Catastrophe, Pacifism and Honour

By @Nicooo

Catastrophe, Pacifism and Honour

By @Nicooo

Chapter 2

Bounty Hunters

Oh, rats. Aleksander thought to himself when he saw the size of his target. Am I really supposed to kill that thing? The chief of the Slither patrol was commanding the smaller beasts, whipping some of them, shouting in their brutish language. The bounty hunter, after realizing that he didn’t have his sword on him, had to take out his knife.

It was curved, about ten centimetres long. He knew that if he were to throw it at his opponent’s head, it would mean an instant kill, but he couldn’t guarantee that he’d be able to prove it. He needed the Chief’s head. He felt the badge around his neck getting out of his shirt. You stay put, old piece of junk, he said, pushing it back inside. You’d think it’d take more than a year for it to be turned to rust.

I must be really caref- he said as he was making his way through the tree he was hiding in, stepped on a crooked branch, breaking it, taking him to the ground with it. It was a bad fall and a loud one at that, catching the attention of the Chief. Thankfully, the smaller Slithers were gone over the hill, chopping down trees. His ears were ringing so loudly that he couldn’t hear the laugh of his enemy. This kind of small missteps made him want to give himself a beating, but now’s not the time for being ******. After coming to his senses, stretching his arms, he said:

‘I don’t know if you can understand me, but just so you know, I won’t be nice.’

The chief snorted through his pig-like snout, unsheathing the massive blade that was on his back, throwing the whip to the ground. It was like an enormous meat cleaver. Right handed, huh? Slithers were always mere nobodies in the eyes of Aleksander, with their green torsos, with pig shaped heads and long humanoid arms. Their legs had hoofs and were thin compared to the rest of their bodies. Normally, they were about 140 centimetres in height and the large, strong ones were considered Chiefs, tasked with leading the smaller ones.

Surprisingly humorous that they came to be called Slithers.

Standing a few meters away from him, Aleksander realized just how massive his enemy was. Much taller than him and much wider, his sword as long as his arm. Quite imposing, he couldn’t lie. Fear started taking over, trickles of sweat tickling his forehead, the sound of his heart pounding, beating at his temples.

Luckily, though, he remembered that due to his size, his opponent couldn’t be that agile. At least not as agile as me. He was right. The chief’s swings, even though they were so powerful they’d make a sound like a whip cutting through the air, proved to be hard to control. Aleksander dodged the first attack, the Slither cutting the tree behind him in half, flinging shards of wood everywhere. It was easy for him to keep ducking and tumbling out of the way, cutting at the chief’s fat abdomen and arms, until it was hard for him to lift up his massive sword.

Size and tissue do not deter the sharp iron’s effectiveness. As the swordsman smiled so did the Slither that with a loud roar punched him in the abdomen. He expected to go flying, instead he was shoved in front of his enemy. That’s when realization hit him. Almost as hard as the Slither’s sword, at least. He tried to duck to the side, but it was too late.

Aleksander felt his opponent’s sharp weapon dig into his left shoulder, pushing through his plate, splattering crimson onto the blade and ground. Thankfully, he managed to stay on his feet, blood oozing from his wound. He looked at it, dazed, saw the mass of flesh and bone and puked out stinging vomit, making his throat sore. Breathing heavily and smelling the concoction inside his throat, he stared into the eye of the beast and he spit on its face. The smaller Slithers noticed the commotion so he had to think of something to get himself out of this predicament. Going through the best possible ways to kill his foe, he came across a single thought.

I wonder what Bras is going to cook for tonight.

After rotating his hip, enduring the inevitable pain of his shoulder getting damaged even further, feeling every layer of muscle being torn apart from his shoulder, he threw the knife into the neck of the giant chieftain, who, a few minutes ago, was roaring like a gorilla, provoking his new found adversary. The beast knelt, desperately trying to pull the knife out, screaming so loudly that Aleksander needed to cover his ears. His fingers were too big, and after a few seconds of blood sprinkled out of the wound, he toppled to the floor, expressionless, his face pale from the sudden blood loss.

As the smaller fiends witnessed the death of their commander, they went into a blind rage, sprinting towards the young man so quickly and in such a disoriented manner that they started falling over each other, even cutting some of their own brethren’s heads off by mistake with their swords. Well, ******Aleksander thought to himself. I think it’s time for me to go. 

He pushed and pulled the weapon until it got out of his shoulder with a whimper, seeing all the blood that came out of it, along with some muscle tissue as well. He approached the fallen foe, cut off his head and grabbed it by its ears, putting it in a bag and tying a knot around his waist.

 

Panting, trampling on the withered flowers of the Black Forest, he was forced to swerve through the moss covered trees so that he’d finally be able to escape. The no-brained foes were starting to catch up, slowly but surely. Pointless tries of injuring the invading Human lead to many Slither weapons being left behind, with their sharp ends stuck in tree trunks. Still, he was on borrowed time. The pain from the wound finally started to claim it’s due. He could feel nauseous, almost ready to faint from the blood loss. Maybe he would have, if it weren’t for the constant need to soil himself or the images that flashed through his mind of what would happen if he’d as much as trip. He felt tooth gritting pain as he was trying his best to not succumb to it, cursing his way out.

A tad more. Aleksander taught to himself as he was finally closing in to the end of the forest. He knew all he had to do now was to climb the iron wall and he’d be safe and sound. Still, his ankles were sore from the amount of times he had to force a bad step in order to get out the way of branches or trunks. His thighs and calves were throbbing, giving himself a sense of toughness for enduring it. His shoulder was a reminder of what pain really was.

**** it. Why didn’t I join Valcus’s extra training regimen every morning when I was young?

That was only two years ago, though it felt as though an eternity had passed. Even back then he was as lazy and as sleepy.

Now he could see the circles, triangles and other shapes that were carved into the wall, but the cries for his head were getting even closer. If I misstep once, I’ll be dead. Focus. Aleksander gathered all his might as he arrived at the wall, putting one foot on it, pushing upwards. With every hard step he could see the sky above shine brighter, gravity pushing against him like a hammer against a human skull. With the third step, he was gaining confidence. He had done this a fair few times, what could have gone wrong? His feet were aching badly, his ribcage on the verge of bursting open from the strenuous effort. He managed to push another step through, and then the next one, and the next one, and the next one, until… He slipped.

This was the end for him. At least I killed and drank. I consider my duty as a soldier fulfilled. Thinking of himself as anything but a mercenary made him giggle, even if it was while falling to his inevitable death. Before he could get impaled by the spears of the Slithers, though, he fell on something, like a bird.

He didn’t dare open his eyes.

‘Is this heaven? Am I being carried by an angel?’

A deep voice was heard ‘You could call me that, lad.’

To Aleksander’s disappointment, he opened his eyes, realizing that, once again, he had been saved by Bras.

‘What are you even doing around here?’

‘Do ya want me to drop ya off back there? While I can’t dispute over your agiliteh’, I’ve gotta say that you were well dumb.’

Aleksander sighed as he was forced to let his friend win the argument. From behind, he didn’t look as chubby as he really was. His mystical plate allowed it to be able to bend in order to accommodate his body.

The Ulrag’s white braided hair was majestically flying in the air, getting into Aleksander’s mouth. He pulled out his knife, that now needed a bit of sharpening, and cut a bit of Bras’s hair. Fortunately for him, the giant didn’t notice.

‘Valcus told me we have ta get movin’. Apparently, Slithers are getting stronger and their numbers are on the rise more than ever. We have to move out of Viondril and head North.’ After a short pause, he continued ‘Also… ye mutt. I’ll make sure you pay the price for my hair.’

Aleksander swallowed in fear. ‘Isn’t that bandit territory? Where would we be safe there?’

‘Even North-er, I mean. We’ll talk back at the base.’

‘Okay… Plus, can’t we call it even? I managed to bring a good reward for us!’ he said as he showed the bag with the Slither Chieftain’s head. ‘This will give us a pretty penny, don’t you reckon?’

Bras exhaled swiftly. ‘You’re still behind,’ he said as he put a hand in one of his pockets. Out of it, he pulled out a gold ring, with some kind of gem that changed colours between green and blue.

‘What’s that? It looks fancy.’

‘It’s one of the Treasured Antiques. I’ve found it a week ago while we were on the hunt for Sarb. Even though the rat managed to escape, while following him I saw a row of caravans stalking through the forest, with slaves and wine, though there were only four guards, armed with some weird swords. They ‘ad purple hats with feathas on ‘em, but tha one that attracted the most attention was a short, fat man. He had this ring on his finger. I thought of ignorin ‘em at first, but then I saw ‘im whippin young slave boys even tho they were obedient.’

‘I’m guessing you didn’t talk to them nicely.’

‘Haha, for **** I did. I threw a rock right in a one’s eye, fallin to the ground. He didn’t try to get up. When the others saw, they took out they swords, but it was too late for the second one. I took out my hammer and I smashed his head in from the right. A bit more power and it would have come clean off, I tell ye’! 

Even though he sometimes tends to embellish his stories, I can’t not agree with what he said. I never want to see him upset against me, especially on a clobbering spree.

‘After beating up the last two guards, I looked at the caravan leader. He was scared, tremblin’. I came at ‘im with me hammer and asked ‘im for the keys to the slaves and wine and any riches he had. He didn’t even think one second and did what I asked. I got ‘is ring, some gold and unlocked the slaves and wine. As I left, I heard the slaves beatin him to death.’

‘The guy got what he deserved. But tell me… what are those Treasured Antiques?’

‘It is said that Mahen, the First Mage, was so rich that he sold everythin he had and went on a journey to buy the eight most expensive thangs he could find in the world. Legend has it that the Ring he bought changed between colours, but it never was mentioned which or how many there were.’

‘Either way, this seems expensive. Well done,’ Aleksander said as he pat his friend on the back.

All of a sudden, he felt pain in his left shoulder. Astounding pain. He had experienced many types of pain, but this one must have been in his top three. 

‘’Ey, are you alright?’

Whimpering, Aleksander mustered the strength to speak. ‘Bandage…’

Bras landed the winged beast next to a grassland. He took out a vial labelled ‘Health’ and two obsidian rods, holding them like a sieve for the yellow liquid that was inside, pouring it between the two. ‘Don’t ye look now.’

‘What are you doing?’ Aleksander said, but he was already feeling better. His friend started to bandage him. It felt as though the meat around his bones connected back together. ‘What was that?’

‘It’s… magic. Kind of. They’re called health potions. They’re being sold by merchants from Nourthin.’

‘You went to the far North for these?’

‘No, Nourthin is in the South. Saudin is in the North. I swear, whoever came up with the country names wasn’t the sharpest weapon on the rack. Also, don’t forget your sword at home next time. Valcus gave me these, so you technically owe him.’

‘Yeah, I’ll keep that in mind.’

Bras helped Aleksander get up the flying beast and they started heading to camp, though he could not shake off a thought.

Is it too late now to ask what he made for dinner?

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