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The tuskmaw gazed upon us, menacing, while the troop organized clumsily in front of the beast. A dozen men took the front, creating a twisted “line”, holding farmer sticks in their hands. It made more obvious why they were called that. A dull blade mounted on a long wooden shaft. The lowest a spear can get. Some commoners definitely had higher quality weapons at home, yet they must have kept these for rare occasions. Avoiding unnecessary envies or deprecation of the weapon.

I loved that they were soaking in the beauty of the creature they were about to kill, rising tall to almost three meters, smooth brown fur, and two pairs of tusks to his head. One coming out from his mouth, and another coming out from behind his jaw, slightly below the former. A sight to behold.

I took a small flask out of my pocket and uncorked it with my thumb. Colorless gas suffused instantaneously. Three two one…

*screech*

The tuskmaw shrieked out loudly as it charged forward, breaking the shaft of four spears that pierced him with only his momentum, leaving the blades inside his body. He landed right in the middle of the group, separating us. Me and Ivar strategically placed ourselves with our target side. The creature turned its head to the other half of the group, savagely swinging right and left, throwing the men bleeding in all directions. They fought back, stabbed and slashed, but to no avail. In his current state, the tuskmaw won’t stop until dead.

“It doesn’t even care!” Growled a man beside us with his hand pointing. All stood, frightened, glad to haven’t caught the beast attention.

“Aaaaah!” Cried the thin man and rushed to the beast’s behind. I wish him to seed many babies in his wife when he returns home.

We watched his futile attempts at the backside of the beast, not getting any attention, like he was nothing more than a pest. However, the clown from before, our target, stood completely still with his hometown folks in front him like they weren’t concerned for the poor guys at the other side.

“Guys you might want to help them.” I suggested nicely. They would be mocked and humiliated if they were any real troop. Shameful.

“Shut up idiot”. Oh, you just wait and see what is about to happen in a moment. “Don’t you see it’s in some sort of a frenzy? We better make a run for it.” The Jokester told everyone.

“Haha what? You can’t run from a tuskmaw! It runs three times faster than a human, and has a keen sense of smell, we have to use the opportunity to attack it now!” I enticed.

“Since when did you get so knowledgeable about tuskmaws?!” he pouted.

“Everyone knows that. I mean, look at it!” I insisted. “Do you truly believe you have a better chance running scattered, getting picked one by one?”

Hearing my reasoning, a few started debating among themselves. Fortunately, it seems to have affected our group leader, who took off with his weapon raised against the beast. Others quickly followed. The annoying man stayed where he was. One of his friends glanced at him, implying that they should also go and help, but quickly turned his eyes after earning a glare.

“Well, well. If it’s such an opportunity” He emphasized the last word mockingly, “why are you staying here with us? Cowards.”

I exchanged glances with Ivar, and we both leapt over the four guards, striking a series of rapid punches rendering them unconscious. His once grinning face quickly turned into these of panic. I couldn’t help but let out a grin myself, before knocking the bastard down. I glimpsed back and saw everyone taking on the beast together, encircling it and stabbing it with vigor. The once beautiful creature showed faint signs of sluggishness in its movements, hinting its end.

“They’ll be fine” Ivar uttered. Together, at least they won’t die. We picked our unconscious mark and left.

 

* * *

Teodin Riverluke pov.

 

The sea breeze brushed over my face, caressing me enjoyably. It was nice. Father will be here shortly, and I was excited, even tensed a little. I found comfort in the hypnotizing rippling waves. Today’s colder than I would prefer, but it would be no problem once I’ll start sweating, which is granted, training with father. Father rarely trained with me. Usually, it was Lerkos, who have been teaching me since I was six. Lerkos taught me how to run, swim, take a hit with a shield or with my body, how to use varied weapons, including the bow. Lerkos is quite a short guy, I was at his height two years ago, and right now I’m slightly shorter than my father. He has a prominent nose, and a V shape chin, completely opposite to my father. In character even more so. His smile is always wide and honest, and many trainings with him ended up with laughter. Growing up, I considered him a teacher and a friend. Father, in contrast, was harder on me. He came when I was beginning to grasp the wielding of the sword to spar with me, and intentionally low-kicked me whenever he could, until I fell. He wanted me to learn my opponents won’t fight the way I had predicted them to fight.

He came also when I learned to bandage and fix my wounds. He demonstrated how to make a tourniquet on my leg. I remember myself panicking, my leg getting numb, to the point I completely couldn’t feel it. I was worried it would cause an injury. Father held my shoulder firmly and said, “remember this feeling. If something were to happen to you, and you must prevent blood from spilling, you must feel the same pressure.”

The time I remember the most, is when father taught me how to take a life. A killer intruded our village in attempt to murder my father. Thankfully, he didn’t succeed. After being caught, father told me to come not far from here on the beach. He was waiting with a few others, standing above the tied assassin, holding an axe on his shoulder. It was the first time for him to lecture me in front of anyone else. Of course, he didn’t let that bother him, nor the fact that he was about to kill. We all stood silent. “Speake” he commanded, and I remember the man accusing my father of killing his friends, siblings, and closed ones, when father conquered the village from his uncle. The person with his knees on the ground didn’t cover the fact he wanted to kill my father, nor that he wasn’t regretting trying to kill him. His face… I’ll never forget his face. He was angry. Rageful. Even though he adamantly held his resolution, tears welled up in his eyes, suppressed with his last pride.

Later, father told me there were many lessons to learn that day. He hasn’t brought it up since. Leaving me to learn and overcome the experience by myself.

He surely passed me through many difficulties. Though I didn’t think of him as a bad father because of that. I believe everything he did, he did in order to make me grow, to learn, to have a better life, even with the cost of hurting me. He preferred to beat me up himself and have me ready for life, rather than let life beat me and have him watch.

I know that I want to prove myself to him. To everyone. I am the successor of the village head. I know what it takes. I know that no one thinks I am ready, that I am just my father’s son. I have to be like him for us to keep living peacefully. I wouldn’t’ let anyone hurt my family, and I realize the burden of protecting everyone will soon be passed down to me. For all that, I am willing to do whatever it takes.

Footsteps noise took me out of my thoughts. My father arrived.

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