[NorthWorld] Thorgaut Kabbisson: Chapter 13 – Bait!
Thorgaut reached back with this hand and kept the second ax pressed in place. He wrapped his fingers all the way around it and pulled down on the handle. He couldn’t pull the shaft all the way out of its bindings.
The handles were longer than most. Thorgaut had taken them to the best blacksmith in the region to have them extended. He wanted longer handles to give him extra reach in battle.
His friends laughed at him because his arms already had such a long reach anyway. They said that with the extra length on his handles, he was ready to fight Loki and the giants.
Thorgaut had laughed right along with them. He was a massive warrior, so the handles were proportional to his size and felt right when he gripped them. But now he wished he hadn’t made them quite so long.
He continued to press on the ax up against his back as he slid his fingers farther down the handle. He gave it a firm tug and pulled it out as far as it would come. Then he pressed it back against his body while he slid his fingers back down the handle to get it another tug. It took him several tries before he could finally pull it free.
He had to pause once to stretch and relax his arm. The fact that he was hanging upside down and couldn’t keep himself steady didn’t help any either. He kept swinging and spinning around every time he reached around his back or pulled on the battle ax.
The ax kept getting bunched up between the leather binding straps. Thorgaut had them crisscrossing down the length of the handle. His father told him that they would increase the strength of his grip in battle.
Thorgaut had to work to get the ax off to the side and loosen the bindings. He wiggled it around and twisted it back and forth trying to pull it free. It took him a bit of time and effort to get the ax completely loose.
He felt the bow coming loose, but he didn’t try to hold it in place. If he could get the bow out of the way, it would be easier to get the ax out. He kept wiggling till he felt the bow come loose and let it drop to the ground below.
After that, it was easier to slide the ax out. It still took a few minutes before he was able to work the handle completely out though. But he finally got the ax around the front of his body where he could hold it between both hands.
They were shaking from the effort. The strain of reaching that far behind his back while hanging upside down left them feeling sore. He paused for a few moments to catch his breath and also to stop swinging.
Thorgaut tried to reach the blade of the ax up towards the rope, but it didn’t quite get high enough. He slid his hand as far down the handle as he could while keeping his grip on it. It still didn’t reach the rope though.
He tried to twist his body up and to the side and managed to touch the blade to the rope that way. However, his body bent too far to the right and felt very uncomfortable. So, he centered the ax with both hands between his legs and scrunched his abs to pull himself up towards his feet.
The blade of the ax reached the rope between his feet in a more comfortable position. He tried taking a light swing at the cord, but it didn’t cut into it. All it did was tighten the rope around his feet and jerk them off to the side. His body, of course, followed soon after and he swung around for a bit until he swayed back to a stop.
That didn’t work, so Thorgaut tried sawing the rope with the edge of the ax. The blade seemed to be making progress and cutting through the fibers. It was slow going, but from his position, it looked like he was almost halfway through. His arms and stomach ached from the effort though, so he paused to stretch and relax his muscles.
Thorgaut took a deep breath and pulled himself back up to continue cutting through the rope. It was coming along well, and he had almost cut all the way through when a flash of movement caught his eye. He twisted to get a better view, but it was gone. He turned his body around to get a complete view of the area around him.
He didn’t see anything but gave himself another turn around in both directions to make sure. That was when he saw the giant gray wolf slinking in the opposite direction. “Oh, schmack!” he sighed. He twisted around for a better look and tightened his grip on the ax.
It was the biggest wolf Thorgaut had ever seen in his life. Massive bulk. A huge neck. If he had been standing, it would have come up to his shoulders. For once, Thorgaut felt happy to be off the ground. Not that he was high enough to be out of its reach. Judging by its size and muscular frame, Thorgaut figured it could reach him if it wanted to.
The wolf continued watching him from a distance. It looked like it was trying to decide what to do with this strange two-legged creature. Thorgaut wondered if it had ever seen a human out here in these woods. Much less one that was hanging upside down.
Thorgaut felt like a sitting duck waiting to get eaten. He twisted back up to continue sawing at the rope while keeping an eye on the wolf out of the corner of his eye.
The wolf circled in much closer and crouched lower in attack mode. Thorgaut stopped sawing at the rope. He twisted down into position and swung around to face the wolf.
He overtwisted and swung past his view of the wolf to the point where he couldn’t see it. He tried to twist back as the wolf charged and leaped. Thorgaut swung out with the ax. He swung his arm out too far and completely missed the wolf. But even though his swing was too broad to harm the wolf, it still served to swing his body out of the way.
The wolf’s body shot passed him. The wolf twisted his neck and body in the air. Its jaws snapping inches from his ears. He heard the menacing growl and snap. Relieved he hadn’t been bitten, Thorgaut still shivered at how close its teeth had come.
Thorgaut twisted around looking for the wolf behind him. The wolf had landed and spun back around to face him again. It was gathering itself for another leap. The look in its eyes shocked Thorgaut. The fire and fury in his eyes blazed. It looked strangely like one of the enemy soldiers he faced in battle. Not like any animal on the prowl that he had hunted before.
The wolf leaped into the air towards him once again. Thorgaut swung the ax forward and under towards the wolf. The weapon connected with the wolf, but Thorgaut didn’t have enough power behind it to hurt the wolf from that angle. The swing also didn’t propel Thorgaut out of the wolf’s path.
The wolf snapped out towards his throat. The ax did partially block the wolf’s attack, so it didn’t sink its teeth into his neck. But it still managed to bite into his shoulder. The wolf’s murderous teeth sank through the outer covering of his clothing and into his flesh.
It snapped its jaws shut around his shoulder and gave a sharp pull. The force of its leap and the effect of gravity pulled the wolf’s body away from him giving it even more power. Fortunately, its teeth didn’t get too far into his muscle, but it still managed to draw blood and yank out some flesh. It hurt, and Thorgaut yelled out in pain and fury.
The wolf snarled as it landed. Invigorated by the taste of warm, fresh blood, the wolf howled with excitement.
“Great!” Thorgaut muttered. “Why don’t you go ahead and invite the rest of the pack over for supper, you dumb mutt.”
The wolf prepared for another violent attack. It came in closer underneath him this time before leaping.
The proximity of the wolf allowed Thorgaut to get a solid blow in across the top of its head. Unfortunately, for Thorgaut the blade twisted away in the opposite direction. It didn’t cut into the wolf, but the solid object still made for a nice, firm blow to the side of its skull. The shock of the solid steel at the base of its skull left the wolf stunned. The gray creature fell back down to the ground and whimpered off to the side still circling him.
Thorgaut twisted his body to follow the wolf’s pace and keep an eye on it. His arms ached from the weight of the ax. The blood rushing to his head made his ears roar and his head throb.
The rope had twisted around as far as it was going to go, and had now started to spin back in the opposite direction. Thorgaut couldn’t keep an eye on the wolf. He only saw it once each time he spun around past it.
The wolf didn’t understand what he was doing and had backed up a bit with an angry snarl. Thorgaut reached the ax down and managed to push the head against the ground to slow down his spinning.
The wolf hunched up its hind legs like it was going to attack again. Thorgaut pulled his ax back up in preparation for the attack.