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Defending the Realm

By Larry Brenza

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ook! The Blackthorns again! Have at them!!”
Bargon calls out, already running towards
The Black Rose’s group, better known as the
Blackthorns, have reeked havoc across the
countryside at Black Rose’s orders. Bargon’s village
was virtually destroyed by their rampage. A common
thread weaves its way through the other members’
lives; all seeking that ‘The Black Rose’ pays for his
terrible plan to take the country of Bartok by force.
Relk splits off to his left, Steela to his right.
Bargon’s axe crashes down into his opponent’s
shield rendering it useless. An immediate ring of
steel on steel is echoed throughout the hall as Relk’s
and Steela’s swords meet their respective foes.
Not many words are said, each thinking of what
tragedies they’ve collectively faced over the past
hours. The party started out seven members strong,
are now down to three. Everyone had their own
reason to see the Black Rose brought to justice.
Reeja was the first of the group to die in a hail of
arrows as they approached this ruined castle where
they tracked Black Rose and his men. As they
advanced, another member of their band would meet
his end, but at a costly price to the Blackthorns.



Bargon’s troop had righteousness and the want for
justice to spur them on, to fight like ten of Black
Rose’s men, who were only about greed and doing evil.
So, as each member died, it was as if their spirits
were transferred into the surviving champions of
Burtok. Now, as the final three fight, they are in a
berzerkers’ rage. Killing with one apiece, the fear is
seen in the Blackthorn’s eyes. Only Black Rose
himself, commanding them on to fight, keeps them
from fleeing like the vermin they are.
Suddenly, Relk calls out above the din of fighting.
Bargon turns to see what relk’s incomprehensible oath
ment. Bargon freezes, only for a second, as he
witnesses Relk with three swords buried half their
lengths into his torso! As the swords are withdrawn,
Relk drops to the stone floor, dead. Steela’s blade takes
the top of one of the swords owners’ head off. She’s on
the other two in an instant. Bargon’s mighty sweep
cuts through mail and flesh as his opponent falls. He
immediately hacks into one of the two surviving
Blackthorns. Steela’s blade point finds the eye of the
last of the Blackthorns and it is stopped only by
striking the inside of its dead man’s helmet.
As their rage lessens and their hearing attunes to the
now quiet surroundings, they see Black Rose, in
person, at the end of the hallway, laughing.

Defending the Realsm
2004 L. Brenza



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