Monday, September 24, 2012

Harduk The Slayer and the Beach of Doom

It occurs to me that I haven't been inflicting enough of my fiction on you recently, and I must fix that. Allow me to present Harduk the Slayer. I'd love to protest that I have no idea what I was thinking when I wrote this, but that would be a lie: I was thinking, "Hey, I haven't written a completely over-the-top caricature of a barbarian fantasy adventurer lately!"

Harduk coughed and raised his head. His hand went reflexively to the great sword strapped across his back, but he did not draw the blade. The cries of strange birds and animals reached his ears over the steady pounding of the surf, and the sun was warm on the bronze skin of his massive shoulders. He was lying belly-down on the sand of a beach. Beside him lay the broken timber that had carried him through the night, after the storm-crazed serpent had destroyed his ship.

Though his thirst and hunger were great, he paused to offer a prayer to the Grim King Krak'not, who was chief among the gods of Distractia. The prayer offered Harduk's thanks for the storm and the serpent. He made no mention of the wreckage that had saved him; Krak'not sent only danger and ruin, and to thank the Grim King for salvation was to invite further disasters.

With his prayer complete, Harduk spat out a couple of splinters. When his arms had grown weary during the night, he had clung to the wood with his teeth. Then he strode across the beach and into the jungle, ignoring the burning of the sand against his bare feet with the fatalistic stoicism of a true Distractian. The sounds of birds and animals fell silent as he entered the darkness beneath the trees, and Harduk paused for a moment to let his eyes adjust.

There was food here, and with so much growth there must be water as well. He would find those things first, and then he would climb until he could see more of this place where he had washed up. He cleared his throat, then reached into his mouth and extracted another splinter. Though he had arrived with only his ragged loincloth and the tremendous sword on his back, Harduk had no fear for his chances in this strange place. His icy desert homeland of Distractia was far more harsh, and Krak'not had gifted him with singular strength and stamina. Many men had learned this, to their dismay; and many women, to their delight.

With a decisive grunt, he started into the jungle.

To be continued...

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