Two-Fisted Tales

Tales of Mystery and Adventure

Conan is a pussy cat compared to this guy! Welcome to the bloody Roman Coliseum, where an arrogant Roman gladiator will wish he'd found a different line of work once he encounters the...

Warp Spasm

By Isaac Skipworth
About the author

The ancient Celts were feared by the Romans for their bloodmadness. Especially feared were the Cruithne of Caledonia(Scotland). This bloodmadness was also known as a Warp Spasm, when the warrior was possesed by the spirit of a god. Most notable would be ChuChullain of the Irish legends, but there were other heroes who could summon the warp spasm at will; among them was a Cruithne named Courac...

Slaves had barely finished raking the blood out of the sand as the new fight began.

Courac of the Cruithne ran out on to the sand naked except for his greatsword and blue woad body paint. His enemy wore the armor of a legionnaire and was armed with a gladius and shield; the crowd cheered as the legionnaire saluted them with his sword.

“Ave Morituri te salutant!” the Roman muttered the traditional words.

Courac remained silent. He glared down at the smaller man with an inherent contempt, his Celtic pride despising the iron armor of the Roman as cowardice. The Roman repeated his words, but the Cruithne ignored him and snarled an answer in his native tongue. The Roman looked to the editor for the permission to proceed; the editor waved his hand in assent. The two men marched to their respective positions and faced each other.

The editor gave the signal for the fight to begin.

Not that it was supposed to be a fight; the heavily armored Roman would slaughter the naked Cruithne slowly and with as much blood as he could. The Roman was a popular gladiator, known for making his opponents suffer. In his last fight he had sheered the limbs from his opponent and severed his vocal cords. The attendants had come out and pressed a hot iron into the wretch’s body while he bled to death; the crowd had laughed and cheered as the thing jerked around in pain.

He was known as Lupus, or the Wolf, by the public.

Courac focused on his massive blade as Lupus advanced. He whispered a prayer to his Dagda, Crom Cruaich. He repeated the prayer again, faster. Faster again until it became a silent song in his mind, a silent maddening rhythm of prayer that screamed in harmony with black chaos.

The Roman stood ten paces away, puzzled that the Cruithne did not move. The crowd roared for the Roman to cut the Cruithne down, but the gladiator had not survived so long in the arena by risking his life at every whim of the crowd. If the Cruithne was attempting to lure him into a fatal mistake, which seemed likely, Lupus intended to ignore the bait and not depend on his armor to withstand a sudden attack.

The crowd soon became weary of waiting for the Cruithne to be slaughtered; they booed and hissed at the gladiators and began to turn their attention on the editor. The editor gave the word for some attendants to try and make the Cruithne fight.

Three of them approached him with spears, yelling at him to fight. At the first prick of a spear, Courac turned on them with a hellish fire burning in his wolfish gray eyes.

No one in the Coliseum expected that the Cruithne’s greatsword would actually be of much use, believing it far too long and heavy for practical use. A shout of appreciation went up as they saw the barbarian decapitate an attendant with a single-handed stroke.

The remaining attendants hurled their spears at Courac and ran as they saw the wild madness that distorted his face. Both spears hit him in chest; he plucked them out and cut the fleeing attendants down.

A harsh, screaming roar filled the arena as the spirit of his Dagda filled Courac with a mad blood lust. Lupus abandoned strategy and attacked the possessed barbarian, slashing at his unprotected legs. Courac lept over the Roman’s blade and threw his sword at Lupus. Lupus easily deflected the heavy blade and laughed; for a short minute he had been worried by his opponent’s madness.

“Make a eunuch of the barbarian, Lupus!” someone in the stands shouted. The crowd took up the cry, rising to its feet.

Lupus grinned and sliced at Courac’s groin; Courac deftly dodged the blade. With a beast-like snarl, Courac grabbed Lupus’ sword arm and hit him in the face. Courac was slavering at the mouth as he beat the Roman’s face in. He let the bloodied gladiator fall to the ground, his face caved in by the rain of savage blows.

Lupus tried to get up. Courac almost let him rise to his feet and grabbed him by his helmet strap.

Lupus could feel his bones break as he was thrown like a rag doll into the stone wall of the arena. The crowd was roaring for the insane Cruithne to eat Lupus alive, their fickle will changing with the flow of the fight. The harsh, chaotic roar now filled the Coliseum as it poured from Porta Libitinaria, the gate of death. Lupus could not even raise his arms to prevent Courac from pulling him back to his feet.

Courac said something in his native language that sounded like a taunt; with a vicious laugh he held the dying Roman up by his hair so that his feet dangled nearly a meter above the ground. Every thumb was turned down as Lupus tried to beg for mercy, his blood streaming from nose and ears. Courac beat the Roman in the groin and torso until he vomited up more blood.

"Hail the Dagda, I offer a sacrifice" Courac said in bad Latin.

Every cell of the Cruithne’s being was saturated with the insane power of his Dagda. The half dead Roman could see a change in his slayer's face take place as he prepared for the killing blow; the white of his left eye became red while the right eye went from grey to black and shrunk into Courac's skull; his teeth became wolfish fangs and his dark red hair stood straight on end.

Lupus cried out in pain as he felt the power of Courac’s Dagda through the Cruithne’s grip.

The crowd screamed in delight as Courac ripped the Roman’s torso from his neck; he let the gory torso fall to the sand and held up the head, frozen in agony and streaming bright red blood from the neck.

The Porta Libitinaria opened its solemn doors for the dead hero as the crowd cheered for the slayer of their favorite.

The End.

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Warp Spasm is copyright 2000, by Isaac Skipworth. It may not be copied or used for any commercial purpose except for short excerpts used for reviews. (Obviously, you can copy it or print it out if you want to read it!)