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Right Hand Man
Bronherrn grew wild with rage. He refused to be still. Vengeance became his only reason to live.
The fate of his people no longer mattered to him, nor did the absence of the young priestess, Aethelwyn. He blamed her as much as he blamed himself. The mere thought of her made bile rise from his bowels.
He fixated on the warm blood spilled from his father’s chest. I will make them rue his death, he thought.
But the Zuthans did not come. Days passed and he began to wonder if the war had ended. In his frustration, he went to Danarrus, determined to spar. “Are you certain you are well enough?” Danarrus stood tall with his longsword flashing in the sunlight.
“I did not fall ill on the battlefield and you are healed enough.” The familiar music of other blades meeting for practice offered a sense of normalcy.
“You have not been well, Bronherrn. You are sick with grief.” Wynell wandered over with a scowl.
Bronherrn ignored her, but she held steady, intent on focusing her blazing eyes on him.
“I shall not test you long.”
He smirked at Danarrus, remembering the days when they sparred in the fields by their homes. It had not been so long ago, but seemed a lifetime away.
“You have no need.” Danarrus lunged forward.
Bronherrn parried his move. “Do not be so eager.”
“You were not ill while the Zuthan’s cut down our warriors.”
Bronherrn moved in to beat against Danarrus’s steel, but realized that his friend also felt the weight of his loss. He struck with less zeal. “You did what you could.”
“I was unable to aid you.”
Bronherrn fought off Danarrus’s weak but ample blows. He grew tired of conversing and leapt forward to hold Danarrus in a tight lock, claiming victory. “It was not your fight.”
Danarrus struggled out from under his grip and spat at him. “Not my fight? Your father was the great, Brackliem. We all feel your loss. I should have been there.”
“You probably would have died as well.”
“That would have been better than to−”
“Enough,” Wynell interjected. “I have grown weary watching the both of you torture yourselves. Bronherrn, if you want a challenge, here I am.” She took her fighting stance in front of him and gestured for Danarrus to give them room. “I stood on the battleground with you. I am as much at fault for your father’s fall as anyone else.”
“Rest your weapons.” He sighed and turned away.
Before he could move on, she was in front of him. “Fight me, you child.”
“Child? You are the one goading a warrior.”
She nicked him so quick she snipped a tuft of hair from behind his ear.
He instinctively struck her sword and pushed it down.
Instead of pulling back at his strength, she dropped to the ground and rolled under him to slice into his thigh. “You want a fight? I shall give you one.”
He jumped back and shook his head.
Leaping forward, she struck at his chest. “Do you decline because I am a woman?”
“You are no woman and that is not my qualm.” He parried her move with a quick glance to Danarrus.
Wynell smiled. “He has no say.”
Bronherrn spun around and knocked the weapon from her hand.
“Wynell, step aside.” Bronherrn turned and Tommerald patted his shoulder hard.
“I am barely warmed,” Wynell growled.
“Step aside Wynell. You cannot get through to him.”
Bronherrn did not realize when the other fighters began to cluster around them, but he became aware of their presence now. The sticky summer heat set in. Sweat poured down his darkened skin. He let the warmth drive him. He pulled his sword out and held it before Tommerald.
The warrior gave it a comical tap and Bronherrn struck hard. Tommerald sighed with each block, but as he deterred thrusts and swipes, Bronherrn grew more savage. The blood rushed through his veins and he determined to end the victor.
Tommerald kindly smiled as if he could fight for hours. “Your father would be proud, Bronherrn.”
“Do not speak of my father.” He struck again.
Tommerald dodged the move and swiped a blow that knocked the wind from Bronherrn. “Your hand carried out the stroke of a Zuthan, not your heart.”
Bronherrn jumped upon him with a force so great that Tommerald staggered back. He threw his sword aside and rolled behind Bronherrn. He wrapped his arm in front of his neck and squeezed tight. Tommerald whispered in his ear, “Yes boy, you were tricked into an act we all loath. But it could have been any of us.”
He released Bronherrn.
“But it was me. My dagger.” Bronherrn gasped.
“Then you will have to gain more control.” Tommerald looked to the river as the sound of a distant army caught Bronherrn’s attention. He too gazed beyond the Cassani and smiled at the chance for redemption.
The ground vibrated with syncopated steps. The Zuthans’ climb up the valley slope to the meadow focused Bronherrn’s rage. He pressed his steel to Tommerald’s and joined the ranks while the elder warriors set up.
“Give your father something to see from beyond this life!” Tommerald shouted.
Pronlado, the Zuthan chief, broke above the drop-off and Bronherrn raised his voice. His battle-cry sounded above all others. His eyes fixed on Pronlado. His feet remained steady under the rush forward, but the Zuthan chief’s right hand man dived forward and clashed with him instead.
Bronherrn sneered at the armor. Not an inch of skin could be seen through the Zuthan’s bronze metal. His face lay hidden behind a full warrior mask. Only his short-cropped hair left a small section vulnerable at the base of his skull.
Bronherrn smirked at the deadly figure. “You will all perish,” he growled as he met the warrior’s morning star. Its spikes grazed his arm, and he ducked to shoot back up toward the enemy.
He struggled to meet his mark between blows. The deadly ball of his adversary whipped under great dexterity. Bronherrn’s sword shook. His weapon could not compete. His arms wavered and he found himself having to use more of his mother’s moves.
The Zuthan whipped his morning star again and again.
Bronherrn rolled to the ground to avoid being hit and knocked the Zuthan down. He dove on top of the Zuthan and knocked the morning star away. They grappled in the dirt between the feet of other warriors, kicking chunks of mud.
Bronherrn grit his teeth. The Zuthan rolled on top of him, but he swung his hips and they struggled to gain control. “I will kill you all,” Bronherrn screamed. He wedged his sword between them and managed to slide it to the Zuthan’s neck.
“Not today,” Pronlado’s voice bellowed from above them.
A hard whack cracked against Bronherrn’s skull before he could turn to answer.