The Barbarian Trials
By Jordan Hill
The group of teenage barbarians, to their knowledge the last of their village, awoke early that morning eager to set off on their expedition. Before the sun had risen, the barbarians were preparing for the day ahead. They placed in their deerskin packs food, water, weapons, and other basic necessities.
As the sun rose it showed thick gray clouds hanging low in the sky, making everything dull. The two groups of barbarians were ready to begin their respective adventures. One group would follow Larin to the area where a stampede of deer hurtled by him in the Wilder wood to the west, while the other group would stay and wait for any sign of the remainder of their village.
"Let us begin the trek," Alfen, one of Larin's friends, proclaimed. Larin, Alfen, and five other Barbarian teenagers set off on their journey to find out the cause of strange animal behavior as well as what happened to the remainder of their village.
The group stayed along the unnamed river for two of the three day march to the locale where Larin had experienced the exodus of the deer and birds. When they would reach the spot on the third day, they planned to look for any clues as to the fate of their village.
As the group heading away from the ruined village traveled towards the unnamed river, the eight barbarian teenagers left in the village stared, knowing that this could be the last time they saw each other.
The two day trek for Larin's mob of Stag-Hunter barbarians was uneventful. Their teenage banter helped them pass the time and helped keep their minds off of the fate of their village. They continued along the unnamed river until Larin recognized the spot where he headed out of the woods on his return journey to the village.
When the Stag-Hunter barbarians arrived at the area where Larin experienced the stampede of deer, they began to set up a small camp. They dug two fair-sized fire pits and began to erect their tents. Two barbarians were going to be the night watch, maintaining their fires throughout the night.
They proceeded to search. Larin and his companions scoured the area and investigated the surrounding environs, and thought they had found nothing... until one of the boys discovered strange tracks. They were almost like dog tracks, but they were much larger, and the ground around them was actually scorched. The tracks headed west for a short time, then veered north. Having no other options, the boys decided to follow the spore to the north.
"What should our course be now?" Alfen inquired to the party. "We will go due north and follow the tracks," Larin replied. "We have no other options." The other barbarian teenagers agreed. "What exists to the north?" Several barbarian teens asked."
"Who knows? I have heard tales from my father about Elhil. They are myserious beings that are frailer than us and have pointy ears," Shien, a jet black haired barbarian said.
"My father said they exist only around the Northern Teeth in a forest called Belendale," another piped up.
"I wonder if any other tribes were attacked," one boy stated, not paying attention to the discussion about the elves.
"There was no other smoke," a barbarian with light brown hair stated, "or else we would have seen it."
"True, but what if they were attacked after our village and defeated whatever destroyed our village?"
"We are the Stag-Hunters! Nothing can defeat us and not defeat the other tribes, for we can defeat the other tribes!" a huge brute of a barbarian, standing very close to seven feet tall, declared. That brought a loud cheer from the group.
"Let us get going before the ball of fire in the heavens goes too high," Larin declared, and the teens broke camp and began the next chapter of their adventure. As they began their march, Larin gripped his father's spear and again noted the strange power within; he kept it to himself, though. They traveled many miles, always keeping their path true by observing the sun. Finally they stopped to rest.
Unknown to the barbarians, however, they were being watched. Two giants, both with two heads each, waited until the barbarians were gone before they started off to tell the tribe of the fresh meat.
"Gurtha, humans!" an Ettin declared to its tribe leader in a grunt. The ettins were so excited. No humans had traveled to the hills in decades. The tribe of two headed giants awaited their leader, Gurtha, to speak.
"Truk, Giln, Shan, and Taln, attack humans," the gigantic Ettin, who measured a towering nineteen when standing, ordered from where it sat. His scraggly black hair cascading to his shoulders, he rested upon a huge pine chair of saplings that were tied together with strips of deer hide. He watched as the four Ettin left to get some fresh human flesh.
The barbarians sang a song to their god as they trekked to the north. The landscape was slowly beginning to change from oak forest to rolling knolls. As the troupe walked, the sensations in Larin's spear increased. Again, quite strange.
It was fast becoming dark, approaching the shadows of the mountains to the north, when the Ettin group attacked the barbarians. They were caught flat-footed, but they quickly assembled for the fight at hand. The ettins howled as they attacked, but the barbarians sang a song to match the howling. They were afraid, but their song gave them courage.
Larin threw his spear at a giant, and it plunged into its calf muscle. The giant howled in pain as a freezing feeling ran through its leg. Larin quickly drew his longsword and charged at the same Ettin while one head studied the object protruding from its calf. Larin swung his sword horizontally at the other leg. A club with wooden spikes swung down, but Larin caught it on his blade, although it buckled his legs.
Alfen saw what was happening to Larin and left the giant that he and two others were battling to help his friend. He charged and threw one spear at the giant's heart, but it could not get past the tough skin. Alfen kept charging and stabbed the giant in the knee with his other spear.
Taking advantage of the distraction provided by Alfen, Larin swung his sword around and thrust it into the same leg from which his spear was still sticking. The giant thrashed its wooden club down at the two barbarians, but they ducked just in time. Larin raised up and thrust his spear into the knee cap again. The magical frost did its work, ice riming the creature's body, and the giant fell backward, crashing to the ground unconscious, never to wake again. Larin quickly grabbed his spear and joined with his entourage in extinguishing the threat that threatened them at the moment. The magical spear of his father proved to be the determining factor, for the giants were no match against it.
Finally the barbarians sat upon the dirt, breathing heavily, their adrenaline rush diminishing. Larin counted the numbers of his comrades and none had been lost. "Is everyone okay?" he asked. "Jaine broke his arm," Alfen said, wiping some blood from his spear tip. Larin sighed. "It could be worse," he thought to himself. "Once you are all ready we need to leave soon. We don't know if those two-headed giant things were part of a clan," Larin then announced to the rest of the barbarians. They finished mending their wounds with some herbs and wrapped them in hide. They then quickly sped off to the north to get out of the Ettin Hills.
Meanwhile, the Ettin leader was wondering what had become of his crew. "Where are those damned grunts?" Gurtha asked one of the ettins that he had positioned beside him to inform him of new happenings.
"They have not come back from the task you assigned," The Ettin answered hesitantly. Gurtha had a habit of killing his informers if they were slow on the delivery of news.
"Bah! They probably got lost. Oh well, they were fools anyway. If they arrive they arrive," Gurtha said and slammed his fist upon his chair. "If not, fewer mouths to feed."
Unknown to the Ettins, though, a creature sat upon a bluff watching them, a creature that was not of this world or even this plane of existence. It exhaled through its nose, letting out puffs of gray smoke from its canine snout. The Ettins shivered, sensing an ominous presence but not knowing from whence it came...