls and clangs of the shield and axe, her song. She bathed in it, let its serenity wash over her, savouring the taste of combat until she knew it was time.
   
   Twirling fiercely to muster extra force, she batted away the axe of the man farthest away from the center of the melee. She took note of her target’s loss of balance before fluidly turning to face the other and catching his blade with both shield and axe. The blow held above her head and she surprised the man by advancing in and under it, shoving him back with her shoulder and turning back to the approaching outermost man, exposing her back to him.
   
   Eagerly, thinking her a fool, he moved to capitalize on her stupidity, only the rending bite of a vicious blow between his shoulders stopped all other thought. Breath caught in him, eyes opened wide as he stood there, a large axe drinking his life’s blood, completely stunned before slowly dropping to his knees and falling forward, flat on his face.
   
   With the secondary threat neutralized, the woman began a vicious assault on the last remaining warrior. A flurry of strikes came at him from all directions forcing him back, inexorably, on his heels. At this moment the man came to realize exactly how badly out matched he was in this fight. His peripheral vision offered him a glance of his larger assailant barely paying attention to the fight, his confidence absolute in his companion. If he were to die here, he knew, he would die honorably in battle. He would be granted GodsHal, joining his fallen brethren in the next life, one of wine, women and warfare eternal. This, the greatest honour a Fjorder could ever achieve, was all he had ever dreamed of in his entire short life.
   
   The woman showed no signs of letting up as she battered against his defenses. The piercing blue-green eyes ever focused beneath the wolf face’s hollowed sockets. It was in noticing the eyes that the man made his misstep, his shield coming up too slowly and feeling the bite of her axe cleave through his wrist, severing the hand and dropping it uselessly to the forest floor, shield and all.
   
   The wail that followed would send shivers down a regular man’s spine, so ghastly was it. Screaming with shock and pain, the Blodmann fell to his knees, gripping his severed appendage, watching helplessly as his life’s blood spewed out wherever he faced it. The woman stood over him, calmly looking down. She lowered her axe beneath his chin and raised his face so that she could look down at him. She took him in for a moment, examining the scars along his body, some from combat, some from the traditional blood letting associated with being a Blodmann, before locking her eyes onto his.
   
   “Goodnight.” Was all she said, with a wink, in a voice that the man now realized he knew. A voice that sounded almost playful, he thought as he closed his eyes and tipped his head back, accepting his fate. The woman brought her axe up fully before bringing it down into his skull, splitting it between the eyes and killing him instantly. Ripping the axe head from the bone’s grip, she let the corpse fall into the pool of its own blood.
   
   Behind her, the big man chuckled softly to himself.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2018, 05:00:30 pm by Drufice »
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Drufice

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Re: Guided: The Great Raven's Faithful
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2018, 08:11:15 pm »
3.

   Hvisk stood above her fallen enemy, scanning the forest for any signs of unnoticed threat. Behind her, she knew, her brother would be doing the same. The cool air caressed her skin where it was bared, relaxing her and bringing the adrenaline of combat to a gradual halt.

   Still. Quiet.

   The only sounds to be heard were the leaves, whispering quietly as they fluttered gracefully in the gentle breeze. She knew that out there, somewhere, were the rest of her warband. They would likely have already circled the area, setting a perimeter and working inward, effectively closing off the area from any outside intruders.

   When she heard her brother shift, relaxing his position, she did the same and began surveying their handy work. Congratulating her and her brother silently, she looked down at her last victim. Pulling a skinning knife from her belt, she knelt down and grabbed the man’s ear, placing the curved blade behind it at its base. She began to saw it off.

   “This kill has meaning for you?” asked her brother. She knew that he’d be looking at her now, head slightly tilted as he would so often do when he was genuinely curious.

   “Aye.” she replied, coming to her feet and tipping back her mask. She turned to face her twin, a slight smirk across her lips. “I fucked this one.” She vaguely gestured to the corpse with her knife, before raising the severed ear to her lips and uttering “Hear us.”

   “Hear us.” Her brother repeated customarily, donning a smirk of his own before looking back at the carnage they had unleashed.

   The taking of ears had been an age-old custom in Eikfjord. Warriors would practice this whenever a fallen foe had held any sort of significant meaning. Whether the meaning was bad or good, the ritual was the same. Slaying a friend would merit the taking for the purpose of allowing the dead to hear of their glory and rejoice in GodsHal. Slaying an enemy who had wronged you or your people would justify the ear taking for the purpose of torment. They would hear the deeds and know that their warband was slain by their betters, forced to listen as their comrades were defeated one by one.

   Hvisk took the severed ear and skewered it with a pin on a leather string which she kept fastened around her neck. The ear joined 2 others as it slid down the line of the makeshift necklace. They would remain there until the next full moon, upon which all of such trophies would be turned in to her Druid as an offering.

   Life in Eikfjord, deep within the Great Wild Forest, was an exceptionally difficult existence. Most difficult of all was that of the soldier. When Fjorders came to a certain level of maturity, those choosing the warrior’s way would leave their homes, knowing that they would never again look upon their family. This was not a mournful event for their people, but rather a happy, prideful occasion. The idea of such honour was rarely rivaled, under the ideals of the people of Eik.

   Upon setting out, an aspiring warrior would shed both their given and surname, and be known simply as “Boy” or “Girl” until their comrades bestowed upon them a “battle name” which suited their particular prowess in combat. Hvisk’s name “Hvisket Flamme” (Whispered Flame) was given for her ability to wield her fire and her affinity for getting the drop on her enemies. Her brother “Rødregn Vilhjerte” (Red-Rain the Wild Hearted) was named after his wild nature and the blood he so often let fly from those unfortunate enough to cross his path on the battle field.

   The ultimate goal of the soldier was unanimously GodsHal, where they would join the Gods and spirits in the next life, a life full of drink, coupling and warfare. This was the greatest honour of all, in the eyes of a Fjorder. For this reason men and women steeled themselves, shutting down the typical human emotions in favour of the brutal mentality of the warband. All warbands were run by a Druid, the closest thing to a holy figure that Eik had. The twins’ warband was called the Stor Bjørner (Great Bears), named after Bjørn himself, the Druid and leader of the party. They were renowned and feared by most, even within Landeslaug’s, the new aspiring King’s, army. That fear, however, came in unison with desire. To meet the Stor Bjørner in the field almost certainly meant GodsHal.

   “Well done.” The voice was Bjørn’s. His words came just as he emerged from the brush. “Seven, this time and without any aid.” He looked over the aftermath approvingly, his massive frame seeming to flow with an unlikely grace for a man of his size. His bear mask tipped back, his ever present, dour expression was plain, his eyes piercing blue and his jaw line was square and powerful.

   “They were weaker than expected.” Replied Hvisk, attempting modesty “at least for Blodmenn. Really, I’m not surprised. This one was shit for bedding.” Again, she indicated the one-eared corpse with her knife.

   Bjørn’s expression remained indifferent as he looked at the dead man, beneath her knife’s point. “You took his ear then?” he asked, even as he tilted his head to see for himself.

   “I did. ” she answered, giving a quick flick of the string around her neck.

   “Hear us.” Recited Bjørn, a slight smirk cracking his stoic visage for the first time that day.

   “Hear us.” Came the response from both twins. Hvisk's came with a look of pride, knowing full well the honour of having a Druid say the words for your kill. She spared a glance over to her brother, watching her now with the ghost of a mocking grin. She was about to ask him what he thought was so fucking funny when a light whistle came from Bjørn.

   “Fjern” Bjørn said, as the ranger came forward, answering his Druids call. “Any more?” he asked.
   
   “No. They appear to have been alone out here.” Fjern’s answer, quick and direct. “Hunting party, most like.”

   Bjørn appeared to accept this as fact. His ranger and right-hand man was seldom incorrect about such matters. They had been together so long that Bjørn did not need to reply to show his acceptance of the guess, so he didn’t.

   Looking back to the twins he said “Search them, and fall back in. We move.” Drawing a brief nod from both of them in seemingly perfect unison. This trait of theirs was often considered off-putting and eerie. Their comrades, by this time however, had become accustomed to it. It had largely been assumed that twins had conjoined spirits, causing them to sometimes act as one person.

   “Understood” Hvisk replied, setting to her task immediately.

   After finding nothing and rejoining the warband in their march through the forest, Hvisk looked up at her brother. His mask was pushed right back now, hanging down his back from the ties that kept it there. Long red-blonde hair, partially braided and tied back framed his strong face. The remaining strands, too short to tie, were either tucked behind his ear or hung freely into his face. His blue warpaint crusted and wearing off, she could see his youth now, around his eyes. She furrowed her brow at him. It wasn’t the youth that irked her. It was that idiotic, shit-eating grin that we still wore across his face.

   “What? Why do you keep looking at me like that?” she finally asked, a hint of irritation spattered with curiosity. “Speak!”

   “Your wording, back there.” He answered her not bothering to glance back. He knew already exactly what she would look like.

   “Wording?” She asked, genuinely confused. She was no stranger to being astonished at what her usually grim brother would find comical.

   “Bedding.” His smile widening.

   “Bedding?” She mimicked him, all irritation gone now, swept away by her confusion “But… that’s a regular word people use…”

   Rødregn gave a single snort and finally looked over, his occasional cocky smirk presenting itself to her. “You’ve never slept in a bed, in your life.”

   His sister grinned and set her eyes forward again, letting her brother enjoy his teasing, as stupid as it may be. Besides...

...neither had he.
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