Getting through the huge cracks in the external barrier made Hellnar think even more about what could had caused that kind of damage. Was the Bone Crusher right all along? Did the gods punish them, exiling them from Midgard? The walls were huge, it would make one think only giants could manage to build such monstrosities. But whoever did put them there, what happened to them? Where are they now? Did someone kill them all? Perhaps whoever could brake these fortifications proved to be more then a match. Whatever dwells here now might be their reckoning.
The land beyond the wall was different. Even if it was mostly covered in snow, it reeked of death. The chilling embrace was not caused by the falling temperatures, but rather by the dreary feeling that enveloped these lands. It was filled with questions that they did not know how to answer. The high snow fell on most of the structures that were beyond the wall, burying them down, creating a graveyard of a once great nation. What little that was left, stuck out from the white dust, soaring into the air. It seemed no matter how harsh were the elements in their effort to erase this place, it still fought back, as some structures were intact from the snow, still accessible from land. The group looked in awe to the sunken city of ice. Beyond the wall, as far as the eye could reach, a clear view that this was no mere city, but a proud and advance nation that held this area. Strange pillars with spikes and cords struck out of the ground, soaring high into the air. Surrounding the group as they followed their curiosity inland, were these massive rubbles of steel and all sorts of unknown metal. Feki, allowing his curiosity to get the better of him, broke off from them, running away towards the few buildings that they could get in. “Where does this fool go now?”, Orm said getting the attentionof the party as everyone turned towards Feki who got lost beyond the metal pillars that stood in front of a giant building that was half sunk into the snow, but still revealing its door to all. “We shouldn’t split up. Not now. Aldur! Stay with your idiot of a brother and make sure he doesn’t get himself killed. Yet… Rest of you lets move on forward, perhaps we will find some luck and some supplies. Night is bound to find this place as well. No matter how much this land is lost. Shelter would be nice too. And don’t touch anything, for Odin’s sake!” Hellnar shouted at the Bone Crusher, who laid his hand on a metal chunk that fell to the ground, but as soon as Hellnar raised his voice, the mountain of a man pulled his hand back to himself, as if he wasn’t twice the size of his leader, rather feeling like a small child scolded as if his mother caught him eating her fresh apple pie.
While others were bickering about what to do next, Feki marveled in the architecture of this place, daydreaming what wonders lived here, how this place was in its prime.
He strayed far enough, finding a perfectly preserved ruin. With half of it missing, the other half was in pristine condition, allowing the young warrior to enter. He found it strange, as there was no furniture, the half building that was missing resembled a sword cut, as if a humongous blade cut it in half. As Feki dwelled further in, all he could find was a big white boulder just sitting in the middle of one room. The stone was strange, as it was cold on touch, feeling more like a cold metal than if you would put your hand in snow. On it just a small black curricular mirror in which Feki saw his reflection. It amused the young pup, as he watched himself in it. As he touched it, the black mirror suddenly turned bright red, the boulder released a dreadful sound, as if someone blew the war horn and it moved. The stone was alive, it stretched and four legs came out of it and before Feki a metal beast with legs and a mouth appeared.
It was hard to explain, a wolf in metal armor was the closest thought that went to his mind, as firstly it moved its head, observing him. Feki pulled his sword forth ready to defend himself, but the iron wolf just stood there, moving only his head back and forth. Feki’s heart punted so fast, as calm left him, being replaced by panic and fear. His left foot fumbled, making him almost fall on his back as he wanted to gain distance from the beast. As his leg suddenly went down, the wolf moved with astonishing speed.
A loud cry could be heard through, filling the chilling air. “What was that?”, Orm asked as he looked around for the source of the cry. “Where is Feki?” As soon as Helnar asked, Aldur rushed sprinting. The rest followed closely behind and as they made just few yards from where they originally were, a gruesome shight greeted them. The metal beast, with a glowing red eye, bright as the sun itself, slowly stepped forth, holding the top of Feki’s mutilated body. The blood was still fresh, dripping on the cold snow below. Aldur’s eyes filled with rage and tears, seeing his brother’s body desecrated. He released a piercing battle cry and without thought, with his axe held high, charged the beast.
As he lunged forward, the beast without too much effort evaded him, quickly moving to the side. It dropped its trophy, as the torso rolled down its mouth, now with all focus on Aldur, it circled around him. The rest just watched in shock, not understanding what has happened. The beast was something from stories, but no moment was wasted as they all went to aid their comrade. Aldur went forth once again, now successfully hitting the beast. But as his axe touched its cold skin, it just broke in pieces. The iron of the wolf was much harder then their steel, rendering their weapons unless. The beast tried to bite Aldur, but before it could even reach him, the others engaged, just to be greeted by the same outcome. Their blades cracked and broke as the wolf pushed Orm away, sending him flying into the air. Its sole focus was on Aldur, as it slowly stepped forward to his pray. But the giant of a man he was, the Bone Crusher clenched the beast, grabbing its jaw. But it knocked Olaf down to the ground and bit off his hand. As it came to finish the job, it bit the stump of the bleeding arm, holding it and while it was in the wolf’s jaws, Olaf with all his might punched the red eye, embedding his fist into it, pulling the strings that were inside.
As he retracted his fist, the wolf released again the sound of a horn, tumbling to the side and withering away, becoming lifeless and motionless. Olaf held his bleeding wound, where once his arm was, as the others came. Helnar quickly made a fire, commanding his men to hold the Bone Crusher as he burned the stump, stopping the bleeding. Olaf didn’t even flinch as his breath was deep.
Aldur mourned and cried over his dead brothers body, or what was left of it. Orm grabbed him, trying to pull him away. “NO! Let me be with him! Let me be with my brother!”, he shouted, fighting the old man se he tried to escape his grasp. “It’s all right lad… He is gone… Your brother is gone..” Orm tried to condole the young warrior. But he just knleeded on the bloodied snow, crying. Fear filled Helnar’s heart, as he was now sure… This is not Midgard, only death awaits him and his men here.
As the men gathered around, lifting Olaf and Aldur, through the land a sorrowful sound pierced the air. Same as the wolf’s, as if someone blew a horn, but now louder and bigger. One after the other it continued to blow, shaking the ground, vibrating it, moving the very snow beneath the Vikings feet. As the fearful sound came closer with every other horn, there, in the distance, a big shape could be seen, a shadow beneath the fog.
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