Monday, 10 March 2014

Butchers of Men VI

"Please," Pavel screamed. "Please, don't! No, please, let me live!"

And the Northman shrugged, turned him on to his back with his boot, and stamped in his groin hard enough that he could hardly breath for minutes.

The ambush almost worked.

Gavril stuck a couple of the mercenaries with arrows, but not enough to incapacitate any of them. Before any of them got too badly hurt, they split up and hid amongst the ruined machinery in the lower room. Vras and Gavril shot desperately through the hole in the floor, but they couldn't stop them getting to the foot of the stairs. And then the elf wizard started chanting from somewhere in the shadows below, and another, unseen mercenary starting hurling slingshot up, forcing them back from their sniper's positions.

Aurel and Tusk were cut down when the Northman stormed up. Aurel stabbed him, but he might have stabbed the mountain for all the effect it had. Majewa almost killed the Empire veteran with his well-worn halberd, but Pavel had already folded by then. He wasn't going to die, not like this. Not for lies and stories and threats. Not under the edge of a cold, Northern axe.

So the Northman stepped up behind her, just as she was about to run the veteran through, and slammed his axe down into the angle of her neck. She was still smiling a cruel, victorious smile as she died.

They had thought they were kings. The unofficial kings of Zenres. And these strangers had walked in, casually, and wiped them out. Effortlessly. They put us in our place, Pavel thought. They knew what we were really worth.

I'm not a coward, Pavel thought as he lay and gasped for air. I don't care what anyone thinks any more. I just want to live. Live and see the world.


Pavel's torch guttered again, and the shadow in the tunnel came closer. Light caught its glittering eyes, danced in the fur on its twitching snout. There were others behind it, ragged and pitiful things with yellow, rodent teeth and stained leather clothing.

"Kveekkveek, manny man," the one at the front said, holding out a placatory claw. "Notnot fighting be, yesss?"

Pavel tried to hide behind his torch. It didn't work, he could still see their hideous faces, hear their squealing speech.

"Friendfriends, of Mother Pig are we," the creature said. It pointed to the blade in Pavel's hand, the short spiked axe on a stick. "Friendsfriends all." It bared its teeth, an ingratiating snarl.

"Back," Pavel said.

The creatures consulted amongst themselves shortly. Suddenly most of them darted past him with unnatural speed, skittering through the gap under the stone slab and vanishing into the vault under the mountain. He swiped the torch around, hacked at air with the blade, but they were past him before he could stop them.

All but one.

The leader stayed behind, staring at him as it drew a long, curling knife from its belt and licked the blade. Pavel thought of the pigs in the slaughterhouse, of the look in their eyes when you drove the knife in.

"I don't want to die," he said.

"Manny manny things here?" it asked him.

"Please," Pavel begged. It clicked its jaws, stroked a long paw over its snout thoughtfully. Its whiskers trembled as it tried to curl its lips round the words.

"How many mannythings? Ssseee fight in above house," it pointed up to the ceiling. "How manymany left?"

"Five," he stammered. All of the mercenaries. None of his friends.

"Hurting be?"

"Yes," he said. "They're wounded. One badly. Can I go? Will you let me?"

It stood and brandished its knife.

"What are you going to do?" he asked it, trembling.

"Taketake," it said, black eyes gleaming in the torchlight. "Fightkill, taketake banner. Taketake to cities, let deaddead killkillkill. Killkill all, then we comes."

"Let me go," Pavel whispered. It cocked its head, flicked its tail, licked the knife again.

"Not fightfight?" it asked him.

"Aurel was right," he admitted. "I am a coward. I can't." He dropped the blade. It clattered on the stone. "Just do it quickly," he added.

Quickly, the creature leapt forward and laid a long, ratty hand on his neck. He stared into its black eyes, smelt its rancid breath.

"Nono," it said. "Not coward."

Pavel's heart raced.

It bared its fangs again. "Cowards wisewise," it said. "Clever. Otherothers fight, cowards runrun. We likeslikes cowards, us ratrats. Fightystaydie, brave you calls it. Is stupidstupid."

"You'll let me go?" he asked.

"Not coward," it told him again. "Cowards live," and it stuck the knife in.


  1. Is the conclusion of this highly-entertaining serial novella, or is the next chapter going to involve Zombie Butter?

    1. Zombie Butter? Oo, now I'm feeling inspired.

      No, you're right, this is the end (Swedish - Slut, always the best word to end anything on) for now. It's based loosely on the rpg session we played in the evenings of Woffboot VI, which means I've been twiddling with it for two years now. Expect episode two in 2016, a reboot directed by Michael Bay with Zack Braff as Majewa.