The Yule Promise
Many thoughts an ideas ran through Valdarr's head as he studied both the wolves that surrounded him, and the resources he had at hand to defend himself. Unfortunately as he counted up what he had, versus the amount of wolves who wished to make a meal out of him, he came up woefully short. Valdarr first considered breaking off a branch, tying his knife to one end, and using it to stab at the wolves. While not a bad plan at face value, if the wolves were to rip through the binding he would lose the only weapon he had to attack the wolves with, so he discarded this idea.
After thinking long and hard he decided that it would be better to use his knife to sharpen the end of a branch and use it to try and kill one or more of the wolves, and possibly drive the others away. The key was to find a branch that was both within his reach, and small enough, yet strong enough, to kill a wolf without breaking. Valdarr almost immediately saw in the moonlight what he considered to be the perfect limb to sharpen into a weapon, and it was only one branch above him, and a little further out.
Valdarr, using his body in much the same fashion as an inch worm, moved out until he was directly under the branch he wanted. Slowly he raised himself up into a sitting position. Once he felt he was steady, he reached up and grabbed hold of the branch above him. He tried at first to snap it off with his hand, but it was far too strong to break with only one hand. Valdarr realized he would have to cut, at least partially, through the limb with his knife before being able to snap it off. With an impatient thrust he reached down for his knife. As he did he unbalanced himself on the branch and flipped over onto the underside of the branch on his back. And there he precariously hung, upside down, with only his crossed legs holding him in place !
The wolves immediately saw a chance for a kill and once again attacked. Now, instead of being a few feet above their highest attempts at biting their prey, it was at least a foot within the area their powerful jaws could reach. Luckily for Valdarr the wolves were so frantic to get a hold of him that they knocked each other out of the way more times than not. However, they were able to sink their teeth into his body several times before he was able to swing himself back up, and right himself by grabbing hold of the branch once again.
Valdarr should have been both terrified and disgusted with what had just happened. Instead he was furious, not because of his actions, but because of how everything seemed to be stacked up against his chances of returning to Saeheim to see his wife. He cursed his arm, which had become a burden to him, and he screamed down at the wolves, who were keeping him in this tree shivering and uncertain of his future, out of sheer frustration. The louder he yelled at the wolves the angrier and more desperate they became. A few of the wolves became so furious that they began gnawing at the bark at the bottom of the tree.
When Valdarr's anger finally diminished he reached down, pulled out his knife, put it in his mouth, and then sat up on the branch once again. Flexing his inner thighs against the branch as hard as he could, Valdarr reached up and grabbed hold of the branch. Then, placing his head up against the upper branch to help hold him in place he took the knife out of his mouth and began sawing at the branch. It took less time than he expected for his sharp seax knife to cut away enough of the wood to break it off, a process he did very carefully so not to be knocked off of the limb he sat on when it snapped . With the small branch in hand, Valdarr looked down at the wolves with renewed confidence.
" You like to play life and death games ?! Well two can play, and I intend to win ! " he yelled down angrily at the wolves.
Using his knife Valdarr slowly cut off the side branches before cutting the tip back to a section that was strong enough in circumference to make a point . When he finished shaving it down, Valdarr put away his knife and tested his homemade spear against his finger. It quickly drew blood !
With a crazy look of determination etched on his face, and wild eyes that would have made a berserker proud, Valdarr made sure his thighs were securely wrapped around the branch, and that his hand was tightly gripped about the spear before he allowed gravity to swing him upside down on the branch again. As he hung there above the ground he shouted at the wolves once again to stir them up. It worked instantly as each wolf, including the alpha male, became frenzied with blood lust as they jumped up to try and grab him.
Valdarr aimed his spear carefully at the first wolf within reach. With its jaws wide open to bite him, the wolf gave Valdarr the perfect target to aim at. Using great patience he timed his strike perfectly, and shoved the stick down the wolf's throat. For a moment the wolf's teeth clamped around the shaft of the spear, and it hung there like a piece of fish being dried in a smokehouse. When the wolf realized it had been badly injured, however, it fell to the ground, where it lay convulsing.
The next to attempt to grab him was the leader of the pack. Valdarr struck when the animal was at the apex of its jump, but his aim was off, and he missed its mouth and ran the point through the side of its neck. He watched with great satisfaction as the once vigorous wolf fell by the side of the tree trunk, and began to gag on its own blood. Valdarr jabbed his spear at the other wolves, but seeing their leader in its death throes made them more cautious, and they held back. And when their leader finally dropped lifeless on to the ground the other wolves backed away from the tree like an army in retreat. It did not take them long to disappear into the woods as quickly as they had come.
Valdarr waited a long moment to make sure that they were truly gone, and not merely hiding in the shadows to strike again. When he felt it was safe Valdarr dropped his spear on the ground, and carefully lowered himself down with his good hand. Not wanting to stay for too long Valdarr raced over to where his damaged bear skin coat lay on the ground. With his hand he picked it up and threw it over his shoulders in one easy motion. He instantly felt the warmth it provided run over his body. Valdarr then went back and picked up his spear before heading south once again.
- End Chapter 8
- Next : Chapter 9 : Avalanche !
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2018.