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"A man is measured in the eyes of Russ by his feats of arms. By the trophies taken from his enemies. But most of all, by how much ale he can down!"
-attributed to Wolf Lord Vali Dragonsbreath


Vali awoke breathing heavily, sweat beaded his rigid brow. He had had another strange dream. They were all the same, lucid and vivid, yet never showing him the full picture. He always saw a man, or what he thought was at least part man, it’s body was that of a man but it was encased in a large suit of armour, bristling with trinkets and engraved with countless runes which meaning escaped Vali.

His head though, was another thing; it was undeniably human yet lupine. His nose was almost a snout like the great wolves that roamed the nearby mountains. His eyes seemed to pierce Vali’s very being, they too were Wolf like. He would always turn and walk away in his dream but not before he donned his helmet, it was an entire Wolf skull, large reds eyes shone like heated iron. Although that was not what troubled Vali most, it was what was happening down at the shore.

At first the water churned like a dying Orca, but not long after the Dragon boats docked at the shore were thrown from the water and back into the Ice Hunter village, to rain down upon huts and helpless villagers. But every time Vali ventured down to the shore, nothing happened. But this night something within him stirred, it compelled him to go down there, and to face whatever it was with sword and shield. He knew they were not his own thoughts; they came from something much darker within him.

But when he tried to find the source, when he thought he had it cornered and ready to unmask it, it would always find a means of escape. He could hear its insane laughter echo around his skull. But tonight, Vali embraced the thoughts. He retrieved his coat and weapons and ventured down to the shore once more. He left his hut to be met by the cold embrace of Fenris’ winter winds, and even with his coat of bear fur he still felt its icy touch. Vali was only of 15 years, but was already an accomplished warrior, he had slain his first beast, the bear whose fur he now wore, and it was almost time for him to pick a woman to raise a Family with.

His close cropped brown hair rustled in the morning breeze and his deep blue eyes studied the village he knew all too well. The Ice Hunters were one of the many Tribes on Fenris, but while other tribes were nomadic and fought over Islands to call their own, the Ice Hunters were quite content to stay where they were. Nestled in the foot hills of the Fangurd Mountains, his village had prospered. Every year they would follow the great Orca herds that roamed the seas of Fenris and each year, would bring back a hefty amount of meat. Vali was not one who liked sailing on Dragon boats.

It was his and every other Fenrisian warriors fear to drown at sea and have you soul tortured by the sea Daemons. Instead he would hunt in the foot hills, and bring back deer or bear meat for his Family. It was a Simple life but that was the way Vali liked it. Living with his Father and brother Tofi, his mother had died after he and Tofi were born, leaving his their father to raise them on his own.
Vali passed the great hall in the centre of the village on his way to the shore, torches were still lit from last night’s celebrations, another year had passed and the Ice Hunters were still living. They would give thanks to Russ and the All Father for another year’s prosperity and go about their lives much the same again. As a child Vali and Tofi had heard all the stories about Russ, how he had wrestled the Great Kraken from the oceans only to release it back saying it was still too small for his likings.

They had also heard the stories of the fabled lands of Asaheim, on which they presided. The Fangurd Mountains were the fore front of the Western Coast of Asaheim. And Vali knew that even to be on this small part of it was a great honour to his entire tribe. But the story that stirred him the most was when skald Hrafn would tell of the Mountain of the Gods, where the great table sat. It was said that if you were chosen as worthy warriors, that you would take you seat at the table and feast with Russ and all the heroes of Fenris. But first you had to find a Chooser of the Slain, although they would most likely find you.
“They are the messengers of the gods” Hrafn would say.

Vali and Tofi both yearned to take their place at the table on top of the Mountain of the Gods, to sit and toast Russ himself. He had never seen a Chooser of the Slain before; he had only heard villagers from other Tribes during the trading season’s talk of their encounters. One said that he appeared out of the Blizzard and took two of their mortally wounded warriors away, never to be seen again. Vali pushed the thoughts from his head, now was not the time to be thinking of such things. He needed to be aware, so as to not be caught off guard. But no matter how hard he strained his senses he could not find anything.

“Find anything tonight?” Said a voice from behind him. “Or are you just being delusional again brother?” Tofi was younger than Vali but still a lethal warrior. His blond hair shone in the early morning sun light. Two braids of his golden locks flowed over his shoulders. He had a scar across his face from a battle with an Ice Goblin, tiny little buggers that were very territorial. He was almost as tall as Vali but marginally stronger. He would always win their play brawls, but Vali would always beat him in armed Combat, especially with his favoured axe.

“No little brother, at least, not yet that is” Replied Vali.
“I just don’t get why you keep coming out here” said Tofi “there is nothing at the shore.”
“I know, I know. But tonight, something seems different, part of me wants to go down there but then part of me wants to get as far from the shore as possible.”
“Well you can find out soon enough brother, Race you there.” Said Tofi as he turned and ran towards the shore. And a strange sense of foreboding hit Vali.

EVERYTHING was quiet down at the shore nothing seemed amiss. Waves pattered against the rocks and a cool ocean spray hit Vali’s face. Nothing was wrong, the water was not churning around like a mad man, and the Dragon ships docked were still at their moorings and not being thrown through the air.
“There, are you satisfied now brother?” asked Tofi. Vali could tell from his tone that he was mocking him.
“Yes Tofi I quite am thank you.” Snapped Vali, “now I think we can go back to bed.”
“No point Vali, the sun is just rising now.” Said Tofi. Vali looked out on the horizon and saw the eye of Russ begin it’s rise into the morning sky.

In the distance Vali could make out a pod of at least 7 Orca, it was almost the time of year for the Ice Hunters to take to their ships and hunt their water going meals. Something was wrong with the pod, they were swimming much faster than usual. Something had them spooked. Vali thought he caught a glimpse of something wrap itself around the lead Orca’s tail, just before it was dragged under the water.
“Did you see that brother?” asked Tofi. “It just got dragged under the water.”
“Yes I saw it too, there goes another one.” Replied Vali. And he was right, another Orca had just got dragged under. Followed by another and another until only a small calf remained.
“Something bad is going on Tofi, what is big enough to drag down a fully grown Orca?”
“I don’t have an answer for you Vali, I just don’t know.” Said Tofi. The small calf had just got dragged under when the water surrounding the area was blasted upwards. When the spray fell back down Vali could see a colossal bulge in the water. It was coming towards the village. Cold realisation hit Vali like a Smith’s hammer. The thing that had dragged the pod down was Fenris’ apex sea predator. One whose size and sheer power were surpassed by none, a Kraken.

'“Oh Sacred Russ Tofi” swore Vali “it’s a Kraken!” The bulge was gaining speed at an alarming rate, it was coming close and closer to the village. They didn’t have much time, they had to warn everyone thought Vali. He grabbed hold of Tofi’s shoulders and pulled him around.
“Tofi, wake everyone you can, tell them to get into the mountains, NOW damit!”
Tofi couldn’t form words with his mouth out of fear, but he managed a nod. Vali turned and raced towards the great hall, he was sure that there would be a large amount of people there. He was not disappointed. At least half the tribe was still there, asleep or passed out on tables.

“By the Ice Troll’s frozen balls, get up now!” Vali bellowed. Men snapped awake, groggily rising from the tables. A man by the name of Kjartan walked over to Vali and grabbed his shoulders, to keep himself from falling to the ground again.
“What’s going on boy, what’s the matter? Have more nightmares did we?” he laughed.
Vali punched him in the nose and got on top of the nearest table. Kjartan was barely pulling himself off the ground and covering his bleeding nose before Vali spoke.

“Now is not the time! Go out into the Village wake everyone. Tell them to get into the mountains. A Kraken is coming!” he shouted. Men who were half awake stood straighter and their eyes widened. They were stumbling about before Vali had even left the hall. He had to do something, the first thing that jumped into his head was to find Tofi and his father and get them to the mountains. When he was outside he could see that Tofi had woken allot of villagers, women and children were gathering supplies and heading for the foothills. Vali caught a glimpse of Tofi’s bright blonde hair racing through the crowd and he followed it.

“Tofi!” he called out “Tofi!” He scanned the crowd, he had lost sight of Tofi.
A figure rushing past Vali knocked into him hard, sending the weapons in his hands sprawling to the ground along with him. When he got back to his feet he looked back at the shore, the water was churning just like in his nightmares. He could not find his weapons so decided to keep going and search for more on the way.

He knew Tofi would be heading towards their cave in the mountains, by the large Oak tree that had been struck by lightning. He knew he didn’t have much time before the boats started flying. So he did the only thing he knew he could do, he ran. He never once looked back, that is, until he heard the scream. When he did he saw his father, the one man he loved in this world, being lifted into the air by a scaly tentacle. It was enormously thick. Over the screams and cries of the other villagers, Vali herd his father’s spine snap as the kraken crushed the life from his body.

Blood flowed from his mouth, then he went limp and unmoving. Vali felt as if his heart was being ripped from his chest, a red furry over took him, he wanted more than anything to go back and kill the beast that caused the death of his father. He was about to when a hand grabbed him by the shoulder and hauled him back. He turned, ready to strike, it was Tofi. Tears rolled down his face, and when Vali wiped his own, he found that he too had been crying.
“It’s no use Vali, he’s dead now, and we have to get away from here.” He said. Tofi had food in his arms, two loaves of fresh bread, and he had two spears as well. Vali saw the sense in Tofi’s words; he fought down the rage building within him and let Tofi lead him away from the village.



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 hand, which enveloped his. For such a large man his grip was gentle yet firm, the steel glove he was icy cold, like the touch of 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 to have been at least 400 years ago.” 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.
“I heard that boy.” said Hoskuld. Vali jumped, how could he have heard? Vali had been whispering and Hoskuld was still near the cave mouth and Vali was at the back. Vali looked up to him; Hoskuld noticed his surprise and smiled, revealing two massive fangs where his canines should have been. The mark of Russ! Vali had heard of it before.

The Chosen, blessed with the fangs of the wolf and the strength of Russ. Could this man be a Chooser? Could this be Tofi and his chance to take their place at the table? Vali and Tofi sat on the opposite side of the fire from Hoskuld. He began fiddling with a strange metal object in his hands, it had small snake looking things dangling from one end and connecting back into his armour. A light shone on its surface before beeping a few times then going silent. He then clipped it back onto his belt.

“What’s that thing do?” asked Tofi. Hoskuld looked at him as if thinking what he should tell Tofi. “It’s a sort of compass, it tell me which way is north and south.” He said. Tofi just nodded.
“Now boys, I want to talk to the two of you” he began “you have both shown great skills of survival and strength in getting this far up the Fangurd Mountains. I don’t think I have seen many others do it.”
“It’s not that special, I mean we have been doing it since we were eight.” Vali countered. Hoskuld looked up and down both of them. “Really, since you were eight eh? Well that only interests me more.” he said. “I want you both to travel with me to a place called Grimnir, there you will be tested to your very limits, and if you prove yourself worthy, then a lifetime of glory is yours.”

A life time of glory. It must be true then, he is a Chooser of the Slain, thought Vali.
“Why should we go with you?” queried Tofi.
“Well it’s not like you have anything better to do.” Hoskuld replied.
Vali looked over to Tofi and found him staring his way. They looked into each other’s eyes, searching for an answer to the question on both their minds. Tofi must have found his answer because he nodded at Vali, turned to Hoskuld and said “Ok, we will go with you to Grimnir.”
“Where is Grimnir anyway?” asked Vali
“Deep in the lands of Asaheim boy.”

ASAHEIM! HE WANTS us to follow him into Asaheim! The deadliest place on Fenris. A part of Vali felt exhilarated at the chance to delve deeper into the land of the gods. And he agreed with it. “When do we leave?” he asked. Hoskuld stood up and looked at Vali.
“Well now if you like.” he said. “But pack lightly it will be a long trip and you’ll probably die anyway, so no need in packing allot.” He smiled revealing his two large fangs again. Hearing no objections from Tofi or Vali, Hoskuld made his way to the caves mouth. Tofi looked worried.

“What other choice do we have Tofi?” asked Vali “What else are we going to do? Sit here and wait for the cold to kill us, no, we are going to spit in Morkai’s face and turn from his cold gaze.” Tofi just nodded.
“Spoken like a true son of Russ boy. Now we best be off.” said Hoskuld. Vali hurried over to his pack to gather a few things. He pulled out the flint and the left over rope.

He left the bread, thinking that he could hunt on the go. Hoskuld had already gathered his weapons and was heading out into the light of dawn. Vali caught up to Tofi and walked beside him.
“You know what this man is, don’t you little Brother?” he asked.
“Yes I do Vali, he is a Chooser of the Slain.” Replied Tofi.
“But I want to know why he has come to us; I mean we are not among the dead.” Said Vali.
“At least not yet boy.” Said Hoskuld. Not another word was spoken for hours.
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