Season of Flames

The horns of war blared loudly, jolting the two men awake in their tent. The oldest brother quickly donned his armour, grabbed his weapons and told his younger brother to hurry up before exiting their tent. The battle had already begun but there was no time to assess the situation, bandits where in the camp and he needed to fight. He quickly lost his brother in the confusion but his mind was focused only on staying alive. He would find the boy later and he said a silent prayer that they both survived this attack before rushing off into to find their Rix.

He followed the sounds of battle and headed towards where the noise was the loudest. The man knew that the Rix would be rallying the warriors to him so that they could fight back against these invaders who ambushed their camp more effectively. He ran past burning tents, men frantically trying to put out the fires while defending the camp from the raiders. He passed by the screams of the wounded and dying, straight towards the chaos ahead. The deafening cacophony of war overwhelmed him as he pushed his way through the enemy to rally with the rest of his band around their Rix. The stench of smoke, blood-churned mud and death choked his nose and made his eyes water but the warriors had to keep fighting.

A volley of arrows fell upon them like a dark cloud and the man was too slow to deflect all of those coming towards him as one imbedded itself into his right shoulder. He discarded his shield, too filled with arrows to wield anyways and gripped his sword with both hands. The pain in his shoulder was agonizing but he ferociously cut down any man who crossed his path. His vision turned red with the strength of his battle-fury, dulling all of the pain and weariness. He became like a reaper in field with every swing of his sword, mowing down his enemy as if they were wheat. The man and his battle comrades where able to drive the bandits from the camp after a long and desperate fight. A few of the warriors chased after any stragglers and slaughtered them with no remorse.

With the battle won, the bloody haze left his vision and the man was able to see his ruined camp with a somber clarity. Victory had been achieved but it was bittersweet as the warriors took stock of the wounded, missing and dead. Most of the tents where nothing more than ash and the bulk of their provisions were ruined. The enemy had made off with some of their valuables but that hardly mattered now. What mattered now was taking count of the casualties and helping those that needed it. The man wandered through the camp in search of his younger brother but the more he searched, the deeper his dread became that something terrible had happened. Ash was falling to the ground like snow and it was getting hard to breath but the man would not rest until he was reunited with his brother.

The man called out his brother’s name and prayed to the Gods that he was still alive. He couldn’t be dead, just last night they were making jokes around the fire about who was the most courageous. The brothers had even sung songs when they had had a bit too much mead. His little brother had only reached manhood this year, he was too young to die. Their mother had been worried sick that both her sons had been called to war so the older had made a promise that he would bring the boy back safe. He couldn’t be dead, the older brother kept praying, he had to be alive.

Finally, the man found his brother. His shield had been smashed and his left arm shattered. Unable to protect himself, an axe had cleaved through the boy’s shoulder and gotten lodged in his chest. His spirit was had long since departed when the older brother had found him, the icy pallor of death having already drained the life from his face. Hot tears blurred the man’s vision as he cradled his little brother’s broken body in his arms. No, he wept, this cannot be happening. His little brother was too full of joy and warmth to be this cold and empty thing. The boy haven’t even gotten a chance to marry the girl he fancied. How was the man going to tell her his brother was dead, how could he even face his mother knowing he had broken his promise to her. Anguish flooded over him as he clutched his brother’s corpse to his chest, his vision drowned by the tears that flowed down his cheeks like rivers. Unable to bear the grief, he threw back his head and screamed his pain to the heavens.

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