The Barbarian: 1

‘So, what do you think?’

Mock pulled up at Croki’s side. Shading his face against the glare, he studied the little village and spat. ‘Easy pickings.’

His mount shifted uneasily, stomping and gnawing at his bit. Mock yanked at the reins until he settled. He was a big draft horse, over sixteen hands high with ankles as thick as branches and rippling with ropey muscle. He once belonged to a farmer. Mock smiled, remembering the attack fondly. He’d spent hours sharpening his sword the night before, and the man’s belly had opened like warm butter beneath his strike. Even now, Mock could hear his screams as he left him to die. The farm should still be thick with crows. The man had been a father to six and none had known mercy.

A good day.

The horse didn’t ride fast—more used to pulling carts and tilling fields—but he was as black as a witch’s heart, unfazed by blood and screaming and as strong as an ox. Fitting for Mock, leader of the barbarian horde, purveyor of death and destruction, murderer, fiend and raper of women. All who saw him quivered and pissed themselves, then begged for their lives—and lost them.

Mock sneered at the little village. It was a fine day for a raid. ‘Prepare our brothers. We attack within the hour.’

Croki nodded and galloped back the way they’d come. The eastern regions had seen peace for far too long. Mock’s hand itched for his sword.

He would soon fix that.

2.