Asgoleth the Warrior - By Bill Kirkwood


A tall young warrior strode fearlessly through the filth mired streets of the Haven. In this part of the great city of Torr lurked rogues of all nations. Here thieves and murderers caroused in drunken revelry with paint caked harlots and the men of the Torran watch feared to enter, save in large numbers. Often the sounds of muffled, deadly combat could be heard from within dark alleyways but none cared or dared to investigate until the light of day revealed the dark deeds and grisly corpses of the night before.

This warrior however, walked confidently, unafraid of the sinister figures that lurked in shadowed doorways. He knew that he was more than a match for any who might attack him. One look at his mightily muscled frame, clad in the plain but serviceable harness of a mercenary soldier of fortune, was enough to warn that only hard blows and death awaited any foolish enough to try.

His appearance too was enough to give men pause. He moved with the silent, easy grace of the wild creature that he was, poised always to leap into bloody, savage action on the instant. The long braided yellow hair flowing from beneath the rim of his iron helmet marked him out as a barbarian from the far north. So too the fierce grey eyes that scanned the darkness all around him, missing little. A cold, mirthless grin touched the warrior’s lips as he saw furtive forms slip back into the darkness and his keen, wilderness bred ears heard the soft rasp of half drawn daggers sliding back into their scabbards as their owners decided, wisely, to await easier prey.

His calloused palm lay lightly upon the hilt of the heavy northern broadsword that was strapped about his lean waist. Its hilt was worn smooth with long use but the keen edge of that terrible weapon was kept honed to razor sharpness and in the warrior’s skilled hand the blade became almost a living thing, seeking out the blood of his enemies.

Such was his prowess with the sword that in the short time he had served in the Torran army, he had made his name known in the taverns and marketplaces of the city and in higher places too. Many were the tales told of Asgoleth of Calthia, warrior of the north.

Life as a mercenary soldier in the army of King Aractus of Torr suited Asgoleth’s wild lawless nature and gave him plenty of opportunity to add to his growing fame. His fighting skills were tested to the full in the constant border wars that raged between Torr and the land of Akon, which lay to the south, and his mercenary lust for loot was oft satisfied by the spoils of war.

The more the young barbarian learned of the Akonites, the more he learned to despise them. They were a cruel race, delighting in the torture and butchery of any who fell captive to them. Their king, a fat barrel of lard called Trannos, had imperial ambitions and had vowed to conquer Torr and enslave her people.

He had sent many armies against her but always they had been driven back by the fierce defenders that garrisoned the forts guarding the passes through the Agar Mountains. All knew of the horrors that would be inflicted on the people of Torr should the Akonites ever break through and so the Torrans kept constant vigil, ever ready to defend their homeland against invaders.

Asgoleth dismissed these gloomy thoughts as he strode on through the winding narrow streets. Ahead of him lay a weeks well earned leave and his mind turned to the pleasures that awaited him among the taverns and bordellos of this great city.

Here in the Haven any vice or pleasure known to man could be had, if a man had gold enough to pay the price. He grinned as he patted the heavy pouch at his belt. He had gold aplenty and he was determined that the girls of Torr would not soon forget him.

The sudden, unmistakable sounds of combat emanating from a dark alley mouth stopped him in his tracks, poised to leap into lethal action. He heard the familiar sounds of blades chopping into flesh, the harsh grunts of dying men and the heavy thud of falling bodies. Such sounds were commonplace here in the Haven and he determined to ignore them and go on his way. After all, he reasoned, he would gain little profit were he to interfere in a quarrel that was none of