The Extermination of the Draken tribe.
It was my boy’s third summer. His sister’s 8th. And my 12th with their mother. I remember it well, it was the year of the claw, and I was gathering a party together to stalk the mammoth out on the steppes.
I was taking count of who I had yet to find, Sven, Ulli, Brognan and a few others. When the horns sounded, following the horns, a voice rang out “the Boars approach! Seeking Trade and Succor!”
Odd, I remember thinking, the Trade season is essentially over, and we and the Boars have very little we need from each other, the mammoth and bison are plentiful, so we rarely quarrel over resources, and by the same token, there is little amongst our possessions that cannot be found in the other.
The Boars were allowed entrance through the palisade, and the majority of my kinsmen came into the center of the village to greet the Boars.
Where are their wagons? Their meat-stock and trade goods? One of the most popular trade items between our tribes is that of our brewed alcohol, both recopies are well kept secrets and we enjoy trading our distinct liquors back and forth.
The village chief, a distant cousin on my mother’s side, approaches the leader of the Boars.
“Greetings brothers of the Boar! What brings you to our home so late in the season?”
Their leader, a massive brute with a golden medallion worked with a boar design, his cloak was held in place by two boar tusks. He wore a massive sword on his back.
“We have come for your lives” the man announces, and plunges a dagger made from a Boar’s fang into the Chieftain’s neck.
Pandemonium breaks out as my kinsmen and I react to this treachery. I pick up my massive axe and wade into the fray; I cut two down before the chieftain turns to me and opens my chest and my face to the sky with his sword.
I collapse to the ground and I know no more…
Pain is good.
Pain means life.
I fear to move, I worry that my skull will hinge open like a plunder-chest. My ribs may spill out my entrails unto the dirt.
I fear to touch my wounds, what I may find terrifies me…
But what terrifies me more is the idea that I may lay here for eternity. Broken and spent upon the ground… is this what it is to be dead? To be bound to one’s own rotting carcass until the vagaries of existence see fit to extinguish me?
I can feel the dirt rubbing against my back.
Pain means life…
I pull my right arm off the ground and feel my face. A massive cut still oozes blood over my face. Though it seems that my skull is intact; I move my hand lower, feeling the great gash across my chest. It seems to have scabbed over; I feel nothing but dried and clotted blood underneath my fingers.
I open my eyes. One of refuses to budge, have they taken my eye from me? I explore my face with my fingers and discover that blood has pooled in the socket, gumming it shut. I will let it dry further before I worry about it.
I pull my body into a sitting position and grunt with pain as the scab across my chest cracks and begin to ooze weakly. I look down at myself. My chest and leggings are awash with blood, I am filthy.
I smell smoke. I gaze around me and feel my heart drop out of my chest. My village has been obliterated. The huts have all burned to the ground and bodies lay everywhere, rotting. How long have I slept? I stumble to my feet like a corpse pulling itself from an early grave. I stumble around the shattered remains of my village searching for my family. I find my boy, his chest broken open by some massive blade. I find my daughter; her body has been crushed by a Boar’s Great mace. Their favored weapon.
I find my wife, my beloved Sun-el. She is mostly untouched; she was taken through the stomach by a spear.
My life has been obliterated by the treachery of the Boar Clan.
I feel an emptiness spread from my heart. Heart? HA! I have no heart now! It has been torn from my chest and crushed before my very eyes. Ash, emptiness, an insatiable void now resides in my chest. Vengeance writhes about it like a clutch of vipers. The emptiness is solid, a knot within my chest that weighs more than the world.
I do something I have not done for 20 years. I weep. I weep for my kin, my lover, and my tribe’s spirit as a whole.
Tears stream down my face.
The tears from my left eye cut a path through the grit and grime that covers my face until they drip to the ground.
The tears from my right eye are stained with the blood that fills the socket. They form a single bright red line down my face until they fall and stain the earth red.
My tribe has been obliterated, and yet I remain. I will hunt down the Boars and visit such destruction upon them that daemon’s shall weep for the manner of their passing. I take up my axe and feel the spirits of my ancestors flow through me and my weapon, charging me with a lust for vengeance that can only be slaked by the lifeblood of the Treacherous Boar Clan. The spirits change my countenance, I feel them tattoo symbols of vengeance around the gash in my chest, I feel war paint applied to my face. The dead shamans of my tribe ensorcelle my weapon and guide my purpose.
My Hunt begins.
I set off to where I know the Boar village lays; they have not migrated since my great grandfather’s time.
The journey takes me three days, though I barely even feel them, I arrive at the village as fresh as if I’d slept all winter.
The village is empty…
As if all the people had simply been spirited away.
It is of no matter.
I fill find them.
And then blood will flow.