Prince of the Number Seven

Lanthano of Kruptos

Active Member
Deep within the black forests of Dunarsund, his warriors are celebrating in a temporary encampment. His people are nomads and they survive off the graciousness of the land, though it is not their own labors that coax a bounty from the earth, but the efforts of other peoples that are well acquainted with farming. He and his warriors simply take what others have worked for. As prince, he is next in line to rule the tribe as chief, and though it is a position he is eager to fill, he wishes his father, the king, a long life. In the meantime, it is his job to amass as much wealth and supplies as possible. As he sits upon his horse, riding alone through the dense forest and away from camp, he remembers the raid from the day before. …

The sun shone brightly in the sky with only a few clouds to break up the solid blue field. The blanket of snow from only a few days before, has melted in the warmth of the sun. The harvests are long since completed, and are stored for the winter for those that had farmed this land. The crops had yielded more than enough to get this village through the winter and its citizens are enjoying a day in the fresh air and unseasonable warmth. Children romp on the brown hillsides, grateful to have freedom from the houses and huts, with mothers giving chase and keeping a watchful eye. The men folk are in the lodge planning the coming year, giving accounts of food stores, weapons and other supplies. All in all it is a peaceful time in the village.

A rumble resembling thunder catches the ear of a nervous mother. She checks the sky but finds no clouds. Before she can ascertain the cause of the sound, a war cry shatters the tranquility, and over the rise, a hundred horses make it clear that they were the source of the thunder. The riders are fur-clad warriors wielding swords and battle axes, with small shields on their free arms, muskrat skinned helmets toping their heads and faces marked in black. Every woman screams and scrambles to pick up her own child and any others within reach, running for the safety of the lodge. The men come spilling out, having heard the sounds of terror, meeting their women half way. A few of the elder men shuffle the women and children inside while the rest grab their weapons to meet the charge. Some of the women only shoo the children in and then find a weapon to wield, joining the men in the fight.

From the backs of their horses, the barbarian horde swoops down on the village with frightening speed, with swords slashing, followed by axes, to crack the skull of any and all in their path. No warning is given, no offer of mercy for allegiance is made, no regard to age or gender is allowed. All are slaughtered that hold a weapon. The few arrows that the villagers manage to get airborne, may find their mark, but only a few prove to be fatal. Most arrows are simply broken off in barbarian hands and disregarded as mere inconveniences, and only serve to anger their host. These villagers do not poison their arrow tips nor do they fight underhanded or without honor. But maybe they should. Perhaps it would tip the scales in their favor.

The battle does not take long. When it is over, nearly all the men of the village are dead. Those that are not killed, are rounded up, with hands tied behind their backs and given the option to submit. Those that do not kneel before the barbarian prince, have their throats slit. The women are rounded up and secured and most of the children are killed, though some are spared and will be sold to slave traders who will resell them to wealthier people looking for malleable slaves. Or if a child is exceptionally comely it may find itself adopted instead. Some of the women plead for the lives of their own children and if they are convincing enough, mercy is granted. Those women will soon come to see that it would be far more merciful to let the child die now, for it will not be tolerated that her duties go by the wayside while she cares for the child. And what is demanded of her, for the mercy shown to the child, may be more than she can endure.

The village is scoured for valuables, all the food stores are loaded onto wagons and anything left behind is burned. Marched along in a line, wagons and slaves, warriors flank both sides to keep them from attempting escape, even IF the slaves could get free of their ropes. They make their way back to the encampment where the spoils are offered to the king. After the metals and foodstuffs are secured, the warriors are allowed to divide the weapons and choose slaves. Most slaves would remain as communal property and do work for the entire tribe. The king offers the prince first choice of the spoils, but he finds no slave to interest him, though he does take his share of weapons, which he straps to his horse. The next morning, he will take his horse out on a scouting mission while the others clamber over the slaves and spoils of war…

Today, he prefers the solitude of the forest to the chaos of the camp. It is evening before he happens upon anything of interest. The forest around him is quiet, but being on horseback the animals tended to see him as less of an intruder. Watching his mount’s ears, they give away much before he can often see it for himself. Her ears shoot forward, then back, then forward again, as if to say, ‘Do you see that?’ Reining up, the prince crouches low on the horse’s back and looks around, only barely able to make out the faintest of lines breaking the random pattern of the branches. ...