Story by knowman
His face a swollen bloody mess, more open wound than skin, Krrr fought on. It was possible that some part of his body was not bruised or broken, but he could not be sure as many areas had gone numb from the brutal blows his foe had landed time and time again. A brief glance at Faradey found his face a combination of concern and confusion. Krrr expected that, should he somehow survive this encounter, the elf would surely lecture him again on the value of blocking and dodging. Perhaps this time he should listen…
Nok, the wizened shaman facing him, landed another solid blow on his forearm. The force would have snapped both the bones in an ordinary man’s arm, but Krrr was neither ordinary nor just a man. The pain did make him grimace, but he felt sure that the moment of weakness did not show through the expression of determination he would wear to his grave if necessary.
While his visage was unflinching, the cacophony inside Krrr’s skull was unbearable. Close to death he was close to the spirits, and they all were giving advice at once. Were he not fighting for his very existence, he surely would have beat his head against the nearest tree to silence the different voices that berated and pleaded with him. Time slowed as his spirit guides advice blurred together. Confused by the contrary commands and the multiple head wounds, Krrr’s strikes were slow and uncoordinated. His enemy easily parried them aside.
“Afar Vadokanuk!” (By all the dead!) bellowed the Harvester of Souls, “you prattle like old women.” The assembled spirits fell silent, heads bowed. Wrath danced in the great spirit’s eyes as he surveyed those before him. His gaze focused on Brakk. “You,” he boomed, “finish this.” Brakk nodded solemnly, aware of the honor and burden he had been given. He turned back to the struggle and saw Krrr swat away Death’s tendrils, refusing to acknowledge that it was his time.
Nok’s thumping stick struck again and Krrr staggered back, dimly aware that the spirits had stopped speaking to him. Surely it was a sign Death was near. He dodged a killing blow, as surprised as his opponent that he was able to do so. The shaman spun his staff, building the power to smash through his tired defenses. Krrr looked for an opening, the blood flowing in his eyes made it difficult to see and he could not anticipate from where the final blow would come. Krrr felt the cold caress of the afterlife seep into his wounds. All seemed lost. Then from the silence, Brakk roared a single command. “Thuk Kafak!” (Break Skull).
Krrr felt the rage of the spirits the shaman had violated flow through his weary arms and into Spine Seeker’s ornately carved handle. Unearthly power coursed through his broken body as the will of his brudder helped him draw his weapon high. Thought gave way to fury, technique to instinct. The axe blade lacerated the air before cleaving deep into Nok’s skull. Thick bone parted easily before the force of the blow. Blood and brains sprayed both orcs.
Nok faltered. What remained of his face contorted in shock and disbelief that triumph had been torn from his grasp. Ichor streamed from the wound as Krrr drew his weapon back.
The defiler of corpses stubbornly refused to accept Death’s embrace, still unwilling to recognize defeat. With a final swing Krrr severed Nok’s head and watched with satisfaction as the spirit was torn from the headless body and sent to meet the judgment of the Harvester of Souls.
Krrr swayed unsteadily. He looked at the shaman’s severed head on the ground in front of him. “Nar Udautas” (Not Today), he muttered thickly.
In the unnatural quiet that blanketed the barren land that surrounded him, he could hear the spirits speaking amongst themselves. They congratulated Brakk on his wise counsel and Krrr’s fortitude. The praise was brief but respectful. “He has angijak” (Iron in the Blood), said DoH Val (Teacher of Wisdom). The gathered spirits merely grunted in assent. Brakk beamed. Krrr could feel Brakk’s swelling pride and warmth of well-earned glory. He wrapped the emotions around him like a cloak as the blood slowed and then stopped flowing from his wounds.