On top of the frozen wasteland of Ka-dubarh, brave men defend their families and village from their enemies – the trolls. One man and one troll are the last, will there be peace? Or blood?
The Last of Ka’dubarh is December’s flash fiction that’ll bring readers into a fantasy themed battle. Experience the story in written word, audio, artwork and soundscape.
The Last of Ka’dubarh
Family means everything. This is something that has been engraved into the hearts of my people for centuries. Our blood is what binds us together. Unity is what makes us strong. The ancestry tree has been carried on for generations, keeping us robust and pure. Each new generation carries on the legacy of the last. We support one another, care for one another, and fight for one another. Even if it means the most significant sacrifice: our own life.
This is why I find myself on the frozen planes of Ka’dubarh, crawling over dozens of frozen corpses. Some of them I recognize, hell, I even had them over for wine and dinner back home. Now, their lifeless, cold faces are empty shells. Their souls have moved onto the afterlife. That leaves me here, alone, as the last.
My feet were numb. Possibly from the blood loss or the icy weather. I didn’t know, all I knew was I could no longer feel them, or walk on them. I had to crawl on my arms to push forward. The vast chasm leading out of Ka’dubarh was the one path that protects my people’s homeland from outsiders. If I could just keep pushing on, I could crawl down the mountain and back to the warmer wilderness. I could make it back to my family.
I let out a grunt, my arm gave out, and my face collided onto the ice-covered chest of a corpse. Pushing myself up, I looked over to see the head was a wrinkly grey colour with curled tusks and an elongated nose. Green-tinted icicles hung from the tip and the rims of the nostrils. That was no friend, it was one of my enemies.
“Damn trolls,” I muttered to myself. If they hadn’t been consumed by greed, maybe we would have been able to find some sort of common ground. We aren’t that different after all. It is only the names of our faiths that separate us.
A groan came directly under me as the chest began to move.
Oh no, I thought while pushing myself off of the troll. The being slowly lifted his limbs as his yellow eyes flung open. The ice cracked and crumbled as the body came to life.
“Goo’cha abu,” the troll muttered to itself while adjusting its helmet.
“Goddamnit,” I whispered while patting around my belt, where was my knife? I couldn’t find it, I had no weapon on me.
The troll rolled onto his side and looked up at me. His ice-coated face crunched into a scowl as he let out a nasty hiss, saying, “human!”
I extended my one hand, palm, outward, staring at the troll. “The battle is over, foe, we can go our separate ways, back home,” I said. Maybe I could reason with him. Perhaps we could come to some form of an agreement and leave this blood-filled snowscape.
The troll attempted to get up but collapsed with a yelp. His leg had an arrow through it, he was as crippled as I was.
“No battle over,” the troll said. “Your people shun us, and you will die for the dishonour.”
“This can be settled another day,” I said. “Go home, and I will do the same.”
“We fight, human.”
“We have fought! Look around you! Our comrades and friends lay slain. The battle is over.”
“No,” the troll reached around his belt until he pulled out a large jagged black dagger. “For my fallen brethren!”
I thought the cold was a difficult thing to deal with as is, now, I wish that was all I had. My hopes of survival drastically dwindled as I watched the troll crawl towards me, the knife in his mouth. With all my might, I pushed myself to the side to move away from him. The issue was, the troll was directly in my path leading back to my village. I needed to get around him.
“Humans will pay!” the troll shouted, drool running down his chin.
“Back!” I shouted, feeling the troll’s hand slap against my boot – a failed attempt to snag me. I picked up my pace, crawling faster, feeling my arms shake. The troll had longer limbs and would easily be able to catch up to me.
The troll’s grunting and my panting accompanied by the crunching of snow was all that filled the soundscape as we crawled over our fallen comrades. I kept my eyes focused on the curved path I took around the troll. I could feel my lungs burn as my body begged for me to stop moving. It wanted me to end it all right now, stop trying to push forward.
I couldn’t give up. My wife and my son waited for me back home. I didn’t come to Ka’dubarh with my comrades to die here. I came here to defend my family and return to them.
A piercing sound filled the air as a sharp pain spiked from my ankle. I let out a cry of pain, realizing the troll had got me.
I glanced back while launching a kick at his face. Despite my numb foot, the boot was still an effective blunt object to my enemy’s nose. The blow made a crunching noise, causing the troll to hiss and back off. He let go of the knife in the process.
“Come on,” I muttered under my breath. Even with the knife in my ankle, I continued to crawl forward. The sound of the troll picked up, he was on the chase again.
“Your people hate our kind, kill our kind, I will gut you!” the troll called out.
At this moment, I realized I couldn’t out-crawl the troll, he had more energy. They were more resilient and had more stamina than humans. He wasn’t willing to be reasoned with either. I had to fight him.
“You,” I grunted while rolling onto my back, bending my stabbed leg towards my hand. “invaded our land.” I coiled my hand around the large knife. “Ka’dubarh is the sacred entrance!” I shouted while yanking the knife out of my ankle. Blood began to pour out of my wound and onto the snow, that wound had to be sealed soon. But first, I had to fend off my final foe on the battlefield.
The troll hissed and snagged both of my legs. “Ka’dubarh hides our holy temple.”
“Then why do you shed blood on the holy?” I growled while pushing myself upward, gripping the knife tightly.
I thrust the knife down, aiming for the troll’s arms. He let go of my limbs and rolled to the side. My knife stabbed into the ice, and I quickly pulled it out as I fell forward, crawling towards the troll in one smooth movement.
“Our ancient temple belongs to us!” the troll hissed while crawling on top of a troll corpse. He patted the body, searching for some sort of weapon. The troll’s face filled with a toothy grin as he pulled out a smaller dagger from the corpse’s belt.
“We will claim back our land,” the troll said as he scurried off the corpse and towards me.
End of All
Here we go, I thought as the sharp-biting wind picked up, blowing my hair in front of me. This was it, the final battle of Ka’dubarh.
The troll let out a roar as he forced himself onto his knees and slashed the knife at me. I rolled out of the way and plunged the blade into his outer thigh. The dagger pierced into his skin and he let out a roar. He backhanded my face, causing me to pull the dagger out of him as I landed on the snow. Thick forest-green blood oozed from his new wound.
“You will die, human!” the troll thrust the knife down at me, the blade pierced into my gut, and I let out a cry of pain. Gripping my dagger, I stabbed it up into his chest, piercing into his lungs.
The troll pulled his dagger out and thrust it down on me again as I did the same to him. Our weapons punctured our torsos repeatedly, causing green and red blood to spray over both of our bodies.
The troll let out a howl of pain as his body weakened, he nearly fell on top of me, using his one free hand to keep upright as he continued to stab me.
I cried in agony, clenching my teeth. The pain was only a thought in my mind, and I tried to ignore the powerful sensations that erupted from my wounds. I could feel the strength in my system begin to leave, I had no fight left, except for one last attack.
Letting out a roar, I thrust the blade further up from the previous stabs, this one piercing into the troll’s heart. He let out a gagging noise as he dropped his knife and his weight collapsed onto me. His tusks scraped against my cheek as his saliva drizzled down onto my face. The vile stench of mould and rotten meat reeked from his body, the typical troll smell. I just didn’t think it would be the last smell I ever smelt.
As I lay on the snow, in a pool of blood, my body began to warm up. The light from the sky started to become overpowering, causing all of Ka’dubarh to turn white. My overstimulated senses relaxed. My breathing was slowing down. The vile smell of the troll dwindled and was replaced with a soft sweet aroma. A familiar one. My wife?
My vision faded. Only the white light remained. I was warm now. I felt no pain. I could sense my family. I would reunite with them.