Oliver D. Bernuetz's Stories
Vengeance. What else was there left? If I couldn't live then I would take those reponsible for my death with me. They had left me torn and bloody, underestimating my determination. Despite the pain, despite the blood that refused to stop flowing I struggled to my feet. I made a silent vow that I wouldn't fall until it came time to die. I stuffed the worst of the holes with what I could find and ignored the little ones that still oozed. I looked around the horrors that had once been a peaceful campground. Maybe if we had posted a better watch... no, looking back was pointless. From this point it was forward, just forward. I found the best of what they'd left. A broken sword with maybe a cubit of blade left. I spat on the Humakti rune proudly embossed on the hilt. Don't know what we'd done to offend the God but He hadn't been there when we'd needed Him. It was just us then and it was just me now. Maybe that was the way it had always been. I'd find out on the otherside I suppose. I didn't know how long I'd been lying there in my own blood and filth, didn't know how long a head start they had but I'd find them or die trying. Was it the same night or the next? Or even the one after that? I found a staff of sorts, some kind of nasty stick smeared with gore. Didn't matter, too late to matter. Something to prop me up. I followed the trail. Bloody easy to do. They didn't care, they didn't expect pursuit. Well they were wrong. How long did I follow them? Fucked if I know. It was all a blur, crashing into bushes and almost tripping over rocks. Once stopping as my guts roiled. I screamed at the top of my lungs and slugged myself in the guts. That stopped it. Then more stumbling through the bush. I swear that I saw a elf once but it, he, she turned and ran like they'd seen a demon from Hell. Maybe they did. Finally the haziness fled. It was morning. Where had the night gone? I stood at the edge of a clearing newly hacked from the woods. At the centre a cabin on fire. Closer to the edge where I stood lay four of them. Each one had sprouted an arrow, like some obsence sapling from an eye. Hadn't saved the marksman though. He lay sprawled on the ground near the cabin. He hadn't quite reached it as he crawled because of the stake that had been driven through his exposed guts. They had unraveled almost as far as the cabin before blood loss and shock took him. And now his daughter or wife was the recipient of their attentions. Why had they waited so long? Did terror make her all the sweeter? I held the sword hilt before my face like an icon and prayed to the god. I am coming Lord and I apologize for the blasphemy earlier. Let me do this one thing before I surrender. I felt the strength coursing through my body and tears filled my eyes. He had not forgotten me. He was here when I needed Him. They were preparing to rape the woman so I stopped them. The God's holy name left my lips in a sacred prayer and I raced towards them. The six who were left turned in shock to see my approach. The big leader had just enough time to order them at me when I was on them. My sword may have been broken but the blade could still cut. I reached the first three and they tried to spear me. First I cut through their spears though one first cut deep into my arm so the blood shot out. I laughed in my fury and twisting my arm flung blood in their eyes. And then forward slash, one dead, return strike, make that two. Bury my stub sword to the hilt in another's groin. Sweet vengeance that. Onwards again. Sword out and around in a strike fast and hard enough to decapitate the fourth. The fifth turned to run then but his own boss gored him as he fled. Tossing the dead aside he roared his defiance. "Now it is you and me human. Time to die." I tried to smile at him but the thing in my guts twisted again and I almost fell. The God's strength left me then. The leader smiled and lowered his mighty horns. "Now you die!" He started his charge towards me but as he passed the woman she thrust a fallen spear into his path. This tangled between his legs and he fell heavily at my feet. I struggled to push aside the pain and raising the stub sword drove it into the back of his neck severing his spine. He twisted and flopped as he died but then was still. I fell again. I didn't have the strength to move so I lay there. The woman appeared in my vision and looked down at me through the fog over my eyes. "Thank you for my life." I struggled to shake my head. "No, thank the God. He was the instrument of your vengeance." There was fury in her eyes but no madness. And I knew that the God had withdrawn His strength when He did so the woman could find some measure of revenge. "Burn me. Please?" I begged in my weakness and the woman looked from me to the foes and nodded. She turned from me to gather wood.
The woman stood and watched the pyre burning. She had collected wood, hadn't there been plenty from the recent clearing she and her husband had done? She had lain him and the stranger side by side on top of the pyre along with the long hair she had hacked off with the stranger's sword. She had placed her husband's bow in his hands and kissed him and the stranger goodbye. She didn't know when the stranger had died but she knew she'd been in time as she'd watched the thing burst forth from his gut as he burned. She'd watched it writhe and die in the flames. She'd watched, the last tears she'd ever cry in her eyes until the pyre collapsed in on itself and then thrusting the broken sword through her belt she turned and without looking back left the clearing.
October 29, 2004
Last updated October 07, 2016
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