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This story contains pretty graphic violence. If you can stomach it, read, and please comment. And sorry it isn't as poignant or real or so-on and so-forth as my other flash fictions, but I couldn't make myself write happy today. Lastly, please don't immediately write it off as senseless violence. I'm hoping there's a message buried in there.


The fire roared in front of Caegdemnus, behind him, around him. The heat beating down on him, hot enough to singe his reinforced felt buckler, felt like the sweetest lover’s kiss, and cajoled him forward. But no tender comparisons are apt for the emotions that were running through Caegdemnus’ skull. He felt only righteous fury, and bloodlust, and the strength of a giant compressed into one grim package. His countenance was terrible to look upon, his speed inhuman as Caegdemnus raced forward ahead of his brethren. He was the carrier of a sacred burden, that of the Beserker.

He screamed a cry intended to terrify his enemies, a terrifying sound between a wail and a shriek, ululating sharply between a soprano and a tenor. They had sought to trap Caegdemnus’ troop with clever pyromantic trickery, the fools. Caegdemnus was the only Beserker left in his troop. He was enough. He stopped shouting abruptly, and hefted his great axe. He sang a new song, about how the flayed skin released the gods. The gods he could now see, and his ancestors, urging him forward. Caegdemnus was a slave to his own body, muscles writhing and contorting to obey, mouth streaming saliva from his sprint. And now it was time.

He leapt, full into a force of pikemen. Through some incomprehensible force, he twisted his torso at the right moment and landed amidst the Lethians, his foes, unharmed. Before the pikemen, caged in their heavy armor and wielding ungainly halberds could pivot, two had been slain. Caegdemnus in his rage, screamed, and decapitated one more Lethian. Catching the head as it fell, Caegdemnus whipped it at another like one would use a sling, before leaping upon his victim, sending his axe straight through the warrior’s plate. He was sure he saw a god fly forth from the exposed skin of the soldier. The god pointed a tiny blue hand behind Caegdemnus, a rudimentary warning. He ducked, and a soldier’s short sword lodged itself in the corpse of his comrade. Caegdemnus thrust his head backwards sharply, grizzled red hair flying upward as his head struck the chin of the attacker. The soldier stumbled backwards, and was stuck with a long thin knife before he had a chance to straighten. Another god flew forth, pointing to Caegdemnus’ left. He whirled, his axe swung in one mighty fist, to land in the torso of another Lethian. Caegdemnus looked around in the second he had, and found that his fellows were still some distance behind him, and that he could not see past the ocean of men come to encompass him. No fatlistic thoughts struck Caegdemnus concerning his imminent death, but he did stop long enough to begin his shriek again. The shriek was a prayer of sorts, to the little blue gods. It was a shriek of fury and wrath and thanks somehow come together.

Caegdemnus launched himself forward into the sea of bodies awaiting him, barreling a few over before he rolled up to stab a soldier. The knife remained stubbornly buried in the soldiers’ armor, like the other. Only two left. He felt a coldness invade his stomach, and laughed, before roughly shoving the attacker into the waiting embrace of his comrade’s blade. Two more fell to the knives, though neither lodged. The little blue gods were many now, and they danced and wordlessly shouted. Caegdemnus ignored none of them, and managed to dodge and parry at a preternatural pace. The Lethian force had begun to collapse, and what little fear there was in Caegdemnus was replaced by the red-rimmed bloodlust. He rushed forward to hack a retreating soldier, when he himself felt a sharp burning in the left shoulder along his back. He grunted, and threw a knife at the running soldier, turning quickly to find the archer. He threw his last knife. It landed in the archer’s leg, leaving him screaming. Caegdemnus felt a little of his wrath leaking out through his front and back, but still trodded forward like a bull, head down, and silver metal horn gleaming. His axe swung in a vicious arc, nearly splitting one lightly armored soldier into halves. He saw the escaping god point, but before he could muster himself, Caegdemnus had been sliced in his upper arm. Using his remaining arm, he feebly swung at the soldier, and the blow sent both staggering. Caegdemnus inhaled as deeply as he was able, and sang mournfully to the blue gods, thanking them. Perhaps the Lethians would win. And the little blue gods would be run from the land, in the face of their alchemic sciences. Caegdemnus hoped it was not so, but he couldn’t even see the outcome of the battle. His men had arrived by then. One slayed a soldier who had taken a stand near Caegdemnus. His body fell like a tree, and crushed the breath out of the Beserkers.

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The following comments are for "Beserkers' Breath (R)"
by Washer

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