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Kodiak

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The bitter wind tore at their skin as they marched through frozen field and barren woods. Huddled, broken, wearing the ragged furs and leather of prey beasts, they pressed on.

Leading the march was the Yaga, the apprentice witch, marching them towards a promised vision of a haven for the children of rape. Half Orc bastards, scarred, beaten, mutilated, trekked across the harsh winter lands, clinging to the thin hope that there was warmth and life somewhere.

A young boy marched in the middle of the pack, his body wrapped in stinking old furs, sweating beneath the layers. His mother, a slave to the Orcs, stole furs for him, and suffered for it. He remembered her dying words “Be a shadow. And run.”

So when the Yaga promised a new home for the bastards of the tribe, he followed, lest his father find another reason to beat and scar him. He still had scabs healing over the last time.

The pack halted. The older men and women sniffed the air. Quickly, they closed in around the children, and The boy watched in horror. He knew what this meant. From the woods emerged a gigantic beast, a bear of some kind, but larger than any theyd ever seen. It walked calmly to the pack, sniffed, and seemed to look over them all. It’s eyes fell on the boy.

The boy stared into the deep pools of black, almost lost in the eyes of the beast. The Yaga emerged and stood before the great bear, seemed to whisper to it, then she, too, turned to the boy.
The bear stood, let out a terrifying roar, then turned and padded calmly back into the woods.
The Yaga turned to the boy with a smile, but said nothing.
The next day, they found the valley, sheltered from the harsh wind, with a steam full of succulent salmon and many prey beasts lingering in the forests around them.

Years passed.
The boy ran swiftly through the woods, his feet silent, not even crunching the leaves on the ground. His prey was fast, antlers snapping branches and hooves smashing fallen sticks and leaves, but the boy was just as fast. His blood burned with joy, the thrill of the hunt, the anticipation of the kill, he would soon bring a great feast home for the village.
The beast broke through a tree line, stopping to rear up, kick its front legs. The boy did not see why at first, but then he skidded to a stop, clumsily, his noise spooked the beast even more. He knew it was now caught between two predators, and the boy might have to kill two beasts just to survive hunting the one.
The deer turned, kicked hard, and now the boy could see the great mass of dark brown fur, hear the defiant roar, and with a sound like thunder the paw of the great bear came down on the deer. There was a snap as loud as an exploding tree in the dead of winter. The deer fell. The boy readied his spear as the bear examined the fallen prey.
The boy stayed still, silent, but the bear had seen him. It turned and stood up, roaring defiantly. The boy hurled his spear, it struck hard and true, but the wound and smell of blood only sent the great bear into a rage. The boy drew his axe, his only other weapon, and readied for his likely death. To fall to such a predator was no shame, and he would not be easy prey.
They fought, and the boy killed the beast.

It took four men to carry the carcass back, and the boy earned his name that day, Kodak, the Great Bear.
Posted Dec 24, 17 · OP
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Posted Dec 28, 17
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In the frozen woods, his feet slid into the snow, soundless. For an hour, he had stalked his prey, unaware that he, too, was being stalked. Kodiak was very close to the stag now, and it was unaware of his presence. The kill was within his striking range. This was the moment. He slipped the axe from it’s resting place at his side. He hefted it, drawing back to send the blade right into the beast’s forehead as he had with so many prey before.
An arrow shot past his ear, slicing locks of his jet-black hair, before striking the stag through the eye. The great beast fell to the ground, the arrow buried up to the fletching.
Kodiak spun, rage in his heart, at the crouched figure in the trees nearby. He hadn’t sensed her before, but now, the other predator had revealed herself.
Kodiak growled angrily.
“That was my prey!” he snapped.
She dropped gracefully from the tree, six feet of tight muscle, one might almost mistake her for pure-blooded orc if not for her thinner build. She grinned, slinging her bow back over her shoulder.
“That was your prey an hour ago,” she said, “Do you take so long with all things?”
He still had his axe at the ready, but knowing her, she would just catch it and throw it back. Their eyes met across crystallized woods, each a hunter, each with blood on their minds.
“Now I know why they call you Snow-Stalker,” said Kodiak.
“And you, Kodiak, are you hibernating to be so slow to kill?”
He snarled. “Find your own prey from now on,” he said. He turned to head towards the dead stag. There was much to be done to honor the dead animal and bring the carcass back to the village. He removed his small pouch of purified salt. It was ritual, to honor the beast’s life, to thank it for the food and hide it would provide for them.
“I did,” she said.
As Kodiak took another step, an arrow landed silently in front of his foot, missing his toes and putting a slice in his moccasin. He dropped the pouch of salt, and spun furiously. He was ready with his axe, but Snow-Stalker was right behind him, catching the blade and deflecting it to the stone-hard frozen earth.
“You are my prey,” she said, “Mighty hunter.”
She pushed him into the snow. Kodiak rolled, caught her as she lunged, and they grappled, rolling on the icy ground. She pinned him, but only because he let her. He was stronger than her by a great deal, but this was not a contest of strength. Snow-Stalker was not here to fight.
Kodiak had many females before, but Snow-Stalker had never seemed interested in him. If anything, she often competed with him, sometimes with hostility. A half-elf, half-orc woman, a bastard child of rape like himself, a member of the Chog-Thall, follower of the Yaga, and a skilled hunter of prey beasts, Snow-Stalker was always a strange one, scarred badly by abuse as a child, her ears cut in half by full-blood Orcs, she had always seemed too bitter, too hate-filled for pleasure.
But the two did share pleasure on that frozen ground.
Kodiak almost forgot the dead stag. But later, they carried the dead beast back to feed the village for another cold winter day.

Many months later, in the warm Spring, Kodiak sat and rested in the bathing pool. The sound of splashing and gruff Orc banter floated around him. A peal of rough laughter rose above the din. Kodiak’s eyes opened. There stood nearly seven feet of gray-skinned rippling muscle, the largest man in the village, called Grack before they arrived, he had earned the name “Ice-Claw.” He smirked at Kodiak.
“Something on your mind, Claw?” Kodiak asked, closing his eyes and relaxing into the pool.
“News, great hunter,” he said, “Snow-Stalker bears a child.”
Kodiak nodded. “I know.”
Ice-Claw stepped to the edge of the pool. He was close enough that he could easily attack Kodiak, but Kodiak did not move.
“I claimed Snow-Stalker,” he said, “Before you.”
Kodiak remained still. “Your mistake is that you claim her. I do not. She is free to do as she pleases.”
The foot lashed out at Kodiak’s face, but he was ready. Always quicker than Claw, Kodiak caught the foot and pulled the hulking Half-Orc, Half-bugbear into the pool. The splash sent water flying all over. Kodiak rose, calmly, almost serene. The fuming form of Ice-Claw rose from water, infuriated at his humiliation. He went after Kodiak with a feral cry. Kodiak was prepared, and swiftly struck Ice-Claw in his thick neck, sending the giant once again down into the waters.
Kodiak stepped from the pool. Ice-Claw rose again, sputtering, gasping for breath.
“I shall kill you!” he spat when he could fill his lungs.
“No,” said Kodiak, “Snow-Stalker will kill you for thinking you have claimed her. You still cling to the old ways, Ice-Claw. The ways of the pure-blood beasts that made us slaves and victims. Snow-Stalker is no one’s but her own. The child she bears may have come from me, but she is mother. By the Yaga, if you attempt to harm her or the child, I will spill your blood in this pool. Twice.”
Ice-Claw’s nose dripped thin red into the water.
He did not attack Kodiak again. Nor did he go after Snow-Stalker. His humiliation was thorough, and by the next moon, none of the females would lie with him.

Snow-Stalker gave birth to a female, a human-elf-orc child with exotic beauty and grace. At six Winters, she was already stalking and killing the rabbits and voles in the fields.
Kodiak was proud of his child, bragging about her prowess and skill. Snow-Stalker had other children by then of different fathers, and taught them all to hunt. They were a veritable pack of wolves, but the girl was clearly their leader. Gray Wolf, she was named, and the pack of her smaller siblings were among the first generation born free from slavery.

Kodiak was in the long-hall when the cry went up. Humans had come. This was nothing new. Humans, gnomes, goblins, kobolds, dwarves, even elves had come to trade with the Chog-Thall for rare meats, furs, fish, and gold panned from the river. But this was different. Kodiak emerged to see the Yaga speaking with the humans, all of them in armor, some carrying flags.
Kodiak knew that humans with flags were dangerous. He drew his axes and began walking forward.
By the time he reached the center of the village, the first cry of battle went up. The human slew the Yaga in a single blow, and the village descended upon the humans with rabid vengeance.
Kodiak slaughtered his way through five men. He saw Snow-Stalker firing from the roof of her hut. Her children, those that could walk, were grabbing knives or throwing rocks. Little Gray-Wolf picked their targets and together they killed a fully armored human with rocks and tiny blades.
One human stood apart from the rest. Colored light flew from the man’s hands.
Men on horseback rode through the village firing arrows, throwing fire, slinging blades of steel.
The Chog-Thall made these humans pay dearly for every life taken, but it was not enough. Kodiak had almost reached the one who had killed the Yaga when something threw him back, and a spear went into his chest. Enraged, Kodiak removed the spear, and hurled it back to the human who had thrown it. Arrows sprouted from his back, but even that did not stop him from fighting.
It was only when that huge steel axe bit into his chest that he finally fell to his knees. The human who slew him could not remove the blade. Kodiak thrust his axe into the human’s neck, and they both fell to the ground.
Kodiak watched as Snow-Stalker fell from the top of the hut, her body charred by fire and magic. His vision swam as Gray-Wolf, covered in blood, was thrown from the back of the human she had been attacking. An arrow pierced her. She still kept trying to rise and fight, but her tiny limbs were shredded by vicious steel.
His vision went spotty, but soon turned back. Things became hazy, distant, dream-like as his blood leaked into the snow.
He heard the men as they talked about his people like they were beasts. He heard the names of the men who slew his daughter, who helped slaughter his people.
He was powerless now, fading from life, ready to join with the great spirit.

The Yaga spoke to him from somewhere distant, warm, but forbidden to him.
“No, Great Predator,” she said, “Not yet.”
Kodiak did not die. But as he stood among the slaughtered remains of his people, homes burning, the dreams of the Chog-Thall turning to ash around him, his purpose was clear.
Kodiak, the Vengeance of the Chog-Thall, had prey to hunt. He would not rest until he had collected their blood.
Posted Feb 8, 18 · OP · Last edited Feb 8, 18
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The trees rustled in the gentle, warm breeze. Here in the lower lands, summer was much warmer. Miles of flat farmland stretched on either side of the dusty road, texturing the land with myriad vines and stalks. A lone figure walked along this dusty road. Leather boots of deer hide protected his feet from the rough path. He wore animal skins around his waist, but his upper torso of rough gray skin remained bare. Dangling from his neck was a single oversized fang on a leather strap.
His cart creaked as he carried the heavy load along the innumerable miles. He had no beast of burden, but walked with the weight behind him. A lesser man might be exhausted from such a task, but he seemed more than capable of carrying on for many more miles.
His face was a road map of old wounds, long scarred over, forming a gruesome visage. The small tusks extending from his lower lips and his rough gray skin gave away his Orcish heritage.
Resting atop the cart was a fur cloak and some large feline skull. Whatever lied beneath was trailing a small pack of flies like camp followers.
In the distance, a long tendril of smoke snaked towards the sky, winding in the wind, turning into a sickly miasma on this beautiful day.
Kodiak raised his head to look at the smoke. This is what he was looking for.

It took only another hour to reach the source of the smoke. A village of humans smoldered while jabbering little beasts hurled corpses onto a pile by a bonfire. Kodiak knew these creatures, goblins, considered to be little more than scavenging rodents, it seemed they were becoming more aggressive.
Even from this far out, he could see they were carving up the bodies.
They noticed his approach. He was not hiding. He had nothing to fear from these creatures. But they certainly feared him. As the creatures scrambled to a defensive posture, Kodiak walked calmly. He did not even draw his weapons.
He assumed they could see the great-axe he kept within reach on the cart.
A larger goblin, perhaps even a hobgoblin, broke through the ranks and approached him.
“Orc! What do you want?! Speak!” He snarled and sputtered in the grating goblin tongue. Kodiak came to a stop and stretched.
“I said speak! Or share the fate of these humans!” snarled he goblin again.
Kodiak looked down at the creature, squat, ugly, but by his toughened leather armor and well-worn sword, Kodiak saw he could be somewhat dangerous.
“I am here to trade,” said Kodiak, in their tongue.
A snicker began, and soon it escalated into mocking high-pitched cackles.
“Trade? We don’t trade,” said the leader, “We take what we want.”
“Trade,” said Kodiak, “For information.”
“Kill him and take the cart,” said the leader. Kodiak had his greataxe out and swinging before the leader finished the command. The larger goblin’s head rolled off towards the fire. His body shook slightly before falling. Kodiak stood there with his bloody blade, looking with impatience at the rest of the band.
They argued and jabbered for a few minutes before one of the others approached.
“What do you want? We give, you go!”
Kodiak nodded. He reached into the cart behind him and removed a bloody banner. He held it out to the creatures.
“Your scouts must know where the human soldiers in this area are, so you can avoid them. You will tell me where they are. And in return…”
Kodiak pulled the fur cloak off of the small cart. Beneath were bodies of human soldiers, at least six, their weapons and shields intact, their bodies still fairly fresh. The creatures gibbered and drooled.
“Yes! Yes, we tell you!” said the goblin before him, “There’s a caravan, it goes South, along the river path. You find them there. Just left this place five days ago. Now we have the manflesh food?”
Kodiak shook out the fur cloak and rolled it up. “Yes,” he said.
The goblins became manic, gnashing their teeth and scurrying up to the bodies.
They pulled the heavy corpses off and added them to the pile, stripping them of armor and gear along the way.
“This one has gold!” said one.
“So does this one!”
The spokes-goblin looked back to Kodiak.
“You bring us a great prize. Why?”
Kodiak regarded the small creature with a slight grimace. “Good meat should not go to waste.”
He then began walking again, this time without the burden of the cart. He had what he needed. He was only a few days behind the column now. After weeks of tracking, he would be upon them soon. He would have his vengeance. And any human prey he discovered along the way, he could always trade for supplies or assistance from the rampaging bands of goblins that had always plagued this countryside.
The idea of eating human flesh disgusted Kodiak, but so did the idea of letting them simply rot in the road. The goblins would devour the flesh, use the bones for the marrow. It was a more just fate than to simply let the scavengers take the carrion.
And it brought him slightly closer to his real prey.
Posted Feb 10, 18 · OP
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