Cuana Chapter 10 Entry 5

The newly transformed creature leapt down straight for Tullweim and I and attacked. The Aesir caught it with a savage blow of his sword, wounding it terribly while I stepped up and finished it off with my own blade. It was at this point that the scum Baraccus reappeared with an ax in his hand, and moving after Tullweim tried to trip him up in the same manner he had tried to topple me. That was the last mistake he would make, because the Nordheimer, bellowing like an injured bull, hit him so hard with his sword that the traitor fairly disappeared from view behind a wall of crimson spray. The Shaman had ceased his ritual chanting and turned his attention toward us, a cryptic chant on his lips as he waggled his bony fingers at Tullweim. Whether overly taxed from his previous spell or just good luck on our part, the spell appeared to fail. Our attention was then turned to the savages coming after us with weapons bared. I was stuck once but with no effect other than to feel some of the dizziness return that I had felt earlier, just before I lost consciousness when we were outside the gate. My attacker tried to get away from me but he was too slow, falling beneath the arc of my sword never to arise. A vicious backhand swing of my blade nearly slew another, who then turned and fled as he tried to staunch the jagged wound that crossed his torso. The Shaman was clucking out more odd sounding words in that subhuman tongue of theirs, his attention still focused on the Aesir. More of the savages had moved into the fight, one larger and more heavily adorned than the rest obviously being their chieftain among them, all seeming to be concentrating on Tullweim. The Nordheimer nearly went down under the weight of their attack, the chieftains hatchet drenched in blood as it was wrenched out of the northmans hide. I was swinging at them in a near-maddened frenzy, originally with intent to slay them but now trying to beat a path to where my friend had staggered and fell. The Shaman had begun a new chant , his guttural howlings and gyrations now pointed away from us toward the forest. Seething pure hatred at the befeathered chieftain before me, I swung at him as hard as I have ever before swung that sword gifted me by the King of Ohpir and was rewarded by a look of pure shock on his face as he died where he stood. From there is was but one small step to where another savage awaited his turn to die. Only injured savages remained, and they quickly backed away from my bloodied blade as I waved it in their direction, daring them to step within its range. They continued to back away, unwilling to risk their necks against a steel-wielding Cimmerian.

The guttural chanting of the Shaman had reached a crescendo, when he suddenly let out a cry of exhultation and pointed in our direction. I looked up and out over the palisade in the direction he had been facing and was met by the most chilling sight I have ever seen. A giant serpent, so white that it actually glowed, was swiftly emerging from the forest. This monstrosity was much larger than the one we encountered beneath Tarantia, its unearthly luminescence lending it an even greater appearance of malignancy. That was all I needed to see – quickly sheathing my sword, I stooped down and hoisted the body of the Aesir over my shoulder and ran for the gate as fast as I could manage. Tullweim still lived – he was still warm at any rate, but I would have to wait before I could stop and check for breath or a pulse. I could see the others now up ahead of me, the Stygian and a woman who I presume to be the one we were looking for, each on either side of the Hyrkanian, half carrying, half dragging him along at a frantic pace that told me that they too had seen the hellish ophidian death descending upon us. In this manner we fled back the way we had come to the banks of the river, stopping only briefly to rouse the women we had left hidden and urge them to speed. As we arrived at the bank of the river, I was momentarily panicked as I recalled how the raft had begun to fall apart earlier, but an in an incredible turn of luck there was a cluster of canoes – three of them, sitting right there on the bank only a few yards away. We sped toward them, I tossed the bulky form of the Aesir in one, grabbed a couple of the women, and began to shove the canoe off into the river. An angry cry arose from a group of Picts I had not yet seen, obviously the owners of the canoes. Before they could bring their weapons to bear upon us the forest burst open and the hideous glowing serpent emerged from the trees. The creature immediately began to fall upon the hapless savages, their screams ringing out across the wide, open river as they fell prey to the demonic thing sent after us by their own chieftain. That brought a smile to my lips as I began to pull on the oars, sending us further out into the river and out of reach of the giant, nightmare serpent.

We resolved to follow the course of the river at night, since we could follow it in a northerly direction back toward the Oriskonie province. It was tough going because we were rowing against the current of the river, but by rowing at night and making hidden camps along the way during the day, we managed to avoid any serious encounters along the way. We tied a rope from my lead canoe to the one that followed so we would not become separated by too great a distance should something happen to one of the craft. In addition, we were aided by the outstanding night vision of both the Stygian and the Hyrkanian. The woman was indeed the Lady Coelia of whom we had read in that letter found on the murdered messenger out in the woods, and she now bore the staff with which Gault has entrusted to me in what seemed like an age ago. She was tremendous help in bringing the three women around to their senses and helping to ease their distress. By the time we had returned to meet with Fuldonus we had learned that these women had not been taken by the Picts in the raid on Schondara, but had been victims of that pig-hearted bastard Baraccus, abducted from right here in Oriskonie. This helped a great deal in making up for not bringing Baraccus back alive to be questioned, since these three women were evidence themselves of his crimes. Fuldonus accepted this as a viable completion of the task he had assigned us, offered his thanks and congratulations, and told us that we would indeed receive payment for our work.

During the long nights spent rowing northward up the Thunder River I had many long hours with which to consider my future. Tales I have heard, some from my companions, tell of large port cities full of interesting people and places to see. I have not yet even seen the sea, and would enjoy visiting such a place where strange ships from distant lands made port, bringing in and leaving with exotic cargoes and vast treasures, begging both to be guarded or plundered and beckoning to those daring enough to seek fortune there. Argos is said to be such a place. Then again, it may be just another over-rated shithole, full of back-stabbing city peasants and holier-than-thou aristocrats like both Tarantia and Ophir turned out to be. I will sleep on it and discuss it tomorrow with my comrades. One thing I know is that I despise this forest, hate the Picts, and can not for the life of me understand why the Aquilonians are so intent on colonizing this area. I will know by tomorrows end what it is that I shall do.



Cuana Chapter 10 Entry 5

The Nemedian Chronicles Cuana