Fast As Lightning In The Sky felt the magic flow through his body, the power pulsing perfectly in time with his beating heart. There were those who claimed it was not real, but he knew it was. Ever since he had taken the symbol of the Red God upon himself, he felt he had become so much more than he had been.
His finger lightly touched the symbol painted upon his chest and traced the lightning bolt. Lightning knew with every fiber of his being that one thing was for certain: the power, and the favor, of the Red God was with him this night.
He slowly moved his head around the tree trunk and looked toward the white man’s settlement. It had grown rapidly in the moons since he had last visited. It was another clear sign that the strange Doosch people had violated the agreement they had made with his tribe two summers before when they had settled on the sunset side of the great river. He found it amusing to think of these intruders by the name the English gave them, the Doosch. The strange name they called themselves was more trouble to bother with than he felt they were worth.
They were, however, not as vile as the English, but they were thieves and liars still. Broken promise had been followed by broken promise, and while the elder chiefs of the other tribes had permitted this to go unpunished, Lightning and his tribe had finally had enough. It was past time that the warriors of his tribe reminded the white men that there were consequences for every action, for every broken word.
His sharp eyes had long grown accustomed to the dim night sky. A small sliver of the moon above bathed the settlement with light. While not a lot, it was enough to make him wary of detection. His nose told him that rain was coming though, which would block out the minimal light offered by the moon. A breeze told him that the air would turn colder with the storm. The Doosch would be hiding from the weather. The omens were there, and the signs were right. He closed his eyes for a moment and felt the power. It was strong in his blood. The red god approved of his actions.
Two summers before, he had found one of the white men’s books and taken from it the symbol of power that protected him now, just as it had through so many other battles. It gave him more speed, and speed often outweighed strength in many battles such as this one. Every time he painted the holy symbol upon the flesh of his chest he felt its magic coursing through him. It made him feel lighter than the wind, heart pounding beneath the bones of his ribs. It was in those moments that he truly felt alive whether others believed in its power or not. Regardless, Lightning had proved himself as a warrior to the point that no one, at least openly, challenged his belief anymore.
It was a simple plan. A warning raid, one which would remind the Doosch of their agreements. A man’s word was only good until he broke it. Lightning understood this, so why couldn’t the savage white man?
In spite of their arrogance, the Doosch were no fools. A small group of armed soldiers wandered around the high walls of the settlement, their faces partially hidden in shadow by their unusual helmets. Experience with the Doosch told Lightning that the lack of shine on their clothing suggested that they did not wear their heavier armor this night. Not that the armor would help them, not when the Red God had blessed him with speed greater than a deer.
The Doosch believed that their weapons and armor would keep them safe against Lightning and his people. He was going to show them just how wrong they were.
He gave the signal, a slight flick of his hand towards the settlement. Out of the shadows flowed dozens of brave warriors, many armed with clubs and a few knives. Lightning knew that the elders wanted to send a message without seriously harming the trade relations. His own mother had warned him that war with the Susquehannock loomed in the near future, and trade with the Doosch was vital to their survival. How she had divined this did not concern him; it was she who had spent the most time with the English settlers before they had departed, and it was she who seemed determined to create a lasting peace with all other nations in the area. Lightning could not even begin to imagine why, however. The northerners stank and they were immensely ugly. However, he still listened to the elders, and carried a lightweight club wrapped in leather. He had no intentions of killing anybody this evening.
One of the guards passed right in front of the group, unaware of their presence. The guard’s eyes were looking upward at the sky, watching the ominous clouds rolling in. So engrossed was he in the view that he missed seeing the massive form of Little Bear emerge from the shadows. The giant warrior smashed his fist into the face of the Doosch, who fell limply to the ground. Little Bear unsheathed a large knife and brought it to the guard’s neck.
Lightning grabbed Little Bear’s arm and shook his head. Little Bear seemed annoyed at this but did not slice the man’s neck open. Instead, he thumped the pommel of the knife against the man’s head twice more, ensuring that he would remain sleeping. Little Bear looked up at Lightning and shrugged his massive shoulders, as though to say “I wasn’t going to kill him, honest.”
A strangled cry erupted from nearby. Lightning’s head snapped up and around as another Doosch guard had spotted them looming over the fallen guard. The massive boomstick that the Doosch usually wielded turned toward them, and the guard slapped at the side of it. Lightning knew what would happen next and was already diving to one side as a bright flash and loud roar ripped through the night air.
Little Bear moved fast toward the Doosch guard, who had tossed aside his boomstick and pulled out a knife that was as big as Little Bear’s. The white man’s face was pale and sweaty, but his eyes were determined. Lightning had seen that look on a warrior’s face before and recognized his intent. This was a brave warrior who was not going to die easily.
However, death was not what Lightning had in store for the Doosch.
He whipped his club at the Doosch, who blocked it with his knife. That opening, however, was more than enough for Little Bear to close. He yanked the knife out of the guard’s hand and tossed it aside. He picked the guard up by his shirt and slammed him into a nearby tree, hard. The guard was dazed, but not so much that he had stopped fighting back. A very strange click! sounded and suddenly, Little Bear was bleeding from a wicked cut in his side.
Lightning moved, using his speed to close in on the two brawlers. The guard had another knife, this one much smaller and unlike anything he had ever seen, in his other hand. He stabbed at Little Bear again, causing the huge warrior to falter backwards. The guard was intently focused on Little Bear, though, and did not see Lightning approach from the side.
Lightning kicked the Doosch in the knee and the guard stumbled with a cry of pain. The Doosch tried to turn and defend himself, but Lightning was swifter than the swiftest deer. Another powerful kick to the guard’s face effectively knocked him out of the battle. The Doosch fell heavily to the ground, the strange knife landing nearby atop a small pile of leaves. For good measure, Lightning cracked his club against the soldier’s armored head. While still alive, the Doosch guard would wish he weren’t once he woke up.
Little Bear gave him a jerky nod of thanks. Lightning glared at the large warrior but said nothing. Assuming they survived this, he would have strong words with Little Bear later.
The loud report from the boomstick the guard carried, however, had alerted the rest of the settlement to the attack. Men began to pour out of their homes, some fully dressed, most not. All held a weapon of some type in their hand and seemed fairly comfortable with them. Fast As Lightning In The Sky knew that it was only a matter of time before the Doosch formed a solid defense, one that he and his braves would find to be impenetrable. Time, it appeared, was not on his side.
More shots rang out as the Doosch began to light torches around the settlement. Lightning cursed under his breath as the two main advantages he and his braves had—surprise and the dark—disappeared almost simultaneously. Another fusillade of shots roared in the night, and a brave near Lightning cried out in pain. He glanced over at the brave and grimaced as he saw the damage. One of the Doosch boomsticks had struck up high on the arm and shattered it, leaving a tangled, bloody mess behind. The young brave was on the ground and bleeding profusely. Lightning had seen similar injuries before, and he offered a brief chant to the Red God to guide the brave to the shadowlands.
Rain began to fall, fat droplets falling from the clouds above. Thunder rumbled in the distance, low and threatening. Bright flashes broke through the clouds. The storm was almost upon them. Lightning had counted upon this when planning his attack. The ground turned to slop quickly as the dirt turned to muck, the parade grounds where the Doosch trained quickly becoming a bowl of mud and ruin.
The men inside the walls of the settlement proper were trying to form two straight lines. Lightning recognized this tactic from his past dealings with the white man and knew he could not give them the chance to get themselves into place. With a mighty war cry to the Red God, Lightning charged the men assembling inside the gates.
The magic from the symbol on his chest fueled him. He could feel the Red God’s satisfaction with him in his bones. His faith was rewarded. The mystical power was there. His legs pumped with almost supernatural speed as the bolt drove him forward and into the ragged line of Doosch.
The white men did not know what was in their midst. They cried out in their strange and guttural language as a demon suddenly appeared. Lightning recognized their tone if not their words and smiled grimly. He tightened his grip on his war club. He would not kill these men, unchosen of the Red God. No. But he would hurt them. The message had to be sent. The elders declared it such.
Using the chaos around him to his advantage, he caught the confused Doosch off guard, crashing into the line of men as they readied their boomsticks. He became a whirling dervish of destruction and carnage. His club lashed out and struck someone in the side of the head, his foot swept another man off his feet. He twisted to avoid a blow from one of the boomsticks and brought his club down onto the face of the man he had tripped seconds before. He pivoted on his heel and, while still kneeling, drove his elbow into the groin of another.
Speed. The magic was flowing, the blood pounding in his ears. He was untouchable, blessed of the red god. He was fast. He was a blur. He was as fast as lightning in the sky.
He felt rather than saw his next attacker and shifted his weight to his other foot as he pivoted to dodge. He blocked another blow from the largest Doosch he had ever seen, his momentum slowing under the impressive strength of the white man. He twisted about slightly and let the giant swing at him, effortlessly dodging blow after blow. Lightning laughed as his hair whipped about in the growing storm. Rain continued to fall, an increasingly heavy downpour which cooled him slightly and made the ill-dressed Doosch much slower. The giant roared with frustration as his heavy hands were unable to touch him.
Lightning struck with the club again, connecting solidly against the giant’s temple. The large man staggered from the blow. Lightning struck again and again, dancing away each time the giant seemed to finally catch him. The giant roared in frustration and threw a wild punch. Lightning, who had ended up near a Doosch settler, narrowly avoided the angry punch from the giant. The poor Doosch settler received the full force of the blow intended for him and fell limply to the ground. The giant paused in his attack, startled at what his blind rage had done. Lightning saw his opening and attacked.
A powerful kick to the back of the giant’s leg dropped him to one knee. An elbow to the temple caused the giant to groan. Blood freely trickled down the side of his face. Club firmly in hand, Lightning called upon the mystical power of the Red God and swung it with all his might.
The club broke upon the crown of the giant. Lightning’s eyes widened in shocked surprise as he held the broken club up and inspected it. Wood was wood, but the leather which had been wrapped around it before being cured was supposed to make the club stronger than normal. It was still in one piece, though he could feel the broken wood shifting around inside the leather casing. His attention went back to the giant, and his respect for the great Doosch warrior grew.
The giant swayed on his knees before falling forward, like a mighty oak once the final cut had been made. He fell into the mud, unconscious and bleeding, but very much alive. Lightning pushed the giant’s head to the side so that he would not suffocate and die from the mud.
Satisfied, he stood and looked around the settlement. The gate was destroyed, as was the fence. But none of the buildings were burned, nor were any of the settlers dead. Livestock remained untouched. Women had not been taken. He pulled his long dagger from the sheath and buried it into one of the poles which had been used to support the main gate. The Doosch were running away now, not looking at him or his braves. He had won, and a message had been sent. Just as he had promised the elders.
Fast As Lightning In The Sky used his fingertip to trace the bolt on his chest. He could feel the magic burning within. He offered thanks to the Red God of speed. He had been granted a great boon, and he could only hope to live up to the level of regard that was expected of him.