Fiction

Travels with a Barbarian: Raglan Crag

By: The Birch Twins

reams of Raglan Crag, narrated by Lady Elina Greypepper

No laughter sang around the fells

No mothers there to nag

No hunt, no dance, no brave or bold

For they died at Raglan Crag

She held him in her arms that day

her soaring spirit drag

Her blade, Gil-aird, smashed on a rock

as they died at Raglan Crag

I hear the thousand men approach

blade, shield and duffel bag

They march in mud, and sing their songs

and they’ll die at Raglan Crag.

So carve my name in the mountains high

let not your spirit sag

and tell your children who we were

That died at Raglan Crag

(Ancient Norther War poem)1st era

“Remember when we fought together at Raglan crag?” said Skarr, kicking his shin with her foot as they lay in the sun.

Tomas didn’t respond, he just lay there, content to be under the skies of the Northlands again, back in the mountains of his homeland.

“No wonder you’re quiet, you Puta,” she laughed, “you left most of them for me and my men. Started playing with that cannon.”

Skarr opened her eyes and looked at the distant spires of the Norther city, Yarn Valdus, its white tower glinting in the sun.

“You never did get it working,” she said, closing her eyes again.

Eventually, Skarr rose to her feet, the familiar heather in the foothills of Tor Fell was in full bloom by now and it was springy underfoot. How many times had she run through this heather as a small child, goofing off from her warrior training with her friend Tomas.

Tomas.

She looked around the meadow. It was suddenly empty, and the sun was gone. Tomas. Then she was back at Raglan Crag, kneeling in the mud, screaming as she held him dead in her arms, chaos around her, blood in her ears. Then she was wielding Gyl-aird, her short sword. As they surrounded her, she whirled with the blade and drove it into a rock, where it shattered into fragments, destroyed. She sank to her knees in despair.

Skarr awoke from the dream suddenly, waking me in the process. I saw her hand instinctively reach for Doomsayer, her great sword. Sitting bolt upright, she stared into my eyes.

“You are not my friend,” she said to me in her broken accent, “You are merely a burden to be delivered to safety. Be quiet and it you must look at something, let it be the floor.”

I ignored her.

“Your wound is looking angry,” I said, sitting up, “the poultice needs to be changed.”

“Pah,” she snorted, “it is nothing.”

“It’d be nothing ,” I shot back, picking up my leaves and twine, “if you’d stop whacking that dirty great big sword into some poor creature’s skull. That giant wolf today nearly bit your arm off.”

“It is nothing. You fuss and moan like a wash woman.”

“Hold out your hand and stop being a baby.”

She did so, watching me intently, and alternatively looking down at the poultice as I renewed the leaves. Of course, it would have been far quicker for me to use a healing spell, but firstly, Northers such as Skarr hated magic, and secondly, I was a mere apprentice apothecary and any attempt to cast a healing spell would have no doubt resulted instead of a fireball that would have burned us both to a crisp, so inept was my skill.

“I meant what I said, Dushka,” she said, “You and I shall not be friends. You are a burden to be removed when you are safe.”

I stopped winding the poultice, and looked up at her. Her eyes met mine.

“I know the memory of Tomas hurts. He was your best friend. You grew up together. Someday the pain will fade. Would he want you to be miserable?”

“His last words to me,” she said looking down at her bandaged arm, “were to not be a ‘wet eyed little whelp’. I held his head as he died. That is what he said to me, before laughing and dying.”

“A wet-eyed little whelp?” I said quietly as I finished my winding and gave her back her arm.

She examined her repaired arm, and looked at me with her eyes sparkling a little. She lay back down.

“Well,” I said quietly, “they wouldn’t be words I would use, but you did kick up quite a fuss when I first applied that poultice.”

“Maybe that was more likely due to your relative skill, or lack of it, in the application of poultices, Dushka?”

“It must be that,” I replied, lying down by the camp fire, “then again… Tomas did know you better than me. If he said you were a wet eyed whelp, then I suppose it must be true.”

I heard her scrabble around for a rock to throw at me. Not finding one, she snorted indignantly and was silent.

I smiled and settled down to sleep. It seemed that I had raised her spirits some. And raised spirits would certainly be needed in the journey that lay ahead of us.


Categories: Fiction

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