Blademaster of Norda
Excerpt by Jacamo Peterson
By mid morning, the snow had turned to large wet flakes. The
temperature had actually raised some. Before noon the snow was two
inches deep and the forest was so quiet it made your ears hurt.
Grayhawk then halted under a giant umbrella oak, with a canopy so thick
the ground underneath was bare of snow.
He then prepared himself a soup of dried compressed vegetables and
smoked, shredded Auroch meat, thickened with crushed acorns, and a
sliced end of trail bread. All prepared within a very short time over a
small fire. He made weak tea from the leaves in the tea ball still left from
He had already given the horses a bit of fodder and a sugar lump each. He thought, “Ah, still enough time for a bowl of tabac.” Then the warhorse’s ears went flat, his gaze went hard and mean and all his muscles tensed. Now, all know who have ever been to war, that a fourteen hundred-pound Norda warhorse is the most intelligent, and the meanest of all possible war mounts. They are loyal and protective of the rider, even unto death. Their sense of smell and hearing are augmented by an all most magical ability to sense danger.
Grayhawk immediately dropped his cape and drew his great sword, actually a two handed saber with a four foot slightly curved blade, so sharp that in the hands of a Blademaster they have been known to take off the head of a real bear in one cut.
Blademasters fight normally on horseback in war, or when afoot on open ground with the great sword. In a close quarter battle they fight with short sword and dirk. In tunnels, buildings or dark alleys they fight with dirk and dagger. They are immensely strong with unbelievable stamina. Grayhawk was stronger than most of his peers and lighting fast.
For now, he was standing very still, sniffing the wind the same way a great wolf does when on the hunt. The heavy wet snowfall was dampening his senses.
The warhorse now pawed the ground. The danger was close. Then, as if materializing out of the snow, they came. They were a party of ten Drulgar, which are foul creatures from the underworld, a combination of man and reptile. They have mottled green and black leathery skin, extended snouts with flat nostril slits and dark, deep set glittering eyes. They are as tall as a man. They are cunning but not smart. They have no mercy and they crave human flesh. It is very odd for them to be this far north as they hate the cold.
They came forward without slowing, in a line, clacking their jaws in their guttural speech, no doubt thinking they had found easy prey. A lone man and two horses is meat for a week. They were mistaken. They had failed to recognize a Blademaster. It was fatal. Black was their visage, intent upon a quick kill and feasting.
Grayhawk did not wait for them to close the fifty-foot gap. He began running towards the Drulgar as they came forward. His thoughts turning blood red as he moved. As he began the spinning move, known as “A Passing Wind” in which he pivoted once to the left for momentum, bringing the great sword around at shoulder height with tremendous force. Upon impact, he clove the middle Drulgar’s head completely off and then continued the stroke. Turning the blade slightly downward, cleaving the next Drulgar to the right from its neck downward to under the right arm, bringing the blade completely around and up. Then with a downward stroke, turning the blade slightly, cleaving the one on the left of center front from the neck downward to under the left arm. He dropped three of his opponents almost as if saying one, two, and three. Diving forward over the headless one, and rolling into a standing position with his back to the enemy, his sword held up in a two handed vertical position, while the remaining Drulgar turned about to come at him again. They were armed with long knives and clubs, but in the open they are no match for a skilled swordsman. Howling now, like wraiths of the mist, they all crouched low and began coming towards him. By doing so, they forgot about the warhorse. Two of them were suddenly crushed under the front hooves of a snarling, stomping, wild eyed, enraged monster horse, who grabbed a third Drulgar by the right shoulder with his teeth and shook him like a dog shakes a bone or a rabbit. Norda warhorses do not like foul folk.
The remaining four all came at Grayhawk with their long knives. Two of which had upturned hook bills on the end, meant to grab a foe with, and pull him down. In an instant, they had him surrounded on all four sides. They were not especially fast, but he was hard pressed to engage four blades at the same time. One of the hook bills came at his throat from the side, while the other went for his groin from the front. Spinning to avoid both he felt the point of a third blade skid across his lower back, while the fourth passed right in front of his eyes. It was at this point for the first time in his life, that the red veil fell before his eyes. Now roaring and laughing as though possessed, he spun completely outside the circle of four Drulgar and as he did, with an upward stroke of the great sword, he disemboweled the one whose knife had been in his face, and who was now emitting a high- pitched shriek, grabbing for his entrails. Continuing his spin, bringing the sword up and then down again, he split the skull diagonally of the one stabbing at his back. While grabbing him by his chest harness and throwing him back against the other two with hook bills. As the body collided with them, the one on the left opened his mouth to roar but no sound came out because there was over a foot of steel sticking out of the back of his head and his tongue was clove in two lengthwise. Jerking his sword free as the last Drulgar turned to flee; he had made only three strides, when he was felled from the rear with a downward stroke of Grayhawk’s great sword.
Then, standing spread eagle, face turned up, sword raised high, in his right hand, eyes glazed over, heart thumping, breathing huge lungs full of air, Grayhawk then screamed the ancient blood rage roar of the true Berserker. While the horse reared on its hind legs echoing the same scream.
Long minutes passed while the blood rage subsided, the heart rate slowed and the vision cleared of both man and beast. The glory of the blood rage fades slowly from the system, like a strong narcotic wearing off. It leaves one with the sure knowledge that you will seek to feel such a glorious wonder again.
When he finally, completely returned to reality he looked around at the carnage. The warhorse had stomped three of them into ugliness on the ground and was standing still about twenty feet away. He gazed at the animal for a few seconds and the horse looked steadily back at him. He raised his sword in salute and said, “Well done war brother. We have won this day!” The horse threw its head up and snorted in answer. The mare was still standing by the tree seemingly unaffected.
That battle happened more than fifteen years ago. The warhorse had died under him five years later in a battle with mountain trolls, when Grayhawk was Captain of Cavalry, in the employ of the Duke of Malvoria. At that time he was then eligible to return to Norda and take his place in the political hierarchy of his people. Instead, he had sent the fifty gold marks by messenger, with a note that read,
“I still have not found what I seek.”