A Chapter by Suchit Gawande

The prologue to the first novel in my fantasy series The Rain. Told through the eyes of a woodstribe chief named Goshel.


In the rain

Under the sun

Light of life

Lead the sons

From the end

To the sky



There was no clear sky to be lead to that day. If you fell, you fell to rain, and you fell in mud.

It had been a long time since the three scout boys had ridden out, but now they were returning to the edge of the forest, where Chief Goshel of the Meshiem Tribe waited with the other chiefs on their horses and their men on foot behind them.

“Chief,” one of the returning boys said after having ridden in beneath the trees where the rain was not as heavy. A handsome youth, with true blue-green woodsman eyes and the beginnings of what would one day be a glorious dark auburn beard. Familiar somehow, Goshel thought. He looks just like I did as a child.

“They’re coming. Hundreds. They’ll be ’ere before dark.”

“Which banner did they fly?” Chief Goshel asked the boy.

“Several. One to the back and more to the front.”

“Did you see the grey sword with the blue handle? On a field of white?”

“No, chief,” the boy answered. Disappointing news. No vengeance for you today then, father, Chief Goshel thought to himself.

“At the very front then, boy,” Goshel persisted. “Which banners were in the lead? The royal banner I’d say, if you say there were more than one. And a family one.” The host would only be bearing the royals’ banner if they had been sent out by the royals themselves. They could fly the bird in black on gold, which would mean that a royal had accompanied the host himself. But then there would only be one banner. But the boy said several. A mission for the royals, but they did not bother sending any of their own. They have sent some underling lord, which meant another family banner. The bird will be gold, on a black field.

“There’re three banners leading the front, chief,” the boy said, heavy single drops falling around him from the green foliage above, smattering as they hit the ground.

“Three? How could there be three? Did you see it right?” The chief did not understand. What man could fly three banners? I did not know the sorûlians to allow dual family colors.

“One was the royal one, as you said,” the boy explained. “The golden bird on black, so they didn’t bring any of their royals. Then there were a smaller one. A black wheel, with some sort of cup above it, on a green banner.”

Chief Goshel did not know that one. He knew the royal banner, of course. All Desheshol tribes had come to know, and loathe, the royal banner. The golden phoenix bird of Sôrul had rampaged through the woodlands for many years, slaughtering the woodsmen, stealing their land, and raising towns and villages of their own. Monstrous things, made of stone they hacked off the ground as they liked. Our ground. Stone does not grow back as trees do. They are ruining our land.

But this wheel banner was unknown to Goshel. One of the smaller family sigils most likely. Then again, Chief Goshel did not know many to begin with. He knew some, surely, and more than most other woodsmen, but there was a never ending wall that divided Sôrul itself from the Desheshol tribes of the forests, and few woodsmen knew much about the nation on the other side of it. They only knew the warriors who rode out from the wall to kill them and drive them away from their villages.

But now it was time to cast the sorûlian filth back behind that wall of theirs. Six tribes come together, twelve thousand men, ready to avenge the deaths of all those woodsmen who had given their lives to the sorûlians. Goshel did not know if that had ever happened before. He remembered stories of tribes joining forces to fight common enemies, but never this many. And they chose me to lead them.

“And the third?” Chief Shalachan of the Pesher Tribe broke in.

“The third is larger than the other two, by far,” the boy began, “and it wasn’t even a banner, really. No sign on cloth at least. It was three large golden rings, and between them big steel chains. All on a tall steel pole of sorts. It weren’t no man who carried it neither. It was fastened on the back of a carriage, with two horses pulling it. Too heavy to carry probably.”

When the boy had spoken, Chief Goshel did not know what to say. He was confused, and struggled to understand what the boy had just told him.

“Why would they fly the Teavas sign?” Chief Ashe of the Teggesh Tribe asked from behind his bark mask, sounding as confused as Goshel felt. “The Teavas can’t be with them, can he? We would have known if he had been born again, would we not?”

“Unless they kept it a secret since the last one died,” Chief Tasher said with his lean ocean voice.

“It’s just to scare us, I know it,” Chief Shalachan growled, his pouting belly filling up his boiled leather vest. It almost looked like it would burst at any moment.

“How many men?” Goshel asked the scouts.

“About five hundred. All on horses.”

“Then we attack, yes?” Shalachan insisted. “Five hundred is nothing. Not even mounted.”

Goshel did not answer, but looked out over the grass covered hill above them, where the battle would take place if there would be one. He watched the water run between the pools of rainwater which had gathered at the foot of the lightly slanting hillside. What Chief Shalachan had said was true. The sorûlians had five hundred men, and the chiefs had twelve thousand, ready to strike on all sides of the enemy once they rode into their trap. It would be an easy battle. But not if the Teavas rides with them. Even with twelve thousand men, he may break us, and we would lose the war before it even begins. Then there would be no vengeance for you father, ever.

“Goshel?” Shalachan had ridden up beside him. “There’s no way the Teavas is with them. Why would he come ‘ere? And why would he ride with the phoenix bird? The Teavas doesn’t fight wars.”

“They’re not supposed to, at least,” Chief Ashe added. “But still, they have before. What if it is him, Goshel?”

“There’s just no way.” Shalachan’s vest stretching further over his fat belly. “We would have known if the Teavas was born again in Sôrul. Everyone would have known. He’s likely not even born in the West at all. Across the seas, he must have been born across the seas, or we would all have heard.”

Chief Shalachan’s thirst for sorûlian blood was well known. He has suffered, just as I. Goshel had never risked asking the big man, but he had heard the stories, same as everyone else. The sorûlian invaders had fallen upon his village one dark starless night. Most of the men had been killed, along with half the women. All of Shalachan’s ten wives had apparently been raped, even the young one. Four of them had died fighting back, and two of them had sorûlian babies in their bellies afterwards. Shalachan had the children sacrificed to the gods once they were born, and the two mothers as well, if the stories told it true. Rumors said that the events had robbed him of his reason, and word spread through the woods that he had gone mad. But if he had, he seemed to have regained his wits again by the time he and Goshel came together for the first time. The man was a strong leader for what remained of the people in the many villages over which he was chief, and he spoke wisely here now. A new Teavas being born were grand news. If he had been born in Sôrul, or anywhere else in the West, the news would surely have reached them. And the sorûlians killed the previous Teavas. The boy one. Why would he ride with them now?

“We attack,” declared Goshel to the other chiefs, then turned to the scout boys. “Return the horses to the riders, and prepare yourselves for battle.”

“Yes, chief.” The three boys turned their horses to the north, and then set into a hurried gallop across the soaked and grassy ground. As they rode off over the hill, Goshel turned to the other chiefs.

“Tasher and Ashe, go to your men, get’em into position at the sides, and be ready. You know when to attack.”

Ashe nodded, his mask of bark covering all but his eyes.

“Aye,” spoke Chief Tasher and the two chiefs rode off as well, one riding to the right along the tree line, and the other to the left.

“You should get your men ready too,” Goshel then said to Shalachan. “When we see’em come over the hill, we walk out.”

Shalachan put a heavy hand on Goshel’s shoulder and gave him a smile that said I’m ready for war. He then turned away as well, and rode back in among the trees behind them where his men would be waiting.

A war for young men, Goshel had thought when they had first formed their alliance at the Eaglecave, three months ago. There had been ten chiefs who had met there that night. Some old, some young. But the four ones older than Goshel had declared the rest mad, taken their men, and left. So out of all the six chiefs who remained at the Eaglecave that night, and here today, Goshel was the oldest at fifty seven years. When the night was done, Goshel was selected among the chiefs as the head of their mission. He had faced opposition, at first, as everyone had thought themselves the best option. It had taken all night, but once the sun shone upon the cave entrance, Chief Goshel stood as leader. For my experience with sorûlians and suffering, they chose me. He had been chief of the Meshiem Tribe for twenty three years. Since the day Lord Narrâs burned my father alive, and made me kneel.

It brought Goshel only shame and grief to think of that day. He had, like many other chiefs, been forced to bow before the phoenix bird when the sorûlians first rode out from their wall.

“I swear my loyalty to Sôrul, by the gods of the forest, of the leaves and of the stream and of the tree,” he had lied, along with many others, standing beaten on their knees. The smell of my father’s burning corpse still fresh in the air. Me as the new chief. The royal banner had swayed in the smoke filled wind that day, but none of the royal Saren family had been there to hear his oath. Instead, the sorûlian Lord Narrâs had been there to hear the vows. Goshel had memorized his banner, a silvery grey sword with a blue handle on a field of white. Never would that sigil fade from his memory. As he spoke his false vow out loud, he made a silent one within. I will not rest until I have squeezed the life from Lord Narrâs’ body. Until all banners with his sword on them burn and all his house laid to waste. That vow had been true, for it was made to himself. The spoken one was false, for Lord Narrâs was not a royal.

“You can’t make promises to a man who cannot hear you.” Goshel remembered those words from his youth. He liked to believe that it was his father who had told him that, but in truth he was not sure who it had been. The royals of Sôrul were not there to hear me, so my vow was made to nothing. The gods will not be angry with me.

Goshel turned his horse away from the hill before him, and looked back into the trees to where his men stood, waiting. His tribe was large. More than two thousand strong men had been collected from Chief Goshel’s eighteen villages. The woodsmen had few weapons, so when the raid of the first town had begun, only the chief and the few hundred of his men who actually did the raiding had been armed. It was not until after the first raid they were able to steal sufficient weapons to arm more of the men. There were sorûlian soldiers in the towns who had all died, and their longswords and short-swords and daggers had been distributed amongst the woodsmen. But even that had not been enough, so the rest had found weapons in the kitchens and armories and the butchers’ shops and the woodworkers’ quarters. Many of Goshel’s men were now armed with axes made for wood work, meat cleavers, and kitchen knives. Some even had smith and sledge hammers. No proper weapons, these. Not like the ones the sorûlians’ll have.

They were admittedly poorly armored as well. The woodsmen of the Desheshol tribes did not use armor, at least not like that which the enemy did. Many wore only their regular clothes, no more than their traditional many colored beaded shirts and beige woolen skirts for protection. The men of the Teggesh Tribes would barely be wearing anything at all, Goshel knew. Only their pelt breechcloths and their bark masks.

Some of Goshel’s men wore pieces of leather, strapped to where each man felt he needed protection. The men of the Pesher Tribe would be wearing their boiled leather vests. Chief Shalachan had been very strict in his wish to not share their material with the other tribes. Goshel had tried to persuade him, and some of the other chiefs had tried as well, but to no avail. The chiefs, and the riders, had all been gifted such a vest by Chief Shalachan at least, but the footmen had to make do without. Some had attempted to boil leather themselves and make their own vests back home, and some had done admittedly descent jobs, but they did not match those the Peshers provided. There had been proper war armor to steal from the dead sorûlian soldiers, but very few wanted to wear that, and those who did at first had soon taken it off again. “It felt dirty,” one of Goshel’s village heads had told him, “Like wearin’ the skin of some demon, poisoning my skin”.

Many of these men will die today, thought Goshel as he let his gaze wander across his men. His under armed and under armored men. But in the end, victory will be ours. They are too few to beat us, even on horseback.

The chief lifted his eyes. He could not see it from here, but he knew that not far beyond the trees, the rain was pouring on the blazing remains of the sorûlian town. This was the third town the woodsmen had sacked and burned. Always in fairly small groups, as to not give away their true number. Word reached the wall soon after the first of the three raids, Goshel imagined, and then the sorûlian capital not long after that. A few hundred woodsmen raiding the towns near the wall, would be the message they had heard, and they would send out a force to hunt them down. Only they will not find a few hundred, but twelve thousand, and the burned corpses of their own people. Goshel had been forced to see his own father burn, it was only justice to repay the phoenix bird with their own savageries.

Chief Goshel felt the bow string across his chest and twirled it around with his fingers. It was his father’s old hunting bow. Not made for war perhaps, but Goshel had killed many a thing over the years with it, and he only thought it fitting to let the deaths of the sorûlians he would kill today be brought by an instrument his father had made. It’ll be as if we’re killing them together, father.

There was nothing left to do now but more waiting. Before dark, the scout had said. Through the heavy grey blanket over the skies, it was impossible to tell were the sun even was. But the day would be late by now, and dark could not be too far off. So the woodsmen waited behind the trees at the foot of the hill. For hours they waited, while Goshel kept a steady look upon the top of the hill from atop his horse. When we see them, we walk out. We don’t run, only walk. They need to see us first. But then…

After a long while, after just wondering if the skies had grown darker, Goshel finally saw something move atop the grass covered hill. He saw the three banners first. They were just far away enough so that he could not clearly make out what the two smaller ones portrayed, but just seeing the colors were enough. The one on the right was clearly black, with some sort of golden image in it. The sign of the royals. That damned bird.

The smallest of the banners, the one to the left, looked to be green, with something black portrayed on it. Goshel could only assume it was this wheel-and-cup banner the scout had mentioned.

But there was no doubt about what the middle sign was. The third and largest. The one that towered over the others. There was no cloth there, only metals shaped into the sign of the Teavas. Three large golden rings, far above the ground, placed in a triangular shape, with one at the bottom, one above to the left, and one above to the right. Connecting each ring with the others were heavy iron chains, swaying from the ground beneath the chariot wheels. The wind would not be strong enough to sway them, Goshel could see, even from where he stood hidden among the trees, some three hundred yards beneath and away from the sorûlian sigils rising over the crest of the hill.

Goshel worked the bow off his torso and held it up to the air for his men to see, his own eyes still fixed on the scene above. Now the shapes of the men beneath the banners started to appear. Three at first, then five, then ten. Quicker than Goshel could count, the soldiers appeared, until there was a row of them cladding the hilltop. From where Goshel stood, they all looked dark grey, though they would likely be wearing the colors of the house they rode beneath. Green and black blood for the soil today, perhaps.

Goshel noticed how they seemed to come to a halt at the crest, and a shiver went up his spine as a strange feeling came over him. It felt like he was being watched, as if someone up on the hill looked straight in his eye. You will die today, chief, the thought came unwanted. Goshel pushed it away and lowered his bow.

All at once, the woodsmen beneath the trees started to move. Chief Goshel led them on the back of his deep brown mare, with his few riders and the more than two thousands Meshiem tribesmen on foot behind him. Somewhere to his right, Chief Shalachan and his Pesher men would be moving out from the trees as well, with blood on their minds.

Goshel rode out from beneath the protection of the foliage above, and the still heavy rain poured over him. It was unusually cold, even for a winter rain, Goshel had thought of it all day. It felt refreshing against his bearded face as it drenched him, and the strength in him was renewed.

More and more woodsmen would be visible to the sorûlian soldiers now, and they would soon realize how vastly outnumbered they would be. They would then have to make a choice on whether to charge them head on, or to return to their wall for reinforcements. Either way they were doomed. To both sides of the sorûlians, the other tribes will have moved into position now, and would be ready to strike at them immediately, whichever option the enemy chose.

As the woodsmen slowly moved up the hill, the enemy force stayed still. Only one of them seemed to be moving now suddenly. A soldier, with the golden cloak of a captain, rode forth between the three banners and up beside the single man at the very front, the one who appeared to lead the company. Goshel moved slowly, as did his men behind him, while the two sorûlian soldiers looked to be discussing options up above. Water swooshed around the hooves of the chief’s horse as it stepped through one of the ankle-deep pools among the grass.

But then suddenly there was movement. The man who had ridden at the very front of the sorûlian company, beneath the three banners, charged at the woodsmen. At first alone, but a moment later the captain who had been at his side called out an order, and all at once the force swarmed down the hillside.

That was the sign. The sorûlians had made their decision, and at any moment now Chief Ashe would come in from one side, and Chief Tasher from the other. The enemy was surrounded by a force that would outnumber them twenty four to one. They will not stand a chance, Goshel thought as he, with a pounding heart, watched the army come at them. He took an arrow from his quiver and notched it at the bowstring. The enemy would be upon them shortly, but Goshel hoped that the sorûlians would see themselves surrounded before the two sides clashed. He looked to the sides of the hill, expecting to at any moment see the other chiefs emerge from between the murky trees. But he saw none of them yet. Damn Teggeshmen. Now! Charge them now! Goshel looked to the other side, but the Idéol and Lashagg tribes were not moving either. Something is wrong…

There was no turning back now. The sorûlians were close, the sound of their charge had grown into a thunder of horses and splashing water. He could see the man at the front more clearly now. He looked like a young man, only barely an adult. His armor golden and iron, with a majestically shining golden cloak flowing off his back as he rode. His sorûlian longsword drawn and ready. And around his neck, three golden rings bound by iron chains bounced with every stride of his pitch black destrier. The rest of the men behind him seemed not to be black and green as Goshel had thought, but grey and red. Familiar colors to the chief, but he did not bother to remember the name of the house.

Goshel was on the left of the woodsman force, and Shalachan lead his men on the right. But the young man led his sorûlian force straight down the middle, and would be avoiding the two chiefs for now.

Chief Goshel could no longer wait for the other chiefs at the sides, and had no choice but to draw and loose his first shot. The shot took a sorûlian horse in the throat, and it tumbled along with its rider to the wet ground. There were only a few archers among the woodsmen, but they followed Goshel’s lead and soon more arrows dropped down among the charging enemy.

“Attaaaaack!” Goshel screamed out to his men when the sorûlians were almost upon them. A roar of thousands of men came through the rain and filled the cool winter air. The woodsmen at foot rushed past their chief to meet the sorûlians. During their descent, the enemy had spread their formation. They were now in a line only six or seven riders thick, but so long that they looked like an armed wall sweeping down the entire length of the hillside.

Chief Goshel notched another arrow, and as he drew the string back to his ear, he could hear screams and the clashing of steel to his right, where the young iron and gold sorûlian led the tip of his attack smashing into the woodsmen. Goshel fired his second shot, another horse fell, and then his own men met the outer parts of the enemy formation.

The horses with their sorûlian riders knocked all in their path into the mud, slashing with their longswords at everything they could reach below. It took a long time before they were even slowed down by the woodsmen, teaming on them from the front. They had been told to wound the horses first, to attempt to get the sorûlians’ feet on the ground where it would be easier to kill them. An axe took one horse in the chest, and a stolen sword found another’s leg. The coursers fell shrieking, and the rain mixed with their blood in the wet dirt.

Armed with nothing but his father’s hunting bow, Chief Goshel backed his mare up, away from the approaching enemy. He fired another shot at one of the sorûlians who rode straight at him. The arrow missed its target, passing the enemy just by his left ear. Goshel rushed his worried horse to the side, putting more woodsmen on foot between him and the other rider. The sorûlian was then overwhelmed, and the woodsmen forced his horse into halt. With the high ground, from atop the back of the brown beast, he still managed to kill four woodsmen before they brought his steed down. The sorûlian died there on the ground, but not before practically beheading one of the woodsmen with his blade, and driving it through the belly of another. Goshel saw one of his men pick up the sorûlian longsword, another the short-sword the man had had sheathed at his side, and a third man took the sorûlian’s dagger.

The men of his tribe had formed a dense pack around Goshel now, and the formation of the charging sorûlians broke against it. They were greatly slowed down, and had to separate to pass it, all the while slashing with their swords, sending more and more woodsmen beyond this life. Goshel took another arrow from the quiver and fired it at the closest sorûlian to his left as they passed him. This one did not miss, but took the man in the cheek by his nose as he looked towards Goshel. The red of his blood mixed with the duller red of his helm as he was flung back and tumbled down among the swarm of woodsmen and disappeared from Goshel’s sight.

The now less definable rows of sorûlian soldiers had been slowed, but once past what had become the first wave of woodsmen, they managed to pick up speed again. Chief Goshel turned his horse around and watched the enemy trample the men of the Meshiem Tribe into the ground.

“After them!” Goshel heard himself call to his men, and together they followed the enemy through the grass they had littered with death.

Goshel threw a quick glance to the trees at either side of the hill, but still there was no support coming from the other chiefs. Have they abandoned me? Would they? Goshel did not understand. But those thoughts, along with the rush of battle, filled him with rage, and he vowed to kill the other chiefs for their betrayal. They agreed to this! They brought all their men. Why do all this just to turn into cowards just when we need them?

The chief notched another arrow and attempted to fire it while riding, but the strides of his mare took all of the steadiness he needed, and he did not even see where the arrow landed. Once closer to the sorûlians, who had once again been slowed down where it was thick with woodsmen, he brought his horse to a halt and tried again. This time the arrow took a grey and red sorûlian in the back, but it only scraped the armor he wore, and then swirled through the rainy air and fell to the ground. Without hesitating, Goshel reached over his shoulder for another one. This one flew far too low, and Goshel heard the scream as it pierced the back of a woodsman who had suddenly come into the path of the arrow.

Frustrated by his misses, Chief Goshel growled at the rain, but still reached for the next arrow. But there was no clear shot now as more woodsmen had slipped past the sorûlians’ weakened formation and now stood between Goshel and his targets. He did not want to kill any more of his own, so Chief Goshel put the arrow between his teeth and rode forth to find a better position.

Goshel could see how one of his own riders met one the sorûlians. A sharp cling pierced the air as they passed each other and their blades met. The woodsman rider stopped and turned to find the sorûlian circling him. Goshel noticed that the enemy rider would be in a good angle for his arrows if he continued in the circle he held now. The chief took the arrow from between his teeth, notched, and drew.

But some fierce roaring sound came suddenly from the left, and Goshel turned his head by sheer instinct. Fire… What in the name of Boshay is happening?

The heat came as a wave across the battle field, and even though the flames themselves were far away, the heat still stung against Goshel’s face, and he looked away with a grunt. His mare began to stir wildly from the sudden warmth, and it pranced while neighing loudly. Goshel barely saw the swing of the sorûlian blade before it cut the bare belly of the horse. With an agonizing shriek, the animal threw Goshel off its back and they both fell to the ground.

He landed on his side, his head slamming against the ground beneath the grass. He struggled to draw breath but could not. Will I die now? Is this my end? He opened his eyes, but combined with the ringing in his ears, the sight of the world hurt his head. Still, he kept them open in panic, fighting to fill his lungs with air. He could see the sorûlian soldier who had cut his horse off to his right. He was on foot, one of the few that Goshel’s men had managed to get off his steed. Three woodsmen had seen him attacking Goshel and come to his aid. But two of them had only small hammers for weapons, and the other looked to only have a meat cleaver from some butcher’s shop. One of the hammer woodsmen lost his lower arm to the sorûlian short-sword, and the one with the cleaver received a deep cut in his leg.

Suddenly another fiery roar sounded off in the distant. Goshel did not turn his head, still focusing all his strength to regain his breath. The wave of heat followed soon after. Goshel’s horse, still whimpering, clinging to life on the ground beside him, protected him from most of the heat this time.

The wave had the fighting men to his side falling to the ground, just as the sorûlian had driven his short-sword into the chest of the other woodsman with the hammer. The body trapped the sorûlian’s blade, and the woodsman with the cleaver stumbled over them. He began to hack with his butcher’s tool at the sorûlian’s throat and the enemy soon stopped moving.

Just before Goshel thought he would pass out, he finally managed a small breath, then another. He was dizzy, and his head and lungs were in agony. Goshel tried to get up, but had not yet enough strength to do so, his weak arms only sending him collapsing back into the wet grass.

He tried again, this time grabbing the dying horse beside him, and dragging himself up in an attempt to see was happening. He tasted iron, and realized after touching his face that he was bleeding heavily from a gash on the front side of his head. It hurt something monstrously, but tried with all of his strength to block it out. Heavy drops of rain still fell on the hill, but now instantly turned from their clear color as they mixed with the blood among the grass. The ankle deep pools of water had turned as red as can be, forming little crimson rivers between themselves. The skies were thick with clouds, but it was day still, and the grey light that managed to get through no longer bathed a hillside of dull green. The blood shone through the grass in a sickening fashion. But the smells and sounds were worse.

It reeked of the iron-y stench of blood.

It smelt of burnt grass.

But worst was the smell of burning flesh, and the screams of the men it belonged to. The song of pain by the woodsmen laid over the hillside like a roof. Like a horrifying choir of agony. The screams only reminded him. They burn like you did, father. Although this had been something other than torch and a pyre. This had been some dark force, surely.

Those who had not been burned, or not burned bad enough, were fleeing back into the woods, leaving Goshel alone with the dying and the dead. The field was emptying, leaving only the sorûlians left standing. A few woodsmen still remained, trapped by the lines of sorûlian horses. Goshel saw how they desperately fought to escape and follow the others in between the trees, but to no avail. They were soon all dead, fallen beneath sorûlian swords.

Chief Goshel threw desperate looks to the sides of the hill, hoping, praying to see the other forces appearing. But there was nothing. It wouldn’t matter any longer, either way, the beaten chief realized then. The battle is already lost. We lost, and I failed you father.

That was when he once again saw the leader. The young sorûlian man, almost a child, who had ridden first against the woodsmen. He seemed to have lost his horse as well, the pitch black one, and he stood by himself, surrounded only by burning and smoking corpses. His sorûlian sword looked to be glowing as he held it at his side. Flames coming off of it now and then. Goshel saw how the three golden rings and the steel chain swayed over his gold and steel armor as he walked. The sigil of the Teavas… Goshel remembered. He felt like a fool. A chief whose foolishness had costed him and so many other woodsmen their lives. They carried the Teavas sign, but I didn’t believe them…

Goshel had not noticed before, but he saw now that the sorûlians had formed a large ring around their leader after their single charge. They had seen to that the young man had gotten deep into the woodsman force, then gotten away from him so that they would not burn with the others. Goshel felt tears swell up along with the rage and humiliation. He beat the now dead body of his horse with a fist, letting out a moan of regret and anger.

Some of the sorûlians had dismounted now, and walked around the grass to kill the last wounded and still screaming woodsmen. Chief Goshel looked around the field. He was a fair distance away from where the sorûlians had gathered, and most of them had their backs turned to him, but the field was still and empty far in every direction. There is nowhere to go. If I get up and run, they will see me, and they will kill me. But if I stay, they will find me, and kill me.

Goshel lowered his head, trying to figure out what to do next. As he did, he saw his father’s old bow in the rain. He had dropped it in his fall, and it had landed just next to him in a pool of water and grass. And he still had the arrows on his back, although some had fallen out of the quiver and laid scattered on the ground around him. He pondered those things for a moment, then carefully reached for the bow. His side hurt when he lifted it, and Goshel suspected he had at least one broken rib. That will make shooting difficult. But he ignored that as best he could, and plucked one of the arrows from the ground. He strummed the bowstring a few times to get rid of as much water as he could. I will not die begging for mercy, cowering behind a dead horse.

Chief Goshel noticed that his hands were shaking, and took another few breaths in an attempt to calm down. What will happen if I miss? Will I burn, just like father? He had to push hard to get those thoughts out. Then he gathered his courage and stood up from behind the dead animal. He notched as fast as he could, and forced the strength back into his big arms to draw. He took as much time as he dared to aim. Too long, he thought.

“Archer!” one of the sorûlians bellowed out in their rough tongue just as Goshel let the arrow fly out over the sea of burning grass and death. The ring of sorûlian soldiers ducked in their saddles or where they stood on their feet, but the young man in the middle did not seem to react. He had dropped his glowing sword, and stood now still, looking down at his own hands. Goshel almost regretted the shot as soon as he had made it. It was a terribly long one, and through heavy rain no less. I must not miss.

His heart was pounding harder than ever before as the arrow soared for what felt like such a long time. It flew over the rows of sorûlian soldiers and dove down beyond. The young man with the golden rings and the chain had stood sideways from Goshel, and still stood like so when the arrow pierced the back of his skull, and he fell dead to the ground among all those he had burned.

© 2015 Suchit Gawande

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Added on July 4, 2015
Last Updated on September 2, 2015
Tags: fantasy


Suchit Gawande
Suchit Gawande

Amravati, Maharashtra, India

I am an Engineer by profession,having interest in observation of human behavior and psychological facts and feelings which are the most powerful things on this planet. I have my own perspective of.. more..