Bedlam Unleashed: Omnibus Edition
by Steven L. Shrewsbury & Peter Welmerink
Print ISBN-13: 978-1-926912-89-9
Editor: Louise Bohmer
Publisher: Belfire Press
Cover Price: $11.99 NEW PRICE!
Order Direct: Createspace
E-book ISBN-13: 978-1-926912-91-2
Formats: html, js, mobi, epub, pdf, rtf, lrf, pdb, txt
Kindle ISBN-13: 978-1-926912-90-5
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Pieced together from recovered scrolls of sagas and skaldic poetry, here begins the journeys of Norse mercenary Alanis Johansson and berserker Erik Bedlam.
The stories open with Alanis and Erik fighting for the High Irish King, Brian Boru. They leave this battle at Clontarf with hopes of heading home, however the North Sea brings an ominous drakkar into their path, and Erik and Alanis soon find themselves in a scrimmage on this ship filled with the dead.
They land in Scotland, where they encounter dragons, druids, and treachery. Then, with a bounty of gold, they head south, where Alanis experiences a vision rank with specters from his haunted past.
From there, Alanis and Erik travel to Rannoch Moor, where they take food and drink in a small village, and learn of an ancient witch who has conjured old spirits to haunt the clan that inhabit the area. Men, women, and children are going missing, while a bagpipe-playing ghoul haunts the wilderness, and ghosts haunt the wastelands of the moors.
Soon, they head for the coast of England, looking to obtain passage home. After a brief time at sea, they end up in Leftwich, outside a castle, where they are attacked by strange winged beasts, then charmed by the deadly Haley Wenda. Kendrick the Wizard also joins the men on their journey.
Erik, Alanis, and Kendrick then travel to the town of Dunwich; once a place of frequent Viking raids, some men within the town made a sinister deal to protect it from further pillaging. Now, along with a crazed madman who tells the tale of Dunwich, the men must face monsters from the sea that signed a pact with these coastal residents.
After surviving the horrors of Dunwich, Alanis breaks from the troupe for a time. When Alanis rejoins his companions, they head south, where they find a tournament hosted by the noble Kern family, and Bedlam has a brief tryst. The trio partakes in an exorcism in Ipswich, then Erik and Alanis experience the Wild Hunt.
What they’re saying about Bedlam Unleashed:
With no shield or armor, the nude berserker charged forward, throwing himself into the flank of the opposing forces of Norsemen under the command of Earl Sigurd. As he stumbled through the tall grasses and over gnarled roots on the tree-lined battlefield, the soldiers of Wolf the Quarrelsome gave him a wide berth.
“WODAN!” was Erik’s cry. It sent the rest of us into a howling charge.
Erik rushed headlong into the Orkney mercenaries, burying his sword and leaving it in the chest of a stunned warrior. He then swept the blade of his axe wildly to the left and to the right. A trio of Irish Leinster rebels caught in the path of the berserker’s slashing emitted blood-choked gasps as their light armor rent. Limbs holding weapons disappeared in a metal flash.
I charged in with Erik and stabbed forward. Bedlam drew crimson with every stroke and called out for more flesh. I knew what he fought: In his eyes, he saw no man–just demons hungry for the children from Norse cribs.
A rider on horseback split the fray. The fighting men in its way parted, or were trampled under crimson hooves. Erik, standing in the charger’s path, lifted his battle-axe and yelled. He brought the weapon down almost too fast for the eye to see. The berserker buried the blade in the courser’s shoulder. The horse toppled with an unholy bawl, pulling the battle-axe from Erik’s hands as it went one way and the rider went the other. Erik rose, pushing himself to his knees, and then slammed his left hand into the chest of the downed rider, who also started to ascend. The fallen foe emitted a war cry to the Norse All-Father, while trying to sit up and wrest the big man from his chest.
“You call out to the wrong god, Nastrandian.” Erik said, cocking his massive arm back.
His other arm pinned the struggling Norseman. He smashed his fist into the man’s face, crushing through the thin nose protector of the metal helm. Erik raged on, performing this repeatedly until his wrist ran awash in gore. Stifled by the force of Erik’s blows, the man’s lamenting went unheard. True to Erik’s words, Odin cared little for individual deliverance.
After leaving the broken warrior, Erik darted off to the next group of shouting men and ringing steel. I followed his route, but stopped at his victim. This man’s face looked more akin to a smashed melon than a head. He still tried to rise. The eye remaining in his skull gazed at me, as his hand slid slowly to a dirk in his belt.
“Let me show you how the Irish have me send men to their maker,” I said, raising my sword. I slashed from right to left, gouging a furrow in the ground beyond the man. The smashed melon rolled free from its body in a spray of red juice.
I fought a few spear lengths behind Bedlam, creating a trail of abhorrence and death through the Orkney middle. The berserker tore into his foe like an enraged bear, fighting with his hands, sweeping out like great claws, grabbing up a weapon whenever he could. His frenzy crushed skulls, smashed bones, and tossed fully armored men airborne like sacks of potatoes. Erik wouldn’t be denied. We broke through a small copse of trees, leaving the thrashed vegetation in a downpour of blood.
Again, a thickset man across the field snapped into my mind. Gunthar Ulfsson, a man from the olden country who despised me. This time, silhouetted against the sky, there proved no doubt to his identity. He fought against my side, so killing him would cause no clannish wars. However, his form disappeared in the fray, carried away from my bile in the tide of killing.
For a moment, we stumbled outside the fighting. Erik’s flesh, awash in crimson with a dozen scraped wounds crossing his bare body, hunched over and nearly fell. I rushed to his side, but stopped an arm’s length short when my yearning for life overtook my sense of pity for this maniacal beast.
With sword at the ready, I called out: “Erik, are you wounded deep by the demon Lords?”
With labored movements, Erik turned towards me. His steely gray eyes met mine. I had to command my body not to break and run, which would surely bring me death by the madman’s crushing club-fists. The blood that matted his hair further exposed the horrible, old axe wound. My heart thudded beneath my chain mail.
“The demons leech at my soul, Alanis,” Erik muttered, then vitality returned to his eyes. “They shall not pull me to Valhalla this day. Nay! I’ll see the scum of Loki burn. I shall challenge Thor to a drinking bout another time.”
A fellow fighter from Wolf’s group drew close to give us happy congratulations, waving his sword in jubilation. Erik swung his arms wild and inadvertently broke this black haired Irishman’s nose. The giant Norseman saw red, charged, and seized the head of the man from our own standard. Before I could stop him, Erik twisted the head of the soldier backwards and took the fallen sword.
“Onward always I go, to grimly reap and gladly sow the seeds of Death…” Erik sang, and then stopped abruptly. His gaze latched onto something in the midst of the battlefield.
The big warrior stared at the waving raven banner held high amongst the clashing swords, flourishing spears, and cudgels. My fearless friend visibly shook, and he emitted a whimper of agony, as if the sight of the wind-whipped cloth struck pain deep within his mighty breast.