A woman is pursued into the woods by marauders attacking her town. She is wounded, but then saved by a husky barbarian.
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Over six feet tall, he’s dressed only in a loincloth and fur boots. His oily body is deeply tan and his skin is thick, covered with sinewy muscles. He snarls as he holds the raider face-down in the water. Finally all life is gone from his drowning victim. The other raider is long gone, and so is one of the horses.
The barbarian stands, throwing his victim’s body downstream. After scanning the calm forest, he turns and looks at me.
I have never seen anything so wild and powerful, not the warriors of my village, not even one of the marauders. He is like a piece of history come to life, one of the feral barbarians who used to hunt these woods. None have been seen for a generation.
His large, deeply brown eyes locked onto me, I realize my position. My body is numbing, half submerged in the flowing water. Blood trickles out of my three wounds, my dress and hair a mess from my retreat through the forest.
Though he is a woodsman, even more savage than the marauders he saved me from, there is a dignity in his appearance. He starts for me, his thigh muscles bunching and stretching on either side of his loincloth, the pectorals and abs bulging with each small movement. What does he want with me?
I remember the stories. The barbarians, eating the flesh of their enemies after battle. His fierce eyes look up and down my quivering body.
“Stay away, you monster.”
His stolid face gives no reaction to my threat. I could try to run, but I probably won’t get far with my injuries. I hold up the knife in my clenched fist.
But neither is an option. My head swims with stars and darkness. My vision is gray from blood loss. I can feel the sticky warmth spreading down my back and leg. I stink down, submitting to the cool of the stream.
The barbarian approaches. Before I slip under the water, the barbarian grabs my arms. The water falls off my body, my wet clothes cling to my numb skin. He leans down, and as I were a bundle of blankets, he slings me over his back.
His shoulder is broad and think and supports my entire middle. I have clear view of his muscular back, barely moving under the strain of my weight. He starts to carry me out of the water, and instinctively I grab onto him. My hand wraps around the back of his thick, sinuous neck and my other around his burly arm. I feel a thrill. His warmth is a comfort, here at the end.
He carries me to the raider’s horse and grabs its reins. He lays me over the saddle. I am too weak to move. Darkness covers my vision as he leads the horse into the wood, staying in the stream’s slow flowing water. He probably leads us to his camp of barbarians where they’ll feast on my flesh. I am completely at the brute’s mercy.