The giant loosed his belt and then leaned over shaking his shoulders from side to side and shirt of mail poured off like the second skin that it was.
The effort caused Anton to cough and streams of blood poured from his mouth. He cursed loudly in what Martin Luther believed was his native tongue and then looked at the monk in a half scowl and plead.
"I can't do this by myself, if you don't help me they will heal in me and will pain me until they are cut out."
"You're one of them!"
"Damn it boy, come here and help me!"
The cry for help and the desperation in the giant's voice shattered Martin Luther's fear and he hurried to the knights side.
The giant sighed out with relief," I thought you were going to run and leave me here."
Anthon nodded his head understanding.
The moment of fear had passed. Even though they were both kneeling, Martin Luther found himself looking up into the giants face; it was like being a boy again and looking at his father.
Anthon pulled off his tunic and the monk could see the splintered shafts sticking out from the huge mans chest. There were thousands of scars there, like the grain in leather.
"Three men shot me with crossbows you idiot."
"No the other marks."
"Oh. . . . my people burned me. . . . several times."
Martin Luther stared with mixed empathy and fear at the giant.
"They figured out what I was before I knew. A standing stone fell on me and a leg that should have never healed straightened and was sound in less than a week. One day when I came in from the forest with a faggot of firewood I found that it was me that was going into the fire. They burned me for three days and then abandoned the village with me left in the ashes. I healed but the scars stayed."
A coughing fit brought the giants attention back to the oak shafts in his chest.
"They're barbed so we can't pull them out, they have to be pushed though. But first build a fire, here close to me."
Martin Luther moved quickly to get the tinderbox from his saddle then ran to gather the wood he had picked up before the brigands had struck.
It was only a matter of minutes before the fire was blazing.
"Good job boy. Now you have to keep it burning like that all night. Go get more wood before the light is gone and then we will take care of what needs to be done."
Without real thought the young monk carried armload after armload of wood to the glade. The Giant nodded approval when the pile was very high and then sent Martin Luther out one last time to fetch branches from a cedar, which he assumed was for a bed.
"Alright Martin, set those branches beside the fire, far enough where they won't burn but close enough where you can kick them in if we need a lot of light, they will smolder at first and then blaze as the pitch in them catches. I've figured out why I don't like this place and it wasn't because of the brigands. There is something sleeping nearby."
"It's going to smell us, and come hunting, and I don't dare risk it finding me like this, I can barely move my arms. So listen well to what I tell you."
The monk nodded in agreement.
The giant continued, "I am going to use my dagger to push these shafts through and you are going to use the tongs from my ferrier kit to pull them out, it's one the saddle there is a hammer too, get them both."
The tongs were as long as Martin Luthers forearm and the hammer was as big as his fist. He returned to the giant's side.
"I may loose my wits or pass out, if I do keep the fire burning. If something attacks then run, the fire should keep it at bay but if it doesn't just run. Remember the wolf misses the target more often than he hits it, which is why rabbits must be so fast. Don't try to fight you will loose, just run and don't stop running until your legs fail you. Do you understand?"
Martin Luther nodded.
"Throw the bolts into the fire."
"They are bigger than others I've seen."
"Their designed for men in armor. I'm going to push them out very quickly are you ready?"
Martin Luther looked at the giant who was holding the point of his dagger to his chest like a man intent on ending his life. The young man nodded.
Without hesitation the giant knight pushed the dagger into his own chest then drew the blade out and repeated the process twice more. With a horrible rattle as he coughed a fount of blood he laid down on his chest and Martin Luther straddled his horse like back pulling the blood slicked shafts out one after another and flinging them like snakes into the fire. It was good that Anthon had told him to get the tongs because Martin Luther was not sure that he could have pulled the bolts out without them.
The giant made no sign of moving and so with the greatest of efforts the young monk rolled him onto his back. He had no idea what to do and fore a moment he considered saddling the horse and leaving the undying knight there in the forest. The thought passed and instead he built the fire higher until he could clearly see the edge of the forest encircling them.
Anthon wasn't breathing, of that much he was sure, but he had no idea if that was normal or not, he had never paid close attention before.
Suddenly the giant coughed up a great rush of blood and rolled onto his side, his face which had been slack composed itself into the normal map of angry creases and he began to snore.
Yes he breaths, there is no doubt of that