Broken Horn, Broken Pride Prologue

By Donraj

Kimahri Ronso stood before the entrance to the path leading through Mount Gagazet, shivering. It was cold, even by the standards of a tough Ronso. Bitingly cold, driven by an icy wind that cut into even a Ronso’s thick skin like a knife. Kimahri forced himself to stand still. Cold was nothing, a way to winnow out the weak and unworthy. It was beneath the dignity of a Ronso to even take notice of it. Too late.

“Is Kimahri cold?”

It was Biran.

Biran strode towards him, his ever-present younger brother Yenke not far behind. They came to a stop several steps away, and stood, smirking. Biran was large, even by the standards of the powerful Ronso, easily passing seven feet. His horn, which grew from amid a lion-like mane of gold hair, was long and came to a razor sharp point. His skin possessed both the hue and durability of granite, and clung tightly to muscles that seemed very much like boulders. His tail whipped back and forth in a calm, controlled manner, and seemed to reflect Biran’s arrogant mindset. With every fiber of his runt body, Kimahri hated him.

“Gagazet wind too cold for Kimahri?” Biran asked mockingly.” “Kimahri should return to mother’s den.”

Kimahri knew Biran was seeking to start a fight. That was why the young Ronso had gathered there, to fight and prove themselves worthy to climb the sacred Gagazet. It was assumed by all that the mighty Biran would easily find that proof. Kimahri knew all this, knew Biran’s strength.

That knowledge did not deter him.

Without a word he began to pace around Biran, forcing the larger Ronso to mirror his movement or lose sight of him. The other Ronso nearby backed away, leaving a wide area clear the two of them. Inwardly, Kimahri exulted. Now. Now he would answer the taunts, the sneers, the laughter that echoed in the depths of his mind. With a rage born of a lifetime of helplessness burning in his eyes, Kimahri watched Biran’s every move.

“Runt” Biran mocked him.

The enraged Kimahri charged, fists clenched. He swung hard at Biran’s jaw. Biran countered by turning to one side and twisting out of his path. As Kimahri spun around, Biran punched Kimahri hard in the solar plexus, blasting the breath from him and breaking his charge. As Kimahri reeled back, gasping for air, Biran followed up with a roundhouse blow to Kimahri’s chin. Kimahri slammed heavily to the ground, dazed.

Biran laughed at him. “Kimahri weak runt. Kimahri not worthy to climb Gagazet. Kimahri not worthy to SEE Gagazet!”

Kimahri forced himself to his feet, his rage driving the pain from his thoughts. He tackled Biran, catching him off guard and knocking them both to the ground. They rolled about the frozen turf, grappling for control. It soon became a contest of raw strength.

And Biran was stronger than Kimahri.

Soon, Biran had Kimahri pinned, his knee pressed into the small of Kimahri’s back, his hand shoving Kimahri’s face into the frozen ground.

“Admit Biran victor!” Biran demanded. “Kimahri is beaten.”

“Kimahri not beaten!” Kimahri shouted. “Kimahri never call Biran victor!”

Kimahri’s statements might have had more impact had his mouth not been buried in the dirt.

Enraged, Biran slammed Kimahri’s head repeatedly into the ground. “Admit!” Biran shouted. Stubbornly, Kimahri remained silent. Finally, his eyes wild with rage at Kimahri’s defiance, Biran seized Kimahri’s horn with both hands. With a savage effort, he snapped it off with a sickening crack inches above the base. Biran stood and hefted the broken horn above his head. With a bestial roar, he screamed to the gathered Ronso. “Biran is victor!”

Kimahri, battered and dazed, rose to his feet. Yenke pointed his finger at him and laughed. “No horn, on horn!”

Biran quickly joined in, the mocking chorus hammering away at Kimahri’s mind.

Enraged beyond sanity, Kimahri charged Biran once again, swinging wildly. Biran easily evaded the poorly aimed attack and countered with a roundhouse blow to Kimahri’s head, sending Kimahri to the ground. Darkness filled his mind, but before he lost consciousness Kimahri heard Biran’s voice.

“Sacred Mountain Gagazet hate the weak.”

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