Turtledovix the wizzened battle-mage had just sacrificed an old Cock, but to no avail... a cheeky little dog had jumped up and run away with the signs in the entrails !
Fuming and spitting out feathers, he sent his one-eyed Raven flying fast after the mutt. But the sleepy old bird bumped into a tree, and flopped upon the grass with its legs in the air and its head spinning inside.
So he wearily sighed, and cast his magic runestones and carved bone shapes upon the table. He frowned long, and then tried to speak in a booming deep voice...
" I have seen your path ahead.
Your destiny lies far beyond the mountains, and through many dangers."
Commander Castor Paulinus threw down his fifth cup of wine, stood up to attention and wobbled as he thrust his short sword up towards the sky...
" Yes. Hail my destiny !
Er, ... but I better just send the Advance Guard ahead to check the route, eh?"
" Very wise, Commander. No need to lead the charge just yet."
The very steep valley walls are thickly wooded near the bottom, and many twisted trees overhang the path and stream.
The 'Serpent stream Pass' has a very narrow winding path alongside a very fast moving deep stream. The water channel is only about 6 to 10 feet wide all along.
The 'Romani' Advance Guard slowly marches nervously into the scarey narrow valley. They can only walk 2 or 3 abreast on the small path.
The sky is overcast with dark brooding clouds...like the very gods are setting a grim trap?
Some dark writhing shapes are seen in the depths of the churning water. Fingers and spears point, while mouthes get dry and throats gulp.
The soldiers mutter whispered prayers to their various gods, and little religious symbols are secretly rubbed and kissed.
When they are over halfway up the valley, many soldiers get the feeling that they are being closely watched by eyes full of hate.
Then a man jumps out about 30 paces ahead on the path!
He is clad in the shaggy fur clothes of a barbarian, and his snarling face is crudely painted with blue.
He turns round, drops his pants, bares his big hairy arse, and shouts vile abuse at the soldiers.
The leading men just stop and laugh, but their insulted Officer shouts...
" Go bring me that funny man's arse !
I want to ask it some questions, with my boot."
Six men charge forward, still with smiles on their faces. They chase the 'hairy bum' round the next bend, while behind them, shouts along the column bring all the rest to full alert. The column cannot hear the distant screams because they are making so much noise stamping, shouting, and clanking equipment.
Three minutes later, after shouting himself hoarse, the frustrated officer leads 6 more men to carefully look round the bend. None of them notice all the blood flowing fast past them in the water.
Next time, they all hear the screams of terror and panic from ahead. Two weaponless soldiers come fleeing down the path like they are being chased by the great devil himself !
Loping quickly after them is a huge brown Bear-thing, splattered with fresh blood and gore !
It has something held in its massive jaws... tis the severed head of the Officer !
[ ...bearing the horror... ]
The 6 lead men bravely throw their pilum-spears and then brace their big curved-oblong shields together, ready to thrust at the beast with their short swords.
But, the massive Bear just ignores the 3 spears hanging from its thick fur, and charges into the first 3 shields like a herd of bulls!
It hits them so hard that the first 9 men are all knocked backwards, falling over in heaps of scrambling terror. From the slashing, flailing, deadly huge claws, 3 men are quickly torn apart, and 2 more are knocked into the rapid stream.
As the Bear-horror rips into the front, suddenly the centre and rear of the column are ambushed by wild barbarians leaping out of the thick dark woods!
Many howling fur clad, blue faced warriors savagely hack into the wall of big shields with spears, axes, clubs, rocks, and some shiny swords.
There is a frenzy of shouts and curses as flesh is thrusted into, pierced, hacked and sliced open. Armour, skulls and bones smashed, crunched and cracked.
Crimson showers of blood spurt everywhere, as this shocking orgy of feral violence quickly collapses into crippling mutilations and mangled, twitching corpses piling up.
The brave soldiers fought hard and well, but they stood no chance in this deadly ambush of overwhelming odds and barbaric power. There had been about 100 romani in the advance guard. Now about 80 lay dead.
Less than 20 jumped into the stream to escape, and some of them drowned in their armour.
They killed over 130 barbarians, but hundreds remain on the rampage.
Their huge 'Bear-god', which stood over 12 feet high on its hind legs, slew about 30 men [ and ate big chunks of flesh, too ], before it seemed to tire of its wounds. It limped off into the woods, and the wild men nearby cheered it like a hero.
A tall Shaman with a carved wooden staff walked slowly after it. Laid under some bushes he found a big bearded man in much pain. He was naked and very hairy all over. Most of his wounds were now smaller and closing up by themselves!
" Clawbur, you did very well my son.
You will be all healed again in a few days.
Then we will all celebrate your great victory at our feast."
The strange Woe-Bear man just groaned and stared back with very tired bloodshot eyes.
Smiling, cunning eyes, secretly watched the Shaman leave.
Later, a sleepy Clawbur heard a quiet voice from behind him in the bushes...
" I am a friend. Do not be alarmed.
I have watched your pain and I sympathise.
I know a beautiful Sorceress who's Tower is across these mountains. I used to work for her.
She will help cure your curse.
And only I can take you to her. "
[ Please read my Character notes in Comments, below. ]
RIP John Watkiss
1 year ago