Valkyrie Chapter 20
Updated: Apr 23, 2019
The dragon had drawn one of the golems away, leaving Wulf alone to stare the other down. It was much too life-like for his liking. Its features were clearly that of an elven woman, he could even make out her eyes through the visor of her helm. The chain armor, it wore looked just as real as it moved with her.
Wulf briefly glanced at the dragon finding it ironic. Only a moment ago they had been trying to kill each other, but now they were fighting to help the other to stay alive. A sudden thud drew his attention as his golem stepped closer.
He positioned himself between the construct and the sarcophagi by the great door. It paused for a moment, looked at the sarcophagi between them and then plowed through them like parchment. Wulf dove out of the way as debris flew everywhere. Apparently, it wasn’t as concerned over the dead as it was for whatever was it was protecting.
He picked himself up, rolling over just in time to avoid being cut in half by golem’s stone sword. He winced, his back protesting as pain shot through his left leg. The golem slowly turned and lifted its sword.
Wulf rolled to his feet, the golem’s stone blade passing just inches from his face as he got up. He could feel the air left in the blade’s wake against his face as it passed. More pain shot through his left leg as it swung at him a third time.
Why did I have to follow that woman?
He stepped back, biting his tongue through the pain, narrowly avoiding the blade again. He backed away putting distance between himself and the golem. It lumbered forward, sidestepping put itself between him and the great door behind it.
Wulf glanced at the dragon. He had altered his elven appearance slightly, changing his pale skin into scales. He was using his arms as shields to block stone golem’s sword. The blade managed to draw some blood, but if the dragon was in any pain, he didn’t show it.
Wulf turned back to his golem. It was still lumbering toward him, but slightly faster than before. Both golems were working to keep him and the dragon away from the great door and the platform where Eadra stood. They seemed to be completely oblivious of her.
The closer they got to the open area between the rows of sarcophagi on either side of them, the less cumbersome the golem’s movements became. It was as if they were being careful, which didn’t make sense. One of them didn’t seem to be initially concerned a moment ago.
Watching their movements, he was beginning to wonder if outrunning them was possible. Even then, there was no way to know how far they might follow. Once they were at the center of the chamber, the golem’s movements became more fluid. The dragon’s forearms were covered in blood. Both constructs raised their shields and brandished their swords for an attack.
“Stall them,” the dragon commanded.
Wulf glanced over at him. “Stall?!”
The serious, matter-of-fact expression on the dragon’s elvish features was pure comedy. “Yes, be useful, so I can transform and dispatch them.”
Sure, forget the fact that I’m still in pain after having to deal with you. Wulf winced, his back had begun feeling worse, he was barely managing to keep from limping and the fatigue was still hitting him hard.
Why do I have to be the bait?
He sighed, glancing at the wall separating them from the platform and then back at the golems. Wulf then side-stepped toward it. Both golems immediately changed stances and turned in his direction. The dragon may as well not have even been there.
Well, that’s something. He took another backstep toward the dividing wall and the golems quickened their pace. Wulf turned an ran, closing the distance between himself and the wall. He nearly stumbled as another sharp pain shot down his left leg.
Yak’s balls! She’s going to owe me for this!
Wulf glanced over his shoulder, they were getting faster the closer he got to the wall. Both of them were catching up. He backed against the wall, eyes wide as the pair raised their stone swords.
“Hurry up dragon!”
He managed to catch a glimpse of something stirring behind them just as the dragon used the club-like part of his tail to swat them aside like flies. The golems were sent tumbling into more sarcophagi and the frost dragon turned, tail ready, as it focused its full attention on them.
“My name. Is Issfang,” the dragon growled.
The dragon rushed in, pivoted and dropped its tail like a hammer on the stone golems. Wulf watched Issfang repeatedly pound the club-like end of his tail into them, pulverizing everything in its path. Bit of stone and ice flew everywhere in its wake. Issfang roared, suddenly lunging forward, balling his fists and slamming them into the rubble.
Wulf felt a little shaken from the sight of it as the dragon relented and stepped back. But beneath the debris, something stirred. Issfang craned his neck low and hissed. He was fairly certain it was some form of curse.
“Stupid elves,” Issfang muttered.
“What now?” As if on cue the debris fell away as the golems righted themselves. They were a shambled mess, with large chunks missing from their bodies. One of them had no arms, while the other’s was gone. Both had small fissures across their bodies.
The stone around them began to vibrate. The golems looked as if they were absorbing and reshaping the stone to fill in the broken, cracked gaps on their bodies. It wouldn’t take long for them to piece themselves back together.
Wulf glanced at Issfang. “Any other ideas?”
The dragon turned its attention toward the icy tunnel at the other end of the chamber. “Well I can leave you here, I doubt they can fly.”
Wulf Frowned. “How kind of you.”
“No meal is worth the trouble you have caused me,” he replied.
“How practical of you, but if this your lair you will have to come back and deal with them at some point.” The dragon hissed and let out a low growl.
“How irritating,” he commented and then turned his attention back to the golems.
“Let’s make a deal,” Wulf replied. “We get out of this together and I will find you a something decent to eat. Perhaps an ice bear.”
The thoughtful expression on the dragon’s face was curious. “Agreed.”
“That includes not eating me.” The dragon nodded, was which surprising. Wulf had expected more of an argument. “Well, that simplified things.”
As the last of the debris was absorbed, Wulf felt his stomach turn. Don’t tell me they got bigger.
“This is all your fault, dragon!”
The dragon narrowed his eyes. “My fault, if you hadn’t woken me, this wouldn’t have happened!”
Wulf simply laughed. It was all he really could do. Surprisingly Issfang laughed too. “I don’t suppose you have a way to stop the magic enchanting them?”
Issfang shook his head. “To my shame, my knowledge of magic is limited to illusions. I wasn’t afforded the education most of my kin receive.”
There was something in his voice, Wulf had heard it before. It reminded him of how Eirik sounded over Ylva.
Frost giants…It explained a lot. Not many frost dragons were left in the wild. “My condolences.”
“Choose your next words carefully, human.”
Wulf smiled. It was strange, but he suddenly started thinking of Eirik. I think the two of you would have gotten along well.
The golems stood, shield and sword ready. “Can you hold them off?”
Issfang hissed. “I will try, but I am just worn as you. I haven’t eaten in decades, so whatever you have planned, do it quickly.”
Eadra suddenly felt the cold of the chamber overtake her as she came to her senses. Her body felt numb and she turned, just in time to see Wulf rush past her toward a sarcophagus in the corner. He was limping, his face bruised.
A loud roar drew her attention, the dividing wall muffling it slightly. The sound of stone shattering quickly followed afterward. “Wulf!”
The ranger stopped just after slid the lid of the sarcophagus aside. “It’s about time,” he grumbled, glancing over his shoulder.
“What are doing?”
“Hoping to find a weapon that can stop a golem,” he replied reaching into the sarcophagus and pulling out an Aetharian longblade.
Eadra felt her hand slide toward Grimmear. Something deep within her was screaming about disrespect. “That won’t do you any good.”
Wulf frowned. “Well if you have a suggestion I’m open.”
Eadra descended the steps of the platform and rounded the dividing wall. The sight of the frost dragon somehow wasn’t as unnerving as she thought it would be. Neither was the sight of the golems it was facing off against.
The dragon was using its tail to keep them at bay, but it was tiring. The golems were using the stone around them to repair the damage it was inflicting. She stepped closer, eyes focused on the golems.
“Tatesoken!” The golems stopped, but so did the dragon. “Enanetukra teok aloukin enehsah!” The golems immediately stopped, finished repairing themselves and returned to the positions by the great door.
“Now this is interesting,” the dragon commented. “You speak the tongue of the Aethar.”
Eadra let her hand slip onto Grimmear’s hilt. The toothy grin the dragon face was making her nervous. “I do now, at least more appropriately.”
It turned its attention toward where the Vakari lay and then looked back at her. “It seems things have changed.”
Eadra tilted her head curiously. “How do you know?”
“I sense less magic than before,” the dragon replied, narrowing his eyes. “I also sense something behind that door.”
Eadra looked at the door. She felt connected to it and the darkness held behind it. “That is where the last king of the Aethar lies.”
“Curious,” the dragon replied. “How do you know this?”
Eadra looked toward the dividing wall, catching sight of Wulf as he walked up. He was still holding the longblade. She took a breath, letting the moment pass. “On the platform is where his honor guard are buried. There was a battle with the Dakren. While the Aethar won, they suffered heavy losses.”
“So the statues are here to protect them?” Wulf asked.
“No, they are here to protect us.” She touched her chest, the sensation was hard to describe. It was a warmth, but not at the same time. It was like when she and Hellana were connected.
Hellana should have moved on.
Suddenly she understood. She was connected to the other Vakari. It wasn’t a matter of killing the king, she had taken Hellana’s place. Whether the dragon or Wulf had said something, Eadra wasn’t sure. Instead, she found herself ascending the platform's stairs, glancing over the script engraved into the wall.
She turned to see concern written all over Wulf’s face. Eadra nearly jumped when she saw an Aetharian standing behind him. His arms were badly cut up. “You…”
“Issfang,” he replied. “I know of the elves from my mother as told by her mothers’ mother. We were one of the last free frost dragon clans before the frost giant’s found us.”
“Eadra, whatever is happening, we should leave this place,” Wulf said.
Eadra nodded. “We should, but there much to do. Sokoras needs a king.”
The look on the ranger’s face echoed how insane she must have sounded. Issfang, however, seemed slightly amused. “King?” he commented. “Now this I must see.”
“Eadra have you gone mad?” Wulf asked. “You sound just like Viktor.”
“I’m deadly serious Wulf,” she replied. “We have more pressing matters than Viktor.” Eadra glanced at the great door.
“You act as if that dead king is going to…” he began. “Oh, Yak scroat! You’re serious!”
“If things in this country do not change, eventually he will,” Eadra replied. “And with him, the Aethar who died millennia ago will rise along with anyone they kill.”
“Well this is fascinating, but Wulf promised me food,” Issfang chimed in. “And no, I won’t help you.” He stood, then glance at Wulf expectantly.
Eadra frowned. “Not even if it means you get to kill as many frost giants as your heart desires?” There was a flash in the dragon’s elven eyes. Eadra found a little chilling. She had known that look, but it was feeling about him, that she could empathize with.
Issfang looked up, his eyes cold and empty. “You have my attention,” he replied.
Eadra kept her face a mask. He hid it well, but Issfang’s desire was more than just vengeance. There was an obsession in his pale orbs. “Give me your word that you will help me and I will explain everything.”
He narrowed his eyes. “Break your word and I will take my time killing you,” he warned. “So long as you keep your end, I will agree to aid you.”
Eadra nodded. “As Vakari, I must keep my word.”
“Good, now I’m hungry,” he replied, turning away and descending the stairs. “Come along Wulf.”
“Eadra, whatever you have planned, I think you’re playing a dangerous game,” Wulf commented. “Especially with him,” he added in a whisper.
“I heard that!” Issfang shouted.
In any other circumstance, watching Wulf shudder, even in the slightest might have been humorous. His warning was valid, though. “I have to think of Frey,” Eadra replied. “What good is saving her, with something like this laying in wait beneath us?”
“The Dakren cursed Sorkoras,” she added. “The things we’ve seen, the foul weather that springs upon us at times and the Hungering Ones, it’s all connected.”
“And you think it will end with a king?” Wulf asked.
“I don’t know, I just know, that something needs to change and it begins with us.”
He sighed. “I guess no matter what I do, I keep getting pulled in.”
“What do you mean?” There was something about the look on his face.
“I’ll tell you after we get some real food,” he replied.