Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Berserker Part 37

Jarn awoke painfully. His face swelled with bruises to the point where he could hardly open his eyes, body battered to a mottled black and blue. His nose crusted with dried blood, he tried very hard to keep from sneezing in the dust. Beside him were Kyle and Lars, both still unconscious and looking no better than he felt. Lars looked as if his nose would be crooked for the rest of his life. Maybe Selenne would like him then. Jarn tried muzzily to rub the sleep out of his eyes but found his hands were bound above his head, chained to the wall. Looking around he found himself in a large dank room, it was rank with the smell of dust, dirt, and offal.

Looking around by the dim light provided from the large streaked windows set at regular intervals across the front wall, they found the room contained a dirt floor stained with the blood of countless slain animals. Checking their restraints confirmed his suspicions, oversized cattle shackles, they were imprisoned within a slaughterhouse.

Jarn drifted in and out of conciousness for what could’ve been hours or minutes, with the heavy glazed windows it was impossible to tell the time. It was surprisingly quiet in their jail, but Jarn had never been in a house made of brick before. It was cool, but whenever Lars or Kyle groaned or mumbled in their stupor the noise would be amplified, seeming to come from all directions at once.

For once Jarn finally felt alone, Karnar had apparently failed and there was no one else to help or even care about what would happen to them. With Lars and Kyle gone he was bereft of even the simple pleasures of conversation, left to his thoughts.

It was strange, ever since his village had been destroyed he was filled with a great need for revenge. It was some awesome force, like the cannons that he had seen. A power which exists in potential and just needs to be tapped into or harnessed to be used for one’s purposes. And like the cannon, he felt this need was much greater than he and in turn used him for its own unfathomable purposes.

Having been swept up by this he didn’t think about his past or his future, but just of the moment at hand and how it would lead him to his ultimate goal of vengeance. The power he had known left him and he was empty and alone in the world again, uncaring of what happened to the mass of flesh and bone that’s known as a man. He could no longer support his own weight, instead hanging by his manacles, no longer heading the rusted metal biting into his wrists.

A shaft of light blinded him, squinting he looked up blankly. The door to the slaughterhouse opened to reveal a tall, lanky figure. Jarn’s hope that it might be Aniston was shattered as he walked into the gloom of the chamber, this man’s hair was a mossy brown, not his friend’s salt and pepper locks. He strode over to the three with a business-like air.

Seeing the unconscious state of two of the men, he checked for breathing. Finding they were fine- to Jarn’s surprised relief, he hadn’t realized how worried he was about the health of his friends- he applied light taps on their faces with readily increasing pressure to the point where they were stinging slaps until they were fully awake. Taking a few steps back he widened his stance to a comfortable shoulder width and adressed the three.

“Because of your resistance in my men’s attempt to recruit you as active members of the militia you have been arrested”, he said.

“But your men attacked us!”, Lars protested hysterically.

“Really?”, he said, his voice rife with mockery. “Can you prove it? Because I have twenty men with proof that you attacked them.”

“What proof?”, Lars asked.

The man pulled a small note from his belt, only too happy to comply. Making a show of going through the list, he cleared his throat and continued.

“Nineteen bloody noses, seven broken, seventeen black eyes, twenty five cracked ribs, six clean breaks, three broken arms, four broken toes, and one wrenched knee”, he finished. “As well as numerous cuts and bruises.”

“We’re bruised too”, Lars pointed out. Wrinkling his nose and wincing as it began bleeding again.

“True, but in order for three men to have caused so much damage you would’ve had to attack first! Besides, many of these men will not be able to defend the city when it comes under attack now!”

“How do you know it will come under attack?”, inquired Kyle.

“I have dealt with gnolls before”, he responded haughtily, expecting them to cringe at the name of the creatures.

“How could you have”, kyle asked. “None have been encountered until just a few weeks ago?”

“That is not your business and don’t try to change the subject.”, he snapped back, quickly recovering from their lack of emotion at his mention of the creatures. “For these transgressions you will be hung in a summary execution tommorrow morning and your bodies will be put on display to show others the consequences of such behavior.”

Lars and Kyle whimpered at this, Jarn just staring at the man.

“However”, He said as the two men’s hearts began beating again at this. “Some acquaintances of yours have spoke out on your behalf and it turns out you and they will be more useful alive than dead.”

He reached for his belt again, this time retrieving the keys to their shackles, which he used somewhat reluctantly. Letting them rub their chaffed wrists, and massage life back into sore muscles.

The light pouring through the open front door was once again eclipsed as another figure appeared. This one more discernadly feminine in nature. To the group’s joy Millienya ran to meet them.

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