Valkyrie Chapter 17
Updated: Apr 23, 2019
The light was annoying, it had chased away sleep’s sweet bliss. Someone was here. Hunger pangs bit at his stomach. Yet another annoyance. He opened his eyelids, the haw covering his eye sliding away and his vision clearing.
It was human female. She was dressed in furs, leather and chain mesh. A small scramasax hung on her left hip. Judging by the way it was positioned, she wielded in her right hand. It was so tiny, making it laughable. The silly thing probably wouldn’t even scratch his scales.
Subtly flexing his hands, being careful not to let his claws scrape against the stone, he shifted his weight. The soft sound of ice cracking followed from around his sides. He quickly glanced over at the female. She appeared too focused on the sarcophagi to notice.
I slept too long again. He tilted his head, glimpsing a small amount of frost and ice throughout the chamber some of it clinging to him. SO many annoyances. Patience was needed, the formations on his body from the long slumber would only make his reaction time slower. It was a pity she wasn’t a frost giant, there was more meat to consume. They tasted better too but then again, revenge always tasted sweet.
Dag took a hard look at the town, then toward the storehouses. They were too close to the walls but complaining about it wouldn’t change anything. In Dragnr, space was premium. Over the years, it still amazed him how much the town had grown from such a small village. Still he could recall how his grandfather’s stories. How the town was built on the ruins of an ancient city.
Truthfully, Dragnr had stood for over four hundred years. It had been repaired, rebuilt and restructured more than any settlement in Sokoras, it was also the longest standing. If not for the frost giants, Dragnr would probably look more like a true city, than the rough and tumble place it was now.
“Maybe in another year,” he grumbled, turning to the construction of the outer wall. The stonemasons were hard at work, despite the conditions. The sky didn’t look promising. “Yet, another storm.”
It was hard not to wonder if the frost giants and storms were related. They were often fond of attacking in them. This was border life though, you were either hard and stoic or you died. Dag thought about Viktor’s letter. Looking at the city, growing and expanding as it was, the offer was hard not to consider. A unified country would serve everyone’s best interest.
“High Thran, indeed,” he grumbled. “Such a bastard.”
Dag walked through the gate where two of his warriors stood at attention. More were along the walls and a dozen stationed in the guardhouse. Dag felt a sense of pride about them as he looked them over and smiled. They were easily better than any of Viktor’s warriors, better than his Blades too.
As Dag walked the streets toward his hall, he took note of the townsfolk as they went about their daily lives. It never ceased to amaze him how they carried on, thinking of only today and believing tomorrow would take care of itself. This who his people were. This was life on the border. As Thran, he had no such luxury, tomorrow had to be anticipated along with the day after.
Dag continued on catching a glimpse of the Ranger’s Lodge down a side street. He frowned. They had all left days ago and the thought of it made his blood boil. He needed them to watch the border. Thulm had sent word that Huntsman Wulf had left his post and days afterward, the other Rangers had abandoned their contracts. Without the rangers, both territories were vulnerable to raids.
“Change is coming it seems. I hope it’s the right change for us all.”
The feeling in the air didn’t sit well with him, it was like outside as if someone were watching. The fact Eadra’s was absent upon waking paled only heightened his apprehension. At least the she hadn’t run off in some foolish spurt of revenge.
Wulf stared down the stairs leading to the lower level and sighed. He touched the broken shard from her sword and closed his eyes. The thread connecting it to Eadra was still there and showed she had gone below. The eerie feeling changed as he began his decent, becoming disturbingly ominous with each step he took.
When he reached the bottom, the ominous feeling shifted when he looked down the long hall that greeted him at the bottom of the stairs. If the stairs felt ominous, then hall began screaming foolishness.
The placement of the sun rods didn’t help. Some were lit, but between their pale light and the intermittent way they would flare to life then die, made the instinct to walk away scream at him. Despite instinct and rationalization, Wulf found he couldn’t simply walk away.
He shook his head and sighed. “This woman is going to get me killed.” Pulling his bow from his shoulder, he reached down and uncapped the quiver on his hip. There was only a dozen or so arrows in it.
Wulf thought of the creature he had run from and silently, he found himself praying to whatever Immortal that might care. Hopefully the arrows might do some good. “Please don’t let there be Hungering Ones down here.”
Wulf set an arrow and cautiously crept down the hall. One of the sun rods flared to life as he passed then died. I really hate magic.
Upon reaching the doorway at the end of the hall and peering inside, the large chamber took he found there took him by surprise. It was probably about a hundred-twenty feet in width and twice as much from flor to ceiling. The feeling only lasted a moment after he stepped through the doorway, bow ready, after glimpsing the sarcophagi arrayed around it.
Eadra stood a few yards straight ahead, her attention focused on the sarcophagi placed on the tiered platform and the center of the chamber. She was standing by one of them, running her fingers across its lid. The entire tiered platform and the wall on its other side were built into each other and appeared to have been carved out of the stone itself. There were strange characters written all over the wall, but it was nothing that Wulf could read. He turned his attention to the other Sarcophagi along the wall.
Just so us a favor and stay dead. Eadra had said that this place had been built by a people long dead. Perhaps this was one their tombs. He shuddered it didn’t feel right, not burning the bodies.
He stalked closer, searching the chamber. Large formations of ice hung from the ceiling and clung to the walls in places. Frost was everywhere and a few sun rods embedded in the support pillars holding the chamber up were lit.
It was just enough light to reveal what looked like a large circular ‘door’ of some kind against the far wall to his right. There were a set of stairs leading up to it and two statues similar to the one upstairs stood on either side of it. These were larger, about six feet and their features hadn’t been worn with age. They looked almost new.
He sighed. I hope you’re just for decoration. The door was curious though. He paused feeling a momentary brush of cold air. Must be another way in somewhere.
Wulf glanced at Eadra, she seemed oblivious, as if in a trance. He turned, then stopped, feeling another breeze. It seemed as if it were coming from the other side of the platform, from behind the wall.
Wulf moved closer, making his way around the platform and peered behind the wall. There was saw a strange formation of ice on the opposite side of the wall. He hadn’t noticed from the entrance, the angle was wrong, but it was large, about fifty or sixty feet in length. It was the length of the wall.
Something wasn’t right about it and for moment, Wulf thought he saw something inside it. He stepped back, his instincts were screaming again. A harsher breeze blew, and he moved away from the ice, pressing himself against the wall.
Wulf scanned the rest of the chamber. It continued on for about thirty yards and met with a large tunnel. It didn’t look natural and judging from the dim light it had slope to it. He stepped out and against his better judgement, turned his back to the sarcophagus lined wall behind him.
He began sidestepping, trying to get a better look at the large ice formation spanning the length of the wall. It defiantly wasn’t natural, it was almost like a fungal growth he had seen at one of the druid sanctuaries. There cracks to along its surface, about midway.
Everything said run, to save himself, that escape was possible, but from what? Wulf felt a tingling sensation across his temples. His vision momentarily blurred. He shook head, trying to clear it.
When he opened his eyes, the ice formation shifted, some of vanishing to reveal scales and a large pair of wings covered in frost. Wulf stepped back, bow ready as the dragon stirred, the ice covering parts of its body shattering as it turned and stood. The dragon shook itself off, freeing the bits of ice and frost still covering its scales, feet and wings.
Wulf raised his bow and sighed. Why did it have to be a dragon?
Issfang watched the small human creep about the chamber, then closed his eyes feeling the vibrations of his steps through the ground. His bow was a good jest, he may as well have opted to throw rocks for all the good it would do.
The illusion would hold, most humans were weak willed and feeble in thought. The female was curious, Issfang could sense old magic at work and knew better than to get involved with it. No matter, the human male would taste better anyway. His apprehension would sweeten the flavor of the meat.
It was the one thing that made humans remotely worth eating, but only when they were scared enough. The woman showed no real fear which would make her taste bland, but food was still food. In Sokoras, one could not be picky.
Still frost giants were preferable, they knew fear and in turn could be made to fear. Issfang found it hard not to think about all the giants he had slain. How he had made them suffer and beg for their lives. How he had learned how to overcome their natural immunity to the cold.
Would you be proud of what I have done for out kind, Mother? Would you be pleased by the devastation of have brought them?
The human closer now, though he had crept in the opposite direction. Issfang cautiously moved his head, so not to break the illusion. From the angle his field of vision was limited, but the human had taken notice of the ‘ice formation’ he was viewing. Strangely he hadn’t dismissed it.
He kept staring, eyeing it suspiciously. Issfang found himself growing frustrated as the human backed away. Closer, not farther!
Hunger pangs clawed at his stomach. Hibernating for so long made fighting risky, but primal instinct was slowly working its influence over him. The human paused, touching his temples and shook his head.
Issfang sighed. I would get one with some semblance of will.
He tensed, pushing himself up, the sound of cracking ice following. He felt so stiff, his powerful muscles groaning from the decades of slumber. Some of his scales fell with the ice. Apparently, he had shed them hibernating.
I will need to bathe after this.
He turned, faced the human and shook himself. Ice and frost fell free from his body. Issfang folded his wings flat against himself and craned his neck, leering at the human. He was so small. If the female were ever freed from the magic holding her, she would have to be next.
Lets get this over with.