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Om

 

I don't take my life for granted, I don't take anything for granted since my brother died some seven to eight years ago, I can hardly believe its been that long since that long and fateful day when we woke Sachi up to accompany us witch hunting.

Since then I take absolutely nothing I have for granted for I know it will all be taken from me some day, its an inevitable truth that Ive noticed a lot of people seem not to understand.

They build and build and build and then are shocked when that child they raised dies, or that job they had mastered is no longer profitable or when they get older and start getting slower, losing that deadly edge they had as a young warrior. Everything is taken away from you and after you've watch everything else be taken it's your very life that is taken last this side of the void.

That is why I take nothing in my life for granted and I enjoy whatever I do have as much as I possibly could while I still have it. I enjoy my mother, my friends, my mate and our relationship. I enjoy the sunrise, the night, hunting, making things with my bare hands, I enjoy training and amassing power. Power necessary for when the time that the world wants to take something from me I'm not ready to part with, that I be able to struggle and fight even if it's against Gaia herself for no Barbarian takes death lying down.

Im not enjoying myself now in Master Kuoyi's class about strategy when fighting and in facing life in general though. The lesson  itself isn't the problem, its a stimulating and fascinating class that affirms a lot of things I've been doing through instinct without the logic behind them. I'm not enjoying the class because I don't like the partner I've been matched with within the Volvocine siblings. Chlamidomonus I could have probably gotten along with, or even his brother or one of the triplets, but instead I get Volvox.

He was Sachi's opponent during the sparing match and I would expect them to be matched together to work out their shit 'cause its obvious neither are satisfied with the outcome of that fight. But instead Sachi is matched with Pleodorina and I am matched with this arrogant mean spirited little shit. I've grown larger in the years and I now stand at nearly 7 feet tall with wide shoulders, a broad back, and powerful legs but I'm also quite lean. I'm not the biggest tribesman in our group but I'm a close second after Onimorē the Tall, or at least that what we call him.

Every remaining barbarian that survived the war is now named. Sachi the Blade, Victor the Magnificent, Dustin the Brave, Om the Mountain. I don't even know where these names come from, it isn't like there is a ceremony where these things are acknowledged. It just slowly starts to permeate the tribe that you're now named and you eventually hear yourself referred to as 'the Mountain', like your supposed to know that their talking to you.

"Choosing a weapon is like playing a game of rock paper scissors. Rock counters scissors, paper counters rock, scissors counters paper in a loop where you can't get one that defeats all, like so with weapons.

"Spears usually beat daggers in an open field, daggers beat spears or polearms in enclosed spaces, swords beat hammer depending on range and wielder, armour beats swords depending on the sword and the armour, hammer beats armour of nearly all types et cetera, et cetera. You get the point I hope but we will be looking into how to best counter specific weapons at a later date in a few days.

"Are you all still following, Om, are you and your friend following this topic closely?" Kuoyi asks to sniggers from most everyone here.

Volvox is lying on the grass besides me on his back with those stupid contraptions that shade your eyes on his face. I grunt in response and ignore the comments around me. Volvox has already had these classes or something very similar years ago but the partners we are matched with we have to take with us everywhere all the time. I don't know if its a form of punishment or they are supposed to be spying on us to determine our trustworthiness but I literary mean everywhere.

We've had to change bunks so that we be closer to our partners, if one goes to the latrines the other needs to be right outside the door. Sparring is done with no one else but the selected partner, and the hammer and the sword aren't well matched as Master Kuoyi just pointed out. I focus my undivided attention on the lesson as more strategy in fighting is delved into.


*


"You know what, I'm sick of beating the crap out of you how about you grab a sword and I teach you how to use a bladed weapon." Volvox says patronizingly after giving me a good bruise on the cheek with the edge of his practice sword.

I spit out some blood and get ready to face him again with the practice medium length shafted war hammer at the ready. Without a shield ,the hammer is an inferior weapon to a sword in many cases, which is why sparing with Volvox like this is the only time I look forward to spending with him. And I do learn a lot from our spars, he sighs as I ignore him and we go again, clashing into each other as I work on my defense.


*


It's at the end of the practice an hour later when I'm bruised and bartered and Volvox is lightly sweating that I think to accept that earlier challenge.

"Still want to go sword against sword?" I ask looking at him enquiringly.

"You must be a looking to punish yourself for something but I will indulge you, after all I am a benevolent man. I take great pride in teaching you barbarians some fighting techniques, look closely hold the sword like this. Ah... I see you are familiar with the weapon, and I thought you were all brawn and no class." He says as I grab a practice long sword and gauge its balance quickly.

"Tell me Volvox," I say cooly while getting into a stance, to his utter surprise. "Have you never wondered why Barbarians are never associated with a single weapon? We are never swordsmen or spearmen or axemen, but we are referred to as 'warriors' by those that know us best. Look closely I'll teach you in a moment." and I attack.

The start of our exchange surprises him as my skill and experience come to bear, we exchange blows and parries a few times as he gauges my pace and level of skill. I've seen that look of concentration and evaluation before, that's the look I get when sparing with one of the younger tribesmen while gauging their skill.

Volvox is now doing the same to me as he is clearly the more skilled swordsman dodging my cuts and stabs at the last second or by mere cm. He is enjoying himself, his moody and patronizing attitudes gone as he does what he enjoys. He loves sword fighting, genuinely loves it like a child loves playing outside. We move across the mats firmly embedded into the floor, our footwork and movements long and adventurous.

He defends as I give him my all, all my sword fighting skills or little tricks I learnt growing up, all the experience I have from the field, all the training I received my six months within the Hidden Valley. I use my superior reach as much as I can trying to overwhelm him with combinations. He takes all I give him even as I start to shout out with every blow using the Hito techniques to increase the power behind a blow by using your ribs and lungs as a conduit.

When I'm giving my all to my every blow whilst also throwing the blows as fast as I possible can with this much force behind them he starts giving me as good as I've been giving him. He starts sending out ambitious cuts towards my flanks and sides, spreading me out, creating an opening in the middle of my torso which I see but really can't do much of anything about.

His foot connects with my chest and I stumble a step back before sweeping sideways and moving back in to a ringling of my forearms as our blades connect. Neither of us moves an inch and the grin on his face is one of joy before he steps back and starts laughing happily.

"Oh barbarian you have no idea how happy you've made me." He says after his laugh before taking a completely different stance with a silly grin on his face. "Wanna go all out, aura to aura?" He asks with that wicked little smile of his that implies he knows more than he's saying.

"You would die if I went all out." I say smoothly watching his movements as he bounces around on his toes lightly a lot more like he does when fighting unarmed.

"Hahahahahahaha," he laughs happily, tears appearing on his face in his mirth. "Oh barbarian I knew you were all holding back during those sparing matches. You were weren't you? I've heard about the berserker rage and I wondered why none of you displayed it during the matches. That's your trump card isn't it?" He asks then swipes his leg up and over and volleys in the air in a spin as his sword strikes from a weird angle and I just get my sword in time to deflect the strike.

He's already landed bouncing on his toes on the other side of me swirling his sword around with the tips of his gingers. "Even that Sachihiro was holding back wasn't he?" He moves and we clash again but only this time he strikes twice and the second strike bruises a rib. "I knew I felt something lurking within him still, something sinister, I can smell it in all of you but especially the two of you went you're cornered in a fight. You take injury you could have avoided rather than bring whatever lurks inside you out."

We clashes and I manage to deflect the first two strikes but a third gets into my guard and I stumble back several steps blinking away after the impact of the flat of the blade on my forehead with a ringing slap. I stop and frown as I feel his aura building, something dark and unpleasant behind it, something old and oily and smokey that smells of warm ash.

"You see, I didn't understand it at first because I had never encountered its like in anyone else before, but you, Sachi and I have a kinship. You see, I also struggle to control something within myself-"

"I struggle with nothing!" I say quickly and he laughs at my outburst.

"Oh, you don't do you? Well ,I guess we'll find out won't we." He says already stepping forward before a cold wind enters the room sensuously, dropping the temperature by several degrees.

"Stop." The words almost slither out of the person's mouth as he walks out of bloody no where to stand a few steps away from Volvox and where I was standing as I've already rolled and jumped towards the rack were my hammer is.

I look up again when I have my hammer in hand and my aura flaring lightly at the top of my skin for all who can see aura to witness. There is no one else here though, it was supposed to be just Volvox and me in here.

"Grandfather." Volvox says and bows deeply. That alleys my worries a little bit but my instincts are still on alert because I have no idea where this man came from.

"What is your name warrior?" The cold voice asks as though two people are speaking at the the same time one on top of the other but not completely in align. There is a strange compulsion to his words that tastes almost familiar at the back of my mind.

"Om." I say automatically as I lower my hammer.

"What is your true name warrior?" The mmulti-layered cold cutting voice asks in a strange soothing compulsion.

Then something I've been dreading happens clearing up my mind as a part of me that's been dormant since I severed my soul awakens. Sachi warned me that the first Rage after the forging is always different, your animalistic Rage now becoming the embodiment of something destructive in a true and pure form, that of a weapon. No longer limited by the shortcomings of the flesh, and with my hammer in hand the Rage billows like a furnace inside me and for the first time in my entire life I feel completely unhindered, relaxed.

I stretch my neck experimentally testing whether or not my body is really as light as it currently feels. I feel so unencumbered it isn't like Sachi described at all. It's like I can finally be myself fully for the very first time in my life and I've just been too uptight and too worrisome all along.

"Wow." I say on reflex as I flex my forearms and twirl my 25 kg hammer around like its nothing.

"Interesting..." The tall, dark handsome grandfather says as he looks at me with in a strange way. "Very interesting... Volvox, attack him with everything you have and retreat."

"Yes ,grandfather." He says as his own aura flares and he practically flies towards me and we clash, my speed more than having doubled and so has my perception. He comes out of that exchange slightly bruised but grinning like a madman, I'm standing like a mountain where he left me unmoved; watching the two curiously.

"You have very admirable mental shielding Om." The grandfather says walking towards me as care-free as can be. "But if I pried that name of of you I couldn't be denied could I?" He asks as he stops in front of me looking up slightly from the height difference.

In this state I'm in, I hesitate to even call it the Rage but in this Rage I'm in I can feel the difference in power between us more vividly. Not necessarily his maximum power but the gulf between us almost seems insurmountable. I know there is no way I could currently take him and that doesn't bother me in the least bit, I'm not even worried. If its a fight he seeks its a fight he will get, even if its futile, I am a Barbarian after all. But there is no way I will initiate a contest between us though, and I have no shame for such feelings.

"Maybe you could, but if you knew my name before I knew what it meant to me I would have to destroy you when I gained enough power to do so." I say with the utmost of surety that I will surpass him in no time at all, its a matter of a few hundred years even and I can feel that he knows this too.

"Interesting indeed. I want to be your trainer Om, I would be honoured to take you as a disciple." He says stepping back lightly and giving me room.

"What's your name?" I ask as Volvox glowers at my tone, fuck him.

"My name is Cyrus Artherimus Black."

"Can I trust you with my future and the future of my every upcoming battle Cyrus Black?" I ask seriously looking at him straight in the eyes.

"You can trust that I will train you as best as I am able and you have my full protection as my disciple until such time as you no longer need it or leave my tutorship." He say.

I nod, "I accept you as my Master in Arms for the next ten years Cyrus Black." I say and bow my head respectfully. Divina once told me to always make a way out when getting into a new deal, the easiest way to do that is to put a time limit on it. Ten years seem reasonable to me.

 

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About the author

Philip Read

  • South Africa

Bio: Who knew that writing could be almost as addictive as reading?

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