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Hunger Of The Wolf

by Kieran Coghlan


Background
Wolf
Artwork © Tina Alfredsen
You struggle desperately against your captors' strong grip on your arm. Your corded muscles tighten from the exertion and for a second you free your arms and smash your fist into the jaw of one of the treacherous scum. It is to no avail however; as two more take his place and grip your arm even tighter. Confidently, they press it against the wood and hold it steady.

'Nail him!' snarls Saul triumphantly. One man is holding a long iron nail and a hammer. You renew your struggle, but your arm is held in a vice-like grip. The nail is placed on your wrist and the hammer is brought down on its head. Your whole body is wracked with pain as the hammer nails your bloody wrist into the wood of the cross. You cry out in agony and can barely put up any resistance at all as the vile conspirators do the same to your left arm. Finally, they turn their attention to your legs. You lash out and succeed in winding one of them in the stomach with your brutish kick.

'Defiant to the end,' says Saul with a bitter smile. 'I would have expected nothing less.'

It does not take them long to hold your legs steady and yet another nail is driven through both your feet into the cross. You tilt your head back and give a scream of impotent rage. Without a word, the traitors attach ropes to the ends of the cross and haul it upright. You stare down at Saul and his followers. Your former lieutenant looks up at you with glee.

'So now we see who is the true master,' he mocks, his yellow eyes bright with delight and his long grey hair flapping in the night time breeze. 'Your army will abandon you and follow me. I will achieve greatness and be remembered for centuries while you will die and be forgotten. Farewell!'

With this he bows, then he and his co-conspirators mount their steeds and take off into the night. You gaze desperately at the bleak landscape of gently rolling hills surrounding you. No one will come for you out here. You hang your head in dejection recalling how you came to be left crucified by your own soldiers.

A barbarian from north-eastern Allansia, you always had a feeling of wanderlust unusual to your simple people. You had travelled the world seeking your fortune and have seen many sights that your own folk would have doubted existed: the majesty of Salamonis; the villainy and danger of crowded Port Blacksand; the decadent civilizations of the Old World and the towering peaks of Kazan. Your strength and natural charisma soon brought you a crowd of followers who you led to victory against the caravans of fat and greedy merchants. One of your followers, the mysterious Saul, rose quickly to your attention, but you were never particularly fond of him. A natural fighter, who threw himself into combat with the ferocity of a wild animal, you realized his potential and made him your lieutenant. You and he grew bolder in your raids and soon you had a sizeable army of followers. You had your army camped outside the village of Fenmarge on the southern edge of Scorpion Swamp; a place so foul that only the most foolhardy dare tread. It was there that Saul made his move. Pretending that there were some potential new recruits waiting, he and his co-conspirators led you to this place at the edge of the swamp. Before you knew what was happening they were upon you, desperately trying to fix you to the cross that they had left there in preparation.

You raise your head, your lungs straining in the effort to breathe. The moon casts its pale light on your face and with a growl you yell a promise: you will free yourself somehow and will not rest until Saul has died by your hand! Once you have made this terrible vow, you turn your gaze downward and are startled to find you are no longer alone. Standing at the foot of the cross is a powerful looking man with a thick brown beard and dressed in furs. A silver medallion hangs from his neck. He looks up at you, but says not a word.

'Well, have you come to aid me or to see the mighty barbarian fallen into deepest shame?' you ask impatiently. 'I can promise you that I will not beg for your help so expect no satisfaction on that score!' The man continues to say nothing, but moves a finger in three quick motions. Suddenly the nails supporting your body vanish and you fall to the rough ground on your knees.
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