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    submitted 21 June 2013 @ 22:42

Timeless Halls - Vengence

Written by The Last Beacon
Rating: Superb! (5) (5 rating, 1 ratings)

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The afternoon’s blazing suns was setting and the blistering yellow haze was converting to a milder orange hue. Three riders sat atop their high mounts, gazing out across the valley from the crest of a low hill. Their mounts were large, long reptiles; giant beasts with a dark brown complexion coating their scales. They were harnessed and saddled, domesticated, despite their obvious wild origins; they equipped with formidable claws protruding from powerful paws. Too, barely concealed in their maw, it was evident that their maw possessed malicious, magnificent canines the length of a man’s forearm. They moved on all fours but were still taller than any man. The beasts had a triangular face, at the base of which they wore a crown and mane of viscous horns.

The lead rider, a tall, large and powerful man looked down upon the valley below him. Far off to the north, the direction in which the group faced, lay a large, tall mountain range. From it trickled a small delicate stream, which slowly grew into a mild river. Almost perfectly in the middle distance, halfway between the riders and the mountains lay a minuet little village of tents. No more than one hundred people must have called it home.

The lead rider was equipped with long blonde hair, greasy from sweat and a large, grizzly beard. His eyes were an aquatic blue and his complexion that of porcelain, sun-touched from many days wandering the open plains. He wore broad shoulders, a powerful, enormous chest and monolithic arms. He was clad in a vest of iron chains beneath his grey tabard and black, loose-fitting cloth trousers tucked into large, tall leather boots. His saddle was ladled with every item he possessed; a large broadsword, his other clothes, a skin filled with strong liquor. He pulled gently on the reigns in his hands and the magnificent beast took slow, careful steps as it descended the hill. His companions followed him on their mounts and the three quickly found themselves levelling out and moving straight for the tiny village.

Ten minutes passed before the trio were greeted with a suspicious, fearful glance from a farmer tending his herd several hundred yards from the village. The lead rider saw in the distance a group of about twenty men forming before the tents, armed with various tools; hammers, axes for lumber, hunting bows and only a sparse few with weapons for combat; a short sword, a spear a dagger or two. Two men stood at the front of the militia; the first stood at least a head taller than the rest, even despite being hunched over slightly from years of physical stress on his back muscles. His arms like that of tree trunks and in his hands he carried an enormous woodcutting axe. Beside him a much shorter man, old, wrinkled and decrepit with the trials of a prolonged life. Six women were being dragged beside the giant, bound in leather straps, tears pouring down their sweet, young faces.

When a distance of about fifty meters separated the two parties the old man spoke. The leader was silently taken back by the strength and authority in his voice; “Perhaps, we can speak like civilised folk and come to some sort of mutual arrangement. If you would care to hear our offer we might be able to solve this predicament without bloodshed.”

Although severely outnumbered, the riders were aback their giant mounts, which, aside from transporting them across the plains, was also a great help in a confrontation. From the backs of their great beasts the three riders would have appeared rather intimidating, despite the numeral disadvantage. The lead rider nodded and slowly approached, alone. The elderly man approached with his hulking bodyguard. The three met almost perfectly in the centre of the confrontation.

The elderly man, the village elder no doubt, a man of wisdom and knowledge, spoke after a few seconds pause. “What is your name warrior?”

“Ovarius.” Came the reply.

“You and your company are well armed Ovarius. What’s more, you look down upon us from Nojkai. An impressive sight. This might mean several things. One; you are rich enough to afford three domesticated Nojkai, perhaps costing more than our village owns collectively. Two; you are strong and brave enough to find wild Nojkai and domesticate them yourselves. Or finally, and probably the most intimidating, you assaulted a group who owned them prior to you, managed to kill the owners without being killed by their beasts and then retraining them in servitude to you and your company.”

Ovarius said nothing in response. “What have you come here for, O mighty Ovarius?”

There was a short pause while Ovarius looked about, casually, as if he was unsure he was in the right place. “This is Rhoevgar’s Rest is it not?” The giant’s grip closed tighter about his monolithic axe.

“It is.” Said the Village elder, carefully, slowly.

A minuet smirk gripped the corner of Ovarius’ cheek. “What are the girls for, Elder?”

“These women have stated that in the event of a raid, if it is possible, they would trade their lives to prevent blood being shed.”

“A noble notion,” Ovarius said, nodding absent-mindedly, “I’ll wager that they are all innocent in the ways of men and life beyond this valley to put themselves forward so courageously.” Ovarius said with another smirk. “How is it, Elder, that you can be so calm in thrusting these young girls upon such barbarians?” The giant cleared his throat a little and clenched his jaw, engaged in a staring contest with Ovarius’ great beast towering above him.

“What are you here for, Warrior?” The Elder asked again, disregarding the question.

“There is a man in your Village. He has caused me a great deal of pain and honour requires that he be slain. With a village as small and as remote as yours, he will most likely be the only traveller you have had stay in your presence for weeks. I demand, for the sake of many, that you bring him before me.”

The Elder sighed gravely. His head dropped, deeply saddened. “I cannot, great Warrior. He requested Asylum, and has become a friend of the village. It would be dishonourable of me to present him to you.”

Ovarius appeared pouted a little in thought before leaning back sternly. He dismounted and in a swift motion drew his great sword from the sheath on the back of the saddle. The giant immediately stepped before the Elder, his axe in front of him. Ovarius’ blade rested on his shoulder as a sign of peace as he walked past. His two companions neared, rearing in their beasts just behind Ovarius’ Nojkai. Ovarius now stood before the collection of village men. He could see further back, behind them that their women, their children stood watching apprehensively. “There is a man in your midst. He is a traitor. A miscreant. A deviant. He has eluded myself and my companions for a season. I will not ask you to shame yourselves by presenting a man whom you have granted protection. I will however demand that you force him to respond to my challenge; he is a criminal and if you stand in the face of justice each and every one of you will be indicted in his offence.” A murmur rippled across the small crowd. Ovarius shouted as loud as he could bear; “Kolim Mijha of Gaehart, you have been accused of murder. Of my wife. My child. And the destruction of my home. Stand. Fight me and go to your gods.”

There was a commotion in the back of the crowd. Kolim, a youthful man of moderate height, relatively strong from labour with long, wavy field brown hair and bristly stubble, was dragged before Ovarius by three of those that had granted him Asylum. Honour demanded that he answer a challenge of accusation and now that the fearful famers would no longer be shamed in bringing forth an asylum seeker, they would be honoured for bringing forth a criminal. “Elder,” Ovarius called, “You may release your bargaining wenches; they are not needed this day.” Several of the men behind the girls released them from their bonds, much to their relief. “Fortunately for you
Kolim, I am obliged by the codes of honour given to me by my forefathers, to allow you to say what you will, choose your weapon, and if any here will agree, to call for yourself a champion.”

Kolim, turned, begging and pleading for a champion to fight in his stead. He claimed his innocence and stated more than a dozen times that Ovarius had his information wrong. Finally, just as Kolim was defeated with overbearing hopelessness, a gruff voice split the quiet, “Kolim Mijha of Gaehart; I will stand as your champion.” Ovarius noted that the speaker was the giant, behemoth, still with his axe in his paws.

“Kolim, if you force this man to fight your duel through pity then after victory is mine I will kill you slowly and painfully. Fight me man to man and the terms stand that you shall have a quick death.”

Kolim swallowed, “If my champion is victorious then your company must leave and the debt satiated.”

Ovarius growled, “I accept the terms; a bout to the death.” A shout gained the attention of everyone present. Loirik Moiar, friend and ally to Ovarius had dismounted his Nojkai and was walking briskly to his friend’s side. He wore a sleeveless leather jerkin, exposing his mighty arms and the formation of his fearsome torso, and loose-fitting trousers which were also tucked into leather boots. He also wore a short, loose, ragged cloth garment that fell behind him from his waist. It floated about on the gentle breeze like a banner signalling his arrival. He was was equipped with a large, circular wooden shield and a broad, heavy longsword sheathed on his back. Although several inches shorter than the tall Ovarvius and about the same width and size, he was remarkably more defined and deceivably far stronger than his companion. He had glossy brown hair and an august face, a strong jaw, taut chin and faint subtle cheekbones beneath his faint, sun-touched pigment. He bore faint, subtle stubble. Loirik was young, experienced and strong. “Tradition indicates that when a champion is called by the defending party, the accusing party must also assign a champion other than he who made the decree; I stand as our champion.”

Ovarius grinned. Honour and tradition had been upheld well this day. He was also a little apprehensive; this giant might prove to be a formidable foe on account of his size and strength. He asked Garel and Noraem Gods of Battle and Honour respectively to assist his friend.

The Elder nodded, “Are both Champions willing to fight the other?” Both the giant and Loirik nodded. Loirik, in order to ensure that he suffered no dishonour removed his sleeveless leather jerkin, fighting bare-chested as his foe had no armour of his own. In doing so the warrior revealed a multitude of scars but also his rippling abdominal muscles, protruding powerful chest and tall, strong shoulder muscles. The farmers edged a little closer and their women and children congregated and integrated into the crowd in order to see the duel.

Both participants had to be ready before the battle began. “What is your name, giant?” Loirik queried as he wrapped cloth straps about his hands, wrist and lower forearm. His sword has been stabbed into the ground and his shield leaned against the steel.

“Ejarl Kaaid.”

“What race do you say you belong to Ejarl?” A race was in fact an origin; which of the six families a person’s ancestors were born from. Each of the six families had a different philosophical prospective. A man, although a descendant of the Yilmarsi Family - A family that adhered to a strict code of religion, music, art and labour may on his twentieth winter grant his life to a different race; one in which he feels his is more philosophically bound. When a man asks another which race he belongs too, unless specified, it refers to which philosophy he follows.

“Werxa.” Werxa: one of the three races in which was believed to be fathered by a god. A man who is devoted to the race of Werxa believes in honour, glory, equality and merry-making. Loikir nodded, eyebrows raised.

“I am ready, Elder.” Loikir said, grabbing his shield, tightly holding onto the straps and gripping his sword spinning it lightly feeling the weight and balance.

“I too am ready, Elder.” stated Ejarl, keeping his wary gaze on Loikir, “I hope that you are satisfied with the battle; when you meet your gods.” Ejarl had stated a generic honourable saying that a man who respects his opponent states in order to convey his respect. Loikir said nothing, he stood, his head low, his arms at his side. The Elder, who had assumed the occupation of judge for the challenge lifted his arms in the arm, then suddenly dropped them signalling the start of the duel.

Ejarl cautiously approached Loikir, circling his foe. Loikir did little to even convey his knowledge that he was in combat; at one point he even had the brazen to wink at a sweet young beauty. The farmers and their families stood in a dense formation near their homes while the Elder stood only a few yards from the duel itself as Judge. Ovarius and his other companion Yina, stood near their Nojkai. Yina was a short, athletic creature. She was not a warrior like the other two in the party yet she could fire a bow and was able feminine company in the camp. She cooked and tended to her two friends like a wife to a husband. She had luxurious glossy golden brown hair and dark eyes. Her skin was also a little darker than her companions, a little more susceptible to the suns’ glare. Both laughed at Loikir’s nonchalance. Ejarl finally lunged, his axe poised above his head sliced through the air towards Loikir’s skull.

Like magic the shield of Loirkir responded quicker than could be perceived; the edge of the shield blocked the blade and pushed it off to the side. During the successful obstruction Loikir’s broad longsword darted in a jabbing motion towards the face of Ejarl, thankfully for whom his forearm was blocking the entrance and instead he suffered a minor wound slicing through a few muscles. Everyone but Ovarius and Yina were shocked and surprised by the rapid response. Ejarl cursed and swung again, even more ferociously, enraged from the pain and shame. The axe sliced infront of Loikir’s face as he pulled backwards. Ejarl, without pause attempted again, swinging this time from the opposite direction. Ducking under the swing and moving around to Ejarl’s left side Loikir leapt up and crashed the steel of his blade into the giant arm of his opponent in one fluid motion. Ejarl, from the force and pain reeled away. Loikir took a few steps backwards; his arms again low, by his side. Ejarl roared in rage at seeing his arm; although he belonged to Werxa’s race it would seem at heart he was a berserking warrior; not fit for the righteous, honourable Werxa. Abandoning any kind of orthodox crazed fighting Ejarl sprinted towards Loikir and leapt towards him. Raising his shield Loikir blocked the cataclysmic blow from splitting him in two but under the force he crashed onto his back. Pain was no longer an issue for Ejarl; the more he saw his blood the angrier he would get. Loikir would have to finish the fight quicker than he’d otherwise want to, unable to bask in its sweet delight, otherwise Ejarl fuelled by his rage might be able to fight through the exhaustion and fatigue that Loikir would be laboured with.

Ovarius watched as the events quickly unfolded; he had been pretty confident in his friend’s abilities, now with Loikir on the floor beneath the tower of muscle and mad wrath it looked far less promising and he was chew his bottom lip. He could feel Yina’s fingernails dig into his bicep in anxiety. When Ejarl lifted his monolithic axe above his head to end his friend’s life Ovarius tensed every fibre in his body.

Loikir rolled to the side, leaving behind his shield. In the same motion he stumbled to his feet and turned to face Ejarl smirking, perhaps a little crazed from almost losing his life. Ejarl was grinning maniacally as he charged again swinging his axe from right to left. Loikir stepped closer toward Ejarl as he did, inside the arc of the swing and with his free hand grabbed a hold of the handle as it neared. Using Ejarl’s momentous weight and momentum against him he threw the giant over his hip and rolling away. The moment that the giant hit the ground Loikir moved back, towards his shield at a slow jog, experience told him to conserve his energy as efficiently as possible. Grabbing a hold of the straps turned as Ejarl returned to his feet. Both charged at each other, and both dodged and ducked as steel swung towards them to open the fragile vessel of flesh. With the longer reach of Ejarl’s arm and axe the much shorter Loikir found it difficult to close the gap on his opponent and he was beginning to tire and slow. Ejarl had lost a lot of blood at this point and was beginning to weaken and waver.

Ovarius felt like eons had passed, each minute was an age. Ovarius was dumbfounded at how to fight such a physically impressive warrior, especially a berserk warrior who knew well the axe he wielded; the fact that Ejarl had little combat experience was not such a major detriment in light of those facts.

Ejarl swung diagonally, from high to low, right to left. Loikir responded by side stepping left and simultaneously slashing out at the midriff of Ejarl. A few centimetres of the blade managed to slash open his flesh and allow his precious life force to drain onto the lush green grass of the valley. As the momentum of Ejarl’s swing kept the giant’s blade distracted, the minor cut was quickly followed by a serious stab, a little higher between his ribs. Ejarl stubbled back a little in shock, dropping his axe as the pain and blood loss finally struck home with a resounding blow. Finally, tossing his shield aside Loikir wrenched his blade free and, using both hands raised the sword above his head before stabbing it gravely into the chest of his opponent. Jerking it to the side he released the sword and the body fell backwards with an earthquake. There was a silent moment of dumbfounded amazement, with the exception of Ejarl gurgling his blood and Loikir’s panting, until finally the Elder began to solemnly clap for the victor, which was also carried by the crowd; the victor had one through honourable, fair combat and the applause was deserved. Loikir collected his shield and trudged back to his companions. After throwing his weapons by Ovarius’ Nojkai he exchanged a relieved, fatigued embrace with Yina. Ovarius, smiled in gratitude and relief at his friend’s victory and patted him on the back as he moved toward the Elder.

“Bring forth Kolim!”

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