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The Warrior's Spirit (Chpt 4)

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The legend said that he was a direct descendant of Vulpuz, the Master and Overlord of Hellgates. The very sight of him would be enough to verify that. Nay! One look, in the fiery scarlet pools of molten sadism that burned in his head, would assure you that he was spawned in a pit of pure malevolence. The beast, whose eyes gleamed with such dark brilliance, was Nisac Bloodfur.

The wolf was garbed in barbaric elegance. Like his soldiers, he wore a chain-mail shirt covering an oxblood red tunic. Across his back was a cape woven from the single hairs of his many victims. Two dried and preserved squirrel paws grabbed his shoulders, keeping the garment from falling off. On his waist, from a belt fashioned by an unfortunate hare’s ears, hung two leaf-bladed swords.

But his fur, in a close second to his eyes, was the most horrifying aspect. All along his body, in a multitude of sizes, were splotches of dried blood. His mottled gray coat spoke volumes of the terrible sieges and conquests he had made. Never was any of it off. So did he wish to revel in his cruel and unnatural deeds.

From a distance, he could see the scouting party return. Noting the ragtag bunch with them, a growling laughter rose up from his throat, terrible to hear. The ermine recruiter Blureye, who had been in his service since the beginning, had been at work again. Such a dependable creature, he was! Now they were closer, and he could see the large rat in the back of the group. Perhaps he might be of use. A strange inquisitive glow was in his eyes.

Kneeling before him, the returning band presented their near-pitiful spoils of fur and flesh. Largut was in his usual grumbling mood, so he struggled as he was pushed onto his knees in front of the nightmarish leader. Looking up, the rat’s face turned from scorn to sheer subservient fear. He thought Vulpuz had come to claim him. Trembling as leaves do before they fall, Largut groveled at Nisac’s feet, hoping it might save him.

From the back of the merciless commander stepped out yet another strange creature: a gray fox with splotches of silver and blue in its fur. With a cloak of steel silver around its shoulders, it distinguished itself even in the presence of its master. From the folds of the cloak, the fox produced a small rod made of bone, from which hung a small chain with teeth and other small tidbits from the horde’s past victims. It rattled in Largut’s face as the creature spoke in moans and sighs, as if possessed by some being not of this world, all the while pointing to Nisac.

“You, rat, are in the presence of the Almighty Nisac Bloodfur! Overlord of the Land of Ice and Snow, Son of Vulpuz, Heir to Hellgates, and Master of All the World! I am Agrim, a marlfox and seer for His Majety. I only speak for him because it is his wish to not waste his breath on the scum who serve his divine wishes. You live only because of his generosity. It is his wish that you join his army. So long as you are faithful to him, he will reward you. But should you betray your new master, and you will curse your mother for spawning you!”

“You will take the new recruits and outfit them in uniforms more befitting to their new purpose,” said Agrim, pointing to Blureye. The ragged bunch was led off, but not before one yelled a plea to Agrim.

“Please, sir! Let me go somewhere else! I don’t wanna stay here!”

There suddenly came a similar cry from the other vermin being dragged off, except Largut, who was still in a state of shock. Suddenly, Nisac raised his paw, signaling them to halt where they were. Glancing over to a few archers, the wolf nodded once. As he did, he grinned slightly, showing the glistening rows of bloodied teeth which shone red and white in the bright day.

Twang!

The bows released their shafts on the vermin who snivelled, turning them into rancid pincushions on the spot. This didn’t help Largut’s state of mind. He fainted from the sheer horror of it all. With another nod from their leader, the press gang dragged Largut off to be put into uniform, with each having to take a side. Raising both paws above his head, Nisac dispersed the gathering vermin.

Sensing his master’s wishes, Agrim commanded the carcasses removed and thrown into the sea. Following Nisac to his tent, the seer slunk to his usual place at the wolf’s footpaws. Lighting incense burners, the fox let his senses be overwhelmed with other voices and the acrid smell of the fumes which surrounded him. In a monotone voice, Agrim preached what his master wanted to know.

“My lord, I see the far southlands. They are just as I have said before: mild in climate, abundant in food, and creatures for slaves. With your mighty army behind you, you will conquer these lands and rule over them for many seasons after. Ah!” he declared with a sudden start. Regaining his composure, he continued in a now uncertain voice.

“I see creatures who would resist you. They are young, but full of the blood of warriors. They stand before a band of assorted beasts which stand over the corpses of your soldiers. The three in front are a hare, and two badgers. No! One is a badger, surely, but there is something strange about the one next to him. He seems to be an otter, but he is great in size! And his brow and muzzle are like that of a badger’s: having a stripe of snowy white. My lord, you must destroy this beast! For if you do not, your reign on this earth will cease!”

Wind blew in from the coast, billowing the tent folds and clearing the air of the smoke around them. Still vibrating from his vision, Agrim looked up to his leader as a child would to its father. Nisac looked down on his servant with the eyes which had seen much murder, and the cruel mouth only spoke one command.

“My horde will march at first light!”

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