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March of the Trows By AJ Brown

By nature she walked, hair like a nest, body like a willowing wisteria in full bloom, steps as graceful as a cool breeze from the North. She plucked apples from the trees and flowers from plants, placing them in the basket that swung from one overly large hand, the nails trimmed back neatly, fur like downy ran up her arms and hid beneath rawhide softened with natural herbs.

The hunters caught wind of her fragrant scent and traced her to the edge of the stream where the deer drank with a calmness not felt since before the humans came. She scooped water with one hand and drank, letting the water spill down her throat, quenching the thirst that had built during the warmth of the day. They watched her, spears at the ready, bows taut with arrows pulled back, hatchets prepared to chop down on the unknowing prey.

"Is it really a Trow Princess?" one of them asked, his voice but a whisper and barely heard over the sound of the chattering stream below them.

"'Tis indeed a Trow Princess," another one says, gray haired and bearded, his eyes like beads set in leather. "'Er 'ead will bring a 'efty price."

"Aye," another one added. "As will her heart-they say there is magic in a trow's heart."

Gray Hair raises his bow and takes aim for the princess' head. "Then we take 'er 'eart as well." He let the arrow go and it shot off with a thwap.

She had reached down to pet one of the deer, a mother doe, which barely came up to her knees. Her hand settled on the animal.

An instant of pain tore through her throat as the arrow struck home. The tip tore out the back of her neck. Blood sprayed out from the tough hide and landed on the foliage behind her. The basket fell to the ground, apples and flowers spilling out, some landing on dry land while others fell into the stream.

Her head turned in their direction as they charged from the woods. Another bone arrow cut the air and struck her in one huge thigh. A third one tore into her stomach, its tip severing her spine as it ripped out the other end. She collapsed, no feeling in her lower extremities and her life spilling from her.

The deer sprinted away but didn't make it to the trees. It fell to the ground, a single arrow in its side, the tip piercing its once beating heart.

A single tear spilled from one deep green eye, traced down the side of her face and into one of her large ears. Her head ached and she struggled to breathe. She felt no pain where the arrows had pierced, only the wet heat of blood as it flowed from her wounds.

They stood over her as her vision clouded, Gray Beard's face a grinning mass of hair and rotting teeth.

"Give me your blade," he called out and reached behind him. One of the others placed a hefty hatchet in the hand and Gray Beard lifted it high over his head. He brought it down and sight faded from her eyes. Life followed.

Laughter filled the air. Gray Beard lifted the Trow Princess' head into the air, letting her blood spill down his arm. He set the bag in a sack and ripped the rawhide from the princess' breasts. The blade sank deep into the skin and slit her from breast to navel.

"Careful ya don't slice the heart," one of the men said.

"Mind yer mouth, ya cur," Gray Beard spat and broke apart her breast plate. He lifted her heart into the air. The cheers echoed through the valley.

Two eyes, small and close together, stared out from the dark of the trees. They watched it all and waited for man to leave.


On shaky legs, the young trow stepped from the safety of the thicket he had hid in and over to what remained of the Trow Princess. He dropped to his knees and wept.


An aroma of fresh cooked meats and boiled vegetables filled the village. The Elders sat around a fire near village center and held their hands to the air. Prayers lifted to One of High and then they sat.

Mid-meal, the young one trundled into the village, his eyes wide, the scream on his lips that couldn't come to fruition for lack of breath. He stumbled to the head of the table, exhausted from the long run.

"The princess," he said between gasps, "is dead."

Quiet. The chattering of everyday conversations came to a halt and the Chief stood, a sliver of meat dangling from his thick lips. He spat it out, his eyes narrowed. "What is this you say of the princess?"

"The humans . . . they killed her."


"The gulley. Down past the road to Eversham."

They ran, the males of the tribe, their broad axes in tow, swords slung on their backs, bows in quivers. They crashed through the trees, bringing several down as they went. Through the underbrush and to the stream where they stopped.

The Trow Princess lay half in the water, her legs sunk down into the sediment; her head missing, her clothing torn open, exposing young breasts and a large gash. Blood covered her from shoulders to hips. Several arrows jutted up from her body.

A murmur spilled over the warriors as they looked at the gruesome sight before them. The Chief raised one large hand in the air and all went silent. Not even the birds chirruped or the frogs croaked. The stream grew quiet. With tears in his dark eyes, he fell down at her side and lifted her cold hand. A flower blossom fell from her fingers.

A howl rose up through the forest as the Chief wailed. The warriors dropped to their knees and bowed their heads; none looked up until the Chief had finished mourning.

He reached out, touched the hilt of the arrow that had lodged into her stomach. With a quick jerk, he pulled it out, stared at it, took in the markings near the feathers. He stood, barked out several orders and then sniffed the air. Their scent was like piss and fire and the sweat of a thousand pigs. Easy to track.

Trees fell down around him, an altar built. They hefted the Trow Princess' body onto the altar and set it afire. As it burned, the Chief stared into the flames, his tears stinging his eyes, his hate growing.

Day gave way to night and the Chief took a thick chord of burning log from the flames. He headed through the woods, the warriors behind them, each one with their own torches and their weapons ready.

Cold air swallowed them into the throat of anger and the giant trows made their way through the woods. Trees lay in their wake, foot prints, like craters, indented the land behind them. The scent of the hunters hung on the air, as thick as the fog and laced with triumph.

The early morning sun peeked out from the horizon, not sure if it wanted to shine on the coming day. The trows stood outside the sleepy town, its brick and wood houses in neat rows, its roads a path of dirt flanking each home. Smoke billowed from chimneys and dissipated into the predawn air.

Her blood. He could smell her blood, her fragrant honey hair and even her long vanquished breath. The town reeked of her death.

"Kill them all," the Chief growled. He turned to one of the warriors and nodded.

The trow stepped forward, his bald head catching a glimpse of both the dying moon and the birthing sun. He lifted an ivory tusk to his mouth, its sides etched with drawings of trows in battle. A deep breath, followed by an exhale into the mouthpiece of the horn. A long, mournful roar shook the ground.

Men, with their bottoms barely covered, rushed from the houses, their weapons in hand, their eyes wide and fearful. The trows stood over them, some with war hammers lifted high above their heads. Their screams filled the air and were cut off as suddenly. They set the houses on fire and trampled the people as they fled the burning structures.

The Chief ripped roofs off in search of the Trow Princess. House after house he tore asunder until he came across the one that held his daughter's head. It sat on a large round table, her eyes still open, her mouth ajar, her hair bloodied and matted down. He lifted it from the house and cradled it like a baby. His cries drowned out the screams of the town folk and the destruction that took place around him.

Smoke hung in the air, blood boiled in the flames. The screams of men, women and children grew silent and the roar of victory and revenge erupted from the trow warriors. The Chief walked away, the princess' head in tow, his own head down.

The stream was cool and he sat down in the center of it. Water splashed over his feet and bottom, the remnants of the burnt altar smoked and the acrid smell of wood and cooked flesh surrounded him. He stared off toward the village, toward where the humans had taken his daughter's head. He stood, the water pouring off of him like a swelling waterfall.

He gave orders and sat back down. Days passed as the warriors worked, digging and building. The moat was large-too wide to cross by foot and too short to go by boat. A bridge scaled its length, made of heavy timber. A sentry stood watch at the gate, his broad axe held in both hands, his eyes straight ahead, never turning but always eyeing the path for strangers.

The Chief buried his daughter's head and wept. He set a large stone over the grave, marking her presence forever. A meal and some sleep followed.

Morning came, dew covered the world in its fine sheen. The land felt fresh, clean. The sun rose, this time not fearful of the bloodshed from days earlier. It shone on the grave marker, casting a long shadow toward the bridge. The direction pointed, the Chief took up his sword and bow, slung the quiver of arrows over his shoulder. He crossed the bridge, his warriors behind him, hatred filling every part of his being. He motioned to the trumpeter.

The tusk horn sounded its warning and the Trows marched, vengeance on their minds. . .