Fan fiction:Bane Hero of the North/Chapter 5
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Bane Hero of the North is a fan fiction piece by Bane, originally posted on The Dark Library. The fiction series was recovered on April 14th 2010. You can find more information on Bane:Hero of the North article.
Chapter 5: Small Devils
The morning wind was nothing more than a cold chill to the barbarian. Other men would shiver and judder through the cold but not Bane. This was warmer than his homeland and it bothered him little. He had spent the night before asleep, and hungry as he was he did not believe he should get to hunting till afternoon. With nothing to make a fire with he would have to eat the prey raw, something he did not want to do so early in the morning.
In truth he had given a lot of thought to the events that had happened three days earlier, after escorting a 'child' back to his parent. He should have let the men kill the child he thought as he recalled the demons words used 'son of hell'. Had Bane just damned his soul for saving the boy? What was that about destiny? Men make their own destiny Bane had said to himself all night while both awake and asleep. He did not like the idea of his future already written.
Bane had continued in an eastern direction after his quick departure from the demon cave but still found himself within the suffocating clutches of the trees with no sign of man anywhere.
With the singing and chirping of the birds and insects that made their homes among the trees and plant life Bane began his long stride once again, following a north-east direction, in the hope that he would find a path or some sign of life that would lead him back to civilisation. He smiled briefly, never before had he thought he would wish to see civilisation again as much as he did right now. He wanted to be drinking heavy in a tavern, earning money by thieving or fighting not lost within a never ending forest of infernal trees.
He yawned briefly and covered his mouth with his hand while his other lay waiting on scabbard, as if he was expecting an attack at any moment. He rubbed his stomach and made a promise to himself about all the ale he could drink as soon as he reached a tavern.
It was then he considered his predicament even if he did arrive in a city or town. It would be like the first day he was among these strange southern people, the first time he had wondered from Kamid to the Western Kingdoms. With no money and versed little in the tongue Bane had sold his services to a mercenary outfit under the command of a giant southern man called Konrad. He had versed him well in the language and the ways of civilisation for that he was glad but now he was once again alone in this strange land. He cursed his horse for running from him and the ogre that started all this in the first place.
It was no more than two hours walking with a quick pace through the forest did Bane come to a man-made trail. It was only a small route no wider than Bane's broad shouldered form and led past a clearing. The clearing itself interested the barbarian, who stopped his pace and began to investigate.
The grass was over grown and plant life covered the stone slabs that lay in a half circle at the centre of the clearing. It was these stone slabs that Bane had noticed. Whatever had put them here was indeed human, and that meant hopefully there was a village or town nearby. He began to make for a large stone slab at the very centre of the others, taller when his senses told him to go no further. He looked at the slab and took in the alien runes that ran across and the stone, covered by moss and leaves with keen eyes. It sent a shiver down his spine. What was this place? Bane had heard of tales of men who worshipped dark gods and sacrificed other humans to please the devils but he had not truly believed it. In his homeland human sacrifice was not a custom and they were the ones considered to be barbaric while civilisation murders innocents just to please a god. It was a strange world he thought as he moved back from the slabs, a chill running through his towering frame.
Bane was glad that he found the sign written on a rock half covered by vegetation. He had followed it for the rest of the day, on a wide well trodden route until he arrived in the small town of Tayla as the sun was setting. It was a small village, no bigger than his home village of Craylim and found its home in a forest. The homes were made from wood and some stone masonry could be seen as well. The houses were linked together in a way Bane had not seen before. The buildings were very close to one another, everything seemingly linked by small alleyways and streets.
The market place, where he now walked was packed with people and stores trading and selling the goods from fruit to jewellery. It was loud with laughter and shouts. Bane was hungry. He had killed two birds and a rabbit earlier, shortly after leaving the stone slab clearing with a scratch built catapult and ate them raw. Now with the smell and sight of food on nearly every store his mouth had began to water.
"You there! Yes you. Would you like to buy anything you see on my modest store?" Bane turned towards the man addressing him. The man was small, no bigger than the dwarfs he had encountered underground. The merchant was fat however, not an inch of muscle on his frame. His round face and big eyes glared up at him with a toothy grin. The clothes were what Bane had expected from merchants. He wore a fine tailored suit of red, lined with a white fur at the collar. The most elaborate piece of finery (apart from the rings on the man's fingers) was his hat. It was made from the same red cloth as the rest of the merchant's clothes but was plumed with a mighty feather.
"I would but have no coin on me. Perhaps we could make a deal. As soon as I get my hands on some coin I can pay you back for a meal." The merchant laughed heartily.
"Yes my friend, and how long am I to wait, a day, a year? I would be out of business if I did that sort of thing. I'm sorry, come back when you have coin to spend." Bane shook his head and wondered off out from the din of the market place. Briefly he wondered why a market was up so late in the day, and why so many traders were in the town. Perhaps the place was rich and in being so popular with merchants.
Lost in thought Bane walked towards an alley, where he had seen a tavern on his way towards the market. Perhaps he could strike up a conversation with a man who knew where he could find coins. As soon as he entered the alley however he was aware that there were others in the darkness. He took a firm grip of his sword and began a confident stride through the narrow dark alley.
It was then he heard a sound, a familiar one of sword being drawn from its sheath. The attacker was obviously good at stealth he thought, but not good enough to surprise a barbarian. He then heard a couple more noises, daggers being brought out of leather casing. It was then they attacked.
Bane was ready however, and used the narrow alley to his advantage. He grabbed the first attacker by his wrist snapping it back releasing a sword from broken grip. Then with a flash his sword was drawn and snaked forward in a deadly thrust piercing a knife wielding robbers chest. Bane withdrew the sword to be sprayed with a burst of blood from the open wound. The robber still in his grip moaned in pain while the dead one fell to the ground, a gasp separating from bloodied lips. The third robber panicked and ran.
Bane released his iron like grip around the man's wrist and grabbed him instead by his shirt pulling him close enough to Bane's face.
"Not a good occupation you got here. Try something else that won't get you killed." Bane pushed the man back and motioned to the robber to leave. The man nodded with a ghostly expression and proceeded to run off in the opposite direction.
When Bane was sure the man was gone he knelt besides the dead robber, untying a pouch of coins. He briefly checked to see if the man had anything else of value, but only the dagger beside the man's hand held Bane's interest. Perhaps he would need it one day. With a smile on his face he bounced the pouch up and down in his left outstretched hand while sheathing his sword and walking towards the tavern in front of him.
The Owl was a fine tavern Bane thought as he sat on his own in a corner of the room. A small stone fireplace burnt at one end of the room, a large pile of neatly stacked wood besides it. The tavern was packed as he had expected with all kinds of people. The ale was good as well, and true to his word he had treated himself with the coins he had acquired from the dead bandit to a lot of ale.
Twelve empty tankards sat lined up in front of him while another two full ones sat by his hand. His head a little groggy he sat back for a moment, away from the ale and began to look around the room with more interest. A delicate blond haired wench was walking seductively around the room. Other wenches were sitting on the laps of other men while some just went about their jobs with no apparent interest in anything else but picking up empty glasses. Bane smiled recalling a brown haired pretty one tried to take his empty tankards. She had not been anywhere near his table since.
The people in the tavern were not all from the town. Bane could tell this from the different accents and colours of skin and the dress they wore. Every now and then he noticed groups of them looking at him with a look of disgust written across their tanned faces.
Bane did not care however, not tonight. He paid little attention to those who looked his way. Right now civilisation had never looked so good. He had arrived at the tavern no more than a couple of hours ago. Upon his arrival Bane had secured himself the only free room for the night, a meal and now the ale. He touched his pouch again and opened it. It was near enough empty now, perhaps it was enough to buy a horse tomorrow, if not he would have to steal one. The closest city or town to Tayla was Bane's original intended destination, the city of Galmnor. There he would seek jobs for his mercenary outfit, and if he couldn't find any work for them he decided he would have to find a new job seeing as he was miles from his current employer with no way of being paid.
It was not till early morning, when near enough everyone who was not sleeping at the inn had gone home did Bane make the long trek to his room. His walk was awkward as his head felt as if it were swimming. When he reached the stairs he took a firm grip on the banister and began a slow ascent upwards. Unknowing to Bane a man was watching him from a far, besides the door.
His name was Walkin, an honest man who worked hard to keep his family fed. Indeed that was the main reason he enlisted in the Ferrell Cult, one dedicated in the destruction in anything unholy. It was on one dedicated quest to end a demon child's life he was sure he had seen the giant barbarian before. Maybe it was the beer he had consumed and he was just purely making a simple error in thinking this barbarian was the one who had saved the child's life and took the lives of some of his brothers. Walkin shook his head and groaned before opening the door and walking out into the cold night. Maybe he should report his sighting to his Cult Father Maskell.
Bane had fallen instantly asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. Dreams came to him easily, being bold and glorious. He found himself in exotic locations in which he had never seen before. It was as if he was viewing the world through the eyes of an eagle, soaring through thee rich blue sky and pure white clouds. He saw himself on the ground as he passed over seas and land. The great deserts of Aranoch stretched out beneath him, the glare of the sun seemed to reflect from the sands. It blinded him. He could feel himself begin to loose control of his flight and the ground was rushing towards him, getting closer and closer until he hit the ground hard.
Bane tried to rise from his bed but he found he was no longer in his room but tied to a post in a courtyard. Though his vision was blurred and his head was spinning he could make out that the backs of many buildings surrounded the courtyard, and only one had a door that led into it. It was a tall building, mocking the form of a keep. He could feel pain in his head, not from ale but from a blow that was most probably caused by a club. He thanked his gods that the blow did not kill him. He was probably only here now because of his thick skull. He shook his head around so that his black mane did not fall in front of his face and looked up to the sky. From what he could tell it was morning. He cursed himself for being a fool. Usually he slept lightly and would wake as soon as an intruder entered his room.
Suddenly the lone door swung open, and instantly Bane recognised the man who walked out the building. The man was short and old; a long grey beard flowed from his face and was tucked into the man's belt. It was the same man who shouted out orders to kill him when Bane had come across the demon-child. He was dressed in a blue robe, its hood dropped so the head was revealed. Besides him stalked another familiar man, one he could have sworn he saw in The Owl.
"He is awake Father." Cult Father Maskell nodded and gave an evil smile.
"I know Brother Walkin. It gives me a chance to talk to the man."
"That blow and the drug should have kept him out for much longer than it did Father."
"An obvious sign that the man is a devil then is it not."
When Cult Father Maskell had heard of the capture of the barbarian demon that had helped the child he was ecstatic. It would no doubt impress Solune, and pleasing ones god was always a good thing to do. What however would he do with it? Perhaps a few questions could be asked and answers forced out of him about the whereabouts of the Demon child.
Maskell hand came crashing into Bane's upon arrival to the post. Bane did not flinch; instead he reared towards the man but to no avail. The priest laughed and grabbed a hold of Bane's chin, forcing Bane to look at him directly.
"It gives me great pleasure to see you again barbarian." Bane did not say a word.
"Angry are you, well I guess you are. I was angry too you know, when you helped out that demon brother of yours but now I am pleased. You will be killed in the child's stead." Bane spat directly into Maskell's face, who reared back with a look of disgust strewn across the old man's face. Maskell began to scratch his beard, a look of frustration upon his face.
"Brother Walkin, get me the answers I desire." Walkin nodded but was sweating heavily beneath his robes. Maskell shook his head violently and turned from the courtyard and made his way towards the keep. When the Cult Father was no longer in sight Walkin turned towards the barbarian. Walkin stepped backwards and swallowed his saliva before stammering in his sentence.
"Are you a devil?" Bane laughed aloud causing the smaller yet older man to take a few more steps away from the barbarian, fearful that the demon would break loose of his bounds and rush him.
"If I were one do you think I would allow myself to be tied to a post in a middle of a courtyard?" Walkin screwed his face up, something he always did when he thought about something.
"Maybe it is a ploy, then you will kill me." Bane shook his head softly in despair.
"My name is Bane. I am a Kamidian. Perhaps I should tell you of my huge dislike for being chained like an animal."
"I have not heard of Kamidian before. Where is this place?"
"It's Kamidia, North, miles north. Within the boundaries of my homeland, the Barbarian Mountains." Walkin simply nodded, he had heard of the area briefly in his youth and of the savage people who lived there.
"What has your leader got against me? Why do you people believe I am a demon?"
"Because you saved the boy."
"I know, and his true identity was revealed to me later. I do not regret my actions however for I did nothing wrong. I reacted the way a man should react in that situation." Walkin nodded; perhaps the barbarian was innocent and was no demon, just a man who had risked his life to save that of someone in trouble.
"I have been waylaid constantly it seems on my journey towards Galmnor and now this. Release me Walkin and I will be on my way." Walkin's mind was racing. He had never expected the man to be just that. Walkin knew he had made a mistake by informing his superior about Bane and now an innocent man was going to be killed.
"I am not sure I can. I will try and talk with Cult Father Maskell and see if I can get you released." With that Walkin turned away from Bane and walked at a fast pace across the courtyard and disappeared from view.
"What do you mean he is no demon? You must be joking brother." Cult Father's Maskell's voice rang out through the room. He was angry, what foolishness was this; there was no doubt in his mind that the barbarian was to be executed.
Walkin stood shaking in front of the enraged man, glad there was a desk between them. He had seen Maskell like this before, many times. He remembered however when the Father was a kind and gentle man, one who loved his subjects deeply. The devils that killed his wife and daughter were the ones to blame for this change, and since then Maskell had burnt and killed anyone who was even said to be a demon or witch. It had been ten years since that day.
"I questioned him as you asked and the man is simply a traveller who intervened because he thought we were going to kill a normal child." Maskell laughed out loud and brought his hand down hard onto the table.
"Then the demon has played a trick on you, or taken control of your mind somehow. I will not release the devil. He shall be executed tonight at the Great Stone, and because I believe you are now tainted with evil I shall have you executed as well." Maskell snapped his fingers and two-cult member's gripped Maskells arms.
"Take him to a cell, and the barbarian too." Walkin was shocked and deeply wounded by Maskell's words. Never in his whole life had Walkin betrayed Father Maskell's cause, believing Maskell treated him like a son he never had. It was not the case. Walkin's mouth opened to beg for mercy, but the words did not come out, he could not bring himself to do it. Silently he was led away towards the cells.
Bane however, had caused a lot of problems for the men who were dragging him to the cells. Drugged enough to knock out a young bull the men did not expect an attack from the barbarian. He had lashed out with his head and arms, even using his shoulders to barge people out of his way.
It was pointless however, for Bane was outnumbered greatly, and when clubs were drawn from blue robes his world had exploded as he was beaten to the ground repeatedly.
Bruised and bloodied, the unconscious form of Bane was thrown into Walkin's cell and chained to the wall. Walkin remembered the conversation with Bane about being chained like an animal; he knew the barbarian would be very angry when he came to.
Bane however did not take as long as Walkin had expected to regain consciousness. The barbarian tried to stand but fell back, the short chains restraining him. He cursed and looked about the room and saw the kneeling form of Walkin, huddled up against the far wall.
"I take it that you could not persuade your leader to release me?" Walkin nodded softly, the signs of dry tears clearly upon his face. "What are you doing down here?"
"I am to be executed with you tonight, at the Great Stone." Bane lowered his head.
"I am sorry but do not worry yourself friend, I will think something up. I haven't travelled this far to be killed by a madman and his followers. What is this Great Stone?"
"The Great Stone is an area close to the town. Only the Ferrell Cult knows of its existence. We take people there to be executed to please our god Solune, who will reward us for destroying evil."
"Some reward your god has given you. I do not put my faith in gods. A man is born with the strength to walk this earth; they do not bother a man who does not bother them. I must sleep now in order to regain my strength, that drug they gave me is making my head spin." Bane sank to the cold stone floor and drifted off into a light sleep.
The chains had cut into Bane's wrist badly as he was dragged along by a tall white and brown horse through the trail that would lead to the Great Stone. Behind him walked Walkin at a very slow pace. His wrists were bound to another horse and looked just as bad as Bane's. They had left an hour ago; the contingent of cultists followed the Father Maskell on both horse and foot and flanked him on both sides.
The forest was his main concern however, even over the fact he was to be executed. With his keen senses he could detect lots of light-footed creatures hiding in the foliage. Did the Ferrell Cult know of this or were they dumbly stumbling through the dark woods towards their goal. It was then he spotted a small pair of gleaming eyes looking out at him from behind a bush. He was glad that he could see the sword the dwarfs had given him was tied to the horse's saddlebag he was chained to. If only he could get to his sword.
Bane turned towards the form of Walkin, who appeared to be oblivious to everything. Bane tried to get his attention, receiving a kick to his head from horsemen for his efforts.
It was not long before the group arrived to a densely lined fork turn. It was when Maskell was giving orders to his men that a cry sounded through the woods. Its sound was sharp and high-pitched. The cry was repeated, this time by a great many voices.
Horses reared and riders fell from the beast's backs as the sound sent a wave of panic and fear through the group. Bane was worried only by the fact he was chained to a horse that seemed to be maddening. Men began to shout about, some breaking off from the group disappearing into the trees. Screams followed them that were cut short.
Bane could see Maskell making attempts to rally his men. It seemed to work as some gathered about him, forming a circle, clubs and swords drawn ready for action. They had done so just in time as the woods burst with activity. They are no bigger than children but were carrying shields and swords in small hands connected to tiny thin limbs, war cries on parted lips. The colour of their skin varies from blues to reds. He also knows he has heard of the creatures before, from his grandfather Kuchi. These were Fallen Ones and Dark Ones, minions of the dark forces of chaos. He had heard that these creatures were cowardly; it did not seem so now.
Instantly he remembered his grandfather's teachings. Somewhere these creatures would have their shamans, their leaders who could resurrect them during combat. He could see groups of them among the combatants, carrying tall flaming staffs that lit up the skirmish like a candle illuminates a dark room.
Brothers of Maskell's cult were rushing past Bane and his horse, followed by the small devils. Instantly Bane grabbed hold of the man who had chained him to the horse at the start of the journey.
"Unchain me, release me so that I can help you." The man was scared, so much so that he did not reply in words instead, with shaking hands he unlocked the chains and ran off down the trail.
Bane could feel the blood return to his hands as he reached his sword. A smile ran across his face as he gripped the cold hilt of his weapon. He turned around and could see men being dragged to the ground and stabbed by the Fallen, and instinctively drew his blade cutting an arch through a group of them who had Walkin surrounded. Upon arrival to the small group of men who were defending Walkin Bane released the man and handed him one of the creatures short curved swords. Walkin had never handled a sword before, and it felt alien to him.
"You might need it friend." Walkin nodded and followed Bane out of the battle. A few balls of fire shot past them on their run, which caused the pair to dive to the ground.
Before they could stand a wave of the small creatures charged them. Bane swung his sword around taking a head and an arm off two opponents while coming up to his full height. The creatures stopped their charge for the barbarian was a rare sight for them.
"Walkin, you see those horses behind us, get them ready. Go to them now!" Bane took his chance and launched himself at his foes, surprising them completely. Never before had these Fallen seen such an action.
Bane was glad that the creatures were not disciplined in the arts of war. Their attacks were slow and clumsy. Bane parried their attacks with ease counter-attacking with deadly effect. By the time Walkin rode past Bane with the horse Bane had killed a great number of the group. It was however getting increasingly difficult to block so many attacks and before long Bane found himself purely on the defensive. Bane leapt onto the beast's saddle quickly, lashing out with his boot at one who tried to stab the horse.
"Lets get out of here Bane!" Walkin cried out as a fireball exploded into a nearby tree. Bane nodded and the pair rode out of the fight, with hopes that none of the devils followed them racing through their minds.
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