Ítreksjóð : The Guardian Of Asgard's Treasure
The Cave Of Death
With his ' glow globe ' held out in front of him Durinn led his Dwarves downward into the damp depths of the cavern. Despite being acclimated to darkness the Dwarves carefully watched each step they took for fear of setting off another of the cruel Asgardian traps. Living in the earth the Dwarves were especially cautious because this cave was unusual . It was damp, not from dripping water, or from a coolness of air, but from a humidity that should not exist at these depths.
As Durinn placed one foot in front of the other he counted each step he took. In this way he would know how many steps it would take when it was time to leave the cavern once they had gathered up as much treasure as they could possibly carry. Of course the Dark Elves could not take too much treasure, or they might not be able to make it back across the rings. The sight and sounds of Nain falling to his death haunted them all as they moved forward.
" One hundred and eighty - seven, one hundred and eighty - eight,..." Durinn whispered to himself as he slowly took step after step.
Suddenly, Durinn tripped over something that he could not see. Before he could turn and yell a warning to his comrades, the Dwarve leader heard an ominous rumble from the ceiling of the cave. Then, as the world seemed to come crashing down upon them, he screamed at the top of his lungs :
" Get to the walls ! " was all he could manage before the roof of the cave came crashing down.
Durinn threw himself up against the closest wall, flattened himself to it's surface, closed his eyes, and hoped for the best. Once the noise subsided Durinn held up his glow globe to find out how his comrades had fared. Unfortunately dust was all he could see. The thick cloud of debris may have blocked his sight, but his ears could clearly hear some of his Dwarves coughing and choking from the stifling dust. He also heard sounds that were much more ominous. Durinn's sharp ears clearly detected his warriors moaning and pleading to die.
The dust took a long time to settle, but when the air finally cleared enough to see Durinn was relieved to see that the devastation, though horrific, was not nearly as bad as his imagination had led him to believe. The tunnel was only partially blocked by the falling rocks, and despite it feeling cold and heartless, the leader of the Dwarves was consoled to find only two of his comrades, Fili and Thekk, trapped and dying beneath the rubble.
Durinn was infuriated by both the fact that he had caused the cave - in, and that somehow he had not seen the trip cord that triggered it. Durinn slowly retraced his steps and found the approximate spot where he tripped. As he felt around on the floor of the cave he grabbed hold of something. It appeared to be some type of very strong rope, but he could not see it no matter how close to his eyes he placed it.
" The sound a cat makes, a woman's beard, the roots of a mountain, the sinews of a bear, the breath of a fish, and the spittle of a bird ! " he whispered angrily to himself.
Then he shouted :
" Gleipnir ! They are using pieces of the magic rope, that we gave to the Gods to bind Fenrir with, to kill us here ! " he told his Dwarves in a tone that was both angry and ironic.
Heptifli placed his hand on Durinn's shoulder and spun him around.
" We should leave this place ! " he demanded of his leader.
' No ! Now that I know what to look for we will be able to be more careful ! We will reach the treasure ! " he yelled in Heptifli's face, as he removed his underling's hand from his shoulder.
Durinn got down on his hands and knees and began to crawl along the cave floor carefully feeling for the invisible ropes that could be anywhere. Another fifty feet into the cave he felt one in front of him, and quickly put his hand up telling everyone to stop. The Dwarve commander found and placed a rock under the rope, that was about the same height, and told his comrades to step gently over it. This slowed down their progress greatly, but at least no more of his Dwarves were dying.
A hundred feet further down into the cave Durinn was faced with another dilemma . The main tunnel split into two. Durinn quickly decided it was better to send half of his warriors down the right tube, with Heptifli in charge, and have the other half follow him, than make everyone go down one of the tunnels together and find no treasure at all.
Heptifli reluctantly agreed to lead half of the Dwarves to the right and got down on his knees to probe for the trip ropes that had already killed three of his comrades. Thirty feet into the new tunnel he felt one running across the floor of the cave, and nervously marked it the way Durinn had done. Thinking everything was safe he had his warriors step gently over the cord. What he didn't realize, and never thought to check for, was a second rope that hung two feet above the other one. When the first Dwarf stepped over the trip cord he walked right into it.
" Oh, gopher dung ! " Heptifli yelled as he saw the Dwarf fall forward.
Durinn heard a roar behind him, and because they had not yet struck an invisible trap he quickly jumped up and ran back as fast as he could to where the two tunnels merged into one. Despite the huge amount of dust kicked up into the air by the falling boulders Durinn could make out that the second tunnel entrance was completely blocked off. He could also hear the faint cries for help from his comrades trapped behind what looked to be an impenetrable wall of rock.
Sadly, there was nothing that Durinn, or any of the surviving Dwarves could do. It would take many days to free their comrades, and they had already stayed longer than they had anticipated. Reluctantly, and with heavy hearts, Durinn led his remaining Dwarves back to the other tunnel. No one said a word as their leader got down on his knees and once again began to search for the trip ropes that had made this not a repository for treasure, but a cave of death for his Dwarves.
Surprisingly, Durinn felt no more trip lines, and they were able to make good progress. Then, as he crawled along on his knees like a dog, he spotted something up ahead that glittered in the light of his glow globe. With renewed vigor the little Dwarf went faster and faster towards the gleaming lights. As he reached out for one of the shining objects his heart raced and his eyes bulged out of his head. Durinn held the coin between his thumb and forefinger, and studied it for a moment before announcing :
" Gold ! We have found the God's treasure ! " he shouted giddily.
As the other Dwarves gathered around him, Durinn placed the coin in his pocket, and reached out for another odd shaped golden coin that had a strange black center. A moment before his fingers reached it the gold coin blinked, making Durinn pull back his hand, and gasp in horror !
" Dragon ! " Durinn exclaimed in a hoarse whisper.
The other Dwarves, many of whom had knelt down to gather up as much gold as they could, stopped and froze. One by one they dropped what they had picked up, for not only had they also seen the golden eye, but they had followed it's green head to it's partially buried plated back, and further yet, all the way down to it's spiked tail !
- End Chapter 6
- Next : Chapter 7 : For All The Nine Worlds To See !
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2017.