*Wordcount: 1089 words.
Krang’s world blurred, his vision pitching and yawing like a particularly fast dogfight, and his inner ear screamed for everyone to just calm down and let it think. Krang himself didn’t mind, he’d gotten used to it after many, many years, and had come to find it quite calming in recent years.
His thoughts sat in the back of his mind while his senses panicked, sealed away from the mayhem of the situation. These thoughts locked in on some very important contemplation, such as the chores he had waiting for him at home, and the simple question of what to do once everything calmed down.
He could make a necklace or a bracelet, but honestly he had crafted so many that the thought bored him to death. He’d end up doing it on auto-pilot, and just discard it into the pile when he got home and forget about it.
His mind shuddered, as if shaking him awake, and he reluctantly dragged himself out of the warmth of quiet contemplation.
Bodies were strewn about him, some mangled and some simply dead. Blood splattered the walls, and floor, and even small sections of ceiling. The steady crimson dripping from Krang’s small hand-axe was adding to it, so, out of politeness, he wiped it clean on the shirt of a nearby dead man.
With his trusty weapon, purring after a job well done, sheathed, he set to work scavenging and scrounging what he could.
To his minor disappointment there weren’t many spoils to be had, which he supposed should be expected considering the crowd. Barflies aren’t exactly known for their ostentatious wealth, but a man can dream.
Krang noticed the bartender peering fearfully at him over the counter, and ignored him while he finished cleaning up (not literally, of course). At least the bartender had stayed out of his way, and for that he would live. Starting a bar brawl with a barbarian is dangerous, even foolhardy, business, and joining in after the fact is suicide.
Still, Krang dropped almost half of his findings in gold on the counter, and the ‘tender fell over himself trying to back away (over a body that had ended up that side of the counter, probably through its own fault, Krang saw).
“For damages.” Krang said, in the tell-tale barbarian language which boiled down to growled words and louder growled words.
Krang left the bar and strolled casually down the dusty road, as casually as one can stroll when one is seven feet tall and more muscle-bound than an ox. A small, brown sack hang at his waist, deepening with the blood of the collected ears Krang had gathered.
He didn’t have much use for ears, and he knew he would end up discarding them (ears make poor trophies after all), but he hadn’t been in the mood to gather anything more than this. He had been tempted to leave with nothing, which is an absurd notion to barbarians, and he had decided against it. It would be dishonourable to leave a fight without a trophy showing you as superior, the greater warrior deserving of a trophy.
Krang hadn’t had the same spirit of late, though, and had begun to wonder what life would be like without the fighting.
Maybe he could finally spruce up his home, do some of those improvements he’d always promised to do but never gotten around to.
Some skylights or maybe a second floor, he’d like that! He could spend some time polishing the skull-mug collection he’d been letting go to waste…
Krang sighed, a deep guttural sound that sent a few nervous passersby fleeing in terror.
He could dream, but his chances of reaching those dreams were depressingly low.
He was a barbarian, and barbarians fought.
He was a barbarian, born and bred to fight and kill and enjoy it. His mother and father both esteemed fighters in their own right, and his three brothers and four sisters were already equally accomplished.
Being a barbarian had become a competitive venture lately, although truthfully it always had been, only now the bar had rising for so long that you barely got a proud nod for slaughtering a family of dragons by yourself. Which Krang had done, not long ago, and would remain a sore-spot for him for years to come. A whole family, at a reunion. They were all fully grown! Did anybody care? No!
Krang spat the bitter taste out of his mouth, leaving a small crater where his projectile had landed.
Krang sighed. Where did it all go wrong? He had loved the barbarian lifestyle for as long as he could remember, but he’d grown so tired of it lately. The passion for the fight had left him, he was loathe to admit, and without the passion there was nothing left.
It’s not that he was unchallenged, every fight is a challenge. Some more than others, he thought back on the bar he’d just left, but still. One wrong move and you could lose your life. But that didn’t excite him like it used to.
Perhaps it was because he felt like he’d fought every kind of fight there is to fight?
Krang stopped a moment, stretching his massive muscles while a girl watched from her window, swooning and frozen in terror all at once.
That’s not it either, because there were fights he still hadn’t fought. He’d heard tales of beasts and skilful warriors from other barbarians, fights the like of which he’d never fought before.
It’s just that the prospect of those fights didn’t excite him. He felt no burning desire or flaming passion to seek out those fights and best everyone in glorious combat.
He just felt like staying home and brushing the bone-dust off the shelves.
The truth hit him like an Alyrian-crafted war hammer:
He was a barbarian that was tired of fighting.
He turned this shameful truth over in his head for a few moments, before he heard the shuddering gasps behind him and the mutter of angry men.
He turned to face them, realising that the figurative war hammer was more literal than he’d thought.
A band of thugs stood before him, heavily armed and armoured and seemingly trying to stare him down. The nervous glances and shaking limbs showed how deep their confidence ran, and the man standing at the front of them almost collapsed when Krang looked him in the eyes.
The war hammer trembled in the man’s sweaty grasp.
Krang sighed, unhooked his hand-axe, and entered a familiar blur.