In a quiet town not far from the edge of civilization, a large bear of a man rested under a wide oak tree with leaves from the past autumn blanketing the ground about him, and providing a sufficient bed.
The man was barely clothed, wearing little more than a fur skirt held together with leather straps. His body was toned as hard as stone with muscles rippling like waves on a lake. His face was squared with jaws strong like a dog and a beard that was thick but a light blond which made it less prominent from afar but like a bush when close.
Next to the man, perched on a branch, was large hawk. It was a massive bird golden-red in color with darker, even black feathers underneath. Unlike most domesticated birds of prey, this one had no hood and no teathers to secure it. It was entirely free to fly away if it wanted to. It cooed at it’s human friend as it bobbed it’s head up and down to get attention.
The large man reached out his enormous hand and scratched under the animal’s neck as he asked in a surprisingly soft voice, “What is it, Hawk?”
The bird only stamped its feet and bobbed its head some more while making soft clicking sounds.
“Are you hungry?” He asked slowly.
The bird seemed to nod.
“I am too, let’s get something to eat then,” the man explained as he stood then stretched. Beside him was a giant maul, hewn from a large branch and with a massive carved stone attached to one end, the weapons seemed rudimentary, yet was capable of crushing even the thickest skulls. Besides, he had six long spears also constructed from wood and tipped with stone. He gripped the maul tightly in in hand and slung the spears over his back with a leather sling. The monster of a man then balanced the maul over his shoulder and held it in place with one hand then whistled. The hawk flapped a couple of times and easily landed on the shaft of the weapon then adjusted its feet to cling to it with its sharp claws.
Satisfied that his companion was comfortable, the man began striding towards a nearby stream. The air was cool and clear and he breathed deeply, enjoying the gift of clean air and strong lungs as he smiled in the sun.
At the stream, he placed his maul against a tree in the shade and then waded into the stream with a spear. The hawk flapped away and perched high in a tree to watch the stream from above.
The two hunters had different but equally effective strategies from catching fish. The man became one with the stream so that the fish were used to his presence and swam close enough for him to strike them with his spear. The hawk observed from high above completely concealed from the fish below and waited for one he liked to swim in shallow water or near the surface before swooping down to snatch his meal.
Both hunters were patient but it was the hawk who spied a meal first and when a large fish slowly swam near the surface of the steam, enjoying the warming rays of the sun, the bird leaped from the branch, tucked its wings in close and dived at the water before pulling up at the last moment, extending its talons into the water then gripping the fish and flapping furiously to drag it from the water.
The fish struggled to free itself from the hawk’s grip but the sharp talons only dug deeper into the animal’s flesh. The bird landed on the shore near its human companion and continued to grip its meal while waiting for it to stop fighting.
The large man smiled at his hunting companion then turned back to the stream to wait for a fish to venture near.
Before the bird began to enjoy its catch, an arrow sailed from the brush and nearly struck the animal. The hawk called out in alarm and flew high into the protective cover of the tree nearby.
The man looked about brow tight and spear pulled back ready to throw. Not seeing anyone at first he began to wade out of the stream and quickly reached the shore, dripping water.
He heard a sound from the brush nearby and spun to spy two men, both carrying bows, emerge from the tree line.
The pair of hunters froze. They looked the giant man up and down. The giant man looked them up and down. They each had a long dagger in their belts besides the bows and a quiver on their backs.
“Why you shoot at my friend?” The huge man asked in his low, slow voice.
The hunters looked one to the other then one answered, “What friend? We only see you.”
“Hawk, why you shoot at hawk?”
“The bird? That’s your friend?”
“Yes, you shoot your bow at him and you should not do that. Hawks aren’t good for eating.”
“Wait a minute,” one of the hunters interrupted. “You’re that barbarian right? Karl, what’s his name?”
“Leny I think, does that sound right?”
“Yeah that’s it! Leny! I hear you’re some sort of idiot or something. Talks to animals all the time?”
Leny just stared at the hunters without moving and with no sign of any thought or feeling about it.
“You should not shoot at Hawk,” Leny repeated.
The hunters laughed, “No? What are you going to do about it?”
“Don’t shoot hawk.”
The hunters began moving closer to the barbarian, smiling as though they were predators after a fish in the creek. As they did, the hawk decided to retrieve his meal before it was stolen and he jumped off the limb and swooped down on the fish. He landed near it and, standing between the hunters and his human friend, he began to attempt to grip it sufficiently to move the meal away.
One of the hunters saw an opportunity and drew his bow to shoot the bird of prey.
Leny bellowed a mighty “no” and threw his spear at the bowman. The spear caused the man to duck and lower his bow which was enough time for the hawk to grip his fish and fly off back up into the tree.
The hunters stood tall and glared at Leny. “You shouldn’t have done that,” one stated.
Leny answered, “You should not have shot at hawk.”
“We’ll see who regrets this more,” the second hunter growled as each of them drew their daggers from their belts and rushed towards Leny. The barbarian stood tall and braced himself for the attack.
To their credit, the hunters attacked with decent strategy, even if they were not prepared for their foe. They pulled up short of their enemy and squared him up rather than merely rushing in haphazardly. One swung high with his dagger while the other jabbed at Leny’s abdomen. The barbarian ducked the high attack and slapped the low one hard, but his forearm was cut deeply in the effort. Leny howled like a wounded animal and his eyes narrowed.
The hunters attempted again to kill the barbarian and this time each jabbed simultaneously. With fire in his eyes, Leny gripped the man on his right and held his arm still with his left hand while hyperextending the arm and snapping it at the elbow with his right. The hunter wailed in pain. The other hunter stabbed the barbarian in the side but the blade didn’t sink deep enough to puncture organs though blood began to pour from the wound. Leny merely grit his teeth and snarled.
The barbarian threw the injured hunter into the other and they both toppled to the ground shocked at the man’s strength. Leny dashed for his maul, which was still leaning against the nearest tree and then back towards the hunters.
The injured man remained on the ground clutching his broken arm but the other leaped to his feet and held his dagger out, ready to defend himself against the now armed and enraged barbarian.
Leny swung his maul to the side in a sweeping motion and the standing hunter was forced to hop backwards to avoid the blow. He then lunged in, hoping to sink his blade into the attacker once more but somehow, Leny was able to reverse the direction of his heavy weapon and swing it back just as the hunter stepped into his range.
The massive weapon struck the hunter in the side, smashing through the man’s ribs as collapsing his left lung and damaging multiple organs. The force was so significant that the man was blown from his feet and fell on the ground unable to scream and instead gasping for air.
Leny raised his maul above his head and swung it hard to the ground landing a blow to the back of the man’s neck, snapping it easily and killing him instantly.
The remaining hunter clutched his arm as he tried to kick away from the barbarian while crying, “Please, don’t kill me. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.”
“You try to kill Hawk!” Leny roared as he swung his maul once more above his head and crushed the man’s chest in completely as the hunter fell to his back in terror.
Breathing heavily and bleeding from his side, Leny’s eyes and face relaxed as he calmed from his agitated state. It was only after he calmed that he felt the wound in his side.
Leny sat down on a fallen log. He took some leaves and pressed them to his side. His hawk companion flew down with the fish it caught earlier. Leny smiled at it.
“Do not worry, friend, I not let them hurt you.”