hit counter code Fermentation




Author: Keith Haney

Fermentation is the word men use to describe a process whereby a substance is broken down and changes its nature. The common use of this word comes into play when brewing beer or cultivating wine. I would suggest herein that it has broader meaning.

Frozen crystals of water danced on the wind. The sound of steel biting steel chimes with regularity. Knee-deep in the snow, seven men form a defensive circle on a white rocky incline. The snow around them bears the half-buried bodies of comrades, dead and dying. In the center of the circle one man prays penitently: His face looking skyward. The words he was speaking were not of consequence. The language of his heart was all that was needed to summon the aid he sought.
"Heavenly father, we are here on a mission of mercy in your name. If we fall here your will cannot be served on this day. Grant us your blessings that we may prevail in the battle survive to serve your greater cause."
His red face and chapped lips revealed the frigid harshness of the mountain they fought upon.

His words were not in vain. One was coming to assist them. Cuthbert wills it so.

"What are they waiting for?" the elder warrior spat from his cracked and bleeding lips. Hold strong Lars, they know time is on their side." The younger commander's voice was somehow reassuring even if his words did not comfort. Lars adjusted the plated armor at his waist in an attempt to realign the damaged armor. Blood ran down over the plates, an obvious sign of the injury hidden below.
"We've another hour at best before the sun dips behind that ridge" The imperial ranger called over a gust of wind.

The commander was in his early twenties, but a long year of conflict had taught him well the lessons of war. His men trusted him and would die here on this mountain under his command without question. It was not his aim to martyr these men or himself.


"Giles, have we made our petition?" The commander said looking over his shoulder to the kneeling holy-man in the circle.

"Aye commander, its in his hands now."
"Take your position then," he said with a resolute tone.

The open ground between them and the band of brigands was littered with their fallen dead. Scores had fallen to the coordinated efforts of the imperial soldiers. Fatigue was setting in and if the teaming masses didn't take them the cold of night would finish the job.

"Commander, It seems they may have some teeth after all." the ranger called out.
"Right, the duchess of night will not bear us away today men!" The commander said, licking at his cracked lips.
"Glory and might" shouted another.
"Brace yourself boys!" the commander said reassuringly.
A wall of fur, steel, and muscle moved across the snow toward the men with the zeal that comes with certainty of victory. Anticipation sped the rate of the men's breathing, the icy air stinging their lungs. The muffled thunder of approaching marauders through the snow was suddenly mixed with the sound of beating wings. Before them stood a celestial being of such wonder as to shed light in the fashion a crystal magnifies the ambient light into shards of iridescent color. Like a dancer upon a narrow beam the figure moved away from them arms spread. In each hand it held swords that appeared to nearly blend with its hands. The speed of its actions was perceptible only as a blur or the glint of light from a shiny buckle. The snow whipped itself into a vortex at it's passing. They were in the eye of the storm. At the edge of the maelstrom, screaming and shouting were the only signs of activity beyond the plumes of swirling snow. As quickly as the battle had begun silence fell on the high mountain meadow. The winds resumed control over the environment removing the obscuring snow. Around them lay destruction. The twisted bodies of the brigands were scattered in a near perfect ring around the men. The angelic figure alone stood among the dead. His armor and wings speckled with crimson stains

.He walked toward the men showing no signs of wear or decreased capacity to wage war. Each of the men fell to a knee in reverence of the gift that had been bestowed on them.