Deth Uk and the enemy fell quickly. Soon the avenues became choked by corpses and the living began tripping over limbs and swords. All the streets were occupied by men fighting ’til their final breath.
Ukebrelek’s old body began to move in the steady rhythm of a man anticipating death and murder. The dam that kept his bloodlust in check shattered and he hobbled into the fray. One arm held a staff that kept him up while his other fist gripped a scavenged axe that he swung without grace, but with savage fury.
The old man shouted as he fought, in both anger and pain as his bones and muscles protested each quick step and hard twist. Suddenly, fire erupted across his face as a blade sliced through his left eye, destroying it and opening a large gash from his brow to his jaw. The pain was horrific, paralyzing, and Ukebrelek was only allowed a few seconds to comprehend his ruined vision. His other eye reflexively shut and he groped his face, losing his grip on the staff that kept his feet beneath him.
Stumbling backward, Ukebrelek crashed into a fellow Deth Uk and floundered to the earth, clutching his bleeding face. A scream of pain and rage erupted from him and he felt as if his throat was ripped and bleeding. Ukebrelek could feel the eye still in its socket although it would not provide him with sight.
Finally, he was able to open his working eye and glimpse the battle. Deth Uk were staring at him while others kept the enemy at bay. Rage exploded off their faces as they turned back to the enemy; they knew Ukebrelek was a Keeper, he wore the robes of his status always. Their anger fueled his own and banished his pain.
Ukebrelek began to struggle to his feet until he was lifted up and planted on wobbly legs by his fellows. He shook them off in anger, not at them and they understood that. One of them handed Ukebrelek his staff and looked him hard in his good eye. The Keeper took the crutch and leaned heavily on it. Next, he was handed his axe and he removed his hand from his ruined eye to grasp it; not a man balked at seeing the horrendous wound.
In a quick motion, Ukebrelek thrust his axe to the sky and screamed in his own language from a throat now raw, “The Fury be with you!”
Every Deth Uk near him responded, “And with you!” Those around him, twenty men or so, who had witnessed the desecration of one of their sacred Keepers flew into a mad dance of death. They suffered cuts and bruises but responded with killing strikes. They screamed while they fought and soon all of Arnamos sounded as though it was run amok with beasts and things worse than demons.
Rage asked Ukebrelek to return to the fray but his old, damaged body won out in this battle. He stayed in his place and watched as his brethren laid waste to the enemy. The Keeper in the guise of Phalax appeared and leapt into the battle. He speared one man through the chest, left the weapon embedded, ducked a crosscut for his head, then tackled another to the earth. He stood as a fellow Deth Uk stomped down on the man’s head. Then, the fake Phalax had a scavenged sword in his hand and the enemy must have seen Phalax using his amazing talent to change his arsenal of weapons. They turned to flee but were quickly run down and killed.
The battle was won, Ukebrelek realized as he turned to see other streets with similar scenes. A horn blared in the distance and Ukebrelek knew the enemy would be slinking away. He needn’t scream at his Deth Uk brothers to pursue the cowards, he was confident that they would. Most of them were covered in the blood of their enemies, their brothers, and from their own bodies, but they would want more to bathe themselves in.
Victory dispelled his bloodlust and pain replaced it. Ukebrelek began to stumble back to the middle of Arnamaos. The sun had long disappeared and night was falling on Baronfall. As if the darkness was a physical blanket, blackness settled in on Ukebrelek. He glimpsed a man running for him as he collapsed into the dirt.