The Crippled Sword part 3

 

            A voice in his head caught Banar off guard, swaying his focus. He shook his head and tried to focus towards the growl again but it had already disappeared. “What the hell was that?” he said to himself. A howl cried from behind. Banar whipped towards it and saw a large wolf, its length almost twice his body jumped into the air and aimed itself at him. Banar spun and let his sword arc for the wolf’s neck. 

            The wolf deflected the incoming blade with its forehead and slammed Banar to the ground. Its claw dug deep into his shoulders. Banar grits his teeth. He held his breath and stared the wolf in the eye. “You won’t kill me!” he said to the wolf and grabbed its front legs. He rolled his legs to his chest and kicked the wolf in its broad chest. The wolf whimpered but its hold on Banar’s shoulders only became stronger. Banar shook his head and tries again. Harder. He kicked the wolf in the chest, near its lungs. 

            The wolf roared and let go of its hold on Banar’s shoulder. Banar rolled to his side and grabbed hold of his sword. He pushed himself back to his feet and made a daring dash towards the huge animal. 

            The wolf lunged with claws aimed at Banar’s neck. Banar spun his body around and bring his broadsword up towards the wolf. It clashed with the wolf’s claws. The power from the clash threw Banar into the air. His broadsword left his hand. What the hell is this wolf?

            The wolf roared and jumped towards the falling Banar. It opened its mouth around Banar’s leg and clamped it hard. 

            Banar screamed.  

            You should be dead, Banar!

            Banar winced. The same voice again. He grits his teeth and braces himself as the wolf threw him to the ground. He slammed on the wet ground, pushing cold earth around him. He groaned. Spurts of warm blood escape his mouth as he lands. Trembling, he pushed himself to a crouch. His head swings to its sides. His eyes fumbling for his broadsword he lost. A loud thud pulled his head towards it. He scampered to his back, pushing on the ground with his hands. Shit, I can’t die here. His fingers grope anything it could hold to in the darkness. Banar pushed himself backwards with each growl he heard. His heart beating so fast, it was audible to his ears. He tried not to breathe loud, to calm his fear, but adrenaline had already taken over his body. White smoke exits his mouth with each breath he takes. 

            Banar blinked. He looked around frowning at the darkness. In his heart, fear and relief mixed like a weird cocktail, each vying to overcome the other yet never able to. His ears twitched. He turned to his back, and still, nothing. There was no sound. He cupped his mouth with his hand and exhaled just enough for his ears to catch the sound. It’s not me

            And then he saw it. A colorful yellow and red smudge running along the peaks of the mountain range far in the horizon overcame Banar’s fear and rush relief instead. Yet, not wanting to lose focus, Banar whipped his head back to the woods around him. The wolf that attacked him had gone, leaving only fallen trees and uncovered earth in its wake. 

            Banar took a deep breath. The deepest his lung could hold and exhaled hard and loud. He looked to the brightening sky and laughed aloud. His vision muddled and he could feel his cheeks warming up. He fell to the ground and closed his eyes laughing. The pain in his body disappeared, washed away by his relief. His heart beats fast, though not as it was before. He tried to move his fingers, yet they rebelled, staying still instead. Whatever. Banar closed his eyes and let the bright sky wash his body with its warmth.  He no longer wanted to care about anything else. He wanted to rest and he will get it.

            Banar wrapped a piece of his sleeve around his wound. His face pulled together when he tightened the knot. Satisfied with what he had done, he bends forward and pulled his broadsword close. Using the sword as crutch, he pushed himself back on his feet. He looked up to the mountain range out in the horizon in front of him. The journey seems daunting with his wounded leg. Banar sighed and start walking, limbed. 

            “Did you hear?” said a man sitting next to Banar on the wagon as the cross the last of the bridge connecting the plains below to the snowy mountain range. He had the hood of his robe pulled to cover his face. Still with his eyes closed, Banar turned his head to the man. “About what?” he said. He held his broadsword hidden under wraps of cloths close to his chest. 

            The man looked to the fleeting plain in front of him. “They say that something had crushed the Kaheim’s force over that valley over there” he said pointing towards the valley from where Banar had escaped. Banar sighed. 

            He remembered the days after he escaped from the forest. He had acquired the help of a kind old man who gave him his robe and the cloth he used to wrap his broadsword with. The old man told him of a carriage service who passed the mountain range every day carrying goods and nobles to and fro the Imperial city of the Kaheim. Filled with tears, Banar thanked the old man for his help. He also gave the old man his armor in exchange for the change of clothes, even though the old man refused to accept it. 

            “I wonder what happened over there” said the man. 

            Banar shrugged. Even if he tried to remember, he simply couldn’t. The voices in his head had muddled with his thinking so much, he could not even recall what day it is. 

            You should be dead, Banar!

            You killed us!

            You gave us to those monsters!

            Traitor!

            Banar’s skin shivered. The voices never stop and they kept shouting the same thing over and over again. He let his eyes fell to a slit and readied himself to a sleep as the carriage carrying him and several others along with supplies climb lazily along the rocky mountain route. 

            The wheel cogs climbed and fall over rocks and pebbles slow and steady. The horses pulling it groaned and whizzed as the burden behind it doubles in weight the higher it went. 

            Banar felt his arm being nudged. He opened his eyes and turned his head slightly to his side. It was the same man talking to him before. He looked at the man’s overpuffed cheeks and flabby neck. “Where are you from?” he said looking at Banar.