Wain leapt to his feet, his long sword already in his hands. James picked himself up slightly slower and drew his own sword. He was about to rush the troll but was preempted as the troll rushed Wain, smacking him with one huge paw and slamming him into the muddy bank. James swiftly assaulted the trolls right flank, cutting a long vertical stripe down the monsters leathery green back.
With a roar that made the waters tremble the troll whipped around and swatted James like a large mosquito. The brave paladin was flung against the far bank and he swore that he could hear his ribs cracking. His vision was dim and he could barely make out that the troll was coming after him. He tried to get up but his arms wouldn’t move. He muttered a prayer of healing, felt his ribs restore themselves to their proper location, desperately trying to ready himself for the next attack. Which never came.
With a resounding bellow that caused the river water to back up upon itself, causing the bed of the ford to become dry for a brief instant, Wain got up and flung himself against the trolls exposed back. He hewed with the strength of a dozen men and his movements were faster than the wild cats that inhabited the mountains of his home.
The troll roared again in anger and turned, smashing a giant fist into the short barbarians body. James could hear the bones popping and the armor crushing but Wain seemed not to notice. A red light shone from his eyes and with a mighty swing he lopped off the trolls arm. With a roar of pain the monster clutched at his severed shoulder, then backhanded Wain with a blow that would have shattered a city gate. The barbarian took the strike and shrugged it off as if saying, is that the best you can do.
Then, almost faster than James’ eye could follow Wain planted his foot against the troll’s humongous thigh and jumped up to the monster’s eye level. With a spinning manuever Wain turned a full three hundred and sixty degrees in midair and severed the beasts ugly head from its scaly shoulders. He dropped lightly to the ground, bathed in troll blood. Then, adroitly dodging the troll’s falling body, which fell with a ground shuddering thud, he started to rush at James!
“Now Wain,” James shouted, trying to keep cool, “This is James. I am your friend. Calm down. Relax.”
Wain halted his charge a few scant feet from Sir James, sword raised to strike, as the red light slowly faded from his eyes. James began to say another prayer of healing, only this time for Wain.
“James, I…” Wain toppled like a pole axed ox, his terrible injuries finally overcoming him. He woke later that night lying next to a fire, his sword still tightly gripped in his hand. James had removed the scabbard from his belt and sheathed the sword.
“What happened?” Wain tried to raise his head but it pounded too much and he lay back down.
“Never seen anything like it,” replied James in a troubled voice, “It was like you were possessed. You should have been crushed three times but you just seemed to soak up the blows. It was like you went berserk or something.”
“Oh,” Wain could still feel the enchanting cry for battle singing in his veins, “I think that is maybe exactly what I did.”
“I have heard,” said James, “That some of your cousins who serve in the Continental Army are like that. The commanders use them as one shot missiles, sending them against the enemy before the proper charge to loosen up the enemy line. I have never heard of them coming back after being sent forth.”
“That is because they are weaklings who serve fools,” Wain could feel strength flowing back into his limbs and the pounding in his head ceased, “Ok, I killed the troll, getting us into this place. What is our next move?”
“I think there is a town near here. Tomorrow we can go check it out, see what’s going on in this place.”
“Sounds like fun,” Wain said, “Do we have any food? I’m starving!”
“Here,” James handed him some jerked fish and a loaf of bread. This is all we’ve got.”
“Mmmff,” Wain tore through the food with relish, “Makes a good incentive to find the town I guess.” He swallowed the last of the food and lay back down, “Goodnight.” He was soon snoring.
James slept lightly, only partly due to Wain’s snoring, partly so that his ability to feel danger before it arrived would awake him in case there was need.
The next morning dawned bright and clear, with birds twittering and swooping for worms. Wain was already awake, checking over his ponies tack and harness. James rubbed a mixture of sleep, grime, and dew from his eyes as he sat up.
“Ready to go?” asked Wain, “There’s the village over that way, I can see the smoke from their morning fires. Lets hurry and get there, I’m starving.”
“A paladins life is one of self-deprevation,” James said, a little coldly, for he to was hungry but did not wish to dwell upon the subject, “We must focus beyond the desires of our flesh and on the greater goal.”
“Good,” Wain mounted his pony, “That means you won’t eat when we get food. More for me! Hyaa!”
He rode off into the rising sun.
“That is not quite what I meant,” muttered James, hurrying to mount up and ride after his friend, but he was hampered by the pack mule, and did not catch up until Wain paused a mile outside of the village.
“Well, at last you stopped long enough for me to catch up,” James paused, seeing a hint of the red battle light in Wain’s eyes, “What is it now?”
“James,” said Wain through gritted teeth, “There are orcs in that village, orcs in charge of humans. This is not right. I must kill!”
“Calmly Wain,” cautioned James, “We don’t know if they are the friendly orcs that Betternot told us about or not.”
“They’d better not be,” Wain was holding his sword’s hilt, though he did not draw, “I just saw one of them beating a poor old woman.”
“What!” Sir James’ sense of justice was stirred and he lost his head. Without even considering he gave the order, “Charge Wain, we will sweep them from the face of the earth!”
“Hyaa!” Wain charged forward, with James bringing up the rear again.
Their initial rush took the orc garrison by surprise. James cut down two hapless orc soldiers and then looked around. He was just in time to see Wain performing a complicated move that involved disemboweling the orc behind him, cutting the legs off the orc to his right, kicking the orc on the left in the teeth, and beheading the orc in front of him. All of this was accomplished in less time than it takes to tell, the barbarians body moving like a blazing whip. This move was terrified all of the villagers except for one. This particular villager found it fascinating and, after years of practice, developed a style of dancing based upon it. It was called break dancing, named for the effect of Wain’s boot smashing through the orcs skull.
The remaining orc soldier gave a cry of terror or a curse, James, not being fluent in orcish, couldn’t tell, and fled into the fields beyond. Wain was upon him like a hound dog upon a ham bone. James followed as swiftly as possible to prevent Wain from hurting any of the villagers. He arrived on the scene just in time to miss how the orc had been split into six pieces by three sword strokes that followed so fast upon one another that they seemed to be one.
“Wain!” hollered James, “Relax! You have killed all the enemy!”
With a roar Wain charged at James. Doubting his safety James started to back up, very quickly, while trying to calm down his friend. It is very difficult to walk backwards quickly on uneven ground and Sir James tripped, dropping to the ground with a thud. He shook his head and started crawling backwards while still trying to calm his friend. Wain was standing over him with sword raised when the red light finally faded from his eyes.