Where Warriors Come To Rest
The barrowman stands vigil in the shadow of the burnt wreckage that once was the Mistress’ house. It wonders if her family died, for It cannot no longer feel that awareness that suggest more undead. Mercy, it muses. Although….
An accusing caw-caw echoes over the pines, and It turns its eyes up see that accursed crow, the minion of the Mistress. One of the crow’s eyes is a sickly red, the other a mouldy brown.
The barrowman nods at the crow. It is prepared to accept its punishment, whatever that will be.
“Alright– you know what to do?” The question is asked by Helena Gravsten, and adressed to Cordelia Holm.
Cordelia hesitates. “I know what to do, but I don’t understand why we’re doing it.” Helena cocks an antique revolver and fills it with bullets. “Because had that stupid thing been here, then we might not have had to flee.” She gestures to the forest, the mountain, their tents, their sweaty faces. ” If it had just done its job, then we wouldn’t have to be slumming in a shitty forest. I could have had my make-up, my clothes and a sleeping place where I don’t freeze my nipples off every goddamn night. And more; it’s unreliable. For the final strokes of my plan I need to have reliable servants.”
Cordelia finally nods. She waves her hands around in the air, and a portal to Gravsten’s old house appears. Helena takes one step inside the portal.
“Hey Helena?”, Cordelia asks in a needy voice.
“What?” The word is uttered in a tone that could freeze Hermannstadt.
“You… you wouldn’t do something like this to me, would you?”
Helena pats her on a shoulder. “Of course not. You’re not my servant; you’re my friend.”
The barrowman isn’t surprised when the Mistress and Cordelia Holm appears through a waterway. The Mistress gestures to the ashen ruins. She doesn’t waste words. “Why didn’t you come when they burned my house?”
“You did not call.” When the house burned down, It felt the Mistress’ panic, but that wasn’t explicitly a call.
“Semantics”, she spits.
She levels a strange-looking item at the ground. A gun, It thinks its called. Seven portals of water, one beneath the gun, and the six others each aimed at a specific point at Its body appear.
” You cannot hurt-”
“Die.” A small object lodges into the barrowman’s heart.
“Die. “A second object, small, circular slams into its mouth.
“Die.” A third projectile pierces a lung with the force of a thousand speers.
“Die.” The fourth projectile ruptures something in Its stomach.
“Die.” Its second lung collapses as a acorn-sized bullet rips a road through it.
“Die.” The last bullet cuts a path through Its throat, and black blood spurts out.
The barrowman’s legs give up, and It falls to the ground, slowly, like an old timber. The supernatural healing that has kept It alive for a millenia doesn’t come. There is no re-knitting of bone, no mendation of flesh, no deflated lungs springing up. There is pain, a great deal of it, pain that blots out reasoning, thoughts, a sense of self.
Why, It thinks to itself, why am I not healing? It looks up at Helena Gravsten. The words… Its thoughts have become slow and thuggish. The power of her command must be stronger than Its healing. The irony makes It smile. It has been stabbed. Knifed. Thrown out of cliffs. Almost eaten. Burned by fire. But to think that mere words will be the death of It…
It crawls towards Helena Gravsten, determined to do something before It dies. It just needs a tenth of a second to do it. Gravsten loads her gun, once more. She looks down at It. The barrowman traces a bloody rune on the ground. The Mistress takes a step forward and fires the final shots.
The last thing the barrowman sees is the Mistress standing on the rune It wrote. The rune for ‘Rune’. He will avenge me, the barrowman thinks. CRACK. Then darkness. A fall that feels like an eternity, like the old ‘ättestups’, the old cliffs where the ancient Swedes would throw the infirm or the useless over. Then an endless field of golden wheat, where a woman in mail greets It.
” Hagart. I have come to collect you.” It pauses. It remembers. Hagart.That’s what they used to call him. A long, long time ago. “Collect me for what”, asks Hagart-who-was-and-is the barrowman.
The woman in mail gives him a serious look. “For the Einherjar, of course.” It looks down on the ground. Shame is not an emotion it often feels, but this is one such occassion.” I am not worthy.” “On the contrary; few are as worthy as you are.”
Helena Gravsten looks down on the broken body of the barrowman. Her first impulse is to have Cordelia teleport it high into the sky and let it tumble down and break into thousand of pieces against the unforgiving earth. It would be a fitting punishment for disloyalty, she thinks. She could even try to bring back the pieces of it.
But on the other hand….A logical conundrum presents itself to her. The barrowman was killed and resurrected in the distant past, and become a barrowman in that fashion. Because it was dead, she could manipulate and control. But what would happen if she brought it back a second time?
Would nothing happen? Or would her control be magnified because in a sense, it’s even more under her dominion of death? She scratches her oily, unwashed skin. Her source doesn’t mention anything like this. I think I am going to have to some research…
She motions to Cordelia with a dismissive flick of a finger. “Fetch the body. I am not quite finished with our blue friend yet.”