22

Apr

by thefourpartland

The soldiers of Cynddeir gave even better than they got, however, and despite the rust and the age of the weapons they wielded, there was no give when blade found opening and piercing flesh. Indeed, after the first heady moments of the clash, the front line of the battle could be seen more as butchery than as combat, as undisciplined barbarians left openings that skilled fighters could take advantage of, thinking only of the person in front of them and never watching to their flanks or the flanks of their allies. In such a way, ferocity bled itself out upon the wall of steadfast courage.

All that changed when the helfarchs entered the fray. There were four of them, the latter pair having been hidden behind the former when first Iaprem had spotted them, and they entered battle with a howling charge, thundering through the gate four abreast and slamming into the line. Three bowled over their targets immediately, the fourth being unable to do so, its arm hanging limp and bloody from the javelin that had pierced it through. The wound made the creature all the more vicious, however, and it bit down on the armour of the nearest soldier, sawing back and forth with its teeth as it sought to drive them through the old padded cloth and leather. Within moments, the teeth found their purchase, and the deadly bite could be seen to go to work, blood pumping from the wound and into the helfarch’s mouth, its tongue visible as it lapped at the viscous fluid.

Unable to stand the sight, Iaprem leapt at the foul beast, only to find his attack blocked by the bony blades of another of the creatures. This one smiled down upon him with all the menace its bulk and hideous visage could provide, slavering jaws gnashing at his head in a lightning fast strike. Only a sudden shift to the side saved Iaprem’s face from an intimate encounter of a kind he most certainly did not want, and even then he could feel the hot breath upon his cheek.

Lashing his blade upwards, he sought to have the flaming claymore cut through the extended next of his foe, but the helfarch was more than ready for the attack, and kicked the Warleader in the thigh as his strike began. It was a thudding, bludgeoning blow, made somewhat awkwardly, but with enough strength behind it to send Iaprem stumbling backwards, all the strength fleeing from his strike.

His weapon waved in one hand for a moment, doing little more than vaguely attempting to keep the helfarch away, before he was able to set his feet beneath him once more. This time, the helfarch came on with arms spread wide, the blades extending from its hands held low and to the side. On a normal creature, this would be all but inviting a thrust down the middle, but against one with such a vicious bite and sturdy kicks, it merely meant the creature was expanding the options available to it.

Rather than take the invitation so offered, Iaprem waited, letting the helfarch make the first move. Normally, with a weapon as large and as cumbersome as a claymore, that would be a foolish thing to do, but he was no mere soldier in his first year under arms. He was the Warleader of Cynlyaa, and that title had to do with a great deal more than just administrative duties.

A lunge from the left hand of the helfarch was batted away, while a thrust from the right was countered by stepping inside the arc of the blade. This left him perilously close to the distended lower jaw, which took its moment to lance outwards. Only to be meet in a thunderous collision by the heavy steel ball that formed the counterweight upon the hilt of his weapon. The resounding blow sent a crack rippling out over the battlefield, and even those who were engaged in desperate struggles turned their heads to see what could have caused such a fearsome noise.

For the helfarch itself, it reared back, its jaw shattered, its front legs and arms all flailing into the space that Iaprem occupied. But these attacks were the disorganized actions of a stunned and wounded beast, and he was able to slip beyond their reach with ease, his claymore up and in the ready position so that as the beast landed back on the ground, weight now firmly on its front legs, he was able to sweep his weapon across in a great swing, the magically sharpened edge slicing through first one of the limbs and then the other, leaving flame-blackened flesh around the edges. The smoking ruins of the limbs fell to the ground, as did the sickened and stunned face of the helfarch, now flopping about on its side, unable to understand what had happened to it.

What followed was merely an execution, for although the helfarch would no doubt eventually die of the blood pumping from the severed stumps where its limbs had once rested, it was still possessed of those fearsome jaws and edge bone blades, and thus a danger to any man who came near to it. Thus, when Iaprem severed the head of the mortally wounded creature, he felt no remorse about having to do so. Battlefield necessity trumped all else.

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