The Journey Home

By Grazen Bullith

The night was like any other for me, I was patrolling the seedier side of Iridine. The Masters Choice was dead, only a few smelly prostitutes peddling worn out goods. Lefty just grunted at me, you see, that on more than one occasion I have broken the place up arresting aspiring thieves. The Golden Anchor was not much better; the only good thing was the meal that I got. I decided to take the long route back to the alleys and check on the nightly thug and brute problem. I chased a silly loot thief down the docks, where he cornered himself, he tried to jump in the bay, but I was far to fast for him, and arrested him for petty theft.

I was a bit parched after the brief chase so I decided to head to the Stone Toga to grab a drink and file my nightly patrol reports to the Legate. Upon arrival Constantine set me up with my usual cup of tea, warmed with a bit cream, nothing better. I was not there very long when my sister Kylara came in saying that she had heard from my home. She had gotten a message that a rouge band of outlaws were harassing and killing people of my tribe in Altene. Well of course this set my blood to boil. There is nothing worse than getting news that friends or loved ones could be murdered in cold blood.

Kylara and I set out for the North woods to find our cousin Hettar, he should know of this too, even though his tribe lives farther north than my clan does. On the way we found our little brother Donrus at the Vet Road Marker, spear in hand ready to fight some of the rats and hounds in the dumps. So the three of us head to the woods, none of us have ever really been to Hettarís fire, or partaken in any of his meals, not with our lives in the city.

We just stumbled along in the dark behind my torch, when I heard him yell at us to put the torch out and come on in to his fire. When he saw that the whole family had come to his fire he was overjoyed until he heard the news. I have never seen him craft and temper a better fangstave as he had done that night. He carved the name AVENGER into the middle section of the stave. He said to us ìThe fools will bleed and we shall all drink ale over the stinking corpses.î We left like a thief in the night for the journey; it was not until a day later that Kylara realized that she did not even leave word for Minos in her room.

We followed Hettar through the hinterlands to my home village. Upon arrival to my village I saw Radik loading another of his wagon trains. I called to him and he said, ìWell if itís not young Grazen, all grown up and looking fit. I see you have made something of your self in that there republic.î He pointed at my constable medallion. I only smiled and nodded to him. We talked of the things going on in the village and he said that most of the traders were afraid to go out. He even said that a friend of his had been robbed and killed the week before. He wanted to hire my family to guard his train to Iridine, but I told him what my plans were. He wished me luck and continued to yell at his loaders to hurry with their chores.

We knocked on the door to my childhood home and mother opened the door and was overcome with tears at the sight of her family returned. Kylara and I have visited on occasion, but never with the rest of mothers loved ones.

She fixed the best meal I have had since I left Altene. She even did something that rarely ever happened since my father died, she got out a cask of his homemade ale. Needless to say Hettar was ecstatic. We drank and talked into the night, mother explaining the situation with the raids. With the war most of the warriors have been hired to fight the Cinners, leaving the young, old, sick and weak to stay behind. It seems that the leader of this band thought that he could prey on the good people of my region since most were gone. Looting where he pleased, raping the women and killing the children. We were told his name is Dristag, none of us had heard it so we thought nothing of it. He is said to be in the lead of at least 20 to 30 men that are ruthless killers and cut throats.

The next day we all set out to find this band of men to exact our vengeance on the scum. It took us several weeks to track down the outlaws, but upon finding the hideout we found five camp guards tending the fires and watching the supplies. Kylara loosed a volley of arrows that felled two in their tracks. I raced on to engage the biggest brute, while Hettar took one and Donrus the other. Hettar gave his foe a nasty cut on the knee that left him writhing on the ground, his screams were that of a caged rabbit. Donrus was being hard press by his foe, he parried a sword thrust and tried to follow it up with a jab of his own. He was a bit over extended and suffered a small cut to the waste. Kylara seeing this sunk an arrow into the manís wrist causing his tendons to pop out and making the hand useless to hold the glad. Donrus did not wait he stepped forward and put his spear through the guards neck, a bright flow of blood shooting from the wound.

The fellow I was on was a large powerful bloke that used a big club. He swung it in a wide arc at my head; I easily dodged the attack and sweep him to the ground. Before he could recover and stand, I swatted him hard on the left arm, shattering the bone as my stave struck. He rolled and stood and staggered a bit, but still had a firm grip on his club in his right hand. Kylara could not shoot for I was in the way. The man rushed me and attacked a high over head bash; I bent and caught the club with the middle of my stave. In the same motion I twisted my stave to the right and then drove my right hand around and up with the end of my stave, catching the man under the chin I heard a loud pop and blood and a few teeth shot from his mouth. He slumped to the ground where Hettar ran him through with his fangstave.

We questioned the one remaining guard on the whereabouts of Dristag. We were told that he was out on a raid. Hettar killed the last guard and we formulated a plan of action for when they returned. A few hours latter we hear the ruffians coming back through the woods, we counted about 15 of them. Kylara and I loosed arrow after arrow into the group, I missed more than I hit but that put them on the defensive, and we dropped eight of them. Hettar had used his woodland skills to make a few traps that would catch the men as they ran from our arrows. He killed six more with his swinging limbs with sharpened steaks on them, and pits full of spikes.

That left five men and Dristag. We spotted the remaining group knotted behind a large willow tree, believing that the low hanging branches would stop the rain of death that was coming at them. Kylara proved them wrong as she put an arrow in the closest mans head; he stiffened and fell backwards into his mates with stiff convulsions.

They decided to get in close and take us out. That was their last mistake. Kylara got a good look at Dristag, and yelled at us that she would kill him and no one else was to touch him. I did not have time to think about it; I was engaged with a rather skilled gladsman. His long strokes caught my arms a few times before I saw that he was very very repetitive in his moves. I found the opening and gave him a good swat in the groin. As he doubled over in pain, his head was like a large target, which I obliged in whacking. The skull-crushing blow dropped him into a pile of convulsions as blood and foam oozed from his ears.

Hettar slashed and stabbed with his fangstave, causing many wounds to his opponents face chest and thighs. When I took a chance to look over at him, he was spitting blood as Hettar circled him. Hettar took the opportunity to land a deadly blow to the mans chest, I think I saw the sharpened end of the fangstave come out his back twice, but I was not sure, it was just a blur of blood and the end of a fangstave.

Donrus did better on this opponent than the first one. With his spear held low and in a good battle crouch he allowed the man to get inside his thrust. Donrus struck like a snake, his spear tip hit the manís biceps and nearly ripped it off. The man howled in pain, his left hand clutching the wound, Donrus struck again hitting the left arm. He then went for the legs and inflicted some deep punctures to opponentís thighs. I yelled at him to stop playing and kill him. I could tell that he just sighed and struck a final blow to the manís chest.

I took the remaining fellow and swatted his arms, legs and chest until he was so battered and beaten that he just fell over in a heap.

That left my family and Dristag. We surrounded him and he glared at each of is turn. Kylara said again that she was going to kill him. She had the look of a caged tiger, anger and rage boiling to the surface. Looking at Dristag I saw a black hooded cloak, and nothing much more revealing. But Kylara must have seen something. He tried to charge Donrus, but Kylara loosed an arrow into his calf. The blow knocked him over, but he sprang up, growled and ripped the arrow from his leg. Kylara was already loaded and drawn on him before he even got to his feet. She shot that arrow and it struck him in the thigh, causing yet another wound to his leg, bright blood flowing down his leg and over his boot. Again he growled and tried to charge her, I would not allow that, I stepped forward and tripped him with my stave. He hit the ground rolling and drew his dagger. He was still trying to close the gap to him and Kylara. When he hit his feet, she yelled at him to stop. He was a mere ten yards from her, and she looked down the length of her arrow, Dristag drew a deep breath, growled and charged on. Kylara loosed the string and everything seemed to stop to me. I saw her fingers come from the string of her long maple bow. I saw the arrow leaving the bow. I saw spit and froth coming from Dristagís mouth as he yelled at the deathblow that was coming. The arrow flew true and struck him square in the forehead. His head snapped back and I saw his eyes crossed looking at the arrow that was stuck out of his head.

He fell and hit the ground in a pile of arms and legs. I asked Kylara what was so damned important that she kill that man. With tears streaming down her face she said ìthat was the hood that killed Minosí family all those years agoî. I asked her how she knew and she replied ìDid you not see how his eyes glowed red?î She did not hesitate; she stood over his body, spit on him and said, ìThat is for the murder of Minosí family.î At this point Hettar was grinning ear to ear and pulled out the ale. We all drank over the corpses of the puukar and headed for home. We are all on the long journey back to the republic and the city we now call home. So one day soon you will see us all back in the city of Iridine, and with Ereal's blessing we will have a swift and safe travel home.

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