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This is War

Bryech marched alongside the rest of the Longfang warriors bracing himself against the bitter cold. He looked around him as warriors from the Stormjarl war packs marched next to the veteran Longfang warriors and was filled with a strange feeling. He was now one of the greenest members of the Longfangs, the other was Orrin. Orrin was barely an adult and he was marching to battle. The whole thing still didn’t seem real to Bryech he was in a way numb to the whole thing like it was routine even though all of this was new to him. The sense of anger that had always fed his fights against the Mordok was gone for now. Bryech felt different about this battle that he now marched to. The people he would be fighting were people, not beasts with only one purpose in life. These battles would be different, these battles would be remembered in history. However, Bryech did not feel happy that he was going to be a part of it.

“The Mother and Father are shamed.” Bryech says to himself as he once again shrugs against the cold and keeps on marching toward war.

The first few days after Graytir had announced the remaining neutrality of Clan Stormjarl were cold, very cold. The few fights that did break out were small skirmishes that resulted in almost no deaths, like two wolf packs sizing each other up. Bryech had never felt this cold before. he could feel it in his bones the stinging cold made everyone weary to fight. It went on like that for weeks. The longhouse of the village was now serving as a barracks for the Stormjarl and Longfang warriors. The Stormjarl militia were constantly moving in and out as warriors took up defensive positions. The Longfangs were constantly on watch. The real fighting began two weeks after Stormjarl neutrality was claimed, it started with Horns signaling enemy approach. All of the warriors from Pack Longfang and Clan Stormjarl were ready and being deployed as the war leaders saw fit.

“Longfang warriors, go cover the main road my warriors will assist and handle any flanking units!” one of the Stormjarl Chieftains yelled over the clamor of warriors preparing for battle. The warriors jogged into their positions on the road, Bryech stood somewhere in the middle of the formation waiting. Bryech went to pull the Gaia’s Star out from underneath his armor and cursed himself. He had left it in the barracks at Onsallas village. The horns sounded again this time even though the enemy could be seen. The Grimward forces outnumbered the Stormjarl and Longfang at almost two to one but that was no concern to the Longfangs. The Grimward troops stopped about fifty yards from the Longfang formation. The two forces looked at each other, neither unit saying anything. Bryech followed his instincts and started barking orders; he wasn’t their leader but he was getting sick of waiting.

“Shield wall!” Bryech yelled. His response was the sound of shields locking together and warriors taking their fighting stances. The road formed a natural choke point just in front of the Longfang formation. The Grimward war pack leaders started to bark out orders and on their side a shield-wall formed. Bryech was ready and he roared, the rest of Pack Longfang joined in and their collective battle cry was fearsome. The Grimward responded with their own battle cry. The Grimward war pack leaders sounded for the charge. Seconds passed and the two walls crashed together, the sounds of warriors fighting became deafening. For the first few minutes the two lines fought, warriors on both sides trading blows but so far none had fallen. Bryech watched from the rear line but he wanted in the fight, but he was ordered to stay back until the front needed reinforcements.

“Watch above, they’re trying to jump over to break the line!” Orando hollered over the sounds of combat. Bryech looked up just in time to see a Grimward fighter in the air heading straight towards him. Bryech flipped his javelin in his hand and hurled it. The javelin made solid contact and punched right through the fighters’ ribcage. Bryech wasn’t prepared for the Grimward to keep falling and landing on him, he was knocked over as the corpse had fallen back to the ground. He rolled the body off of himself and stood up. He surveyed the carnage and things were getting bloody with warriors from both sides suffering injuries. The chaos and flurry of combat making the rest of the world blur out into nothing but warriors trading blows. Suddenly, a warrior right in front of Bryech fell back dead an arrow sticking through his eye. Bryech didn’t waste a second he jumped into the open spot in the shield wall. Bryech roared and started hammering against the warrior in front of him while the spearman behind him took the opportunity to stab the Grimward in the thigh. The warrior fell with a scream of pain, Bryech kicked his shield off his chest and stabbed him in the gut after punching through the warriors leather breastplate. Bryech felt something solid hit him in the back of his exposed left shoulder and felt the blade of a sword slide across his hauberk. He turned to his left and stabbed, skewering his attacker through the throat, a spray of blood gushed out and splashed against his arm and cheek. Falling back into line, Bryech sounded for the line to push forward. With a resounding roar the Longfang line crashed into the other line sending the Grimward back. Suddenly to his right, one of the Longfang warriors roared and began smashing through the enemy line. The Grimward warriors cut at the raging Longfang and stabbed him but it seemed like he couldn’t feel it. There were several arrows sprouting from his torso and his armor was rent open from dozens of slashes and weapon strikes. He was well on his way to a warrior’s death, but intended to tear into the enemy before he went down.

“The line is broken, push through!” Orrin said. Bryech looked to his right to see his friend hook an enemy’s shield with his axe while Azra stabbed him through the chest with a javelin. Suddenly, Harlok appeared to his right and grunted at him to push through. With a nod Bryech looked forward and kicked the shield of the warrior who had replaced his recently fallen opponent, sending him back a few feet. Together, Bryech and Harlok tackled the warrior so he couldn’t get up. Bryech’s sword had fallen out of his hand when he tackled his opponent, Bryech pulled his dagger while Harlok punched the warrior in the face while deflecting a few attacks with his shield. Bryech slammed his dagger into his opponent’s neck, warm blood gushing out onto his hands, killing the warrior almost instantly. Harlok jumped forward and charged into the fray, the two lines had broken and the battlefield was a mass of warriors clashing against each other. Bryech rushed in after Harlok. He looked to his left to see a Grimward warrior was charging towards him. Bryech took a low stance and flipped the warrior over him with his shield. Turning around, Bryech saw that the Grimward was already on his feet and, having dropped his shield, he swung his axe two-handed. The axe buried itself into Bryech’s shield with a loud crunch. The warrior pulled and knocked Bryech off balance, throwing Bryech’s shield with his back swing. He gave Bryech the chance to regain his balance. Bryech and the Grimward warrior began circling each other. Bryech with his dagger was at a disadvantage to the Grimward warrior’s axe but he knew what to do. With a battle-cry he rushed the warrior who in turn swung his axe just as Bryech had hoped he would have. Bryech reached his left arm out and grabbed the axe by its wooden haft stooping his opponents swing. The blade of the axe slammed into his upper-arm causing Bryech to cringe in pain. Bryech then plunged his dagger into his opponent’s torso breaking straight through his chainmail hauberk. Bryech let go of his dagger and the warrior sank to his knees. Bryech crouched in front of him. The fighting had moved away from the two of them as the Longfang line reformed.

“What’s your name?” Bryech asked, still holding the Grimward’s axe.

“Sven Shield-Splitter.” the warrior replied, blood pouring out of his mouth.

“I can tell how you got the name.” Bryech replied gruffly. Sven looked Bryech in the eyes and nodded. Bryech replies to his nod in kind.

“You fought well today, Sven Shield-Splitter, and The Great Wolf’s ears ring with your name as we speak.” Bryech tells Sven putting out his arm. Sven returns the greeting.

“I am Bryech Savagefang, first and only son of Davrik Savagefang. That is the name you will tell The Great Wolf when he asks who sent you to him on this day.” Bryech tells Sven. Sven nods barely conscious. Bryech pulls his dagger from Sven’s torso and drops his axe as Sven falls to the ground dead.

“Bryech, get up here now! We need to reform the line!” Orrin yelled. Bryech looked up and nodded while grabbing his shield, which had luckily landed next to his sword that he had dropped. After grabbing his gear Bryech rejoined the shield-wall.

“What in the name of Gaia were you doing?” Azra asked him angrily.

“One must always take the chance to honor his opponent.” Bryech replied.

“Raaaaaggggghh!” Harlok growled.

Smiling Bryech says. “See, he agrees with me.”…..

The first battle of the northernmost Stormjarl settlement was a victory for the Stormjarl and their Longfang allies, but eventually after numerous attacks by Grimward and Whiteoak forces the Stormjarl line crumbled even with the help of the Longfang warriors. From there the warriors of Pack Longfang and Stormjarl militia retreated to a secondary defensive line, all warriors suffering from grievous wounds and infection. Their elite training and discipline maintained an organized retreat and kept the Grimward warriors from overtaking them as the wounded and villagers were evacuated deeper into Stormjarl territory.

Bryech soon came to realize why the humans speak so badly of war, for it is the worst thing imaginable. People forced to kill people that they once called brother, watching their friends die beside them. War may make friendships stronger than the ties of family, but it costs so much more.

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