A Wolf Attack

From Sureshot the Assassin

There was a soft twang followed by a sound like a sudden breeze as two arrows spun through the dark forest toward an elk bull standing in the midst of his herd. The arrows pierced through the shadows and sped at their mark. The bull lifted his head as though he suspected something foul, but it was too late. The arrows both struck his side and he stumbled upon their impact. The other elk tensed as they struggled to gain a sense of what was happening. The large, proud bull mustered his strength and rose to his feet again but was immediately penetrated by two more arrows. The other animals understood that he was under attack and fled together from the direction of the danger. The bull collapsed when another pair of missiles found their mark in his side as though he had accepted his fate.

    Rothan and Durbar stood side by side proudly watching their target succumb to their assault. They lowered their bows when the great beast fell to the earth and proceeded to move towards him in order to finish off their prey.

    They moved swiftly through the forest brush in the dark cover of the high canopy which blocked out most of the sun’s rays. Pulling a dagger from his hip, Rothan slit the bull’s throat to end his agony.

    “This will do nicely,” said Durbar admiring the bull.

    “No doubt we will feast like kings tonight my friend,” Rothan responded.

    “Aye, let’s dress it here so that we can cook it as soon as we get back to the camp.”

    “Good idea, I am as hungry as a bear,” Rothan chuckled.

    The men started to strip the bull and gut him, but their work was not unnoticed. There were some other hunters tracking the elk herd that day and they were interested in taking advantage of the work that had already been done. They watched patiently for a while, sizing up their competition, the smell of blood filling their noses.

    It was not long before the temptation of stealing away a kill was too much to resist and the hunters encircled the friends and their meal.

Durbar sensed their movements and twice looked up and scanned the dark surroundings. Though he could see nothing, he was alert to a danger he could not identify. When he heard a soft growl however, he knew that he and his friend were in great danger.

“Rothan,” he whispered, but it was too low for his companion to hear. Again, he whispered though a little louder, “Rothan.” The young prince pricked his head up and stared quizzically at the woodsman.

“What is it?” he asked lowly.

“Draw your sword slowly,” Durbar instructed, “but do not make a sudden move.” Durbar led by drawing his sword first and Rothan followed, still unsure as to what was amiss. Durbar tensed and gradually stood up then his friend followed suit. Before he could stand completely upright, the hunters attacked.

Half a dozen wolves burst from the thick brush and rushed toward the two men. Durbar and Rothan swung around, swords drawn, ready to meet them. The wolves did not slow their assault but continued to bound towards the men. A wolf leapt at Rothan and he jumped backwards while swiping ineffectively at the snarling wolf. Another wolf reached Durbar from behind and the woodsman was forced to slash at him while leaping up to avoid a bite.

The men survived the initial wave, but the wolves encircled them and closed in with teeth barred, saliva dripping from their curled lips, and low growls rumbling from their throats. The men backed up until they bumped into each other facing away from one another, satisfied that their backs were covered.

The wolves proceeded to test the men by lunging nearer and nearer to them without exposing themselves to any serious danger. The men held their ground as their hearts pounded in their chests and their muscles tensed all over their bodies. Only the assurance of their companion helped the pair to keep from panicking.

Without warning the wolves attacked all at once. Each man faced three wolves, so they swung wide trying to keep the beasts from them. Both Rothan and Durbar slashed a wolf apiece and sent them to the ground. Durbar managed to parry the other two wolves’ attacks and kick one in the side as he stepped to his left to avoid a bite. He was unable to finish off that wolf however, and the beast continued his pursuit of Durbar.

Rothan did not fare as well. Though he struck one down, he was unable to hold off the other two and a wolf managed to clamp down on his right leg. The prince yelped in pain and buckled over to try and wrestle the wolf off which allowed the other to bite into his left forearm.

With hair standing up down their backs, the wolves growled at Durbar and inched closer. The woodsman stood tall with his sword drawn back prepared to strike when the opportunity presented intself. The yelps from his friend sparked his attack as Durbar knew he could wait no longer. He feigned to one side and when the wolves lunged he spun and slashed one in his side. The other snapped at the woodsman’s hand but was not quick enough. With fire in his eyes, Durbar swung downward as he continued to spin and slain the wolf with a blade to his skull.

With his attackers dispatched, Durbar turned his attention to saving his friend. Rothan was doubled over and found himself underneath two wolves who were trying desperately to incapacitate him. Durbar quickly ran his sword through both of them and tossed the wolf carcasses to the side.

Rothan was limp but alive. His breathing was heavy and labored and he was bleeding from both his leg and arm.

“Rothan! Rothan! Are you all right?” Durbar pleaded. Rothan merely coughed and writhed but appeared to Durbar to be all right. The woodsman quickly set about to dress the wounds as his friend tried to recover from the attack. Durbar was worried about shock but Rothan managed to calm down and was lucid once more.

“Thank you,” Rothan murmured to his friend. “You never cease to amaze me. You will always be the Sureshot.”

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Poem: Rotten Apple

What once was ripe

What once was nice

What once was right

Turned so wrong

Then on the tree

Fruit grew heavy

Taste so sweetly

I didn’t know

Hidden within

Flesh was rotten

Poisoned with sin

To steal my soul

Her soft hands picked

Her forked tongue licked

Then handed it

My open heart

The spell began

Turned the mind mad

Withered a man

A pile of dust

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Sacrifice

A little short story I wrote recently. Feeling it. Sometimes I think about how many people died at the end of a blade and trip out.

One

    In a small and simple farming village of Zigdan, citizens did what they always did, farmed and survived. It was a simple life but one that many of the residents there loved. The farmers of the fertile flood plane near a mighty river didn’t often complain about their lot. There was something comforting in farming. Every day the people of Zigdan awoke to tend to their crops, feed their animals and manage their homes. Mostly the men did the hard labor in the fields while the women ground grains for meal, prepared food for their children and cared for them while they were at it. It was simple but fulfilling.

    The village was composed of a dozen main families but they were each large and the children and grandchildren of each continued to farm around the initial homesteads. There was plenty of land for each member of the family to start their own homestead and so the village spread a little each year. Normal conflicts aside, the community was harmonious and peaceful. They could not predict the storm that headed their way.

    Far off in the distance a plume of dust appeared. It seemed small at first but grew on the horizon like a sun rising in the morning. Initially, the farmers who spotted the approaching cloud assumed it was a dust storm which wasn’t entirely uncommon. They began to order their families to get animals inside and take cover in their homes. For a while they assumed they were safe.

    One of the young men of the town was out hunter for rabbits and came running from the direction of the cloud yelling.

    “Rozkol!” He screamed.

    The word rang through the air like a curse.

    “Rozkol are coming this way,” the boy repeated.

    The message sent a shock wave through the village and sent some of its citizens racing to warn the rest. Soon all were aware that a hoard was coming their way and the only question that remained was what to do about it.

    The patriarchs of the town gathered in an small inn maintained by one of the families. There were twelve of them in all. Each man had a long and cold look on his face. They shifted in their seats and were too afraid to ask the obvious question.  

    A tall bearded man, and the owner of the inn stood, gripped a pitch fork in his hands and addressed the rest.

    “You all know the news already,” he began. “There is a hoard of Rozkol riders heading our way. They will be here before nightfall I imagine.”

    He paused a long minute and looked off as though searching for some strength, then continued, “What should we do about it?” He asked.

    “I say we fight!” A man shouted.

    “That’s suicide,” another responded, “There’s no way we can defeat a group of riders from Rozkol. We’re farmers, not warriors.”

    “Then what should we do if we don’t fight?”

    “Run!”

    “Where to? Our whole lives are here. We have nothing but our farms and our community. Where would we go? There is not another town within a day’s ride.”

    The arguments swirled around the room as tempers and nerves were tested. Threats were made and desperate solutions floated. After many wasteful minutes, several of the men decided they would indeed fight. One of the men, Griss, agreed with his brethren then rushed to his farm where his family was huddled. He burst through the door and slammed it shut. Griss’ wife ran to him and hugged him tightly.

    “What is going on?” She cried.

    The strong farmer broke and fell to the ground clutching his woman and started to sob. Their three children ran to them and they all held each other on the floor of their homestead, each knowing that whatever was about to happen, it was not going to be good.

    “Many of the men want to fight,” he whispered. “We will all die. There is no winning. Death is coming for us.” His eyes were red with tears and fear and the whole family sobbed together.

    “What do we do?” Olina, his wife asked.

    Her husband grit his teeth to stop the tears and groaned, “Take the kids. Take the horses. Run. Just run. They will likely stop here after they destroy our village. It will give you a chance to get away. Follow the river. Head to Junatum.”

“No!” Olina shouted. “We need to stay together. We won’t leave you.”

”Olina!” Griss yelled gripping his wife by the shoulders and shaking the fear from her for a moment. “We only have two horses. You and the kids can ride them. I would need one for just me and then we couldn’t get away. Don’t argue with me. If I survive I will head to Junatum. Run. Run. Now!”

Olina leapt to her feet and gripped the kids then ran to the stable with them. They were scrambling to get the blankets and saddles for the animals while Griss slowly and calmly gathered some food and supplies for his family. The farmer held a sack open and slowly dropped bread and some vegetables into it. Tears filled his eyes and he filled the sack that might keep his family alive long enough to find safety. If that was even possible any more. He slowly walked to their well and filled some water skins, keeping none for himself. With food and water in hand he stepped to the stables where his children hurriedly readied their horses with sobs and whimpers.

When Griss reached his family, they were ready to mount and ride. Olina and the kids froze when they saw him. They felt in their hearts that they were looking upon their father for the last time but none of them had the courage to say it. The farmer reached for his smallest child, a son of five years old and held him tightly to his chest, kissed him and then lifted him onto the first horse. He gripped his oldest child, another son, and began to cry and he held him before kissing his head and whispering, “Take care of your mother and siblings.” The boy nodded then mounted the horse behind his smaller brother.

Griss kissed his middle child, his only daughter, and she began to cry uncontrollably and refused to let go. “Please,” he begged, “Please go. Live.”

Finally, the girl let go of her father and mounted the second horse. Griss turned to his wife.

Both husband and wife broke down and started sobbing as their bodies shook and the held each other as if clinging to life.

“I love you Olina,” Griss whispered, barely audible. “I will see you again. I will be with you always. Take care of our children. As long as they live, part of me lives as well.”

The woman could not respond except through tears and kisses as she wept. The children were all crying now and though they knew they needed to leave, they were clinging to the moment. At last she kissed her husband one last time and climbed onto the horse with her daughter behind her. Griss handed to sack with supplies to his oldest son and then smacked the horse firmly on the flank to get it to lung forward and start on its way. Olina kicked her horse and together the pair. Fled the farm with Griss watching his family until he could not see them any longer.

With his family fleeing the approaching hoard, Griss turned to his home and slowly walked into the cabin he built with his own hands. It was the home he built for his wife. The home in which she birthed their three children. It was constructed with love and commitment. It was a good place to die. It would be his coffin.

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A Chance Encounter

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Durbar gently pulled an arrow from his quiver, notched it and drew back on his bowstring; he exhaled and loosed the arrow. Just as he did, three men came thundering through the forest and into the glade. The buck suddenly bolted from the sound, and Durbar’s arrow nicked his back, but hardly enough to slow the strong animal. Durbar immediately drew another arrow but it was too late. He cursed aloud and strode into the open to see what fool ruined his shot.

    Three men rode into the glade, each with a bow and quiver attached to his horse and a long sword to his hip. One was dressed in a silk shirt of bright blue, lavishly trimmed with animal furs and other expensive fabrics. He also wore a black cape and fine black pants. His two companions wore black jerkins, leather pants, black leather boots and black bracers on their forearms, all very finely crafted. All of them wore blue caps with long, bright feathers fluttering from the back of them giving a somewhat silly appearance. Durbar wondered to himself how they could expect to hunt anything dressed like they were.

They came into the glade and spotted the buck at the other end, then gave chase. The young buck already had quite a head start and easily escaped into the woods. Durbar watched as they rode to the edge of the opening then stopped and turned to scan the field for any other animals to run down. One of them noticed the woodsman and leaned over to tell the others. All three looked at him, and with the colorful one in the lead, they galloped over. The men stopped fifteen feet from Durbar.

    “Hail, my good man, what are you doing in these woods?” the leader questioned in a tone that was not quite friendly but more authoritative.

    Durbar pulled back the hood of his black cloak revealing his face, sharp deep blue eyes and hair which was tied back with a leather string. He quickly studied the three men who were mounted before him. The one who addressed him was the leader, Durbar guessed. The man was tall with broad shoulders but a boyish face, yet intelligent looking. He had sandy hair that fell at his collar. His eyes were wide and his face held an expression of curiosity. The other two had blank faces, eyes hiding a sense of futility and boredom. Square and cold they looked dark to Durbar. He stared into the eyes of the man who spoke to him and answered, “Hunting.”

    “So are we,” beamed the leader with a wide smile.

    Durbar laughed smugly. “One would never know it,” he replied.

    “What is that supposed to mean?” responded the leader his smile turned to a scowl as he leaned forward in his saddle.

    “You make more noise than bears mating on a bed of dried leaves, and you are dressed like performing bards, I imagine, and furthermore, you already scared off the buck that I had marked.”

    The three men sat back in their saddle and stared from one to another wide-eyed. Not finding answers from his friends, one of the darker solemn men reached for his long sword but the leader raised his hand to halt him.

    “Do you know who I am?” asked the leader.

    “I know you are no hunter,” replied Durbar, “and I have been told that people who have to ask others if they are known, are no one of consequence.”

    The leader tensed and glared at Durbar after the insults the young woodsman hurled at him. He moved in his saddle and gripped his sword. His face strained and he scowled at Durbar. “Look here, peasant. I am Prince Rothan, nephew to King Tokab, ruler of the Dirkan kingdom. My father is the Duke of Harmon, and I will not tolerate your insults.”

    “Well, Prince Rotten Ham,” Durbar mocked, making play of the prince’s name. “It is a pleasure to meet you, and now will you kindly take your dogs and leave so that I may track the buck you scared off.”

    With that remark, the man to Rothan’s right had heard enough. He drew his long sword, held it high, and spurred his horse, sending it charging forward. In a move that was lightning quick Durbar dropped to one knee, pulled an arrow from his quiver, and fired it at the head of the charging man. Stunned by the bowman’s quickness, he watched as the arrow flew from the man’s bow and sailed toward his head, unable to process the threat quickly enough to react. The arrow rose, caught the man’s colorful cap, and snatched it from his head. It sailed a few more yards before it fell to the ground still stuck in the cap. The man stopped his horse, looked up at his head expecting to see an arrow in his skull, and then looked back at the bowman. Durbar had already notched another arrow. The other two men looked simultaneously at the capless man, back at his cap that lay behind them, and then back to Durbar.  All of them sat in their saddles, faces blank and mouths hanging open with no words.

    Durbar spoke first. “Charge me again and you won’t lose only your hat.”

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TBT: Poem…Satan’s Welcome

Wow! Totally hadn’t seen this poem I wrote in High School for probably near 20 years. Totally forgot about it. I’m a little impressed with teenaged me taking on something this dark.

Water floods and drowns a soul that is now extinct.

Running from a storm; fear reduces man to instinct.

Hell beckons, for a new tenant is always welcomed happily.

Paralyzed, the body cannot run from the grasp of destiny.

Klaus calls your name from a list he tightly clutches.

Crying desperately as it’s you that fate touches.

A glass of wine as the devil’s servants observe his art.

Fingers squeeze the last drops of blood from your vacant heart.

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A Taste of Battle

A little except from The Sureshot Rises

    Then the neatly organized unit began to crumble. Some of Noashk’s men stayed together, but others panicked or got overzealous and were easily picked off by the more experienced troops in blue. Five men from the third squad managed to stay in a group though, and they were having some success. This group included Durbar and Maklar. Within seconds, a quarter of the men involved in the exercise were eliminated. Durbar and his group focused on moving forward while striking as many men as they could. They got about six by the time they realized that the rest of the unit did not keep up with them, and they were separated.

    “Form a circle!” Durbar yelled to his friends, and they put their backs to each other and tried to fend off the attackers. At that point, there was no time to consider what Noashk taught them. Either it was already natural or they were dead. The blue soldiers noticed Durbar’s group and gave them some room. When enough men gathered around them, they attacked. A man speared at Durbar but he blocked it with his shield and struck him square on the chest. Another attacked and Durbar blocked his attempt, but Durbar’s counter was also blocked. The man attempted to land another blow, but Durbar blocked the man’s spear down knocking it from his hands, and then landed a shot to his side.

    Maklar was in a frenzy. He abandoned his shield and was swinging his spear wildly at the blue soldiers and striking many of them. In a few short moments, he managed to eliminate five by himself. Some of Durbar’s other men did not have as much success and two of them were hit in the rush. Durbar realized that his “one-on-one” strategy would not hold up, and he began more evasive maneuvers, ducking a dodging and thrusting his spear at men here and there. The third man in the party was hit and moved out of the way. Durbar and Maklar alone were left with nearly ten blue soldiers. Back to back, they fended them off and fought furiously. The men who were hit stood by and watched the spectacle.

    Durbar was very quick. He spun and moved and thrust his spear at his opponents, often connecting with them. Maklar just swung his spear as hard as he could, bashing the other men with it. He even broke his spear as he landed a blow on a man’s shoulder, but recovered by picking up one that was left on the ground and redoubled his efforts. In just a few moments, the two men dispatched a dozen blue soldiers and were left standing alone for a second. They both panted deeply, their hot breath freezing as it left their mouths. They turned, their eyes met and they laughed in disbelief of their success.

That moment did not last, however, as some arrows fell at their feet. They snapped back to the battle and charged toward the archers located at the blue army’s rear. Maklar picked up his shield and led the way toward the men standing at the edge of the field firing arrows into the sea of people. Some of them saw the two men charging and began firing their missiles at them, but Maklar and Durbar managed to deflect them all and reached their line ready to eliminate the group. Their captain stepped forward with his arms raised before they reached the archers and, although they were charging like bulls, they managed to stop.

    “That’s enough boys,” he commanded. Durbar and Maklar looked at each other confused. “There is no need to attack them as well. They will quit shooting. You’ve got them.” Then their confusion turned to joy and they smiled. “Well done, you two. Now sit back and wait for it to end. It won’t take long,” the officer explained. His archers quit shooting and they fell to the ground as well to signify that they were out. Durbar and Maklar sat next to one another, muscles worn and breath heavy and enjoyed the rest of the battle. By that time, most of the blue army was eliminated, being outnumbered two to one, but there were still some fighting. All in all, the battle took no more than thirty minutes, but it was a great thirty minutes to Durbar.

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Hold me

Not my work…but yes!

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