Seven years ago, The Spine of the World, somewhere near The Moonwood.
Yesterday it was a tribe of orcs. The day before, scavengers, ousted from their tribes. Today, a small warband of Uthgardt. Black Raven.
You're short, Justinian. Aim low. The man just out of boyhood cleaved the shaman in two at the knees as she began to cast. Writhing and yelling, she slumped in three pieces. Don't look. Next, a scout. Next, a warrior who held his spear aloft, ready to plunge it into the chest of Justinian's comrade--a soldier of Ilmater on his back, arms held up as if to block the incoming blow, eyes closed tightly and head turned away, trembling like a Luskan youth on his first brush with death. Two words left the prone man's lips in a desperate plea: "Have mercy!"
Greatsword impaled through the tribesman's abdomen from behind, to the hilt, and the demon-blooded manchild kicked him off the long blade--and it took a couple kicks. He let the casualty fall down on his brother. "Bad time to lose your head, Ashwell," Justinian grunted before continuing his single-minded mission. As an afterthought, Justianian kicked the Ilmateri's battered shield and longsword towards him as he wiggled out from under the larger and now-departed tribesman. "Works better than begging, by the way."
He looked around. Sir Sniffalot, the black dog with pointed ears and a brown leather harness emblazoned with the symbol of Tyr on either side. Where? Biting the throat of another scout, refusing to let go. "Nein!" Justinian shouted, and then whistled sharply to get the canine's attention. Sir Sniffalot abandoned his current project and turned to his master, ears perked, head tilted, awaiting command. "Hier." Justinian made a circular gesture with his forearm. Sir Sniffalot approached, curious and taut. "Ge herum." Sir Sniffalot barked once and darted back into the fray.
Justinian made eye contact with the tribal warband's leader who was engaged in a furious two-on-one skirmish with two Triadic soldiers, both of whom held their own but could not take down the beast. "Move!" Justianian roared, and he began to close the distance through the fighting, through the clash of weapon against weapon, across blood-stained snow. The two Triadic soldiers scattered. The black-bearded warband chieftan approached his new challenger. The same bloodlust in two sets of eyes reflecting back at each other. Simultaneously, they both began to jog, and then run. He has at least a foot on me. He'll go up and I'll go under. The chieftan let forth a mighty bellow and raised his waraxe aloft as they neared. Justinian slid to the ground. Don't piss off a short man. The chieftan stopped short when a well-placed arrow pierced through his throat, in one side and out the other. A second arrow passed all the way through his neck and he dropped to his knees, looking dumbfounded as he died by archer's aim.
Justinian crashed into him, and they both collapsed. The demon-blooded manchild aimed a left hook at the dead black-bearded leader's jaw, a futile blow before he got back to his feet and looked around for the source of the arrows. Romulus Kildare, mentor, stepfather, commander. The older man with piercing green eyes frowned and shook his head subtly; he stowed the longbow at his back in favor of his trademark bastard sword.
At the end of the long trek back to the outpost through the frozen wasteland, Justinian caught up to Rumulus and noticed that with each passing day, his brown hair looked increasingly grey.
"Could've taken him." The alabaster manchild huffed the words.
"Let me do my job."
"I promised your mother I would not let you die, and I intend to keep that promise."
"Wasn't gonna die."
"Selfish brat," Romulus growled, raising his forearm in a gesture of dismissal towards Justinian.
Sir Sniffalot, ever at his master's side, whined softly and pinned his ears back in response.
As soon as they reached the ramshackle outpost, Justinian visited the outhouse where four walls would provide a false sense of security and solitude. He knew all too well the effect adrenaline took on his body, and it doesn't go away when the skirmish is over. It never does, and so release must be sought in a moment of peace. In an outhouse at a military outpost. Then he took a post-release nap. In an outhouse at a military outpost.
About an hour later, he woke to the sound of Sir Sniffalot pawing at the door.