When Magic Ruled The Worlds
" Angry ?! " he asked with a frown.
Vidolf narrowed her eyes as she glanced over at the Elf.
" I don't want this damned creature defrosting and slithering after us ! " she replied adamantly.
" Wise decision. " he agreed.
Vilmeid said nothing, but as they left their camp he looked back over his shoulder one last time and felt a great sense of relief that the creature had been decapitated.
For days the trio struggled to cut their way through what Vidolf now referred to as a jungle, instead of merely a forest. During this slow progression, ever forward towards the land of the dragons, they came upon all manner of walking, slithering and flying creatures. Most were harmless enough, however, and the few that posed any danger at all were quickly disposed of either by magic or by Vidolf's blade. Apparently the Titanoboa was the greatest creature in this oppressively hot and humid jungle.
Gradually the thick jungle gave way to a swampy marshland which was easier to move through, and which gave them a greater field of vision with which to spot any potential predators that might be waiting in hiding to make a meal of them. Vilmeid and Vidolf seemed to be greatly relieved to be out in the open, but both noticed that Svarthofdi did not seem to share their new found sense of tranquility and security. Vilmeid immediately became suspicious and wanted to know why the little Elf was moving forward with such caution.
" Tell us Svarthofdi, what is troubling you ? " he asked as a deep frown furrowed his brow.
The Elf looked quickly to his left, and then to his right, as though something might suddenly appear out of nowhere. When he seemed quite certain that they were safe he stopped, looked out over the landscape that lay ahead of them, and then shook his head slowly from side to side.
" We have entered a very dangerous place indeed my friends. For here not only are there living creatures which can do us harm, but I feel that there is a dark magic all around us. A great force that I neither understand, nor feel confident of defeating. " he explained in a slow cadence.
While Vilmeid's head dropped down in disgust to his chin, Vidolf nodded that she agreed.
" Yes ! I believe that this evil is so strong that it is blocking my ability to see future events. We must be alert, and on guard at all times, in this land of dark enchantment. " she told them.
Vilmeid shook his head as he gave the little Elf a long hopeful stare.
" Your, ' Light magic ' , can defeat this, ' Dark magic ' ,......., can it not ? " he asked, longing to hear a positive response.
Vilmeid was greatly disappointed by the Light Elf's answer.
" As I said, I am not sure. The main purpose of magic is to change one thing to another. Unfortunately the presence I sense here in these marshlands has the same power as I do,....., except that it wishes to do harm with its magic instead of good. " he explained.
Vidolf shook her head and exhaled loudly to relieve the growing tension that was building within her.
" Then,...., any spell that you place upon this evil it might be able to undo ? " she asked hesitantly.
" Yes ! And worse yet I fear that it can take on any form that it so chooses ! " the Elf added.
Vilmeid's eyes nearly popped out of his head as a look of incredulity took over his facial features.
" You mean,...., shape-shifters ?! " the Dwarf blurted out.
" Unfortunately, yes ! What little I have been able to see of these creatures, in my visions of the future, quite frankly scares me to death. I have seen images of four legged animals with piercing eyes, and flesh ripping teeth. And,..., and,...., a mouse with fangs that can fly like a bird ! " she told them in a fearful and trembling tone.
Vilmeid laughed bitterly.
" A mouse that can fly ? Really ?! " he asked in a mocking tone.
Svarthofdi walked over to Vilmeid, reached up, and placed his hand on the Dwarf's shoulder.
" We should not dismiss her visions so lightly my friend. They have served us well this far, and may once again save our lives here in this land of dark magic. " he reminded the Dwarf.
Vidolf forced a weak smile onto her face before pointing to the west.
" The star that lights this world is falling from the sky, and it will soon be dark. We should keep moving and look for a dry place to camp for the night. " she told her comrades.
The trio kept traveling east until the light began to dim to the point where it was no longer safe for them to walk safely through this marshland. Vidolf looked around and then quickly parted from her friends. She walked over to an old gnarly tree, that had branches that stretched forth from its trunk like arthritic fingers, and which had planted its roots on firm dry ground. She called to her friends as she pointed to its thick canopy.
" This place looks as good as any. It is dry, and will afford us some protection from the elements,..., and from hungry creatures,...., provided they cannot climb. " she explained to her comrades.
Vilmeid gave the Giantess a quick angry glance before throwing his pack up against the base of the tree.
" And what will protest us from this winged mouse ? " he muttered under his breath as he began to look around for small branches with which to build a fire.
Vidolf gathered up the few rocks she could find in the area and placed them in a circle. When Vilmeid returned he placed the wood into the stone circle. Under it he placed a few handfuls of dried grass he had found near the roots of the tree. Svarthofdi, using his wand, caused a spark to light the grass, which in turn set the wood ablaze. Then, without discussing the reason, all three searched the area for anything and everything that would burn. For none of them wished to be without light, or the protection that the fire might provide them against the evil that lurked in this land.
After they settled down to rest, and partake of some food, each sound, no matter how small or distant, caused the trio to stop eating, and made their eyes dart in the perceived direction of the noise to see if they could make out what had caused it. After an especially shrill sound pierced the darkness Vidolf bit off a large piece of dried meat, and as she chewed her tough meal the Giantess commented.
" They have a name. " she told them.
Vilmeid smirked as he replied.
" And please tell me seer, what shall I call this beast as it tears me apart ? " he asked sarcastically.
Vidolf ignored the Dwarf's snide tone and answered almost in a whisper, almost as though she feared that mentioning its name might bring the beast to attack them.
" Aufhocker ! " she replied.
Svarthofdi lost his appetite when he heard the name of the beast, and threw the last piece of his dried fish into the fire.
" And how does this Aufhocker kill its victims ? " he asked with a short gulp.
Vidolf took a long time to swallow the piece of meat she had bitten off, and then she reluctantly answered the Light Elf's question, almost as though it pained her to do so.
" It thirsts for blood. It aims its attacks at the victim's throat. " she explained.
Vilmeid ran his hand slowly over his neck, and then with a look of disgust on his face spit out the last of his meal onto to the ground.
" Terrific ! " was all he could manage as he closed his eyes tightly.
Vidolf stood up and pulled her axe out of her belt.
" I will take the first watch ! " she told her comrades forcefully.
Not surprisingly Svarthofdi volunteered to be the second sentry. As he lay down by the trunk of the tree Vilmeid reluctantly offered that he would take the third watch. As the Dwarf and the Elf made themselves comfortable on the hard ground, Vidolf looked out into the darkness . Suddenly, in her mind's eye, she saw the saliva dripping jaws of a huge wolf-like creature near her face. She could smell its foul breath, and felt its spittle hitting her face as it breathed in and out angrily. The thought of its teeth ripping into her flesh brought her back to reality from the horrific vision she was being shown.
" I will not be relieved from my post tonight, my friends. " she whispered. " If I am to die it will be fighting, and not in my sleep ! " she assured herself.
- End Chapter 12
- Next : Chapter 13 : Blood Lust !
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2019.