-Kor’Thank: Chapter 4

Bitefighter’s ambusher, a Fellstorn sorcerer who had magically disguised himself as a craggy boulder, wove his scepter in a pair of figure eights, leaving violet circles hanging in the air.  The eldritch arcs flew at the raptor, enveloping his body in lavender haze.  As Bitefighter’s pupils shrank into dots, his body transformed into an aquamarine cloud.  His essence—now contained in the bluish mist—streamed into the gem-tipped end of the sorcerer’s staff.

Kor’Thank shot his hand out, contorting his tongue and hissing an arcane phrase.  Five bolts of lightning flew from his fingers.  The sorcerer flailed his staff and blurted a counter-spell.

Pitch-black slices whirled from the staff, cutting through Kor’Thank’s deadly thaumaturgy.  Four of the bolts vanished in a twitch, but one got through, striking the wizard in the center of his chest.  His flesh and clothes began strobing rapidly, and his bones became visible through his skin.

“NYAAAAAAARGGGHHH!!!”

The king cast another spell, summoning a swirling rainbow ball that appeared in his palm.  He chucked it at the sorcerer’s face.

The mage exploded.  Bones and brains went flying outward, showering the earth with blood and gore.  Kor broke into a desperate sprint, eyes fixed on the magician’s staff.  It was spinning end over end, Bitefighter’s visage gleaming from its gem.

The staff flipped, twisted, and dropped behind a boulder.  Kor’Thank hurdled it and scanned the ground.

No.

The gem had shattered.  Its broken shards were strewn across the earth.

Red fog wisped from the glass, briefly forming into Bitefighter’s face before it vanished altogether.  Kor’Thank took a half-step back, his mouth working in soundless gasps.

He wanted to cry, but the tears wouldn’t come.

He slowly turned and faced the men, his gaze shadowed by his shoulder-length hair.  He brushed past Krul and stopped before the escort.

“Who was it?” he rasped.  “Who was in charge of rear security?”

A lone barbarian stepped forward.  “ ’Twas I, my king.  Patrolman Rok’Th—”

The king grabbed him by the throat.  “Do you know what you’ve done?  Do you know what he meant?”  Kor let go with a forceful shove.

The Indashi patrolman knelt in the dirt, coughing and hacking as he clutched his neck.  “I am…”  He spat up blood-flecked mucus.  “I am sorry, milord…”

The king didn’t answer.  Instead, he walked off the path and onto the sands.  He picked up speed as he ran at a tree, fist cocked by his ear.

“aaaaAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRR!”

Kor leapt forward and scissored his legs, adding torque to his devasting strike.  He beat the trunk with savage abandon, tearing flesh and nails as he punched and kicked, thrashed and stomped.

A hundred yards back, his men watched in terrified silence.

Once the tree was reduced to splinters, he dropped to his knees.  He inhaled deeply…held it…then expelled a harsh, ragged breath—halfway between a choke and a sob.

Then he charged another tree, breaking it in two with a ferocious shoulder-check.  He lost his balance and spun to the ground, but he pushed off with a hand and kept running.  He smashed and ripped through dozens of trees, snarling and roaring all the while.

Eventually, he stopped.

He now faced away from his men, toward the far-distant hills.  Wood-speckled blood pooled on his knuckles, dripping off their caps in fat, dark droplets.

Krul’Dar waited for nearly a minute.  Then he approached, the sand shifting beneath his boots.  In the pin-drop silence, each of his steps was deafeningly loud.

Kor’Thank spoke in a broken voice—as if his throat had been lined with jagged stones.  “Do not come closer.  It would not be safe.”

Krul’Dar halted.  “He was a noble steed, Kor, but he would not want you to—”

“Speak not of what he would want.”

“Remember who you are.  The Indashi people needs their king.  They need—”

“Then they shall wait,” Kor’Thank growled.  “For if I took the throne as I am now, it would not be a king that ruled these lands.”

He paused, then said, “It would be a monster.”

“Kor, you can’t just—”

“Leave me.”

The Chronicler glanced to either side.  “There are creatures out here that would open your belly.  Fill you with eggs and feed you to spawn.”

“Let them try.”  A dark chuckle.  “I welcome their cruelty.”

His friend was at a loss for words.  Finally, he croaked, “Who will rule in your stead?”

The king looked back over his shoulder, allowing a glimpse of his rage-narrowed eye.  “That is not my concern.”

The Chronicler’s heart broke a little more; it was audible in the quaver of his voice.  “When will you return?”

“I do not know.  But when—if—I come back to Ug Rung, it will be as something wholly different.”  Kor’Thank stared at the distant peaks.  “I will make peace with my demons.”

He clenched his blood-soaked fists.

“Or I will become them.”

 

Here’s the link to the book on Amazon:  Kor’Thank:  Barbarian Valley Girl