Hammer of Darkness Ch. 01byBigCoreySKR©
"And so the servants of Sejova and Jaynus thought to cover the world in fire and blood, preaching of the peace and love of their Gods. They thought to burn, and kill, and destroy the old places, the Ancient places, where people would worship the Gods of their people. The servants of the New Gods would have succeeded too, but the ran into the North, and their fires and tides of blood sputtered out and froze in place in the face of the Northern Warriors."
-Alfric Ivansson, A History of Kyn
*crash * "Grym!!!" *crash * "Grym!!!" *crash * "GRYM!!! GRYM!!! GRYM!!!"
The Warrior-Priest Oleg Froskson watched as the Grymsborn stood in their shieldwall, beating their shields and calling to their God to watch them bring death to this field, where the last battle between the Dragonbane Clan and the men who followed the New Gods was going to take place. They were vile men, who believed in killing all who would not convert to their barbaric ways. No warrior from the cold mountain peaks and the dark forests would ever submit to these New Gods, and so the Clans of Kyn had joined as one, a feat that had not happened since the sundering of the world. The lead warriors of the New Gods shambled towards the front lines in a religious stupor, put on them by their priests so they wouldn't feel fear or pain. A Kynian Warrior never felt those in battle, and if they did he used them to his advantage. Oleg closed his eyes as the sounds of sword and hammer and axe and war mace beating on shield reached a crescendo all to the shouts of the Grymsborn.
"Alright you Bastards!!!! Remember, Grym the Dark Eyes looks on this field today! He looks upon us!!! We will fill his slave pens with the dead non-believers and we will gain honor by joining his halls before the night!!!! KILL IN GRYM'S NAME!!!!" The Grymsborn Commander, a greybeard veteran named Hauks, tried to encourage his men. He knew that many of his soldiers would die today, fighting these abominations of men, but that was the fate of a Grymsborn. The only way they could gain honor, the only way they could have the clan be proud of them was to die in battle. This was the price they paid for being orphans, with no family to claim them, no father for them to take a name from. Hauks had long ago resigned himself to this fate, and had patiently awaited the day he would die and be sent to Gryms' Halls. He gripped his battle-axe until the knuckles of his hand turned white and roared at the shambling follower warriors of the New Gods began to trickle towards his men. They would sell every inch of ground dearly, and avenge every Grymsborn drop of blood spilled. The New Gods would rue the day they fought the Grymsborn.
"Tyl, Kain, are you ready for blood my brothers?" The three blood-brothers known as Morhaims' Children were placed at the front middle of the line. As always, Tyl was on the left side and Kain was on the right. Logain the largest of all the Grymsborn, but also the youngest, was in the middle. Tyl and Kain were his elder by three years, and they were actually brothers, twins. When Logain had joined the Grymsborn children at 5, Tyl and Kain had cared for him and grown to love him, and named him their blood brother in front of the Clan. When they were finally allowed in the ranks to fight, they fought with a ferocity to be equaled to Morhaim the Bear, the War-Pet of Grym, hence the name Morhaims' Children.
"Of course we are Logain. Except maybe Kain. He looks like he would rather be back home, chewing on dried fish while we win the day as usual."
"You say these things now Tyl, but we shall see who carries the most skulls at the end of this day."
Logains' laughter, deep and strong, boomed across the field. "My Big little brothers, always thinking they have to see who is the best. Just remember who it was that took that Priests' head clean off his shoulders last week. And who killed the New Gods' Champion at The Battle of Manegarm.", Logains' expression sobered, "We have killed many brothers, but remember, until we are excepted to Gryms' Halls' we have no honor, we are not Warriors, we are merely Killers."
Tyl and Kain had heard this many times before. The lack of their honor concerned Logain. He cared not for his honor, but the thought that anyone would look down upon his brothers because they had no honor troubled him greatly. Kain smacked Logains' shoulder armor, bringing Logains attention to him.
"Killers we may be Brother, but I would rather us remain as Kyn a while longer before going to Gryms' Dark Halls. There's no women. I can't let my beautiful face or Tyls' ugly one languish for eternity with no pretty women to look upon it." Logain smiled briefly when he heard Tyl sputter with anger.
"We look the same you over grown jackass!" "I'm the better looking twin you know this."
Logain focused on the incoming warriors of the New Gods. He smacked both his brothers' helmets, bringing their attention to the front. They began to ready their weapons in response. An average Kyn man was just over six feet tall. Dragonbane men were thought of as an exception, as most of their men, Logains brothers included, were around six and a half feet tall. Logain truly was a giant among his people. Standing at seven feet and nine inches tall, he could not participate in the shield wall. He wouldn't be able to fight. He stood slightly behind the shields of Kain and Tyl, so that way he could be protected at his legs and stomach. Logains muscles matched his height, as every member of the Grymsborn did other odd jobs, and Logains included being a blacksmith and tree cutter. His biceps were larger than most mens' heads.
As a blacksmith, Logain had designed his own armor, and crafted and his brothers armor. Tyl and Kain had asked for bright shining steel, the better to attract attention to them on the battlefield. They had also done standard armor, no adornments, just a chain mail, a breastplate, and a helm. Logain created his armor with darksteel, a metal that appeared to absorb all light. Logains' breastplate was covered in images of death. His armor covering his shoulder was fashioned like giant bear paws, while his helmet was a metal bear skull, complete with fangs. Like most Kyn men, he wore a bearskin cape. Logain had made his cape out a the hide of a great cave bear, it was the only bear breed that grew big enough to fashion a cape for his massive frame.
As the other Grymsborn readied themselves for the first wave, Logain pulled his massive hammer-axe out of the scabbard on his back. A four foot long steel handle wrapped with a leather grip, it had a ten pound hammer head on one side and a broad cleaving axe blade on the other. His brothers and the other Grymsborn called the creation the Smasherslasher, but Logain had named his weapon Ryne. He had felt the name of the ancient river fit his weapon perfectly. Logain settled into a ready stance as the first Warrior of the New Gods crashed his shield into the Grymsborns' shield wall, hacking and slashing with his gladius. Logain calmly reached over his brothers head with Ryne and brought it straight down in an overhead swing with the hammer side facing the top of his enemies head. As the skull cracked and the gore erupted from his split skull and the warrior crumpled, Logain felt it. The Battle Rage. The Call of the Bear. Pushing himself between his brothers and through the shieldwall, Logain roared his defiance. His roar crashed around the valley where the Clan leaders had picked there fight, and it heartened his people, and the Priests of the New Gods trembled in their white and gold robes. Other warriors who had felt the call of their chosen Gods Battle-Animal walked forward. Other Grymsborn walked forward in the throes of the Call of the Bear, while some warriors came forward in packs as they felt the Call of the Wolf. Others still felt their different callings, but they all had one thing in common. This was no ordinary rage. This was the rage of the berserkr, the rage that was a gift from the Gods themselves. They would not fill pain up until their death, and by that time they would be in their Gods' Hall already. It was useless to try to hold them back, it was useless to stand in their way. They were the mighty killers, the Hands of the Gods come to wipe the sinners from this earth!
Logain and the other bears charged the army. He cared not for the wolves, the sharks, the serpents. They were not the animal-spirits of his god, so he cared not. He cared for his brothers and that was all. A man he had grown up with named Magna took a dozen arrows to the chest and neck and a spear through his side. Magna kept trying to crawl forward until the light left his eyes and his spirit went to Gryms' Hall. The death of a friend, a brother in arms enraged the other Grymsborn more. They crashed into the front lines of the enemy, and they were as the avalanche, as they tidal wave striking the beach.
Logain lost himself in the fury of battle. In the beautiful burn of muscles swinging Ryne to take lives and save his own. He immersed his very soul in death. He felt the sting of wounds, from spear, sword, axe, whatever his foe had in their hands. He saw but did not perceive the priest-monks of the New Gods screaming their homilies at him in their strange language. That was enough for the Kyn to know these New Gods were wrong, their priests didn't fight like a Kyn Warrior-Priest. No man could trust his soul to a man who wouldn't fight. Logain picked one frail priest from the ground by his foot after Ryne split him from shoulder to stomach and begin to flail about at the other priest and soldiers with the body of one of their own. As even the tide must rush back to the greater ocean, those that felt the Call and had not yet died, were pushed back to the shield wall of the Kyn. Once with the safety of their brothers again, many of the Gods pulled the influence of their War-Animals away from the Kyn, for this was not a part of the battle where the Call was useful. This was where men fought, whee men called upon the Gods for strength, where men killed and died.
Tyl and Kain had worried for their brother. They knew he was a juggernaut, when the call took him, but many had died under the influence of the Call of the Bear, and they did not want him to become one of them. He made it back to the shield wall and was let in some 50 down from his original position. He was immediately beset by the Grym-Priest, who called upon the Dark Gods' name to heal the warriors. Logain appeared a moment later, looking healthier than he had when they had marched to the valley this morning. After seeing he was safe Tyl and Kain went back to their work, shields locked and sword and war club swinging, singing songs to honor their Dark God.
"Fight you miserable orc spawn!!!! You are not fit to scrub Gryms' chamber pot!!!!! Fight and Kill for the Dark God!!!" Hauks was desperate. His men were fighting their hearts out, killing, slaughtering, and they were dieing. A man, even a Grymsborn who had nothing else to lose, could only take so many wounds. Hauks watched in despair as all of the other Warrior Tribes began an orderly retreat. A runner handed a scroll to Hauks, and its message was simple. Hold them off to the end, retreat to the bottle neck in slow orderly fashion, hold them off there until the battle was over. Hauks felt the last bit off hope he had that any of his men would live flee him as he relayed those orders. Grymsborn, he thought, Last to leave the field, the most to die.
The retreat of the Grymsborn was long and bloody. The Call of the Bear was activated by the Dark God three more times to give his Warrior-Sons time to catch their breath. Logain felt the call each time. When they finally made the bottle neck the discovered something that made them despair. A Clan before them had collapsed the sides of the mountain. The bottleneck was almost closed off, with only room for three Warriors to stand abreast, and it was up to Hauks to choose those three. His War-Band had taken a hard hit, and the Grymsborn would not survive if they didn't go through the pass. Hauks took a deep breath,
"MORHAIMS' CHILDREN!!!!!! I have need of you!"
Tyl, Kain, and Logain came jogging up to their Captain. They were tired, they were hurt, but they would kill and die for him if asked. Hauks told them what he needed them to do, let the War-Band, whittled down from 250 men to a mere 75, go through the bottleneck and the three brothers stay behind and cover the escape until the band got away, or they killed all the enemy left. Knowing that there was well over 500 men chasing them still, the brothers looked into each others eyes and seen naught but resolve. As the oldest by 2 minutes, Tyl gave their decision.
"We shall do this for you Hauks. For you and the Dark God."
Hauks nodded and shook hands with the three men he thought were fated to die. As he led the last of his troops through the bottleneck to freedom and life, Hauks looked up onto the hill peaks, and saw on the right his God, Grym in his finery of mail and cloak with his great-axe Bloodchild on his shoulder. On the opposite peak, he saw a great warrior, with black armor with blue edges, and a great Hammer on his shoulder. With that, Hauks knew the three brothers were fated to die, and gave their fates to the Gods he saw though he knew not who the other god was. His whole life had been devoted to Grym and only Grym.
"Well a fine pickle we've got ourselves in I guess-" "We'll be dining in Gryms' Halls tonight after all." Logain gave a growl of annoyance. "You know I hate when you finish each other sentences. It's not right." "Oh don't worry Logain, We still-" "Love you little brother."
The brothers shared a laugh. They thought that in mere moments, they would be dead. Foolishness seemed the best choice to make at the moment. They wanted to die with laughter on their lips, not tears in their eyes. They prepared themselves, knowing they had around an hour while the New Gods' men formed up and marched towards them.
"Hello young Warriors! Do you have any qualms about an old man joining your little rear guard?"
The brothers fell silent at the sight of Warrior-Priest Oleg. The man was more legend than man, and was said to have fought beside the Father of the Wolves against the Father of Lies at the Sundering of the World, when the seas were formed and the nations broke apart. Still in awe, Tyl nodded his head as best as he could.
Oleg's gray eyes crinkled at the corners as he gave a great booming laugh, a Logain sized laugh.
"Good! Long have I wanted to fight beside Tyl Brightsword and Kain Strongmace. Long have I watch Logain Mankiller do battle like he was the God of Storms himself. It will be good to spill blood with you three." What Oleg didn't mention were his suspicions. He had a thought about the twin brothers. They had shown the signs of being half-divine, and he wanted to know who their father was. Long had many thought Logain half-divine as well, but in Oleg's opinion, he was just uncommonly big and frankly, since Logain still hadn't spoke and was staring off into the distance, Oleg added stupid to that list as well. If only Oleg knew the truth of what he was about to uncover. Logain took Ryne out and was taking a few nicks out of the axe blade as they waited. Tyl and Kain readied their weapons as well. Oleg has seen the oafs' (as he was mentally calling Logain) blade many a time, and its design still intrigued him. He turned to the twins.
"So, which one of you made your brothers blade?" It was Tyl that answered. "Neither of us did sir, Logain made it in his own forge."
Oleg looked at Logain, still unimpressed. If the oaf had made it, then it must be flawed in some way. As a Warrior-Priest, Oleg could inspect any warriors weapon he wanted. Walking over to Logain, he held out his hands for the great weapon. Tyl and Kain held their collective breaths. No one had ever held Ryne before except Logain. No one had been allowed too. Logain lifted the great weapon and handed it to Oleg. He was very careful to keep his face expressionless, even though the way the Warrior-Priest was acting made the fire in his blood roar to a fever pitch.
Oleg was surprised. The hammer-axe was heavy. He had thought the handle to be silver hardwood, but it was solid steel. The creation was perfectly balanced, the hammer not out-weighing the axe blade, and the handle not being to light or to heavy. Oleg poised the question to Logain.
"You made this? Hmm? You?"
Logain ground his teeth. "Yes I made Ryne, what the men of the Grymsborn called Smasherslasher.", he pointed at is blood-brothers, "I also made Bearpaw, Kains' war-mace, and Piercingclaw, Tyls' war-sword. I made their armor, and I made my armor as well. All of it was made in my own forge, with my own hands. Warrior-Priest. If you do not mind, I need Ryne back. The enemy is coming."
As Oleg was handing the weapon back, they heard a booming laugh.
"I told you he was defiant Kor. Told you by spirit alone he was a true Grymsborn, no matter what his blood." Tyl, Kain, Oleg and Logain had weapons in their hands and looked up at the tops of the hills. On the right stood a Warrior dressed in fine black armor, with a Great Axe on his shoulder. The three Blood-Brothers knew him, they had dedicated their lives to his service. With a resounding crash, the three men pounded their closed fist against their breastplates, shouting, "Father Grym!" The Warrior nodded at his three Grymsborn. The other Warrior, in black armor edged with blue, took his hammer off his shoulder and used his now free hand to pull a bag of coins from his belt and tossed it to Grym. The three Blood-Brothers may not know who that God was by sight, but Oleg did. He was Kor, Shepherd of Storms, Father of Wolves. Oleg had fought with him at the Sundering of the world a hundred years ago, and Kor had named him Battle-Brother.
"Battle-Brother!!! It has been many years since I have since your face in person, though I have watched you from my Halls. My offer still stands. My warriors need a Priest still."
Oleg laughed. At their last meeting, Kor had made that same offer. Oleg had turned it down then, but with his bones starting to wear down and his Morning Star was getting harder to use than it was when he last walked the land of the Clans of Kyn.
"Kor my Battle-Brother!!!! I may take you up on that offer after this battle we will fight. Will you join us Brother?"
The God shook his head. He laid his great hammer Skoll on the ground and sat on a giant boulder that was on the hill.
"No my friend. Neither I nor Grym will participate in this battle." , With the use of a little magic, Kor transported Oleg to the boulder seated next to him, "And neither will you. This is a battle to prove the merit of sons, Tyl and Kain Grymsson and Logain Korsson, who has dedicated his life in service as a Grymsborn."
Oleg was in shock. Such a thing had never even been heard of, no son of a God had ever dedicated his life to the service of a God that was not his parent. And to think it was a son of the Storm Shepherd, and he was a dedicated of The Dark Eyed God..... it was unfathomable. Oleg's mind was in a quandary over such a thing. He looked at Kor, his confusion and wonder written in his eyes.
"You want to know how a son was born to me without my knowledge I take it?", Kor waited for Oleg to nod, then stretched his legs, "In the last battle during the world sundering, when I smote Jaynus, son of the New God, you remember that he took his sword and pierced my side?", Oleg nodded and Kor sighed, "Well apparently, the Wind Sisters gathered my blood and took it to the forge of Andro in the Avand Mountains. There he forged my blood and a portion from each of the Wind Sisters, and the dirt and stone of the land of Kyn itself into a babe. The Wind Sisters then took the babe to a woman among the Dragonbane people who had just lost her son. She took the babe as a gift from the Gods and named him Logain. She raised him for five years before the breathing sickness took her. HE then became a Grymsborn."