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Gifting Mardichi My Alehorn

I’ve never been so happy to see the barbarian.

The stallion leapt a number of them to land next to him. Bringing hooves, the size of trenchers down on their backs. Trampling dozens in the span of a few minutes. Red hair vibrant in the sunlight as it reared and spun. Acharius rained down a shower of arrows that fell Nonis five at a time. He moved with lightning speed.

“No fire!” Acharius warned. Knowing the trees were too dry to withstand Mardichi’s tempest if he lit up.

There was silence between the man and the stallion as they defended each other until the last of the Nonis fled squawking.

Mardichi returned to human form.

Only then did Acharius notice how torn up he was. Gashes and bite marks all over him.

The two men, both nearly eight-foot tall, stood side by side assessing each other.

“Are you well?” Mardichi asked.

“I’m fine. Thanks to you.” He paused.

I very nearly wasn’t.

“Well done, Barbarian.”

Mardichi lowered his head. “Same. Viking.”

“You saved my life, I’m certain.”

“Our brethren will believe no word of it.” Mardichi warned.

That much is true.

“I’d no intention of telling them I was nearly Noni meat, I assure you.”

Mardichi gave him a half smile.

“I owe you a debt. How can I repay it?” Acharius queried.

“You could leave these artifacts to another.” Mardichi nodded back in the direction of the cave. “And follow me amidst my travels as my personal ale server.”

Acharius gave him a chastising look.

Mardichi laughed. “I jest brother.”

Thank God. Acharius waved for him to follow him to the cave.

Mardichi followed grumbling. “What is this about? You owe me no debt. I want to resume my drink at the Silver Stallion.”

“How’d you know?”

That my hide needed saving?

“I could smell that many Cimmerii from the Silver.” He gestured back through the trees. “I knew of only one place they’d head.”

“My caves.” Acharius supplied. “Well, I thank you.” He rummaged through his worn leather bag. Tugging a white horn from it.

Mardichi backed a step. “Cease this foolishness. You’re not considering giving me your family bequest.”

“I am going to give it to you.” Acharius said solemnly. “As you know it’s tradition in my family to pass it on to the newest family warrior.”

“I’m not your family.”

“You’re the closest to a brother I’ve ever known. And I’ll never have descendants. I’ll likely die in these caves one day. You…Likely already have some.”

“Many.” Mardichi grudgingly acknowledged. “Is possible.”

Acharius laughed and shook his head. Shoving the alehorn against Mardichi’s chest.

Mardichi reflexively took it. “I believe this is you condoning my penchant for drink.”

“This is me not wishing to be your everlasting ale server.” Acharius said dryly. “By taking this, you do me a kindness.”

“Ah!” Mardichi proclaimed. “I knew that was the root of it.” He lifted the alehorn as if in toast and exited the cave.

Acharius laughed roughly and watched him go. Noting the blood trail on the stone floor.

He’ll bleed his way all the way back to the Silver Stallion.

Where he’ll finds some inn wenches to tend him. Acharius chuckled to himself.

Thank God for you, you Hell-raising barbarian. Acharius shook his head.

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