When Magic Ruled The Worlds
Blood Lust !
AS her eyes darted back and forth, from east to west, and north to south in the darkness, she whispered the other names that this creature would someday be known as.
" Vampire,...., werewolf,...., and the undead ! " she told the moon which hovered overhead like a watching eye.
The names themselves were unsettling, but what terrified Vidolf most was not their names, or their images, or even the terrifying way these shape-shifting beings killed. The true horror began after the heart managed its last beat, and when the final breath escaped the lips of its victim. Death was not a release from pain, nor was it the peaceful end of life that one would normally expect from ones demise. For death took on a whole new meaning for the victim of an Aufhocker, as they too became the undead and thirsted for the blood of the living.
Vidolf's red and tired eyes strained to detect any movement around her as she marked time by the movement of the moon across the sky. Regularly she would walk around to the other side of the gnarly tree to scan for any signs of trouble in that direction. Each time she did, of course, she was most careful not to wake Svarthofdi and Vilmeid, because she did not want to be relieved from her post. And when Vidolf returned she once again glance up to check the position of the moon. The Giantess was bitterly disappointed with the slow progress of the the great orb.
" You must go faster my friend ! For only when you switch places with your radiant sister will my friends and I be truly safe. " she told the moon as if it could understand her words.
The Giantess did not dare to leave her post, not even to pee.
" Vanity be damned ! " she told herself as she put down her axe, pulled down her pants, and squatted right where she was.
Those were some of the longest moments of her life. To be caught literally with her pants down when the creature attacked would have been unimaginably horrible. To her great relief, however, she was able to finish and pull up her pants without incident. With a small grin on her face she picked up her weapon and resumed her stoic duty.
" It would be just my luck to get caught in such a compromising position ! " she whispered with a hint of irony in her voice.
A few sniffs with her sensitive nostrils, however, quickly wiped the grin off of her face, and brought a horrifying thought to her mind. If she could smell her urine then so too could the predator she was sure was lurking out in the darkness waiting to pounce on her.
" Should I have walked out into the marsh to relieve myself ? " she asked herself.
Vidolf glanced up at the night sky as if she were praying to the Gods and was pleased to see that the position of the moon had changed drastically. She now barely had to raise her head at all to catch a glimpse of the falling orb. The Giantess was further gratified when she noticed a slight change in the tone of the sky in the east. For it now seemed a shade lighter than before.
" We may make it through this night yet ! " she assured herself.
Her high hopes were dashed a moment later when she heard something splashing through the soggy marsh on the far side of the tree. Whatever was making its way towards them was not trying to hide its approach. A fact that immediately made her think that it had to be an Aufhocker, which feared nothing but the light of day. When a twig snapped to the right of where her comrades were sleeping she turned to try to make out what it was in the darkness. What she saw scared her half to death !
Next to the tree, and now dangerously close to Svarthofdi and Vilmeid, she saw the red glowing eyes of a beast, which seemed to burn their way into her soul, and freeze her where she was. And there she stood transfixed by the Aufhocker, almost as if the beast's eyes had her in their spell.
As Vidolf watched the shadowy form of the undead creature begin to sniff around her comrades an anger grew within her that she had seldom ever felt. Out of frustration, and a sense of complete helplessness, her fury bore forth the fruit of action and the spell was suddenly broken.
With a blood curdling yell the Giantess ran towards the creature as fast as her long legs would take her. As she approached the location of the great beast it changed from a shadowy figure to a well defined muscular animal with mangy looking fur, a massive mouth, and large white teeth that looked as if they could rip through dense bone as easily as soft flesh. Vidolf was both astounded and horrified by the size of the creature. It was much larger than the largest wolf, or even a dire wolf here on Midgard. It even rivaled, or surpassed, in size many of the predators in Jotunheim. This, she assured herself as she approached the creature, must be the werewolf that she had glimpsed in her visions.
The shape-shifting Aufhocker immediately lost interest in Svarthofdi and Vilmeid when Vidolf began to scream. It growled for only a moment before lunging forward to meet its adversary head on. The Giantess, though about to engage the beast in mortal combat, could not help but notice that the werewolf galloped more like a fine horse than a mangy wolf. Admiring her opponents had always been a bad habit of hers, and she could not help herself here as well despite the grave desperation that the situation presented.
" What a perfect predator. " she thought to herself as she swung her axe upward for the attack.
The Aufhocker, using its strong hind legs, jumped up and opened its jaws wide to sink its massive teeth into its victim's throat. At the same time Vidolf's arm shot forward and released the axe. Due to the close proximity of the two combatants the axe only had time to rotate twice before the blade sunk deep into the skull of the creature, knocking it out of the air, and forcing it to land onto the ground with a loud thud.
Svarthofdi and Vilmeid both awoke the moment they heard Vidolf's high pitched scream. Though dazed by fear, and caught in the fog of sleep, they watched as their companion, and protector, apparently killed a massive creature with just one blow. Neither had time to enjoy the moment, or congratulate the Giantess, however, as the Aufhocker did not stay down for long. With the axe still sticking out of its head the creature slowly stood up on shaky legs and glanced at them, before turning its attention back to the being that dared try to kill it.
Vidolf screamed again ! This time it was not the proud scream of a warrior, but the terrified squeal of a defenseless victim who was certain she was about to die. There was no time to run, and without her weapon Vidolf had nothing to defend herself with but her bare hands. As the beast lunged at her once again she placed her hands on the werewolf's chest and tried to hold off the beast as best she could. The wolf's weight, however, was such that it knocked her to the ground, pinning her in place. Vidolf tried with all her might to keep the werewolf's snapping jaws from reaching her vulnerable neck, but the creature drove its back legs into the ground and forced its way even closer to her throat, which she tried unsuccessfully to turn away from the beast.
The Giantess screamed yet again when the undead creature's teeth clamped down on the side of her neck, and ripped into her flesh and muscles. Vidolf began to punch desperately at the creature when she felt her flesh tearing, and the warmth of her own blood flowing down her chest. It did nothing to stop the creature, and she now realized that the end of her life was only moments away.
The world suddenly slowed before Vidolf's ears and eyes. She could hear Svarthofdi desperately chanting spells which were obviously having no affect on the creature, and she also detected Vilmeid's voice as he tried bravely to distract the creature away from her. The Giantess felt proud of their efforts, no matter how futile they might be, but she now had no illusions about her fate. She would soon be dead,...., or worse yet, undead !
Vilmeid, in a last ditch effort reached down and grabbed a small branch off of the ground. He then ran at the great beast fully intending to hit it. Seeing this the creature let go of Vidolf's neck for a moment and looked up at him with nothing more than contempt in its eyes for his futile gesture. The Dwarf, realizing that he was now about to die, lowered the branch and awaited the creature's fury. What he saw instead was fear in the Aufhocker's eyes, as they bulged wildly in its head. Vilmeid also noticed something else in that moment. The sun was about to rise in the east !
The creature hesitated only a moment before it transformed itself into a winged creature which quickly leaped into the air, flapped its rubbery wings, and began to fly west. When it shape-shifted, the stone axe, which had been embedded in the werewolf's skull, fell to the ground next to the injured Giantess.
As Svarthofdi knelt beside Vidolf, desperately pressing a cloth tightly against her neck to stop the bleeding, a shocked and shaking Vilmeid stood helplessly paralyzed in place. After a long moment he finally shook his head.
" I'll be damned ! So that is what a flying mouse looks like ! " he managed before he passed out and fell to the ground.
- End Chapter 13
- Next : Chapter 14 : " How Do Yo Kill Something That Is Dead ? "
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2019.