Lutin Memoirs

by Jason Lehrer

Sighing a little, Jase looked across the valley, his eyes transfixed on the area just at its end. There was nothing really spectacular about it. No raging river there, nor lush forest like the one surrounding Jase now, just a smooth, totally flat area carpeted only by wheat and other crops.

The area itself didn't matter though. It was what lay on the ridge at the end of the valley that was Jase's concern, as it was the concern of all Lutins. It was the Keep. The place Nasoj had decreed was to be destroyed. Jase knew not why it was this way, nor did he really care. He had his orders and he would follow them. He had to. All Lutins did.

It would be simple, really. Jase and the rest of his clan would move down the valley on the left, while the Tellar clan would take the right side. They would merge at the Keep and take it over, killing all those who resisted.

Occasionally the thought of something going wrong would cross Jase's mind, bur he simply shrugged it off. He worried that the signal towers might get word to the Keep, and their element of surprise would be lost. If that happened then it would be a slaughter, not of the Keeper, but of his own clan and family.

But Jase didn't ponder this long. It wasn't his duty to do so. He was a simple foot soldier, born and raised to follow orders. Yes, he had his own thoughts, his own dreams and his own desires, but for now they didn't matter. Perhaps later, if he earned enough honor in the upcoming battle, he would rise to a position of power where he could do what he desired, but that opportunity had not yet arrived. Hopefully in a few hours it would.

Visions of his sword slicing through the Duke's head filled his thoughts and Jase sat there and looked over the valley. Thomas was his name, or so Jase had been told. One of the deformed ones. Rumor had it he looked like a mule on two legs, or was it a horse... he could never remember.

That scared him, Jase had to admit. The clan leader had told him they looked like that because they were evil and their evil had made them that way. Jase had never seen anything to go against this, and feared their evil power. He'd heard tales of hordes of Lutins, even whole clans, being cut down by the Keepers...

But in a few hours he would avenge their deaths. He would hoist the head of their dead Duke onto a pole and bring it Nasoj himself. Yes, that's what Jase had decided he would do.

Yes, that thought did disgust Jase, but it was what his clan had been ordered to do. Jase wanted to be the one to cut off the Duke's head though, not because he liked blood or violence, but because of the honor Nasoj would bestow on him if he did so.

Jase watched the sun begin to peer over the horizon, and heard the rest of his clan behind him spring to activity. It would be time to go soon. Time to earn his rights. His destiny.

Jase had decided many years ago that this was what he was meant to do. All male Lutins have no choice but to join their clan's army when they're old enough. This was the decree of Nasoj and was respected by all. After all, no one was stupid enough to challenge the wizard, for to do so would be instant death.

No, Jase had gladly entered the army and had been overjoyed when he was made a foot soldier. Jase knew that archers had no honor, that they hide at the back of the battle, lobbing their deadly quarrels into their enemies from afar. There was no honor to be gained from that. Real honor came from facing your opponent in one on one sword combat. Staring into his eyes, watching the life bleed from him. Jase had been taught this from birth and knew it was what he had to do.

Suddenly a loud clatter caught Jase's attention and he twisted around to see what was going on. Apparently someone had caught a rabbit, and members of his clan were fighting one another for the meat. Jase debated joining in, but wasn't particularly hungry. Also Jase was saving his strength. He would need it in the day ahead and didn't want to waste it.

Jase sometimes wished there were more food around, that he wouldn't have to fight for every tiny scrap, but he knew one day it would come. And that day might even be today. Surely the Keepers would have lots of food. He would kill the Duke and eat their food. Yes, that's what Jase would do.

Slowly Jase's thoughts turned to the Keep itself, its inhabitants and treasures. More specifically the females there. Jase had been without female companionship ever since he'd left his village and look forward to that. He knew he'd have to force some of the Keepers affections, but it didn't matter. Once his clan had secured the Keep, everything and everyone in it was theirs to do with.

So was the way of his people. So was the way of the Lutins.

Jase slowly unsheathed his sword and looked it over. There were a few nicks in the blade already, but it would suffice for a few more years at least. His blade was his most prized possession. He'd taken it a few years ago from a Keeper he'd slain and it had been with him ever since. It was in that battle that he'd gotten the scar on the left side of his face, a scar which he wore proudly. That had been one of his first real battles, and he cherished its memory. In one single day he'd proven himself a man, a warrior, and a slayer of the evil animal creatures. As a bonus he'd found the animal creature he'd slain was edible and it managed to prevent the imminent starvation of much of his clan.

But the sword was more then just a weapon and a reminder, to Jase it was everything. It represented power. The power to control his own life, his own destiny, not to mention the power to take life from others. But more then just the ability to take life, it was also the ability to give it. For with his sword he would be able to earn enough honor in battle that Nasoj might see it fit that he be given the chance to chose a mate and maybe even have children.

And this morning was the best chance he'd ever had to earn that honor.

Actually this morning could be a dream come true for Jase. If he did kill the Duke as he planned then Nasoj be so pleased that he would award him his own clan to rule over. That was the real dream of all Lutins. To rule over their people, to chose who and how many females to mate with, to have abundant food...

Yes, this was why he fought. Jase took no pleasure from the actual killing, but knew in his heart it was the only way to achieve his dreams. The only way to earn a life he could be proud of.

Jase watched a raven land on one of the nearby trees and grimaced, the sun's rays reflecting off it and illuminating the scar on Jase's face. There were many risks today too. Jase had wanted someone to double-check the battle timing with the other clan, but the clan leader decreed that it would be a waste of time and energy. If the two clans didn't meet up at the Keep as planned then they would be decimated by the Keepers. This had happened before and Jase did not want to see it happen again.

But there was nothing he could about it. Sure, he could have challenged his leader, but it would have been a hopeless forfeit of his life. The leader always ate first, got the best weapons, and the best armor. To go up against his judgement was futile and doomed to failure. All Jase could count on now was himself and the hope that his luck would continue. He would fight in this battle, and he would be victorious. He had to be, for failure meant death.

Jase turned around and grunted a good morning to Uri, the newest member of the clan. He had just learned to hold a spear and was actually pretty adept with it. Today Uri would find out if his skills were good enough. It would be his first true battle. But Jase was also weary of the youngster. Although Jase was still full of life, Uri had better stamina and was maybe even a bit stronger. Would it be Uri who would take the life of the Metamor Duke?

No, Jase would not allow that. Even if he had to kill the youngster himself, he would have that honor. He would be the one to earn his own clan.

Uri smiled a little as Jase walked past him, moving through the flurry of activity that was his clan. He slowly looked left and let his gaze fall on the center of a ring of stones that had been laid out in the dense forest floor. The body of his dead brother lay there in the center, on display for all to see. Jase was disgusted by this, but knew it served its purpose. Heyal had decided, against the wishes of the clan leader, not to fight. He stupidly thought it would be suicide to go against Metamor without a larger force and that there would be no chance of victory today. Jase tried to convince him otherwise but it was too late. The clan leader had already heard of the dissent in his midst and ordered Heyal killed, and displayed openly so that others would learn the cost of being a coward.

The stench fouled the air a little but Jase was used to the smell of death, and knew in the end his brother deserved his punishment. A lutin who cannot fight is of no use to his clan.

Eventually his thoughts drifted back to his training, when he and Heyal had learned to handle a sword together. He enjoyed his brother's company, but Jase knew he was the better swordsman and was pretty sure Heyal knew it too. It was a pity we wouldn't be able to prove it to his brother in this life though.

Shaking his head to clear it, Jase shrugged and tried to think of something else. He thought of the Keepers, strategies he'd heard of to deal with them swiftly. He'd even heard rumors that some of their women had been men once, but the evil had changed them. Supposedly this had been discovered by an unfortunate Lutin who'd come across a female Keeper and tried to have his way with her. According to rumor the female fought back and injured him to the point where he could no longer have children. Jase would have to be careful of that...

Jase had once asked what caused the Keepers to be so evil but never really got a reply. The only conclusion seemed to be that they had chosen to defy Nasoj and now paid the price. This was satisfactory to Jase at the time but now, in preparation for the battle that would hopefully spell their end, it seemed a little hollow. What if the Keepers had changed their mind? What if they were willing to follow Nasoj? Would he still be forced to kill them? There would be no honor in that...

No, it was best not to think of what if's. Jase had been told to kill as many as he could, and he would do so. They had defied Nasoj in the past and they would pay for that mistake now.

Suddenly he heard a shout call out and twisted around to see where it came from. Sure enough, the yell had come from the clan leader himself. That meant only one thing.

It was time for their clan to move into battle. It was time for their destiny to be fulfilled.

"Are you okay?" Andre asked, looking over the horror in front of him.

Standing there in the middle of the gore, Misha shook his vulpine head. "Yeah, I was just thinking. I just don't understand it."

"Understand what?" the captain of the guard asked while stepping around the slaughter. How many Lutins lay there he didn't know and didn't want to. But he'd find out anyway when Duke Thomas announced the body count.

"This," Misha said, gesturing around his battle-axe. "Everything around us. I mean I have no qualms about killing Lutins, but this wasn't a battle, it was a mass suicide! Surely they must have known the Keep's scouts had seen then? Or that the signal towers had warned us of their advance many hours before they arrived. Yet they just walked directly into out ambush anyway. I don't understand it."

Andre let out a big of a sigh and motioned for Misha to return with him to the Keep. There was no reason for them to talk about this here in the middle of the death. No, the deaf mule would make for a much better atmosphere then this. "There is nothing to figure out. They're Lutins, not exactly known for their intelligence or tactical ability."

"I know," Misha said, slowly getting up and beginning to walk. His boots made a disgusting wet squishing sound as they passed over ground moist with Lutin blood. "I just wonder what they must have thought as they marched down here and realized they'd fallen into a trap."

Andre turned and pointed next to Misha. A Lutin corpse, tilted to the said, lay there. A large arrow embedded in its eye socket. "They're Lutins, Misha. Everyone knows they don't think. Now let's get back and I'll buy you an ale."

Misha perked up a little, his desire to get heavily drunk so he could forget about the day finally setting it. He took one quick glance back at the Lutin Andre had pointed out, noting the large scar on the side of it's face.

What had he been thinking as he came down the valley and realized that the attack would be in vain and he'd just thrown away his life in a battle he had no hope of winning?

Misha shrugged and picked up the pace. In the end, did it really matter?