When Magic Ruled The Worlds
The Dwarf and the Elf did not paddle for long, however, for soon a large wave picked up their fragile little craft and threw it onto the shore in an unexpectedly violent manner. The force of the thrust pushed the front of the raft down firmly into the wet sand, and despite the travelers best efforts to hang on, they were spilled out onto the beach by the sudden impact as if an unseen hand had smacked them off of the raft. For several long moments the trio lay sprawled out on the sand quietly trying to recover from their violent ordeal. Vidolf was the first to regain her senses and glanced back and forth at her comrades to see if they were alright.
" Is anyone hurt ? " she asked as she brushed sand from around her mouth.
Vilmeid, who had the wind knocked out of him by the hard blow, attempted to stand up but doubled over in pain before falling over onto the ground again.
Svarthofdi laughed for a brief moment as he sat inspecting himself for injuries. When the moment had passed he too tried to stand, but found his sea legs were too unsteady on land, and collapsed onto his knees.
" I believe that we are both uninjured, but I do think it will take us a little time for our legs to adjust to the idea of solid land beneath us. " he told the Giantess.
Vilmeid placed his hand over his head and after taking a full breath, also commented.
" My legs, and my lungs, could use a moment before we continue. " he finally told her.
Vidolf grinned and nodded that she agreed with her comrades.
" Yes ! It will take a short while for us to regain our sense of balance. In the meantime be careful. It would be foolish for one of us to injure ourselves here on the beach after surviving such a long and dangerous voyage. " she explained.
All three were surprised at how rapidly they regained their equilibrium, and soon they were tying ropes to their raft and hauling it well above the waterline line so it would not be dragged out with the next tide. Despite its rickety appearance this hastily built craft had served them well, and they were certain that after a few repairs, and maybe an improvement or two, it would also help them to get back to their homelands.
After gathering up their gear the three intrepid travelers made their way off of the beach and into the forest that lay just beyond. They quickly discovered that this was a forest unlike any they had ever seen before. At first there was ample space for them to walk in between the brush and around the trees, but soon, not more than two hundred yards in, this empty space was filled in with all manner of thick brush, vines, and all types of other flora, that acted as a physical barrier to their every movement.
Vidolf did her utmost to hack away at the impediments with her sharp axe, but she quickly found that although her weapon was very sharp, it was also wholly inadequate for the job at hand. Despite her best efforts they were only able to move forward a few feet at a time. As Svarthofdi and Vilmeid slowly followed the Giantess they could not help but notice that this strenuous and extremely tedious work was clearly taking a toll on Vidolf. For here, in this almost impenetrable forest, the heat was almost unbearable, and the humidity, which was something the Frost Jotuness had never before experienced, began to quickly sap her strength, and she felt the need to rest more and more frequently as they slowly made their way forward.
Svarthofdi, with his great analytical mind, came up with a solution to their predicament. Using his powerful wand the sorcerer turned her axe into a highly sharpened scythe. This he then handed over to Vilmeid who, with his broad shoulders and compact strength, quickly and efficiently carved out a path in the thick jungle for them to travel through. Soon they were traveling ten times faster than before, and Vidolf did not need to rest quite as often.
It was not only the thick forest and stifling air that bothered the trio as they steadily made their way east through this claustrophobic terrain. At every turn they saw all manner of strange creatures, many of which the trio did not know if they were friend or foe. There were insects that looked like twigs or leaves, and others that were brightly colored as if to warn predators of their lethal nature. Most of these insects seemed to be solitary creatures, but at one point in their journey they came upon little creatures that walked upon the ground on many legs and traveled in what looked like a long army column. Though their size was small, which made them seem quite harmless, their sheer numbers worried Vilmeid and he steered their path away from them.
Svarthofdi, who seemed to the others to be cataloging these creatures in his mind, was most fascinated by a small four legged lizard that had the ability to change its color to match its surroundings. And if that had not been enough to peak his interest this creature also had two eyes that moved independently of one another in rotating sockets ! Svarthofdi quickly understood the function of this odd eye movement when the creature spotted a winged insect to its side, slowly turned its camouflaged head, and then flicked out its long tongue which grabbed hold of the insect. Then, just as swiftly, the lizard retracted the sticky appendage back into its mouth to eat its meal.
" Fascinating ! " the Elf commented before they moved on.
During one of their many rest stops, to allow the Giantess to recuperate from the oppressive heat and humidity, the trio heard a loud grunting sound not too far off. While Svarthofdi and Vilmeid became quite concerned over the danger that this new creature might cause them Vidolf seemed to be revitalized by the savage sound of the beast. With a wicked grin upon her face the Giantess turned to the Light Elf and asked him if he would turn the scythe back into an axe. Though perplexed by the request Svarthofdi quickly complied, and then told the Dwarf to give it back to her. Once Vidolf had her mighty weapon back in her hand she turned and began to make her way towards the sound of the beast.
" Stay here ! " was all she said before the jungle seemed to make her vanish.
Time passed very slowly for her companions while she was gone, and soon fear and trepidation began to overtake their reason. " What if she did not return ? " Would they know how to complete their mission without her ? ", and, " Should they turn around and return to Jotunheim if she did not come back in a reasonable amount of time ? " were all questions that the Dwarf and the Elf asked themselves as they anxiously awaited her return.
These thoughts were greatly magnified when they heard the angry screams of an unknown animal, and the loud grunts from what sounded like their comrade Vidolf. Moments later both stood frozen in place when the cacophony of horrid sounds was followed by an equally terrifying silence.
" What should we do ? ! " Vilmeid asked in a frantic whisper.
Although he was calmer than his traveling companion Svarthofdi had trouble hiding the fear in his voice as he replied.
" She told us to wait here,....., so here we should stay. " he told the Dwarf nervously.
As they waited the two stared into the impenetrable forest trying to catch a glimpse of any movement among the thick foliage. Despite being willing to wait a reasonable amount of time for the Jotuness to return, they were also more than ready to run away as fast as their little legs would carry them if something wicked emerged from the jungle and came after them. The latter possibility seemed more and more likely when the pair began to hear something moving ominously towards them through the brush. And when the thick greenery in their front began to move the Dwarf and the Elf began to steadily step backwards in preparation of fleeing for their lives.
Vilmeid screamed involuntarily as a huge piece of foliage came crashing down only twenty feet in front of him. Svarthofdi quickly joined the high-pitched chorus when he caught sight of a monstrous head with large tusks emerge from the brush.
" What in the nine worlds is wrong with you two ? ! " Vidolf yelled above their girlish screams.
Vilmeid grabbed his chest and then bent over out of sheer relief.
" We thought you were a creature about to attack us ! " he told her.
Svarthofdi's fear quickly turned to anger.
" What ! You couldn't let us know that it was you coming through the brush ?! " he shouted at her in a scolding tone.
Vidolf dropped the wild boar on the ground and placed her hands on her hips to show her intense indignation over their angry reaction to her return.
" Well ! The next time I go out of my way to get us supper I will make sure that I whistle when I return with my prize ! " she shouted back harshly.
Quickly the anger felt by the Dwarf and the Elf turned to shame as they nervously glanced back and forth at each other. Vilmeid decided that he would break this awkward moment first by pulling out his knife and announcing proudly :
" I will carve up the beast if you, my friend Svarthofdi, will build us a fire to cook it over. " he told the Elf happily.
Svarthofdi nodded guiltily over at Vilmeid before glancing back at the furious Giantess.
" I will begin making us a fire at once ! " he immediately responded.
By the time the beast was fully cooked, and ready to be eaten, the earlier tension had been long forgotten, and a more jovial mood hung over their make-shift camp that they had carved out of the thick brush. What only a short time before had been a very scary and life threatening situation for the Dwarf and the Elf now became a comical moment as both leveled jokes at one another over their cowardice in the face of what they perceived as true danger.
Vilmeid once again seemed to be receiving the worst of this fun poking, and was about to retaliate, when he saw something in Svarthofdi's eyes that made him stop before he had begun to make light of his Elf friend.
" What is it Svarthofdi ? " he asked with a hint of terror creeping into his voice.
Svarthofdi used the hind leg of the beast, that he had been eating, to point with.
" You seem to have grown a third leg my friend. " the Elf replied as calmly as he could manage.
The Dwarf's anxiety rose to new heights when the Giantess dropped the piece of meat she was feasting on and pointed to the tree above him.
" Do not move Vilmeid ! " she stated loudly but calmly.
The Dwarf did not want to look up, but he could not help himself. What Vilmeid saw terrified him so much that he pissed himself out of fear !
" What is it ? ! " he asked in a terrified tone.
Vidolf took a deep breath before answering.
" In my dream it was a huge serpent called Titanoboa ! " she told him.
Vilmeid began to tremble uncontrollably at the mere name of the creature.
" And how do we kill it ?! " he asked desperately.
The Giantess remained silent, but the sight of her eyes widening terrified Vilmeid even more. Moments later his new ," third leg ", coiled around his lower body and began to tighten.
" Help me ! " he screamed so loudly that not even the dense forest could stop his voice from echoing.
- End Chapter 10
- Next : Chapter 11 : In The Grip Of Terror !
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2019.