By JD Dempster
Note: This is the second of three parts of the Gegrik Hammermane story. Visit this link to read the first part.
For the last year and a half, Bremos had talked with kin leaders of all the Herds. Many had started to see his point that the Storm Herds could not continue to treat all outsiders as enemies. Times were changing.
Khelent, chief of the Firehoof Herd, disliked the growing number of those who listened to the upstart. He himself cared little if things changed, but this was a challenge to his own authority as a growing number of Firehoof kin leaders listened to this rhetoric. Many times had Khelent ordered Bremos to stop talking of such things, yet he always carried on in secret. That was what led to this meeting.
The Firehoof’s chief had brought his best warriors, armed with a blend of metal armors and good, strong swords and steel axes. Those who were approaching this meeting place were similarly armed, but with a much more aggressive aura to them. Warriors of the Steelpelt Herd were renowned for their adherence to the old ways of Rovarrah, of raiding and killing outlanders. They raided more caravans and small border settlements than any other, feeling it was their divine duty to kill and take as they pleased. So it was with mutual interest that this meeting between Herd Chiefs took place, as neither one saw a benefit to allowing Bremos to continue spreading his message of change.
The Chief of the Steelpelt Herd was nearing middle age, covered in scars, ritual cuts, and weapons. Both parties stared at one another, overcoming nearly instinctive needs to fight as what usually happened when meeting different Herds. Finally, Norolos of the Steelpelt broke the silence.
“It seems we both have a problem shared. How are we going to fix it?”
Khelent grinned as he spoke. “I shall send Bremos on a raid soon. Would you like to know where?”
Realizing the intent behind the statement, a wicked and bloodthirsty smile split Norolos’ face.
“I would indeed, I would indeed.”
Bremos looked with pride upon his kin-band: fifty souls total, all fit and strong. They were heading for what his chief had said was a small caravan that had left the usual trade routes. Khelent had ordered Bremos to take his kin into this raid. He went, as anything else would be treated as defiance to be punished with bloodshed. He was not yet ready to have Gegrik help him start leading the changes among their people, nor did he have enough followers ready to support him with warriors, so he had to follow his chief’s commands.
The closer they got to where the caravan was supposed to be the more nervous he felt. He began to notice that the Stormspeaker seemed uneasy as well, often looking around and listening for things that could not be easily heard. Bremos was about to call for a stop when arrows began to fall among them. Screaming Steelpelt warriors came charging in from all sides, brandishing blades and bows.
“We have been betrayed!” Bremos bellowed in anger. Drawing his axe from his back he prepared to take as many with him as he could. With more and more warriors charging in, however, it was obvious that none were meant to survive. When a sword pierced his chest, surprise was all that Bremos felt. Lighting smote the warrior who held the blade and the Stormspeaker was there. Wind seemed to radiate from him, and lightning crackled across his body. “We must flee, Kin Leader!”
Seeing Bremos’ wound up close revealed that he would not be leaving that place. Sorrow swept the Stormspeaker’s face, followed by rage. He began calling up thick fogs, gesturing for his apprentice to come to him. She approached swiftly, blood dappling her flanks from where she had been stomping an enemy warrior. A glance around let the elder know that most of the kin-band was dead by now.
Bremos collapsed, his breath growing shallow. His hand clutched at the Stormspeaker.
“Old friend, make sure that Gegrik knows of this. And make sure he gets what is his.” As he finished speaking, he held out the ancient bone axe, for it was now Gegrik’s by right. The Stormspeaker nodded, a mist of tears at the corner of his eyes, and turned to his apprentice as Bremos died. He handed her the axe and his storm staff.
“Take this to Gegrik in Cinderhold,” he said. “My staff is now yours, the wind and lightning will teach you anything that I have not. Now go!”
The fog thickened about them, but the warriors still charged in. The apprentice began to run but could not keep from looking back once more. Her master was easily seen through the fog, holding an axe made of pure lightning in each hand. Many warriors fell to the deadly spell blades before sheer numbers overwhelmed the older Centaur. She knew when he died, for the blades vanished and the wind raged for a moment. Turning back away, she raced with all speed toward Cinderhold.
To be continued . . .