When Magic Ruled The Worlds
The Inland Sea
" I wonder what evil lurks in that fog ? That blanket of mist is the perfect hiding place for the next monster, or monsters, to unexpectedly spring out at us as we journey through the valley below. " he thought out loud.
Vidolf smiled and patted the little Elf on the head.
" There are many dangers in the woodlands below. But we shall not meet our enemies within that ground hugging fog. " she assured Svarthofdi as she pointed a finger downward.
Vilmeid's eyes grew wide with fear as he slowly turned and faced the Jotuness.
" Then,...., where will we meet the next beast that will try to kill us ? ! " he asked with an involuntary gulp.
Vidolf looked off into the distance as she lifted her hand and pointed a finger in the direction that held her deep stare transfixed.
" This forest will end at a great salt water inland sea. It is there that we will meet our next challenge. " she told her companions in an emotionless tone.
Vilmeid let his head sink down upon what little neck he had before responding.
" And what may I ask is an " inland sea " ? he inquired.
Svarthofdi raised his eyebrows in disbelief, as he shook his head slowly from side to side.
" It is a sea, an ocean of water if you please, that is landlocked on all sides. " he explained in a condescending tone.
Vilmeid narrowed his eyes angrily and placed his hands on his wide hips.
" My folk live underground ! We have aquifers, caves that fill with water, and an occasional underground stream ! In Svartalfheim we do not have inland seas ! " he shouted back at the Elf in a furious tone.
Svarthofdi nodded and then acknowledged his error.
" Forgive me my friend. I have never known an earth dweller before, and therefore was not aware of the lay of your land. " he responded apologetically.
Vilmeid ignored the Elf's reply, and asked the Giantess a question that he felt was much more important.
" Will we survive the encounter. " he demanded to know.
Vidolf shrugged her shoulders.
" I do not know. " she answered.
Vilmeid stamped his feet hard upon the ground like a cranky child.
" What kind of Sibyl are you ?! How can you know that a creature awaits us, but not know if it will kill us ?! " he shouted dramatically.
Vidolf reached down and picked up the little Dwarf by his shoulders. When they were face to face she answered his rude question.
" Because someone, ....., or something, is blocking what happens during these encounters. It is almost as though the Norns do not yet know which way the path of destiny will lead us ! " she explained tersely.
Vilmeid frowned deeply.
" Are these Norns not of Jotun stock ? " he asked.
Vidolf pursed her lips angrily as she answered.
" Yes, but they are unlike any of my folk from the three branches of Jotuns who inhabit our realm. They do as they like, and no one, or thing, can influence what they do. " she assured the little Dwarf.
Svarthofdi nodded his head as he watched the Giantess gently place the Dwarf back down on the soil of Midgard.
" That is actually good my large friend ! For it means that our fate still lies in our own hands. " he replied.
The descent down into the forested valley below was uneventful, though Vidolf did have to help the little Elf over several large boulders, to prevent him from being injured, because they were much taller that Svarthofdi's little legs could navigate. All the way down the mountain Vilmeid complained, under his breath of course, that they were all heading to their deaths and should probably rethink this dangerous journey they were on. His comrades, however, despite hearing most of what he said, ignored the nervous little Dwarf.
All three became suddenly silent when they reached the base of the mountain. Here, where the land became fairly level, they were quickly encased in a thick shroud of humid fog. Vidolf, despite being fairly certain that there was no danger within the mist, remained on a high state of alert as they carefully made their way through the thick brush, and around huge tree trunks that often blocked their way. What the Sibyl sensed in the cloak of fog was that there were predators here, they simply were not interested in them,....yet.
Vilmeid stopped and began to shake when he heard what sounded to him like a creature, or more likely creatures, chewing on something close by. When all three heard a loud snapping sound off to their right they quickly let their fears overtake their reason and began to run in the opposite direction, towards the muted sun, which was just beginning to make an impression upon the thick fog. Had the Jotuness been only ten feet taller she would have been able to peer above the mist and see that these creatures were actually Samotherium, an early herbivore mammal, which had a long neck for feeding on the upper leaves of trees. The cracking sound had been caused by a limb breaking under the immense stress of their feeding.
After running for what seemed like several miles the trio stopped to catch their breath. As they stood recuperating from their perceived ordeal the travelers quickly noticed two things. First, the forest was thinning and more light was reaching the ground, which in turn was evaporating the fog more rapidly. And second they could feel a breeze coming from the east which carried with it the unmistakable scent of salt water. This welcome odor seemed to restore their vigor and soon they were heading for its source at a very rapid pace.
The muddy forest floor quickly turned into a sandy pine land where strange furry animals scurried to and fro in between the smaller trees. Here, where the mist rose only up to the Jotun's knees, and where the sky was now in full view, they saw strange winged creatures circling above, which seemed to be watching their every move. As the trio nervously reacted to each and every bird shriek, and snapping twig, their ears also became aware of a sound that was familiar to at least two of them. In the distance, and with an ever increasing volume as they ventured ahead, they heard the crashing of waves upon a shoreline.
Once again they began to run through the sparse pine trees, led by Vidolf's immense stride. As the trio came closer to the shore, that they could only at the moment hear, they could not help but notice that the trees began to decrease in size. Then the trees disappeared altogether, and the travelers found themselves in loose sand that no root could take hold in. Suddenly, Vidolf looked over at Vilmeid, and the Dwarf peered over at Svarthofdi, because before them lay a mound of loose sand which rose like a hill above a meadow. And here they stopped for a moment with nervous smiles upon their faces.
Then, with a final burst of energy, the intrepid travelers ran up the hill. Vidolf, after struggling with her footing in the loose sand, was first to reach high enough where she could see over the mound. She could not help but smile from ear to ear when her eyes beheld the beauty of the inland sea.
" We have reached our next goal, my friends ! " she announced happily.
Svarthofdi and Vilmeid quickly scrambled up the sand dune to see what the much taller Giantess had been first to witness. Just as they reached the summit, however, another more distant sound behind them stopped them dead in their tracks.
" I thought you said that nothing in the forest would hurt us ! ? " the Dwarf asked harshly when the howling had died down.
Svarthofdi, who was pointing to their current surroundings, answered the question for the Sibyl.
" We are no longer in the forest, my rock dwelling friend ! " he explained with a hint of fear in his voice.
- End Chapter 5
- Next : Chapter 6 : A Very Dangerous Feline !
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2019.