Monday, August 31, 2009

Berserker Part 57

Lars continued his swordwork, wondering briefly if his heart would pop before his arms fell off. It seemed he had been fighting for hours his only moment of respite was during the magic display. He wasn’t sure who or what committed such a feat but as long as it kept killing goblins he wasn’t going to waste time and energy worrying about it.
Seeing a large orc in the rear shaking a club covered with porcupine quills at him he snarled in return, baring his teeth. But inwardly lars groaned, knowing they would be the death of him if something didn’t happen soon. The excessive numbers had been overwhelming at first, but now only a score of the goblins remained and maybe three dozen orcs all told. He would’ve given his side a fighting chance under normal conditions but the defenders had taken casualties as well, losing almost half of their original number. Also the footing had become treacherous, Lars had seen a number of men’s feet or ankles siezed by enemies they thought had been vanquished but still clung to life. Not being able to get free from the death-grip they were stuck were they were and quickly cut down by the rest of the enemy that still stood.
And like him all the rest of their group were worn, every thrust sent burning agony through their arms, every blocked attack felt as if their fingers would be wrenched from their sockets.
Tiredly managing to parry the clumsy thrust of a goblin, his other blade reflexively snaked forth, skewering it. As he withdrew his blade the orc that had been eyeing him decided to make good his threat. Charging Lars from his left, the arm which still grasped an outhrust saber.
With deceptive speed the orc brought its club down in a blurring arc. Lars, wishing to keep his arm, abandoned his left sword and dove rolling hard to his right, the huge club missing his head by inches and pounding heavily into the dirt. He came out of the roll and sprung to his feet before the Orc had recovered from its overlunge. Forcing his screaming muscles to respond, he in turn charged the Orc bringing his blade down at the thing’s neck.
To Lars’ dismay, his blow was stopped short by the leather wrapped haft of his opponents club. Lars was astonished at it’s sheer strength, despite his opponent being down on one knee holding his weapon high overhead it didn’t budge. It was like trying to move a mountain.
Coming easily to its feet the Orc pressed forth inexorably forcing Lars’ sword back face to face the Orc grinned horribly at Lars. With malice kin its eyes it jerked its head up, intent on using its sharp tusks to its adavantage in such close combat fighting.
Surprised by its move, Lars stumbled back and tripped over the corpse of a goblin. Like a hulking angel of death the Orc strode haughtily to the prone figure. It stopped with its club half raised for the killing blow, looking around curiously for the source of the high pitched whistling that had become more shrill for the past few moments.
Finally looking up it saw the flaming meteor hurtling straight toward it from the heavens. It barely had time to register that it was in danger before the missile struck a few feet behind the Orc. Upon striking it burst into hundreds of burning shards, sending sheets of flame in all directions.
The object’s placement was both useful and horribly damaging. Having dropped almost in the center of the fighting, both friend and foe alike were awash in fiery agony. Hair sizzling, lungs crisping from superheated air, the poor torches ran crazzily about seaching for an end to the pain.
The horses,which had been barely under control during the fighting, bolted madly. Spooked by the flames they no longer heeded the shouts or reins of their masters as they ran in all directions, breaking tack, dragging wagons, and flinging out terrified passengers.
The Orc that had stood so triumphant before Lars in it’s imminent kill saved his life, taking the brunt of the fiery blast and shielding Lars from harm. Rolling aside to avoid the flaming carcass from hitting him as it fell, Lars took the time to utter a few small prayers to the spirits of his ancestors that had most assuredly save him from death.
Stumbling to his feet, Lars looked around dazed from the sudden change of events. He saw that the fireball was not alone, having at least a dozen of its kind rocketing from the distant city. Momentarily he fancied that the men at the battlements saw him in peril and took action. Shaking himself to his sense he realized the utter stupidity of such a thought. The only other possible reason for their catapulting surfaced unpleasantly from the persistant fog his head seemed wreathed in. They were being sacrified in exchange for the deaths of the invading Orcs and Goblins.
Lars ran as quickly as the laws of physics would allow him, looking for his sister. She would know what to do.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Berserker Part 56

Millienya smiled to herself, after seeing the display of mystical power, the enemy had lost heart in their attack. Goblins ceased flying through the air, they most likely refused such a risky manuever after witnessing a friend exploding. Orcs still lurked around the edge of the grasses, becoming more daring by the moment. They realized that if the goblins were scattered to the winds then the human defenders would turn to the Orcs next.

With this in mind a few had slunk from the grasses to aid their diminutive comrades. Finally in daylight they all took on an olive green coloring.

The tallest standing only five and a half feet high they seemed like no large threat. However they compensated by being almost three feet wide at the shoulders with muscular arms and a barrel chest that tapered down to a thin waist and short skinny legs.

Unlike their cousins they possessed thick manes of black hair braided in all manner of styles. Below their heavy sloping brows were widely set red eyes with a flat nondescript nose in between. All these combined with a thick protruding lower jaw which sprouted two massive tusks gave the feral creatures a truly wicked visage.

They wore plain cloth or badly cured hides draped over them and tied at the waist for makeshift clothes. A few wore tightfitting shirts or leggings they had apparently taken from former battles. Additional armor was not necessary due to their inhuman ability to absorb damage. Pain just forced them into greater savagery. Millienya had seen an Orc with one arm and half of its face in bloody ruin rampage through four attackers before being spitted by spears.

Thankfully they were just as susceptible to Millienya’s poisons as any other living thing. She busily sent arrow after arrow into Orcs pressing the milling Goblins toward the defender, neither too keen on being the next victim to sorcerous powers .

She only hoped she could deplete their numbers sufficiently before the full number of the Orcs abandoned cover in the long grasses lest they be totally overun. Working with such a speed that coherent thought about the task was too slow, Millienya redoubled her efforts to aid the defenders, her hands seeming to work by reflex alone as the battle raged.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Berserker Part 55

Marhault and his aid had been keeping watch over the eastern gate after determining that the gnolls’ projectile attack done no real harm to the structure. He was sorry to say that this was not so for the soldiers manning the wall, over ten were dead and another ten wounded. Arrows and spears sought them out with uncanny accuracy, making shots that he daresay would’ve been difficult even for his skilled hands. The loss of his men both rankled and interested him, the idea that he might soon meat another who was as fine an archer as he excited him. As a result he had ordered more than ninety percent of the troops on gaurd to keep their heads down and not to return fire until further notice.

Going over the plans in his head as he surveyed the crippled caravan he heard a sharp crack and whoosh from behind. The few catapults he had managed to manufacture before the enemy arrives would prove usefull, letting the gnolls know that not even in the forests were they safe from Halfway’s retaliation.

He turned in time to see the first of the rocks they had fall short by fifty yards. The crews manning the flingers would need practice. Marhault suspected they would have plenty of opportunities soon.

Shouts of wonder and superstitious signs from his men dragged his eyes back to the eastern gates, where a figure was being propelled upward on pillars of blue flame.

“Black magic”, his aid gasped to the distracted nods of others.

Suddenly the figure was ripped apart, the energies that earthed in its body shrieked and crackled across the sky triumphantly.

“That’s magic alright”, Marhault agreed. His kind were much more familiar with such practices than humans, who deemed magic to be evil and something to keep away from. While he knew better than they, and that magic was a natural force which is shaped by the user depending on its purpose. He also knew that wielding such power can twist even the most kind and humble soul into a grandiose monstrosity. Thus Marhault made it a point to keep as far away from anything arcane as possible.

“The enemy must have powerful sorcerers”, a man said, judging by the pyrotechnic display. Marhault rolled his eyes, rumor mongerers such as he were the most dangerous foe in situations such as this. He had better put a stop to it quickly.

“Sergeant?”, he called to his aid. Who drew himself to attention upon hearing his rank.


“Do we have any pitch?”


“Good, then have a sizeable measure loaded into the catapults and set the eastern fields ablaze. We must destroy those magicians before they can reach the walls”.

“But sir”, the sergeant asked in shock, “there are soldiers, women, and children out there. Would you have them die?”

“Sadly with sorcerers of such power fighting against us, our men would have no hope of survival, let alone the civilians. They’ll be dead before long. Now carry out your orders”.

The sergeant wordlessly saluted and hopped down the wall to obey.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Berserker Part 53

Jarn’s cry of warning died as the scene before him changed dramatically, at one moment Selenne was pinned helplessly in Death’s path, her hands raised to protect her and crying out mixed pleas for mercy and half forgotten scraps of prayers. The next moment her upraised hands shot forth solid beams of warm blue light. As these shafts hit the goblin, he jerked as if bodily struck. The girl’s teeth gritted in fierce determination and her arms trembling in pain she continued her assault. The goblin forced back and upward, twitching and chattering uncontrollably as the light surged through it, sparking off its teeth and turning its knife into a charred lump attached to its burning arm. Finally, its little body could take no more, at a height of no less than twenty feet it detonated in a crackling explosion of wild untamed power and energy.

Not a sound could be heard throughout the interuppted battle, wether it was because of the surprised participants or deafening explosion Jarn didn’t know. The silence finally broken by Selenne, sighing quietly she gently folded up and passed out once more.

Jarn regained enough of his wits to untangle himself from the boxes and help free Silva, who immediately stumbled to her child and tried to shake her awake. Finding she did not respond, she became more frantic.

Kneeling down beside Selenne he held his hand above her mouth, reassured to feel her breath. He gently pulled Silva away fom her daughter, forcing the woman to meet his focused eyes with her teary ones.

“She lives”, he told her.

“Then why will she not awake?”, Silva asked hesitantly

“She is tired and needs sleep”, Jarn replied. “Let’s get her out of here”.

Jarn looked hard at the woman, relieved to find her jaw had stopped quivering and was set firmly. She was coping with the situation well enough.

After helping Silva climb through the rip in the wagon’s canavas, he turned away and retrieved his axes from the woodwork, slung his sword over his shoulder and carefully swung Selenne over the other. Briefly surprised to find that she seemed to weigh less than the massive weapon he hefted, he followed the lady out.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Berserker Part 53

Selenne was bare inches from its green features, its skin looking like it had been streched tightly over its spindly little bones. Big red eyes rolling in its large oversized skull. That skull seeming to weigh far too much for the thin stick of a neck which it lolled about wildly on.

Seeing its pinned victim, the goblin happily shrieked right in her face, in the seconds she stared in blank horror she had taken in every minute detail of the loathesome creature. Hairless scalp, warted chin, rusty knife held by its side, and the overwhelming stench of rotting meat and decaying dentistry coming from its open mouth.

Grinning wickedly as it raised a knife that would add lockjaw as another one of the terrors of warfare, time slowed to Selenne almost stopping completely. Looking around in confusion she saw that her perception of the world was altered as well, in place of the normal colors she was accustomed to were shades from a totally different spectrum. As if she was looking through the normal colors to see their innards and real meanings behind the distraction of the pigment. And while they were strange and eerily different, she was able to distinguish them as they reminded her of the tints of the normal world.

The creature in front of her was filled with an ugly pulsing red-brown cloud that sent shivvers down her spine. Jarn, frozen in a desperate cry of anguish for her was filled with an infinite black nexus swirling with bluegreens and redblues, entranced by the wyrd beauty of it she did her best to ignore the aching sensation building up behind her eyes until she was sure her head would split open.

With the curse of a practical mind that her father had laid upon her, she realized that now would be an opportune time to remove herself from danger. Fate seemed to feel otherwise as she noticed the knife in the goblin’s hand had finally reached the apex of its upswing. Time was returning to the unnatural place she had briefly inhabited. Drawn by the movement of the knife, she looked past it to the open sky above. The air was filled with a thick electrified mist that flowed in and around everything.

The last thing she could remember of the beautful world as the knife descended was the mist suddenly rushing to envelope her in embrace.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Berserker Part 52

Jarn started into wakefulness, briefly thinking he was back in his home village during its destruction, doomed to relive that fateful day time and again until his death had been avenged.

As he tried to get up he became aware of his cramped surroundings, boxes and barrels dangling precariously around them. His eyes came to rest on the prone bodies of Selenne and her mother, unconscious and half buried by crates and barrels.

Crawling forward to help them up, the wagon was yet again jolted, struck heavily by something unknown and disloged several objects. A box fell flat on his back and knocking the wind from him, his axe plummeted to the ground, burying itself scant inches from its owner’s ear.

Where the impact hindered Jarn it aided Selenne and her mother, rousing them from their insentient state to muzzy wakefullness. As Selenne looked around at her surroundings groggily as if for the first time -looking very much like Jarn suspected he had but a few scant minutes before- a great rending noise filled the overturned wagon. There, right behind her Jarn could see a line being cut into the thick canvas. It was yanked aside to reveal the leering and triumphant face of a goblin.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Berserker Part 51

Millienya perched motionless as a statue and just as well composed, her bow tracking the slightest jostled grass. From her elevated height on the wagon she had seen a large portion of the goblin forces disappear back into the long grass and was just waiting for them to reemerge.

It had been some minutes since things had quieted and her senses had keened to the point where her own heartbeat was a racket which she distractedly wished she could stop.

When a few errant shadows passed over her she thought nothing of it. It could be the rainy season there for all she knew about the weather patterns south of her homeland. It wasn’t until she felt a feignt whining screech, slowly rising in pitch in volume. Finally it ended with a whump and a crash, a slightly tipsy little goblin sitting right next to her.

The little thing gained its bearings faster than she did, drawing a small rusted dagger it made a swipe at her throat. Just missing by the scantest of measurements she fell backward and rolled off the wagon, arrow still knocked and ready. When the little goblin followed she hit her target in midair, the force of the arrow carrying the spitted greenskin backward.

As Millienya waited for her heart to slow down from a high whine to a purr, she saw another goblin rise from the grasses, creating a similar noise such as she had heard. Literally propelled some ten yards into the air, it arced to land right in the circle. Apparently the orcs had found another mode of attack, by hurling their featherweight brethren up and over their defenses to wreak havoc from within.

Astounded by the impossible sight she froze where she stood, watching as the goblin was accompanied by half a dozen more from the grasses. One impacting right in the lead wagon, what came next she couldn’t even begin to desribe or understand.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Berserker Part 50

Lars fought alongside other swordsmen at the front line, howling like a wolf as he slashed with his sabers at any that dared scuttle near. Millienya was off somewhere, leaving him to the manual labor of helping hold back the goblin tide as women and children cowered in fear, the wagon drivers trying vainly to turn their carts around to the safety of the city.

Considering the likely outcomes of the fight, he was rather enjoying himself. The militia were well trained in working together and numerous so as to avoid any real sense of urgency. While one would reach forth to spit a squirming goblin on his blade, the other would cover his companion’s vulnerable side. This became the basic mode of fighting as the battle continued, the long spears and polearms had become too cumbersome in the shoulder-to-shoulder defensive semicircle they had formed at the head of the caravan.

While throwing themselves bodily at their human enemies, the goblins really didn’t know how to follow up their initial lunge, leaving them totally defenseless and easy pickings for the grim combatants. It had only been the surprise and confusion provided from the tipped wagons that gave the goblins any advantage air of a warrior. With that gone many of the militia were reminded of their children in the midst of a temper tantrum. Some of the more sentimental of the group were even reluctant to defend themselves. Until they were knocked silly because of carelessness.

All this combined with the lack of any organization to block their route of retreat made Lars feel that they were engaging in a game rather than a life and death struggle. Which was really an overstatement when Lars got to thinking about it, only four men had been critically wounded and there were no deaths that he was aware of.

After a few moments he noticed the cries of the panicked caravan members behind him becoming louder. Taking a step back, he let a man with scars patchworking his face and armor take his place on the front line.

In the relative safety of his position he risked a quick glance behind him to see what was wrong. What he saw sent a jolt of liquid fire through his veins. Another wagon clawed open, goblins swarming over fallen women and children, bone and muscle disapearing down their glistening maws. Stalking ever closer to the contracing nucleus of terrified refugees hunkering against the remaining wagons.

Shouting for the second line of men to break and follow he charged the goblins, his sabers raised in anticipation of chopping death strokes, his long firm strides eating up the distance. In the noise and swirling disorientation of the fight, Lars’ charge was not heard or seen until he had already laid waste to four of their number.

Turning around in expectation to find one outraged fighter whose attack would be quickly put to an end, they found themselves meeting a whole line of armed and wratheful relatives of the slaughtered innocents. They too had seen what Lars had witnessed and raced just a few steps behind him, cries choking their dust-dried throats and death in their tear filled eyes.

With a roar of painfilled-sorrow the men impacted with the goblins, audibly crunching armor and shattering bone on both sides. Yet they continued on, atoning to the dead for their inability to protect them and sending their stricken souls winging peacefully into the next world through the pain they were inflicting as well as enduring.

As Lars was jostled aside by the avenging sons of Halfway, he could do nothing but stand in open amazement at feats these men committed out of love. Love for those who had passed on or just barely inhabited the mortal coil. Miraculously ignoring gaping wounds, broken limbs, even intestines spilling out beneath tunics to gouge eyes, choke throats, and mangle bodies.

It was not long before the goblins lay stacked on the dirt like cordwood. Sadly so were a number of the defenders, laying next to their deceased loved ones or held close by the crying live ones. One body struck Lars as being familiar. He approached the man curiously, wondering where he had seen that short but thick frame. Even in death the flint-like eyes did not cloud over, but remained sharp and calculatingly soulful. Thankfully recollection came knocking, of course, how could he forget? It was the owner of the inn where they first got mixed up in the whole mess.

Only once he was on his way around the wagons with the remainder of his group did he remember the serving maid he had been flirting with, worriedly he quickened his pace and scanned the faces of those huddling together in the wagons. He couldn’t bring himself to search the blood dusted ground for her there, such grief would only distract him and most likely get him killed as well.

Pulling himself from the mindnumbing revelry that comes after combat, he steeled himself for another grisly scene of overrun guards and slaughtered innocents. Only to find a group of rather surprised rear-gaurdsmen.

The mercenary sergeant of the group quickly recovered and came forth. “What’s been going on?”, he demanded, dying to know what had been happening.

“The enemy broke through our lines”, Lars relayed, scanning the grasses alertly. “They were repelled but at great cost. Strangely we cannot find the breach point”.

“There haven’t been any sir”, the sergeant said. ‘We’ve got squads of ten each spaced twenty yards apart, surrounding the wagons, with at least two experienced men per unit. Plus two extra sqauds in reserve”.

“Then how did they get in?” Lars demanded in exasperation. “They didn’t fly did they?”

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Berserker Part 49

Bertrwar howled with joy as he let fly yet another feathered dart, not bothering to see if it reached its target. His new bow was a marvel, he hardly had to aim to hit his mark, arrows seeming to guide themselves. The arrows, they were strange. Every normal arrow he nocked altered subtley, as if something creeped along from the string. First the feathers would go a crimson red, then little blue and red pulsing veins would appear along the wooden shaft, and finally the metal head would become pitted with rust and slime.

It appeared that such strange otherworldly gifts were not uncommon within their army, the upper echelons of the gnolls, orcs, and goblins all carried such blessed weapons, never letting them out of sight or out of hand if possible.

Upon meeting the other two races in the depths of the Bretolian forest not more than a week ago, it was apparent that the gnolls were the most intelligent of the bunch. Despite some grumblings from all groups, Bertrawr was made field tactician and general of the horde after his superior suddenly died of lead poisoning. When questions arose about the possibility of foul play, they were taken aside and quietly informed that a knife in the back was lead poisoning, and it was catching if they weren’t careful.

He smiled at the memory of the longfang, long since blind with cataracts and bent double with arthritis. Hobbling about with his grey streaked fur coming out in tufts. His idea of a battle was two enemy lines charging against each other. It was an honorable form of warfare, true, but most gnolls nowadays prefered to be alive and cunning as opposed to dead and honorable.

With his position of power secure, Bertrawr led his army east, having decided to follow that damnable caravan that had cost him his Storm Canis. Replacements for which would take weeks to arrive from the Dog Nation capital.

The caravan must’ve had a fair turn of speed, outdistancing the slow army easily, they were probably halfway across the continent by then. Frustrated by them, he consoled himself with the fact that they would be nothing more than a drop in the ocean of souls which would be taken in offering to their masters.

To get things underway, he decided that the quiet little hamlet they came upon looked easy for the takings, giving him a chance to exercise his tactical as well as combat skills.

Obviously the most superb and valuable of their troops, Bertrawr decided that the gnolls should aid their comrades in the siege from a distance. Dividing the wall defenses between two fronts, he would soften their forces with a peppering barrage of arrows and ballistae fire while their more dumb companions would attack from the more obvious front entrance. Doing so would mean many deaths for the orc and goblin troops, but that was a sacrifice that Bertrawr was willing to make.

Once the eastern gates were open, the gnolls would break from cover and enter through the western gates that the orcs would have hopefully opened by then. With his battle plans set all he had left was to review the wild mob he called his troops, something that no person easily depressed should be allowed to do.

He had done his best, appointing several drill instructors he could count on to train the unruly orcs and goblins. Admittedly they were fierce fighters to start with, but not smart ones, needlessly expending energy before and during combat. So the gnolls had attempted to teach the greenskins to wait for the moment to strike.

With the energetic little goblins this had been a complete failure, they simply were too dumb to understand instruction. In exasperation one of the gnolls came up with idea to use that boundless energy much like a club, hence the whirling battering attack that the little goblins would be executing at that very moment.

The orcs had been more of a success, their ferocious fighting technique made them nearly unstoppable in close combat, but they had a nasty selfish behavior. Bertrawr had watched them in mock battle, one orc would strike down another of his own comrades in order to take the fallen’s kill.

Normally the extremely independent warriors would reject the very thought, but with the arrival of their masters they had come to understand that their would be heads, limbs, trophies, and glory for all. Thus lessons in teamwork were taken well. With this newfound teamwork, the orcs had been equipped with sturdy ropes for scaling the city walls.

Bertrawr felt a flash of pride at the thought that he had come up with the brilliant idea. It had come to him when a goblin had climbed to the top of a huge oak tree while they were traveling. For what reason, he had no idea, most likely a bet. But the goblin fell from his precarious perch easily fifty feet in the air to the hard ground beneath. After a few moments the goblin got up, dazed but seemingly unharmed.

At that point he had realized that he could utilitze the enourmous upper arm strength of the orcs and the resilient hides of the goblins for the benefit of the army.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I've been Published

Well, folks. It seems things are going alright for me at the moment. I've just finished writing a rough draft of my first book with the basic storyline for the sequal and the premise of the third worked out. Now I've just got to wait for a few people to get back to me with their interpretations and opinions so I can do some retooling and see about getting it published. There's bound to be some changes and a few re-writes in the works, so I'm trying not to get my hopes too high, but it's down to fine detail at this point, the story itself is already set. So it might be another month or two before I get the final manuscript ready to send out.

Of course I've got a lot of ground work to cover in the meantime. I've got to research all the different publishing houses that might be interested in this particular genre and list them all based on which ones are likely to pay me the most (I gots bills to pay, after all). Then there's the query letter to write. As it introduces the work to prospective publishers it's just as important as the book itself.

Today's been a pretty good day, all around. I got my short story, "Small Details" published at Alienskin Magazine and they just posted the new issue. Check it out.

On a similar note, I just got a letter back from one Dan Abnett. For those who haven't read his work, he's the king of military science fiction and all-around action, combining good ole-fashioned mayhem with colorful characters, incredible scenery, and some of the longest and most intriguing storylines I've ever read. He writes in a style that's both succinct and incredibly evocative, using a vocabulary that's just as expansive as that of the late, great H.P. Lovecraft with none of the bombacity. I found his blog not too long ago and was pleasantly surprised to discover that he presented an email address for fans and anyone who had questions.

I sent a hello to him to ask about his methodology, figuring that someone who had such incredibly detailed storylines (the kind that can cover a dozen different books and still stay gripping) couldn't possibly come up with it all on the fly. That was a few months ago, and I really didn't expect a reply in the first place.

Turns out his server's email was messed up and it just took him a really long time to cover the backlog of messages. It was a handwritten letter that answered a few of my questions and directed me to some more in-depth information about how he puts together his stories. I'm still a little star-struck at having received a reply and encouragement in my work from someone I idolize.

In order to keep this feeling for as long as possible I don't think I'll be getting out of bed tomorrow; something's bound to happen to even out this sense of elation. Night all.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Berserker Part 48

Marhault watched in impotent rage from the walls as the ambush was sprung on the caravan. He was going to have the grasses cleared to provide an open killing field, but he didn’t think that they would’ve been able to organize an evacuation effort so soon, thus he had let it slide. Then that northerner woman came to beg on her friends’ behalf. With her beautiful blue eyes and silver tongue, normally he would’ve had such men killed and comandeered the caravan anyway. He had actually let her leave whenever it suited her! He kicked himself for his weakness time and again.

“Should we help them?”, inquired his second, gesturing at the distant group with his bow.

“I wish we could”, Marhault returned. “But they’re not in arrow range”.

“What about our catapults sir?”, the grizzled old man asked anxiously. “Or perhaps we could bolster them with a few more men?”

Marhault turned his smoldering anger on the man who normally passed for his best friend. “Do you truly believe that you could fire a hunk of stone at a distance of at least a mile, while accurately hitting the enemy that stand just a few feet away from our own?”, he asked acidly

“Then we could send in more men, sir”, the man insisted.

“True”, Marhault conceded, his anger quickly cooling into something closer to a depressive gloom. “But I doubt that is the full size of the army that the scout mentioned. Also he said there were Gnolls and I see none in that mass”.

“Its a mile distant sir”, the old man said skeptically. “How can you tell from here?”.

“Trust me”, he responded wearily. “If we open our gates or abandon our posts, we will be overun as well”. As he spoke a page ran up to them, his face red with exertion.

“My Lord!”, he puffed. “The eastern wall is under attack, men are falling in droves by poison arrows!”

Sighing deeply, he adressed his friend. “See?”

Berserker Part 47

Millienya cursed in Klavistan, her home language. A good language to curse in, full of hard syllables that really get across the point even if the exact words aren’t understood. She should’ve expected some trick from the crafty little goblins.

Upon charging, they had thrown themselves bodily into the defenders, whirling and twisting their bony bodies around in insane frenzy, using centrifical force and the heavy objects on their clothing to turn them into living morningstars. Their rags straining away from their bodies, rock and metal whistled around them, bludgeoning repeatedly anyone they came into contact with.

As long as their energy held out, getting in close for knife work was near impossible. The long gash across her knuckles was proof of the effective defensive properties of their attire. But a number of the militia with pikes and spears had formed a makeshift wall to hold them at bay. Even then they constantly attempted leaping past their wall, occasionally getting behind the long weapons only to be slashed in half by a second line of vigilant swordsmen.

The goblins holding ropes had used the confusion caused by their counterparts to slip over to a few of the wagons and tie them to the carts. After making sure the knots were secure they tugged on the rope a few times and suddenly the rope was taught, the wagons being pulled inexorably over by creatures in the grass. This effectively immoblised the wagons ahead of those that had fallen, what with having nowhere to turn.

She guessed that an attack this coordinated, one would expect to find a few orcs too. They were much larger and slightly more intelligent than their greenskinned cousins. Like their cousins they also possessed a basic cowardice which would explain their choosing to stay in the long grass and attack from a distance.

Even as she watched, the lead wagon with Kyle still holding desperately to the reins, toppled. Seeing the waving grasses caused by the taughtened ropes she had an idea. Drawing her bow she broke from the front line and climbed up to the second wagon in line, which was still upright, though just barely.

Sighting down the length of the rope, she let fly. Smiling with gratification as she heard a low piteous moan rise up from the grass, the wagon thumped back to the ground on all four wheels.

Not only did the single wagon right itself, but others did as well. Realizing they were in danger, the orcs had apparently stopped their attack and abandonned their grapnels.

This gave her some breathing room to formulate an effective defensive strategy. She hoped vainly that Marhault would see their plight and send reinforcements.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Berserker Part 46

Selenne awoke in alarm as the large boy from the bar climbed up into the rear of the wagon, his weight forcing the wagon down further by an inch. He appeared to be looking for something, opening crates and barrels haphazardly. As the chattering noise grew louder and more urgent, the boy’s searching grew more frantic.

“What are you looking for?”, she asked politely.

His head jerked upward as if noticing them for the first time. Blushing slightly upon spotting her he bent his head back down quickly. “My weapons ma’am, we may be under attack”

Upon hearing this, Silva, who had been dozing lightly despite the noise- if she had learned to block out Hargram’s snoring, than someone shouting wasn’t any more difficult- snapped wide awake.

“Attack?”, she nearly screeched. “By who?”

“I don’t know ma’am”, he responded. “But you’ll find out very soon unless I find my axes”

“Axes?”, Selennes responded. “I know where they are”. Reaching under her seat she barely managed to pull out one of his weapons. Jarn was so happy to see them he kissed her on the cheek in his relief. Realizing what he had done and seeing the shocked look on the face of the girl’s mother he quickly took his weapons and made to go. Still, the memory of her soft skin sent thrills through his spine.

Before he could leave, however, he felt the wagon jolt and slowly tip to one side. Reaching a fifty degree angle the wagon tumbled over, its occupants crying out in surprise and fear.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Berserker Part 45

Millienya, hearing the shrieks and shouts, drew two daggers from a back sheathe, one long and one short. Her shouts to Kyle to try to turn the caravan around were drowned by the rising chattering and gibbering eminating from the grasses around them.

Thanks to the hoarse bawling and shouts of the mercenaries carrying over the sea of noise, the militia men formed up to protect the front and flanks of the caravan. Moments later a horde of monsters burst thrashing from the grasses all around them. The more experienced fighters there recognized them as goblins, and in far greater numbers than anyone knowing the neurotic little creatures thought possible. Normally they argued, tricked, and fought each other so much that a large band would be no more than forty. But more than twice that number were visible in the throng and a great many more than that had yet to break from cover.

All clad in rags, they three to four feet tall, skin a deep olive green, baring the likeness of a small emaciated child. Unlike children, two small tusks protruded from the lower lips of each. Instead of carrying weapons, they had curiously attached little bits of metal and rock all over their clothes. Oddly, some of them held the ends of rope lengths winding back into the grass.

Blinking against the bright sun, they shrieked and capered madly. Finally after much posturing and threats, one was pushed from behind. Its involuntary step forward was all the leadership they needed, spurring the rest of them in to meet the human defenders in combat.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Berserker Part 44

Karnar watched Jarn walk off, doing his best to imitate the boy’s calm posture. He worked his way around to the left flank of the wagons, softly whispering their predicament to the militiamen as passed them. The mercenaries aknowledged him with barely perceptable nods of the head and clenching hands on sword pommels. Older militia men took the information in much the same manner, some looking sick or worried, but reigning their panic in by willpower.

Karnar had to give them credit, he knew many who would not be able to handle a similar situation. Unfortunately, he met one more. A thin sallow young lad, trembling as if the weight of the short sword in his belt was all he could bare. He looked at Karnar with big wavering eyes, he wondered how this runt had ever been assigned to escort the train in absolute bewilderment. He looked as if the slightest breeze would knock him to the ground.

Karnar still tried his best. He smiled and draped an arm amiably over his shoulder, earning a nervous smile from the boy. Still smiiling he whispered conspiratorially into his cocked ear. “I’m not trying to alarm you, so just keep calm and pretend nothing is amiss. But we are being watched”. Karnar’s efforts to calm the boy were for naught. Hearing that they were watched, he began whipping his head in all directions in an attempt to locate their spies.

Clapping him closer to his chest, Karnar continued desperately. “Just stay quiet, listen to your superiors, and remember what you were taught! You’ll get through this!”. The boy’s rising panic was too great to hold back, he shoved Karnar away and clumsily drew his blade. Still searching the tall grasses for hidden assailants, he shouted loudly for help.

That went well, Karnar thought cynically.