(this story follows: Behind the Lines which is NSFW)
Arrows and hurled spears competed for mastery of the air over the battlefield. A regiment of Imperial soldiers pressed forward through the shallow valley pass, flanked by ice-peaked mountains, to engage the onslaught of howling barbarians. The savages were dressed in heavy cured hides strapped on with crudely shaped strips of leather. Each carried a flint and wood axe or steel sword clearly stolen from earlier battles. They whooped and roared in rage as they crashed wantonly into the Imperial front. The legionnaires held the tide of marauders back as best they could with their rectangular tower-shields. Short strikes from spear and sword stabbed between the shield wall at the berserk attackers, dropping many bleeding to the ground. Even this was not enough, and the Imperial forces began to lose ground to the seemingly endless waves of savages.
The air was cold up North. That one thought passed through Captain Ledaal Eshalaâ€™s mind as she soared over the battle in one graceful leap. A cold breeze blew through her long pale-blue hair, whipped to greater strength by the elemental aura surrounding her. Her kinship with the air kept her gently aloft until she passed over her own troops. With the grace of lightly falling snow, Eshala landed amidst the bloodthirsty forces of her enemy. Her blue-gray plate armor shone brightly in the noonday sun. A moment later, so did her sword. Eshala drew the weapon in one smooth action from itâ€™s place secured on her back. The five foot blade gleamed along its entire dark-blue length, like polished glass. A dozen barbarians turned snarling toward her, and Eshala grinned wickedly.
A mighty twist of her body, sword clasped tightly with both hands, brought Eshalaâ€™s blade in a complete circle. Blood flew outward from the severed necks of five barbarian warriors while the heads, still roaring silently, dropped to the ground. Without missing a moment, Eshala threw her momentum forward into the bulk of the enemy force. Her sword flicked from person to person, rending tanned flesh and thick hides as though through heated wax. Screams of pain began to drown out the cries of rage from the defiant savages. Clumsy axe-blows and hurled javelins fell around Eshala, but most were unable to strike her as she darted by with inhuman grace. Those strikes that drew too close were stopped by Eshalaâ€™s weapon before they could reach her armored form.
Towering above his lesser kin, a tall and broadly muscular barbarian strode through the press. He stood well over ten feet high, and had flexed muscles in his arms and legs that seemed larger than Eshalaâ€™s head. His face was covered with a single tattoo to make his countenance seem more that of a raging wolf, fangs bared. A massive axe of bronze and bone, soaked with even more blood than Eshalaâ€™s own sword, was in one of his hands. The head of the axe was about as broad and long as a grown manâ€™s torso, yet the warrior held it in one hand easily. Scars crossed over every inch of exposed skin the giant man had, what little wasnâ€™t exposed being covered by similar cured hides. Eschewing the lesser savages, Eshala dove directly toward this imposing figure.
Wind whistled around the red-stained edge of Eshalaâ€™s weapon as she drove it at the warrior. Suddenly the motion stopped, and the Imperial Captain nearly lost her hold on her sword. The mighty barbarian gripped the blade in his free hand, the cutting edge right against his palm. A small trickle of blood fell from where he caught the sword, but his grip did not waver. Snarling, the barbarian swung his axe down at the stunned dynast. Eshala almost didnâ€™t act in time, truly shocked that the warrior had stopped her attack with his bare hands. At the last moment, she pulled her sword down sharply and ducked the powerful blow aimed at her. Several strands of her long hair were sliced by the surprisingly sharp axe while the force of the attack kicked up so much wind it nearly knocked Eshala over.
A very large thumb hit the ground less than a foot away. Eshala looked up and saw that in pulling her sword free, she had sliced that digit from the barbarianâ€™s hand. Blood gushed down the savage warriorâ€™s arm from his wound, and he was howling in pain and fury. The massive axe was stuck in the ground. Before he could pull it free, Eshala struck out. Her sword sliced the enormous man across his stomach. She twirled the weapon in her hands and reversed her momentum. A second stroke cut a gash up from the warriorâ€™s hip to his opposite shoulder. Eshala let her momentum bring her around and drove her blade into the barbarianâ€™s neck. It bit deeply into his flesh. The giant stumbled backward and lost his hold on his axe.
Amazed, Eshala watched the wolf-faced warrior get his footing back a short moment later. Despite his wounds, he was still standing. Eshala brought one hand up, the other holding her weapon, and gestured. Two crackling lines of electricity danced from her feet up to her hand, then surged forth from her fingertips. A blinding flash filled the air, accompanied by a sharp crack of thunder. The giant barbarian stood motionless with a blackened hole burnt through his left eye and out the back of his head. He fell to his knees, then collapsed lifeless to the ground. The once-howling horde fell quiet.
In just a matter of seconds, Eshala had slain the great warrior. She looked up at the rest of the barbarians and grinned once more. The legionnaires at her back cheered and pressed forward fiercely. Once they reached their Captain she raised her sword high, then pointed it toward the hesitating enemy forces. â€œFor the Empire!â€ she cried out. Her voice was matched by the soldiers as they joined with her and stormed the barbarian ranks.
The North isnâ€™t so cold once you get moving, Eshala thought.