Chapter 2: The Incident at Farmer Krum's Cabin
Weary guests don't journey by night, hang up your cloaks, have a tasty bite, and share a pint of Farmer Krum's famous ale delight.- Worn wooden placard advertisement at entrance of Farmer Krum's fence.
Time slows to a crawl as Kannan tightens his grip on Dawnbringer’s hilt. Closing both eyes, his heart thundering like a raging winter storm, he readies himself for the impending battle. The sword’s circular pommel stone flares momentarily with bright light. Soon after, the great sword’s blade sings softly as it slowly unsheathes from its scabbard. Heat radiates through Kannan’s body as the blue runes engraved in the sword ignite with an azure glow, enveloping the sharp edges of the blade in a spectral pale aura. Kannan experiences a heightened clarity of thought, a sudden rush of strength, and his mind is flooded with ancient knowledge of countless battles as the spell-forged sword becomes an extension of himself.
The explosive bang and muzzle flash of Auron’ Midwinter’s hidden flintlock pistol resonates through Kannan’s intense battle focus. Kannan opens his grey eyes. Ahead of him is the crack in the cabin’s doorway.
Armand, the dark-haired man’s head jolts backwards as the deadly ball of metal fired from the pistol erupts out of the back of his scalp. His grip around Ymir’s throat, diminishes as his fleeting life force abandons him. The savage woman Ymir crashes to the wooden floor. Clutching at her throat, raggedly gasping for air, her face a violet purple, quickly transfigures into a visage of hate. Armand slumps slowly to his knees, his mouth agape, crimson pooling behind him. Falling over backwards to the cold wooden floor, his dead eyes stare blankly at the thatch ceiling of the cabin.
The three great black dogs crouch, eyes blazing, teeth bared, muscles tensing, in anticipation of the prey before them. The kennel master whistles from across the room signaling the three wolf dogs to leap in practiced unison at Auron. Rushing forward to meet them halfway, it is immediately evident to everyone in the room that the dogs will not find Auron to be easy prey.
With incredible swiftness, Auron flips the flintlock pistol over in his hand. Grabbing it by the still smoking barrel. He hammers the butt of the pistol to into the gaping maw of the nearest wolf dog. Sending the black dog crashing into a nearby bench. Auron simultaneously plunges the long knife in under the chin, and out through the forehead of the second lunging animal. Releasing his weapons to free both hands, Auron is only narrowly able to grab and hold the third lunging wolf hound at bay. The dog’s slavering jaws snap like a steel trap a few inches from Auron’s exposed throat.
Auron loses his footing, tumbling backwards, as he clutches the thrashing beast by its furry neck. The slavering dog snarls, snapping at the open the air in front of him, as its heavy weight pins Auron to the ground. The other cultists, momentarily forget their fight with one another. Raising their weapons, the dark acolytes advance toward Auron with renewed purpose.
Giving an affirmative nod, Kannan makes eye contact with Harald Greyfellow as they both stand ready to enter the cabin’s front door.
“Just like old times, isn’t it, Kannan” Harald said with a hearty laugh. A grim smile appears, framed by the thick, red beard that covers most of his face.
The big, red-haired man quickly turns and unleashes a powerful kick. The cabin door splinters, bits and pieces of wood flying inward as the door explodes, torn off its rusty hinges. The cultist nearest to the doorway never sees the axe coming. The throwing axe blade swiftly caves in the side of his head, sweeping the cultist off of his feet, and sending his body skidding across the wooden floor. Harald and Kannan kick the wreckage of the splintered door out of their way. Together, they quickly step into the room with weapons drawn and deadly intent etched across their faces.
“That was a waste of a perfectly good axe.” Harald said, kicking an upturned wooden chair out of his way, as he brazenly moves further into the room, “I’m afraid, you’ll never be able to pry that blade from your comrade’s thick skull.” “His poor mother will probably have to bury him with it.” “So, which one of you inbred maggots thinks they have stones big enough to knock me down?”
Ymir’s crawls across the floor on her hands and knees. Reaching out with her bloodied and tremoring hand, she firmly grasps her battle axe and drags it out from underneath the long table. The razor-sharp axe scrapes slowly across the floor as she struggles to her feet. Standing up, she faces the intruders. Short wheezing breathes issue from the hole where her nose should be. Brushing back the black mass of sweaty hair behind her, she guides the curly tangles back forward to cover the now vacant hole of her right eye as an uneven and almost gleeful smile creases her face.
“I’ll be with you in one moment, honeypot,” Ymir said shoving a man stumbling forward roughly by his shoulder, his nose a flattened crimson mess and his long knife already slick with blood, “I’ll let my men show you how we welcome unwanted guests.’
“What have you done with my son?” Kannan asks, interrupting her mid-sentence, “Your people stole a young blacksmith, named Roen, from the outskirts of Kalm Village.” “He is my son.” “Where is he?”
A look of realization flashes across Ymir’s mutilated face.
“I’m afraid that you are too late, Father,” Ymir said coldly, “That’s Old man Sigrun’s doing.” “That doddering old lunatic took the boy with the king’s blood as a sacrificial offering to Firestone Mountain mayhaps four days ago.”
“Not possible” “The boy has no prior lineage of royal blood running through his veins,” Kannan said, a look of pained concern briefly flashing across his solemn, long face, “Your leader must be mistaken.”
“You think that I would let that blind old fool lead me?” Ymir spat, her features suddenly contorting with rage, “Be that as it may, your son’s charred bones are probably roasting in an endless stream of lava right about now.”
“Why take my son so many miles?” Kannan asked, “For what dark purpose are you dragging him all the way to Firestone Mountain?” “Your group had no qualms about burning that poor old farmer in front of his home.”
Ymir pauses for a moment, a faraway look on her tortured face as Kannan’s words falling on deaf ears. A thin smile forms across her cracked lips.
“You look like a soldier to me,” said Ymir, “I can see it in your cold, grey eyes, so full of duty, and judgment.” “You are a man that spends months….no years on the frontlines away fighting loyally for his king.” “Perhaps your wife was lonely, got tired of her bed sheets being cold, and had a passionate tussle with royalty while you were away.” “It’s really not that uncommon these days.”
“Past or present,” Kannan said, his teeth clenching and fixing her with his steely gaze, “Today, you will pay for your all your heinous crimes” “I will bring you to justice.”
“I think not, m’lord,” Ymir said, striding over to the fireplace. Grabbing iron tongs and selecting a kindled log from the smoldering embers. Raising the burning log aloft, she traces the glowing end across the surface of the thatch ceiling. The straw instantly begins to smoke and is ablaze within seconds, sparks and fire raining down from overhead.
“A little bit of help would be greatly appreciated,” Auron groans as the great black dog bites through his blue sleeve and into the muscular flesh of his left arm.
Harald has just enough time to absorb Auron’s plea for help. Without warning, the broken nose man, leaps at him. The cultist thrusts forward with his long sharp knife. The knife hisses by the air in front of Harald’s face. Deftly sidestepping away from the man’s lunging stab, Harald swings his great black axe hard. The blade buries itself deep into the man’s throat. The double-bladed black steel axe cleaves through the man’s neck. His head separates from the rest of his torso. The decapitated head bounces twice before rolling, and coming to rest upright, against the nearby cabinets. The man’s body slowly falls forward, his lifeblood spilling from his open wound onto the wooden floor.
A white suffocating smoke rapidly fills the surrounding air as the fire grows in brightness and intensity. Without warning, Ymir dashes across the smoke-filled room with deceptive speed. Swinging her axe in a savage wide arc, she assaults Harald with lethal force. Harald desperately falls over backwards to avoid the deadly blow, and hurriedly rolls himself to a standing position. He narrowly dodges the brutal swing. The axe blade grazes his leather jerkin, slicing through the thick leather hide as if it were paper. A long thin red line appears across Harald’s muscled chest followed by a stinging pain.
“Dance with me then,” Harald said, readying himself, and raising his double-sided black steel axe high as smoke and flames engulfs the thatch roofing above his head.
Harald is vaguely aware that Ymir has drawn first blood, of the sounds of swords clashing in another part of the room, before another vicious overhand swing relentlessly hurtles towards him from out of the suffocating smoke. This time Harald manages to block the deadly overhand strike with his own axe. Nevertheless, Ymir delivers a punishing low kick winding the big man. Reeling from the solid impact to his expansive gut, Harald keels over, coughing, and heaving for air. He retaliates with a crushing punch finding only open air. Ymir darts backwards, in a blur of movement, out of his reach before quickly lunging back in with a stabbing motion.
Ymir’s axe blade slices through Harald’s cheek. Undeterred, he relentlessly presses forward, with a surprise burst of speed, to close the distance between himself and Ymir. The savage woman attempts to retreat but Harald grips Ymir by the wrist of her axe hand rendering her weapon useless.
In retaliation, Ymir slams her knee into Harald’s groin. Harald lurches forward, bellowing in pain. Ymir grabs the big man by his long red beard. Bringing his head down she knees him in the nose. Harald’s nose explodes into a fountain of blood. Unsheathing a bone hilted dagger from her leather belt, she lunges forward attempting to re-sheathe the blade into Harald’s heart. Raising his free hand defensively, the bone blade pierces the palm of Harald’s outstretched hand, the point of the blade emerging between his bleeding knuckles.
“That’s right, get good and close to me,” Harald said, grimacing as the woman’s dagger, twisting, carves through the flesh and bone of his hand, “Let’s see you try and hop around now.”
Harald connects with devastating headbutt momentarily stunning Ymir. Ymir, shakes it off, screams in defiance, coughing, and spitting blood into Harald’s face. Another headbutt silences her. Ymir sighs as her head droops backwards, her black hair tumbling away from her bruised and battered face. The eyebrow over her one remaining eye is becoming bloated, purple, and swollen as she weakly gasps for air. Weakly she crumples slowly to the wooden floor as Harald glowers down at her, axe in hand.
A dark shadow suddenly looms over Auron. A Chaossworn cultist raises a spiked cudgel over his head, and swings quickly downward with a deadly overhead blow. Rolling himself over quickly, he is able to shove the snarling dog into the path of the club. The cudgel connects with head of the dog. A wet squelching sound cuts short a muffled yelp.
Seizing the opportunity, Auron rolls out from underneath the dead animal. His attacker frantically struggles to free his weapon from the wolf dog's thick skull. Overhead the fire continues to quickly spreads across the ceiling. Gaining in intensity it turns the whole cabin into a fiery inferno.
Sweat beading over his brow, the cultist is pulling with all of his strength but to no avail. Auron tears away the shredded blue sleeve from his robe, exposing an arm covered with bloody bite marks and numerous arcane runic tattoos inscribed with blue ink. The runic symbols suddenly come alive, crackling with a glowing azure aura. Auron waves his hand, as blue electricity dances across his fingertips. The rafters above the cultist begin to crack and splinter as if they were being torn apart by an unseen force.
Attempting a final desperate pull, the dark acolyte pries the weapon free. A triumphant expression crosses his face just before the wooden beams fracture above him. The thatch roof and burning debris collapse down onto the cultist, burying him under infernal rubble, and consuming him in a its fiery blaze.
On the opposite end of the room, three Chaosworn cultists, surround and simultaneously accost Kannan as the cabin burns all around them. A one-eyed man slashes aggressively with his short sword at the air in front of him. Baring his teeth like a feral animal, He spits at Kannan’s feet, as he paces back and forth, searching for an opportunity to kill the swordsman.
“I’ll be having that pretty white sword of yours,” the one-eyed cultist snarls, “The crows or the fire can have what’s left of you.”
“Then you shall have it then,” Kannan said.
Kannan stands with Dawnbringer poised defensively. He readies himself to deliver a killing blow at the first opening. The one-eyed cultist aggressively steps forward with his short sword raised. With incredible speed, Kannan’s pale great sword thrusts forward. The luminous blade skewering the one-eyed cultist through his belly, opening his bowels. The one-eyed man’s white tunic reddens as he spits blood, his lips bubbling with spittle through gritted teeth, and his short sword falls clattering harmlessly to the ground below. Incredibly, the one-eyed cultist grasps the glowing blade with both hands. Thin rivers of blood begin to run down the length of his hands.
“Don’t just stand there,” the one-eyed cultist shrieks, his remaining eye veiny, bulging out of its socket, “Kill him you fool.”
In an instant a short, heavy, bald man with silver teeth rushes forward with a butcher’s cleaver, as a tall muscled blonde woman holding a hatchet circles, trying to make her way around behind Kannan.
Twisting his blade, the one-eyed cultist, gasps and stiffens as his entrails spill out onto the floor. Kannan shoves the cultist away, sending him tumbling lifelessly onto the long dining table. The impact causes it to fracture down the middle, splintering and collapsing underneath the dead man’s weight
Swinging his cleaver with deadly ferocity, the heavy cultist narrowly misses burying the crude, flat piece, of iron into Kannan’s face. Stepping forward, Kannan slices upward with Brightbringer cutting deeply into and through the man’s arm as he chops down with the cleaver. The cultist screams in anguish, as his severed arm falls to the ground still clutching the cleaver. A devastating punch silences his scream and smashes his nose against his face.
Pivoting, Kannan spins himself while dragging the stunned man around with him. A crunching sound as an axe slams into the heavy man’s bald head. The fierce blow intended for Kannan, sends blood, bits of broken bone, and gray material into Kannan’s face. The muscled blonde woman cries out angrily as Kannan heaves the dead man into the air with both hands and hurls his dead body at her. The body hurtles through the air slamming into the blonde woman. The impact causes her to stumble backwards crashing into and through a shuttered window. Wood splinters and the orange glow of morning pours in as she falls face first, out of the window, and onto the snow-covered ground outside.
From their perch outside of the cabin, the ever-watchful crows flap their black wings and, squawk as if laughing amongst themselves. High in the high treetops above. they wait for the injured to become the dead. They pause from time to time to hear the bitter music of the dead and dying.
Since nightfall, the forest has changed. No insects chirp and no birds sing. An oppressive dark presence hangs over Frostgrave Forest, a silence, as heavy as cold iron. Twelve of the crows sit in a black line and stare down, with wise eyes, at Farmer Krum’s blazing cabin. Their pitch-black eyes intently follow a trio of hooded men as they drag their fallen leader by his outstretched arms through the dark gloom. An excitement rushes through crows as the men make their way towards the barn in the distance.
About the Creator
I'm heavily influenced by film just as much as reading. Here to get some of the ideas I've got floating around in my head on paper. If I can entertain people with my stories, situations, and characters then all the better.
Very dark, descriptive and intense. Well done.