Not with a bang
The Conflicted Barbarian
Quarrel of the clan Wolf Slayer, hails from a merciless life found in the Village of the Unnamed between Kalsgard and the island of Bildt in the Lands of the Linnorm Kings. Tolerating bitter, life-stealing blizzards and consistent attacks from wolves and trolls, the Ulfen people of clan Wolf Slayer maintain a hardy and typically short life in their snow-covered long-houses.
Much like the frost covered land surrounding him, the heart of the barbarian Quarrel, was cold and unfeeling. Working the frozen tundra surrounding his home with his father, Quarrel began to feel trapped in a life that he felt belonged not to him, but rather tradition. His bitterness drove him to countless evenings soaked in ale and desperation, until the fateful night he found himself drowing face first in his own vomit. It was Della that turned him over and cleaned him up as the torchlight danced across the slumbering bodies of those remaining in the longhouse. Quarrel had just enough life in him to catch a glimpse of her sapphire eyes staring into his very soul. It was then that his heart began to finally melt and pump the vigor of life into his veins.
His love for Della was not unrequited and for many great moons they shared unforgettable days and passionate nights. She listened to his yearning to leave the Lands of the Linnorm Kings, but her fear for the unknown only drove roots of hesitation further into her being. Quarrel refused to continue the tradition of farming set by his father, and though marriage to Della could give him a chance at a new life, it was that of a fisherman, which was equally as meaningless to the massive barbarian yearning for adventure.
It was during Quarrel’s time of uncertainty that the Elder’s son and beast of a man named Njal EyeBreaker grew fond of Della. She shunned his planned advances when Quarrel was away, but they became more aggressive and frequent. She tried to confide in Quarrel, but was afraid that Quarrel would kill Njal in a jeaouls rage. Quarrel’s inner battles had only grown more intense.
It was that fateful evening that drove Quarrel out of the frozen north. An icy wind whipped his black mane as his mossy green eyes surveyed the path ahead of him. He moved through the shadows between two longhouses when the rhythmic sound of crunching snow beneath his feet was dashed by the sound of Della crying out. He knew it was her in an instant. He crossed the space to the sound ahead of him with the speed of a dire wolf. Njal had her on the ground and was tearing at her clothes with one hand and attempting to muffle her cries with the other. Quarrel was on him in an instant and their lumbering figures crashed through the snow with Quarrel’s boulder-like fists crashing into flesh and Njals thumbs attempting to drive into Quarrel’s eyes.
Something possessed Quarrel as Njal eventually managed to pin him down with the searing pain and pressure of his thumbs pressing inward. He would not die the son of a farmer. He would not die in this forgotten wasteland. In one swift motion his hand fell upon the obsidian bladed axe hanging from Njal’s belt. It was a weapon handed down for generations in his family of privilege. Njal’s intention was to blind and embarrass Quarrel, for he knew killing another clan member meant paying the penalty, which was death. However Quarrel could not best Njal who was significantly larger and stronger than he was. In a flash the axe-head drove upward between them, catching Njal in the jaw, who leapt backward with a shout of pain. Quarrel was on his feet and the axe whirled in a half circle above his head, landing squarely into the side of Njal’s skull. He howled in agony and dropped to his knees until his breath was drowned by the gurgling of his own blood, and the mountain of a man fell face first into the canvas of snow.
With a hurried embrace and a look of knowing, Della and Quarrel spent their last fleeting moment together as the sounds of shouting and curious clan members grew closer to investigate the death howl of Njal. Salty tears streamed down Della’s face as she fell to her knees and her heart wretched in disbelief. The voices around her grew dull and muffled as her only focus was watching as the shadow of Quarrel grew smaller in the trees, and with one last penetrating look over his shoulder at her, he disappeared into the curtain of blowing snow.