Friday, September 4, 2009

Berserker Part 61

“Open the gates!”, Marhault screamed to his men, his sharp eyes making out human figures amid the ash and smoke that obscured the fields. He had made a grevious error and prayed desperately that he was the only person to pay for it.

With bolstering cries the men ran to the gates, grunting and swearing as they removed the heavy logs bracing the gates shut. Finally managing to wrestle them aside, two more teams of men hauled desperately on thick ropes attached to the doors. Their muscles strained and veins bulged beneath their skin as they dug into the churned earth and pulled with all their combined might. With a horrible shrieking of unoiled hinges the gates ponderously swung wide open to reveal a rabble of smoke-stained men and women determinedly forcing jelly-like muscles to carry them through the flaming gauntlet.

While the leading members of the group gained entry to the walled haven, this was not so for all of them. Just as their goal was upon them and relief was in sight, the smoking hell behind them belched forth more horrors.

The remaining orcs and goblins streaked to the slow moving humans, the clothes on their backs smoking and angry red burns raised on their pebbly skin lent their flat slapping feat wings. Quickly catching up to the lagging members of the group the frenzied goblins swarmed over them and pulled yet more struggling victims to the ground where they were swiftly dispatched.

Seeing the travesty before him, Marhault screamed his men into line the wall. The
archers quickly nocked arrows and took aim, their eyes blurred by tears from the stinging smoke. Hearing the order to loose, they sent their darts winging forth to stick five of the enemy to the ground like pincushions, most of the shots going wide to miss the still vulnerable men and women. yet the fallen’s places were taken by more Goblins and orcs surging toward the open gate, no longer caring about the fleeing humans and only thinking of saving their own hides.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Berserker Part 60

Fleek struggled to his feet. Free at last! Joyously he danced away from the accursed wagon, only to dropped to his feet a few seconds later in growling anger. The harness the humans had put on him still chained him to the overturned wagon.

Seeing the approaching Goblins and Orcs he cried out to them for help. They all passed him at a dead run, not even bothering to glance at the shackled Gnoll. Curious to see what would make them ignore an ally in distress, he looked up to see what they had been fleeing from.

He whimpered upon beholding the raging inferno sweeping through the fields. The fire growing and strengthening as it fed greedily on the dry hay, gouts of flame shooting high into the air, blocking out the sun.

Was it his imagination or was it coming closer?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Berserker Part 59

Millienya had already rounded up all the surviving members of the caravan when Lars finally reached her. Maybe forty refugees had survived. They had started out with easily twice that number, the sickly sweet smell of cooking flesh filling the air leaving no doubt in the minds of those assembled their as to what terrible fate befell the rest. Realizing the origin of the stench a few of the more emotional or less dazed adults retched uncontrollably. Somehow Kyle had managed to avoid the explosion that rocked the lead wagon and was participating in the sick display.

With the wagons either on fire or tipped over they all would be forced to travel by foot, abandoning their possessions in exchange for their lives. They had trudged perhaps a qaurter of the way back to the city in the smoke when a stragglerin the group fell to the ground. A goblin ripping avidly at his back, pulling up great strips of clothe and eventually skin before his cries attracted the attention of the rest. The goblin was swiftly cut down and friends kindly helped the wounded man to his feet.

Millienya could see in the distance the remaining few Orcs and Goblins charging forth to escape the flames. With the enemy’s mode of retreat cut off they desperately ran after the refugees, just as intent on escaping the flames as any creature. She was not the only one to have spotted their plight, a number of grim faced veterans turned around and planted themselves firmly to face the oncoming monsters.

Continuing onward the tide of frantic creatures crashed against the thin wall of resistance the stubborn fighters provided. For the time it took the greenskins to dispatch the valiant men, the refugees had gained a few hundred more strides. At the very cusp of the city walls, where the large ditches dug around the city created a chasm which the fire could not cross, the group ran desperately, breaking coughing and choking through the thick cover of smoke to a small window of fresh light provided by the ditch.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Berserker Part 58

Jarn saw the the comet whistle its way to the ground and explode, ending the lives of dozens and sending the world into panicked confusion. Silva shrieked in terror as the wagon they had occupied moments before caught fire, the oil treated canvas sizzled and popped with strikingly blue flame.

Their path back to the city blocked by the flaming wagon, Jarn grabbed hold of Silva’s wrist and plunged into the tall grasses. Regaining his bearings in the closely packed foliage, he set out back toward the city. After a few strides he wondered how the orcs could’ve possibly navigated in the thick plant life. At his great height his head just poked above the stuff, allowing him to keep an eye on his goal. Silva, however, was lost in the confines of the greenery and required that Jarn constantly stomp down a path in the stiff grass for her to follow in his wake.

After a few moments Jarn noticed the distinct odor of burning grass. Looking around, he saw that a great amount of the catapults’ payload had landed in the grass. The extremely flammable substances contained within those clay urns combined with the very dry grass which had yet to be scythed for cattle-feed created a flashfire.

Seeing the great fingers of flame racing across the ground sent a jolt of fear through him. Gripping Silva’s arm firmly he broke into a run. Crashing through the cursedly dense growth while pulling along a full grown woman despite her protests and carrying an extra twelve stone he could only manage a fast trot.

They were within five hundred strides of the city walls when the raging fire caught up to them. Jarn felt the increasing heat for some time before Silva cried out, the hem of her skirt had begun to smolder. She continued to run, knowing full well the extent of the danger they were in.

Flames arced out from either side of the fleeing three, passing them and arcing inward as if conciously trapping them. Meeting a wall of flame they were forced to angle to the right and began threading through a hellish maze of searing flame and shimmering heat.

Finally they came to a dead end. The two concious persons’ eyes tearing for the utter futility of their endeavor rather than because of the thick acrid smoke or choking ash raining down on them.

Jarn, saw that the wall before them was not more than a foot thick, bracing himself for the imminent searing agony he charged forth. Never reaching the wall, instead the ground dropped out from under them and they tumbled into darkness with Silva at his side and poor Selenne on his shoulder. The image that Jarn carried with him into the blackness was a scene of utter Stygian horror. A world dancing in flame, twisting and contorting as waves of heat distorted the world while ash and embers rained down to the blasted earth below.