The Vanrai's Last Stand

This is an old story I found in an almost lost documents folder. I think i wrote it during my last year at school. Re-reading it, I cringed a little at some of the cliches I had used, but there is a little bit of a story and maybe a few good lines. Let me know what you think and maybe I'll pick it back up again.

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2. The Vanrai

And then, just as soon as the storm had started, it fell. It did not slowly ebb away but went in an instant. The silence of the night was no comfort to the man, who continued to tremble uncontrollably, any sense of the journey’s purpose gone. A voice repeated itself in his head, ‘Stand up, the Vanrai need you, do not fail them’ – he did not recognise the voice but knew what he must do.

 

He stayed were he was and counted to ten in his head, letting the fear fall from him, and then stood. It took all his courage to stand upright, staring defiantly into the darkness, but he managed it. His confidence began to return as his fingers gripped the familiar hilts of his daggers.

 

‘You must repay your debt! I will ask only once more…’  

 

‘And then what will you do? Cower at the blow of the wind?’ The voice came from all around him, echoing in his head. He wanted to huddle to the floor but managed to hold his ground. This was the man who had fought countless battles, stood against cavalry charges, defeated the most skilled swordsmen in the Four lands; yet the wind and a voice were making him cower! He stood firm.

 

‘You have summoned the courage to answer me I see. That, at least, is a start. Now show yourself and we will talk. You must repay your debt to the Vanrai!’

 

‘I owe no debt to the Vanrai’ the voice was becoming louder, a distinct note of scorn present in it. ‘The Vanrai are no more’

 

‘In my blood runs the blood of Nomura! The Vanrai are still alive.’

 

‘But when you fall, what then? Then the blood of your people will have been all spilt. They will be remembered in story alone.’

 

‘I will not fall.’ The fighter was standing tall, his daggers raised in a defensive position, he would not crouch and give the Spirits the pleasure of seeing him shrink.

 

He could see nothing, but his warrior instincts, honed to perfection, screamed warnings at him. He knew that on all sides he was being approached by enemies, how he knew this he could not say, it was the same way a farmer knew exactly when his crop was ready or a midwife that the baby would be born that day.

 

Fighting was this mans forte, he was strong and fast like no other warrior was. He could use all weapons with an unmatched skill. His senses were faultless. And today he would need all of his skill if he were to fight this threat and save the Vanrai from extinction. 

 

The edges of his mouth began to curl into a grin. This was what he did best, no more Spirits, speeches, or rituals, just fighting. He pictured the hill as he had seen it earlier that day. A large open space, the hill the domineering feature in all directions. It stretched desolate and barren for miles. The only cover would be the impenetrable darkness. There was a reason this was called the Wastelands.

 

A footstep to his left brought the warrior out of his trance and he let one of his daggers fly, aiming lower than usual as he expected the approaching man to be crouching. He was rewarded with a scream of pain and a dull thud. He moved into a crouch and waited, letting the dieing mans shouts diminish into nothing.

 

From then on the fight became a race, a competition in the dark to see who was left alive at the end. The fighter guessed that there were about six men surrounding him, one had been stopped which left at least five. The warrior had survived worse odds than that before.

 

The Moon came out from its hiding place behind a black cloud. A legend amongst the Vanrai read that the Sun and the Moon were the eyes of Karn, the one eyed God who would judge you when you died. The Sun was the good eye, and under its presence honour must be upheld. However, when the Moon came out Karn was looking at you with his blind eye, and anything was allowed. He knew that if he were to win this battle he would need to fight dishonorably and hope Karn forgave him when he reached the Halls of the Dead.

 

The brief appearance of the Moon had giving the warrior the position of three of his stalkers lying on the floor, trusting to the cover of the darkness, but they had seen him too and he felt a hunting knife graze his cheek as he silently moved towards the one he had already downed. He cut the mans throat and took back his dagger.  ‘One’.

 

The warrior knew that whatever his skills he could not fight nine men, he would have to pray Karns blind eye was upon him.

 

‘Help! Oh God. Please!’ screamed the warrior, knowing he would have to trick the hunters into showing themselves. No one moved. He screamed again, begging for aid. Two of the enemy warriors stood and began to run over to where they believed their wounded comrade to be dying; they were both greeted with a dagger flying from the darkness. One fell lifeless to the ground and the other was screaming in pain as he tried to remove the dagger from his groin. ‘Two and Three’

 

As the two men fell the warrior saw another enemy move from behind a collection of tree stumps, a bow in his hand. The warrior threw himself to the ground as a black fletched arrow flew over his head. He ran towards the archer whose sparkling blue eyes looked unnatural in the dark hours of night, not giving him time to recover, and stabbed the broad sword he now wielded into the mans chest. Twisting the blade he pulled it free as the body slumped on the tree stump, the light in his eyes extinguished in a second. ‘Four’.

 

The Moon came out of the shadow of a cloud again and the remaining two warriors saw the battlefield perfectly. The scream of one of the dieing hunters sounded and all of the men acted as if it had been a bugle call. The one on the warriors left ran at him, he was armed with a great Two Handed Sword and looked as if he could fight with the weapon all day and have tired not at all. The other enemy stood and raised his black hunting bow, an arrow already notched; he was thirty paces away and could not miss.

 

The warrior trusted to the God of Luck, the soldier’s god, and turned to face the hunter running at him. He saw that his opponent’s eyes were looking to the right of him and he instinctively new what the other was planning. Ducking under the blow that would have severed his head he lunged with his sword, he felt an arrow fly past his head and new the God of Luck was smiling on him today. The blade had stuck in the hunter’s chest, he now tried desperately to pull it free. Blood poured onto the earth and filled a small hole were nearly an hour earlier the warrior had taken soil to throw into the fire.

 

‘Five’ shouted the warrior, defying his last opponent with his battle call.

 

Leaving the man to die with the sword in him the warrior turned to the archer who was notching another arrow. The warrior had no weapon, besides the sword strapped to his back, and that would take too long to draw. He turned to face his last adversary.

 

‘Leave now and I will let you live’. The tone of voice commanded obedience and left no room for argument. The archer looked around and saw five men on the ground, one still struggling to cling onto life. The men had been his friends; the man with blue eyes had been his brother. Yet now, weaponless, their killer stood in front of him, defiant. It would be so easy to avenge his friends, he drew back his bowstring, the warrior did not move.

 

There was something about this warrior who looked on defeat and made it into a victory. He stared death in the eye and refused to blink. The archer looked on his brother’s body and then back to the warrior. He did not want to end up like the others; he knew that if he continued to fight this warrior he would die. His brother’s wife came to his mind and he nearly released the arrow, but the image of his own daughter stopped him. Throwing down his bow he walked from the battlefield, tears streaming down his cheek.  

 

The warrior ignored him and walked over to the site of the fire that had now gone completely cold, long forgotten.

 

‘There!’ he shouted to the sky. ‘Have I not defeated your challenge? Is it not time for you to repay your debt?

 

‘I will come’ the Voice whispered, the power gone from it, just a tiny voice inside the warriors head. ‘But first, tell me who you are?’

 

‘I am Tilas Nomura, saviour of the Vanrai’ 

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