Brindol. 10 Years Ago.
Silence ruled the courtyard. Windows were smashed, paving ripped up, the central fountain was befouled, but worst of all, Vimak’s clan lay dead. Talmack Stormcrow, Vimak’s father and leader of the Stormcrow tribe was heaped atop a pile of dead goblins next to his wife and Vimak’s mother, Tabra. The destruction and horror of the Red Hand was so complete that Vimak half expected to hear the echoes of the violence that had raged there, but heard only the splashing of the fountain and his beating heart.
Vimak was strong. His spirit was fierce and at the same time more disciplined than most others, even other members of the the Stormcrow clan. As the goliath ran toward his parents, he picked up the Stormcrow axe and began to hack at the dead goblin bodies. He felt a rage inside of him let loose as he mercilessly mutilated the corpses. With tears streaming down his face, the goliath raised the axe again. This time, however, the sight before him was too much, too terrible, too extreme. The goliath fell, senseless and despairing. In his head, all he could hear were the screams of the dead.
It was another two hours before Fargrim Stonehaven found the goliath. Initially worried the boy had suffered the same fate as his parents, the dwarf rushed to his side. After discovering he had only fainted, Fargrim slung Talmack’s axe behind his back, and picked the unconscious goliath up.
Brindol. Present Day.
The large axe swung down, splitting the target in two. Vimak followed through with the motion and brought the axe high. As he turned, Vimak gave the weapon a single twirl above his head and slammed the sharp axe down into another target with all the strenght of the goliath’s muscles. With a yell Vimak charged across the training yard, digging his axe into another target. Pulling it free, he did his best to maintain his momentum and barreled into one of the last targets, knocking it down. As his mind counted, he realized the count was off. This will not do., he thought. Glancing over his shoulder, he turned and hurled the axe end over end towards the last target. Splinters of wood flew into the air and the loud thud echoed through the training yard. Crying out with a rage-filled roar, the goliath finally stopped for breath. Vimak looked around him, and slowly went over and retrieved his weapon.
The axe he carried was an old one; one his father had always carried, and his father before him. All of the Stormcrows had wielded the axe, as far as Vimak knew, and that that meant he must carry it too. From the outskirts of the yard, the voice of Fargrim Stonehaven called out. “Fine work, lad. Against wood targets.” The challenge was clear in the dwarf’s tone. “Ye think ye can do the same against a real one?” The dwarf had moved in now, and picked up a shield and iron-shod hammer. Vimak knew that hammer well; it had given him many bruises over the years.
Fargrim made no moves but nodded towards the barbarian. Vimak rushed ahead and brought the axe down hard. Fargrim stepped aside choosing to let the blow hit the ground. For a stout and strong dwarf, Fargrim was extremely mobile. “Keep moving your feet,” the dwarf grumbled. Vimak obliged him, and reset his body for Fargrim’s new position. Feinting left and swinging right, Vimak did better with his second attack. The goliath’s axe caught the dwarf’s shield once, twice, thrice, and yet he still stood strong. On the final hit, Fargrim pushed, sending Vimak stumbling backwards off balance. “If ye don’t learn that lesson, I’ll beat ye every time!”
Vimak fell to his rump. From the ground, he judged the distance between him and the dwarf. The goliath smiled. Scrambling to his feet, the barbarian rushed ahead intending to charge the smaller dwarf. “Are my feet moving enough now?” Vimak’s question was accentuated with the loud crack of axe connecting with shield. Though he did slide back several feet, the dwarf remained on his feet. The barbarian’s confidence, however, was immediately shaken; his axe was embedded in Fargrim’s shield, and he knew what was coming next.
Fargrim dropped the shield, turned and smacked Vimak on the shoulder with his hammer. It stung his pride more than anything else. Fargrim always hit him in a non-lethal spot with enough force to remind him of his mistakes, and this one would be a sore bruise for at least a few weeks.
“Yer still sloppy, boy. You need t’always be ready t’move.”
“Maybe I’m just not meant to fight with style,” Vimak yelled as he charged back towards the dwarf, bringing his axe across in a vicious cut. “Finesse just isn’t my thing.” The barbarian could feel the anger welling up inside of him. He pressed the dwarf hard. Fargrim quickly gave ground to the goliath onslaught, using his warhammer to knock blows aside and his speed to avoid others. There were a few close calls, but the fighter was good.
After parrying the last blow, Vimak kneed the dwarf in the midsection, and flung him to the ground. Kicking the hammer from his grip, he then swung the axe down hard.
All was quiet in the yard as Vimak stood over the dwarf catching his breath. His axe was stuck in the ground next to Fargrim’s head. Though he had been surprised at the goliath’s grab, he hadn’t flinched at the near killing blow. “Good work, laddie. Yer gettin’ better.”
Vimak smiled and helped the dwarf up. Patting his bruised shoulder encouragingly, the dwarf smiled. “Ye still need t’move yer feet, though.” Before Vimak could react, Fargrim had thrown him to the ground and knocked the wind out of him. Rolling over to his stomach, the goliath gazed after the retreating dwarf.
“Tell Modyom we need some better shields. I’m gettin’ sick o’ ye breakin’ ‘em.”
Vimak chuckled to himself as he lay on the ground. He lay next to where his axe’s head was half-buried in the ground. Glancing at the gleaming metal, he smiled. It was a masterful axe and was proud to wield it in his clan’s name. He stared at the axehead and wondered, what could possibly have made this axe so special that it had lasted for so long. The answer came from the axe as a chorus of screams echoed inside his head.