The Beat of the Drum
By: Trevor Montgomery
This story was originally submitted to Mythic!
Faldar awoke from what he hoped was a terrible nightmare. His sweat stained clothes chilled his body as the evening winds swept over him. Looking around, he recognized the forest about him. He had just started his training as a hunter for his village last spring and was far from ready to be given his own bow, but he knew the forest in the immediate vicinity of his village. He began the trek back, hoping against hope that it had truly been a nightmare.
Upon reaching the edge of the clearing, his worst fears came true and he realized his nightmare was actually just a memory of the previous night. Bodies littered the muddy paths between what remained of the huts of his village. Fires burned what remained of the town hall. Overwhelmed, Faldar fell to his knees crying. His hands covered his head as he lay down in the mud and gore and fell asleep again.
He awoke with a start, jumping up to his feet. “Bumm Bumm,” off in the distance he heard a beat repeating over and over again. “Bumm Bumm”. He stalked into the woods, stealthily prowling towards the source of the ever louder drum. It was still dark out and his vision was quite limited, so he moved carefully and slowly through the trees, “BUMM BUMM”. It seemed as if the noise was right on top of him, nay, all around him. Clinging to the trunk of the nearest tree, he shuddered. This was not the Imperial Patrol that he had hoped for. He cursed himself a fool, realizing the enemy would have left no one alive; no one to run and warn of the coming host.
It was too late, he realized, too late for his village, too late for himself. He fell to his knees and closed his eyes as he heard the host approach knowing his end was near, waiting silently and praying to his gods. Suddenly… he looked up as he heard a “WHOOOOSH” pass his head. He immediately recognized the sound of an arrow in flight, and then more, and more. “WHOOOSH WHOOSH WHOOOSH” Just barely, he could see quick movement dashing around the trees, and then a loud thumping sound… horse hooves, coming from the opposite direction of the drum.
Howls filled the night air and soon followed the sound of steel on steel. He began to cry again as his nightmare turned to life around him. Looking up, he saw cloaked humans charging through the trees, battling against a group of Chaos, no doubt the same group that had sacked his village the night before. With a shout the cavalry charged through the tree line straight into the Chaos lines, breaking them, horrendous screams piercing his ears as the horses crushed those unlucky beasts.
Soon the battle was over. Faldar stood and walked out into the clearing, calling out to the soldiers. A man on horse approached and asked him his name and where he was from. Faldran told the man his name, and then the story of his village and its end. The soldier lowered an arm saying, “Then come with us boy; in the coming days we will need every arm we can get. War is upon us all.”
Faldran took his hand, mounted the horse, and rode off into history.