“Reyna.” Bryech called his packmate over to him as Wargah and her companions prepared to leave the May’Kar outpost. He was going with her and wanted to get something off his chest before he did. Reyna approached him with a smile and commented.
“I literally just found you and now you’re going off on your own again.” Bryech smiled and clasped her forearm in the standard Ulven greeting, and in this case, farewell. Bryech wasn’t planning on a witty dialogue with Reyna. He wanted to get to the point.
“Reyna, I’m leaving Pack Longfang. I don’t want any conflict with any of you. I just need to move on.” Bryech says, causing Reyna a moment of shock. Without waiting for a response, Bryech placed his left hand on the outside of her forearm.
“I know this is sudden, however my honor debt to Pack Longfang is more than paid.” Bryech knew it was curt, but he knew that the words would mean something to the people who would hear them. He left, catching up with Wargah at the head of her party, or what was left of it after the expedition. The Alpha fight was brutal and many warriors fell on both sides, but in the end the expedition triumphed. A fact that was still shocking to Bryech as he recounted the harrowing fight while he walked.
The Grimward party broke camp a few hours after leaving the outpost. The sun had just reached its highest point when Wargah gave the word. Though they’d only been on the road a few hours, they all knew why they were really stopping. Behind them, a small sled carrying three corpses of fallen Grimward warriors, this expedition had not been easy. The Grimward set about to making their camp defensible for the night. Bryech set to work beside them. He didn’t care what side of the war they were on. He wanted to make sure the fallen received proper respects. The work was brutal in the sun, but it was something Bryech was familiar to. After setting up the defenses, the group was given the nights rations and set about eating them. Bryech sat away from his kinsmen. His life had trained him to be solitary, alone. There was no place for fickle talks and friendships in a warrior’s life. Bryech contemplated everything he’d done in his life, the brothers and sisters in honor he’d lost. The war had taken so much from this life. Bryech’s thoughts were interrupted by a sudden rise in the voice of one of the Grimward.
“Someone remind me why we have this outsider-loving coward in our party?” Bryech looked to the source of the voice, a large warrior with many scars on his face. Bryech sized him up from where he sat. The warrior saw this and stood, attempting to intimidate Bryech with his stature. He was strong, one could tell by looking at him. Bryech was unimpressed, and not at all afraid. He’d seen far too much war to be afraid of bluster. Bryech stood to confront his kinsman and didn’t hesitate to answer his challenge.
“Don’t start something you aren’t going to finish friend.”
“You think yourself a more capable warrior than I?!” The warrior looked to the growing circle of his fellow Grimward and then back to Bryech.
“I am Tolfdir Stormhowl, the eldest son of Gunjar Stormhowl!” Tolfdir hollered.
“And what have you done to make you so great Tolfdir?” Bryech replied with the beginnings of a snarl.
“I was a conqueror in the battles against the Watchwolf traitors!” Tolfdir replied, increasing the amount of effort in attempting to scare Bryech into submission. An ill-advised move for Bryech had lost his sense of fear long ago. The other warriors had now become invested in the challenge that was being called.
“A pawn used to commit the will of a man drunk on making his own legend!” Bryech roared back, shocking Tolfdir slightly as well as few of the watching warriors.
“I’ve killed men like you! And held better men dying in my arms!” Bryech continued, beginning to circle his foe, his rage building, the fire in his heart burning brighter.
“Do you know why there is even a war in the first place?! Because men like Haygreth and Branthur want to be immortalized in glory! They care not for you or me or the colonists! They would let all of us die just to say they were on the winning side!” Bryech was now seething.
“You speak as if your opinion matters boy!” Tolfdir growled in response, slowly drawing his sword from his belt as well as his knife.
“My feats are many, Tolfdir Stormhowl. I’ve killed countless Mordok all over this land. I’ve trained the Ulfendnar of Pack Longfang. And I, Bryech Savagefang, son of Davrik Savagefang, am one of the few, if not the last, Survivor of the Battle of Black Wolf Creek!” Bryech roared, grabbing a hatchet that was buried in a nearby log. The warriors murmured amongst themselves after Bryech named his last deed.
“Nobody survived Black Wolf Creek!” Tolfdir screamed and charged at Bryech with a bellowing cry. Bryech answered with his own roar and charged as well.
Tolfdir swung down in an attempt to bury his sword into Bryech’s shoulder, but his attack was blocked easily by the crook of the hatchet Bryech wielded. Bryech then kicked out and struck Tolfdir in his lower gut, causing the great warrior to take a few steps back and his dagger to miss Bryech’s throat by inches. Bryech advanced and swung the axe two handed, causing Tolfdir to drop his dagger after a weak attempt at a parry. Tolfdir retaliated quickly, punching Bryech in the jaw with the sword handle reinforcing his fist. The blow rattled Bryech and caused him to stagger and spit blood. Tolfdir stood waiting for Bryech to regain himself, and was not left waiting long.
Bryech spit out more blood as he stood. The pain was almost non-existent but still there. Bryech rushed forward again, this time attacking first with an overhead swing. Tolfdir turned his blade and placed the flat into his other hand to anvil block the attack. The sword caught in the crook of the axe and Tolfdir had done exactly what he had intended to do. Tolfdir flipped the axe back and over Bryech’s head, bringing it back and crushing it against Bryech. Bryech howled in pain as his foe began to crush him with his sheer force. Bryech struggled for what seemed like an eternity until he realized Tolfdir couldn’t defend his face. Bryech slammed his forehead into Tolfdir’s nose, causing a resonating crunch and gush of blood that covered Bryech’s shoulder as the two warriors separated. Bryech regained his footing quickly to witness his foe holding his broken nose as blood spilled between his fingers. Bryech picked Tolfdir’s sword off the ground, stood tall, and said:
“A monster did.” Bryech rushed forward and thrust the sword into Tolfdir’s gut, placing his left hand on Tolfdir’s shoulder to gain leverage. Bryech then leaned in and said:
“Tell the Great Wolf that Bryech Savagefang sent you to him on this day.” Without waiting for any sort of response, Bryech pushed the sword down to the hilt and kicked Tolfdir Stormhowl’s corpse onto the ground, letting the sword fall with him.
“It seems you already have the answers to your questions, kinsman.” Wargah said as she stepped into the circle that had formed. Bryech looked at her and growled. He knew she was right, his fears had been realized.
“Give me a map. I know you have a few with you.” Bryech replied, not wanting to discuss the hell that was their heritage. Wargah sent one of her warriors away, hopefully to return with a map.
“Why do you fight for the wrong side?” Wargah asked when her runner returned. She held the map out to Bryech as if wanting him to make a choice.
“I fight because my heart tells me I must, and my heart doesn’t wish to fight for another man’s glory.” Bryech replied, taking the map and unrolling it. After scanning it quickly, he began to walk south, but was stopped when Wargah called his attention.
“Bryech, take this,” tossing him a bag full of trail rations. “Gifts from the dead.” Bryech turned around once again and began walking south towards Ironmound territory without replying. Bryech knew his fight was far from over and the fire in his heart burned brighter than ever.