Sunshine. His lips tasted of sunshine.
As Thornhammer felt his kiss warm her soul like the summer sun she stroked caramel fingers but once over the wooden barrier that now separated them and wished him all the love of which she never spoke to aide him in his final quest. With a steadying breath she turned then, pushing away the hope of another moment more and the dreams of what may have been to focus on what truly was. Flexing her mighty will was a simple effort now, calling to the earth to grant her the weapon she favored one final time. As it's smooth wooden handle slipped into her hands she anchored herself with its strength, giving a final and powerful pull to draw the warhammer's heavy head from the reluctant stone before bringing it to rest over her shoulder.
In the tunnel beyond she could hear them coming, a thousand clattering legs slapping against the hard stone as they scurried towards their prey. Falling into herself Thornhammer took the stance she had always adopted, defying all that would strike her down and bring her pain with the set of her legs and the steel in her eyes. Sensing Bron slipping from the realm of spirit to this world, his large furred form fading into flesh beside her brought some comfort, and just a little heartache. As much a part of her heart as any brother could ever be Thornhammer could only honor the sacrifice he too was making by bringing her hand to his head and scratching roughly behind his ears. "Silly old bear" she whispered, leaning close to nuzzle her cheek against his head and let what tears still etched her skin be wiped away. It would not do him justice to die with such things upon her face.
"Ready sister?" he whispered in her mind, giving the comfort she needed in that final moment before they broke into the cavern. "I am" she replied, the honed muscles in her legs tightening as the jade scorpions turned the final bend in the tunnel and swarmed into the cave. With two resounding cries that would have honored any bear, they rushed forward as one, each intent on seeing that all before them fell and that nothing living would pass.
With a powerful downward strike Thornhammer crushed the first scorpion, the sickening crack of its chitinous skeleton softening the squishing of its soft inner being. Then quicker then the horrible beasts could react she swung her hammer to the side to launch two more towards the far wall, smiling grimly as both broke against the stone and fell lifeless to the ground. The resounding sound of Bron's defiant roar as scorpion's fell under his powerful strikes was the sweetest music that Thornhammer had ever known. His powerful heart became the steadying rhythm that she followed in her dance, weaving past grasping pincers and thrusting stingers to bring death to all those who had helped destroy her home, hoping with each blow that the beast that had felled her Grandmother would be crushed by her hands.
With a forward thrust of her hammer she broke the shell of one creature, caving in its face and driving it back to die slowly before grasping the handle tight in both hands and swinging in a wide circle throwing even more of the foul things wide of their target. Such attacks, as wild and powerful as they were, proved costly. Even as she brought the hammer down against the earth and set herself once more Thornhammer found another group of the jade toned scorpions surrounding her, their claws cracking in anticipation of tearing off her flesh. Her eyes narrowed, studying the things before her, sensing the ones behind, noting the place of all that faced her.
For a moment she was still, in mind and body and spirit all was silence.
"NO!" she screamed, unwilling to let this end yet, her fingers tightening on the smooth wood before she brought the heavy head slamming down against the earth and poured her essence into the stone. All about her the cave began to rumble, the stone beneath her feet breaking as the thick trunks of trees shot upwards and broke the ranks of the jade scorpions. Many were thrown aside, tossed about like leaves in a summer's wind, others were caught in the sudden upward rush and soon crushed against the roof of the cave of skewered by stalactites that hung like swords in the darkness above. With another whisper of power the trees faded from the stone, bodies and bits raining down around her as Thornhammer charged forward once more to continue her assault.
The beasts died all around her, yet some were lucky enough to graze her with pincers or pierce her with barb. Thornhammer did not falter, she did not fall. Beyond pain's touch she carried on through the mass of scorpions and brought death with her wherever she stepped. And at the tunnels entrance the scorpions had stopped coming, for their master had now arrived.
Kelest stood at the edge of the battle silent as a grave. Those pure jade eyes of his surveying all the destruction Thornhammer and Bron had wrought upon his precious children and promised both death with but a glance. A promise that Bron was willing to test. The great black bear thundered across the cave floor, slamming aside the few scorpions that dared stand in his determined path, the strength of the great spirit overwhelming all that was guarding his sworn enemy. Taking the hilt of his Great Blade Kelest met Bron's challenge with a roar of his own.
With another swing and strike Thornhammer crushed a pair of the creatures, then turned to watch as Bron roared in rage and launched himself at Kelest. Time seemed to slow, the beasts he had sent, his precious children, all but forgotten as Thornhammer's eyes settled on Kelest and Bron. She wanted to scream, wanted to beg Bron to wait, to let them face this final test together. Yet her voice failed her, and she could only stand in silence as the two met. Bron's great black paw swung out, those razored claws sweeping at Kelest's bare skin, seeking to gut the dark brown man and leave him rotting on the floor. Kelest was to fast though, too graceful, a single turn had him beside Bron and not before him, a flex of those tattooed arms and a powerful elbow was cracked against the side of Bron's head
Bron was undeterred, the great bear turned just as quickly, snapping his jaws at the man's hip and tearing a small bit of flesh free before kelest could leap aside and face his foe more squarely. Whatever pain Kelest felt wasn't shown on his face, his jade eyes only narrowing as he snapped a kick upward into Bron's chin and threw the bear's head back hard. Dazed by the blow Bron stumbled to the side, growling through the lancing pain in his maw before rising up onto his hind legs and bellowing in Kelest's face, his whole body launching forward in one swift movement to capture Kelest in a tight hug meant to crush every bone in his upper body.
This time the pain was apparent on Kelest's face, his head thrashing from side to side as Bron squeezed all the tighter and poured his immense strength into crushing the life from his enemy. Bron's roar was mighty indeed, his own rage at Kelest's actions blessing the great bear with heightened strength as he tossed the man about in his arms and forced him to release his sword. Kelest's futile struggles made his brow glisten, the approaching maw of the bear promising a crushing death lest he escape. As those great jaws snapped towards Kelest' face the man's tattoo's began to glow a sickly green while wisps of acrid smoke rose from Bron's arms. The searing pain paused the spirit, the bear's head throwing back to bellow its agony to gods as Kelest's struggles renewed and won him his freedom.
Thornhammer could only run, the world around her seeming to drag as fear blossomed in her stomach. Kelest could be seen tumbling to the floor and rolling back, his hand grasping the hilt of his blade. Screaming, tears curving down her caramel cheeks, Thornhammer's eyes beheld the heart breaking end of her beloved brother. The black bear stumbled back, confused and enraged by the pain Kelest had caused. As he staggered and regained his balance Kelest was already drawing back and angling his blade, With a savage forward thrust the long emerald blade pierced Bron's heart, slicing through cleanly to gleam darkly for Thornhammer's disbelieving eyes.
So close she could smell the heat of Bron's blood, taste the flavor of his life spilling down his dark spine. As the emerald blade pulled free the Bear fell back to the earth, growling lightly as he fought to find his feet once more and stand tall against his enemy. Yet her gentle hand stilled him, played over his head as she knelt beside her brother and offered her final comforts. As the bear's enormous strength thinned to a whisper Bron could feel his connection to Thornhammer fading, but not enough to dull the aching pain in her heart. Nor silence the promise of death she gave him. Then even her touch was feather light and fading, the scent of the Great Woods, of home and the hunt, Of wild berries and spawning fish filled him with peace. The memories of a thousand summer days spent with Anna rose and guided him beyond the world of the living.
Her tear stained eyes never left Kelest, never gave him the chance. In but a moment her brother had passed, his heart thundering but once before growing still. The ache of his absence, still so fresh, became part of the growing rage that engulfed Thornhammer's mind. Her muscles tightened, her long fingers grasping the haft of her Warhammer as she rose for this final dance.
"Your flesh will taint this cavern for centuries…" She whispered, a promise given and a promise meant to be kept. Her rush was lightning quick, the short ground separating her and Bron from Kelest closed in an instant before her Hammer swung in high. Kelest's swift parry and return was no less graceful and the two fell into an intricate dance of dying souls. Where Anna's hammer swung Kelest's blade deflected and where Kelest's blade struck Anna's hammer blocked. The two circled and weaved around one another, trading feints and strikes while their eyes burned intensely.
Kelest studied Anna's style again, the wild Thornhammer's movement's were exotic and unpredictable. The speed with which she handled her weapon, a war-hammer that weighed at least as much as she did, was beyond anything he had seen in his travels. The promise of what that body could be without a weapon, and perhaps with some restraints, was no less spectacular than the warrior he now faced. His blade thirsted for her flesh as much as he and Kelest promised himself both would be sated before the moon next rose. While Anna swung and dodged, countered and blocked Kelest was bidding his time, running through routines and drills that he often practiced. Though her deadly style was no game, and he was working well beyond his normal practice levels, Kelest still felt he had control of the battle. His confidence, and Thornhammer's grief, offered the opening. He merely accepted it as fate's hand and drove the blade home.
The sudden agony of his blade sliding cleanly through her stomach was a surprise. One moment she had been fighting harder and faster then she had ever done, she had been moving at a level that felt divine in its inspiration. Now she was still, one hand slowly coming to explore this new sensation while the other tightened its grip on her faltering hammer. When the sword jerked free but a few moments before she touched it, Thornhammer was graced with only the slick heat of her blood pouring from her stomach. Kelest's smirk, the burning triumph in his gaze as he watched her fall to her knees in the dirt was just smug enough to make her temper flare and plant a seed in her mind. Shifting her hammer before her, its smooth wooden head pressing into the earth, Thornhammer pressed her forehead against the polished handle and whispered "Finish it."
Kelest smiled wickedly, seeing the mighty Thornhammer kneeling before him was having a profoundly stimulating effect. She had submitted, had given in. He would honor her wish and end her life. Eventually. For now there were things he wished to explore, games he wanted to play. His dark fingers rose and curled into her hair, jerking her head back and making her gasp in pain. Kelest promised himself she would be weeping with agony before he finally killed her. "Don't bleed out too fast Thornhammer. Claiming the spoils of war is never as much fun with a corpse." Licking his lips he meant to force a hard kiss on those soft pink lips of hers, meant to bite into her flesh and taste the sweetness of her blood.
With her head held in Kelest's iron grip and her own strength failing Thornhammer could only struggle vainly against his hold and listen to the obscene promises he made. His lust for her flesh had driven him to destroy her sister, her Grandmother and her brother. His want for her eclipsed all reason, and all caution. As he bent close to taint her with his lips Thornhammer flexed her will one final time, the very end of her weapon's handle sharpening to a point instantly. In the next moment the wood shot upwards, expanding towards the sun like a sapling that first tastes the light. The wooden spike continued pushing up, through Kelest's flesh and bone, through his brain, and further before stopping. As his grip loosened and his weight sagged Thornhammer once more rested her forehead against the Hammer's haft and let her eyes slip closed. She still tasted sunshine...
And i can bare to speak no more of how her gentle heart fell into silence, or the pain i feel with each moment remembered and a thousand more forgotten. For those who know of what i speak also know that words, no matter how artful or plain, are never enough to paint the beauty of another's soul or the tragedy of it's end. Like all those that remain behind i ache, in the summer sun and the winter night, to feel her warmth and know that the light of her heart will once more rise...