INTO THE MOUNTAINS
THEY REACHED the cave before sundown, made a fire and readied themselves for the long, cold night ahead of them. Vali and Tofi both knew they had nowhere else to go now. The village in which they had both grown up in, all the people they knew and loved were gone. Anyone who survived would perish in the coming darkness. And if the cold didn’t kill them, then the Wolves would.
Vali had heard the long and daunting howls of the great Wolves of Fenris before, when he was a young boy, but never had they been so loud. Here in the mountains, Vali realised, that everything was louder. The mountains and valleys formed a massive tunnel that funnelled sound like an oar masters horn. Both of the boys had sat in silence for hours into the night, each toasting bread over the fire and eating their fill.
Vali was the first to break the silence.
“Sleep little brother, I’ll take the first watch.” He said.
“Thank you Vali, wake me in a few hours.” Replied Tofi as he laid his head back and let sleep take him. Vali himself was tired, but he knew that if he fell asleep, even for a moment, that there was no telling what monstrosities would fall upon them. He knew that is he slept now, that he would never again wake. The cave which they occupied was nestled high in the Fangurd Mountains, perched up in their high Vantage point Vali could see the almost every detail of the mountains around him, even at night.
Large and deep valleys stretched back into Asaheim for miles on end, the father back he looked, the larger the mountains became until they were lost from view. Pine forests dotted the landscape bellow, like moss slowly climbing a huge boulder. Vali knew that this was truly the Land of the Gods, for who else could live in a place of such majesty and splendour? Vali had to use all of his will power to keep himself awake, to keep himself alert, he wasn’t just protecting his life, he was protecting Tofi’s as well. To keep himself awake, Vali went through the bag of supplies that Tofi had brought with him. It contained 4 knives, another 2 loaves of bread, 3 spear tips, some flint stones to start a fire with, and some rope.
Vali picked out two of the knives and started to fasten them to the end of his spear with the rope, either side of the spear tip already there.
WHEN HE HAD FINISHED he heard something outside, well he thought he did. He heard it again, it sounded like rocks sliding down a hill. Vali’s gripped tightened around the shaft of his spear. He rose to a crouch and waited for whatever threat would present itself. The sound came again, louder and closer. Vali drew back his arm, ready for the cast. On the edge of his vision he saw a large shape coalesce. Vali did not wait for it to make the first move; he threw the spear in a killing cast directly at where he thought the creature’s heart should be.
Whatever it was it stood on two legs, and was extremely quick. Faster than Vali’s eye could follow, it reached out and plucked the spear from the air. Only to cast it back again to have it land at Vali’s feet.
“That isn’t a very nice way to greet strangers. But then again you Ice Hunter were a cautious people weren’t you?” said the figure. As he strode into the fire-light Vali gasped in horror, it was the same man from his dream. The Wolf-Helm’s deep red sight glared at Vali. The man was a giant up close, at least twice the size of Vali.
Up close, Vali could see that his armour bore many talismans and tokens, from Wolf tails to Ice Troll teeth. It was emblazoned in many places with golden wolves, snarling heads and strange rune signs. He carried a strange device at his waist and bore a large mace in his hand. He placed it resting up against the cave wall and held out his massive, gauntleted hand.
“The name’s Hoskuld, glad to meet you young Ice Hunter, I’m sorry about your village, that was one big Kraken.” He said. Something about his tone told Vali he was being sincere.
He took the proffered and, which enveloped his. For such a large man his grip was gentle yet firm, the steel glove he was icy cold, it was like touching a glacier.
“You, you’re the man from my dream. And how did you know I was an Ice Hunter?”
Hoskuld removed his wolf skull helmet and placed it next to his mace, he looked at Vali thoughtfully, raised an eyebrow and said “well, as for your dream I can’t say but I know that that was the Ice Hunter village because I went there well before your time. Oh that would have at least 400 years.” Vali’s eyes widened. 400! Not even the oldest grey hairs of his village lived past 45. Come to think of it, he had never heard of a Fenrisian living past 50.
This man starring at him was 400, and yet, his hair was a black as the night sky, his skin was tanned and scared but not ravaged by the years he claimed to have weathered. He looked over at Tofi’s unconscious form. “Wake him up, I need to talk to the two of you, now.” He said. Vali didn’t object, he walked over to where Tofi lay and roused him from his sleep. Tofi awoke, and jumped at the sight of the Hoskuld in the cave. “It’s alright Tofi, he just want to talk to us.” Said Vali “just be wary, I’m not sure of him yet” he whispered.