*Archivist’s Note: Several entries have been lost due to the author’s unfortunate habit of recording on loose sheets crudely bound with less than adequate materials. While the later journals become more regular and complete, these records can occasionally be lacking. We are are constantly in search of these missing pages and endeavor to complete the journal if possible.
We had come north to Rimeskull. Called by a riddle written through ages of madness, we came looking for keys. We found them in a circle of stones on the edge of a lake. They rested in the stones and were loosed by magic. The gnome and bard know the how of it, the sin and spell. I just know what it woke.
With each key revealed the earth shook. It was the gnome who noticed it first. He called warnings and cast spells and the rest took cover. I stood alone in the center of stones and roared defiance.
The sky was silent.
The wurm swept into being and I saw the awful size of the thing; the way it’s limbs slashed at the air as if searching for purchase before it loosed it’s breath, the way wings worked in flaps like great sails. White as pearls the scales shone in the weak light from the sun. It didn’t scream as it passed, just let go that blast of grave-cold air and was away, snow curling up in spirals from the air desperate to get out of it’s way.
This was death that walked. Death that flew. Sudden and absolute it came upon you. You could not reach it. Could not touch it. It knew you could not and if you saw those hard blue eyes you knew it reveled in it’s power.
In that instant I stopped fearing the journey to Gorum’s halls. I figured out why I felt him close many times since starting this journey. He was not waiting for those who fell. He was drawn to the valor in the contest. I would give the Lord in Iron a show worthy of his attention.
I drank a potion and followed the retreating wurm. I could not match it’s speed, but I hoped to make myself an offering.
It went after the gnome instead. Scooped him up in it’s jaws and shook him like a dog shakes a rabbit and then dropped him, breathing that same white cloudy breath over him.
I followed as i could, hitting as I could to try and get it’s attention.
The third pass it came for me, plucking me from the air as a hawk taking prey. I tried to force it’s jaws open, to beat at it’s teeth or smash it’s scales, but it didn’t care. It’s breath was strong with old rot and carrion. I felt the rough wetness of it’s tongue push me out as it opened it’s mouth and it bathed me in the frost from it’s lungs. As i fell clear of the breath, the northern air felt warm suddenly and the roaring of the wind welcome.
The bard’s arrows finally drove it off and it roared then, a long bellow that sent ripples across the lake. It vanished back into the air as if it had never been.
We tracked it to it’s lair in Rimeskull. A cave it had carved out of the rock and coated in ice. A wall of perfect blue covered the entrance. We had no fire so we used muscle, chipping and bashing away at the ice. The sound of our blows echoed loudly off the surrounding mountains.
I was the first to break through and the beast roared a challenge, the pressure of it loosening rocks from the roof. I felt it pull at my mind as I slipped to the floor, but it couldn’t hold me. We spread out from the opening to avoid it’s breath and suddenly I was alone. Another wall of ice sprang up behind me and the others were on the other side.
I faced the scaled head of the wurm and thought it smiled, savoring the moment. I edged forward, waiting for a swipe of the claws or a blow from it’s tail. The gnome, bard and stabber all appeared behind me just in time to catch it’s breath. When we recovered, the gnome had conjured a glowing arch and hid behind it. The stabber vanished and the bard fired arrows as fast as she could and they sprouted in the dragon’s flesh.
I edged closer and again found myself alone with the wurm. It seemed to call the ice effortlessly, willing it into being.
Now it looked grim. Ready to eat and be done with these warm things.
I closed and swung the weight of my hammer in quick arcs but only one landed. It responded with all the ferocity of an avalanche. Claws and teeth snapped past me, one laying open a wound in my shoulder that spurted blood and steam.
It licked the air and rumbled deep in it’s throat.
It attacked again, claws gouging into the ice of the cave as I dodged back and snapped my hammer around to catch it under the jaw. It’s mouth closed with a crack and it howled as a gob of flesh fell to the ground. I grabbed the wet section of tongue as the wurm scrabbled backwards and I pressed my attack. The weight of my hammer hummed through the air and it skittered against the thing’s scales. I swung again and again, unable to land a solid blow but I knew that it was over. The wurm’s glamour was broken. I knew that I was it’s death, not it mine.
It swiped at me again, forcing me back but I whipped my hammer down, catching it’s paw and was rewarded with the sound of a wet crunch. It pulled back the ruined meat left on the end of it’s leg and tried to retreat. I felt my mouth pull into a grin as I charged.
It turned to the side, favoring the injured paw. I brought my arms up for an overhead blow, and as it raised the other paw to ward me off, I reversed my swing. The weight of my hammer hung in the air and the chain went slack until the momentum caught up, jerking it taught and whistling into an underhanded throw. Both weights and the length of chain hurtled under it’s guard and thudded into the creature’s throat. I was right behind, my armor screeching as I slid across the icy floor. I snatched my weapon from where it fell and spun to slam it into the scaled throat again, scales splintering at the impact. Blood began seeping between the broken scales. First a trickle and then a rush. The wurm took a final swipe as it fell, but it was a feeble scratch against my armor.
The thing lay dead before I noticed I had a bad habit. I didn’t ask lizards for their names.
After, when we had dug through the walls and found the horde I convinced the gnome to help me skin the thing. I wanted to take the head, but there was no way to carry it out and no way to bring it back. The horns or the teeth seemed a poor prize for such an opponent. Scraps of bone to show the size of it, but not the moment when it first came white from the sky.
We cleaned the corpse quickly and then set camp in a cave farther inside the mountain. The others lay before the fire and were asleep soon enough. I left them to their dreams.
The corpse was still a match for the sight for any arena. The scales stripped away exposed the meat and the muscle of it and the waiting power they had held.
I came back to the beast’s side as I had been first thrown onto the sands, naked and with the weights of my hammer looped around each of my hands. I thought I would have to smash at the corpse to loosen some frozen bits, but when I touched it the flesh was warm still. Even so, the muscle was tough and only yielded slowly under my hands. It was red work, and my arms and chest were soon slick with gore. It ran down the chains of my hammer and dripped from the weights to pool on the floor.
My shoulders and arms were inside before I felt it. The hard knot of muscle in it’s chest twitched as I made contact. I grabbed at it, but my fingers couldn’t find a good hold. When I did grasp it, it wouldn’t pull free. I had to remove it with my teeth, gnawing through arteries and clinging meat.
The heart sloshed as it came loose.
I took it out quickly and held the warm vessel while I unwound my hammer and dropped it to the floor. It landed with a dull chink. I tore a hole in the heart then and the blood spilled from it in thick rivulets. Like honey it fell slowly and coated the chain and weights of my hammer in glistening red. It seemed endless.
When it was empty I tore chunks free with my teeth and swallowed them. The heart was cold by then and grew tougher with each bite. I finished chewing red pieces of ice.
While I ate, the blood hardened to a solid red mass around the hammer. It came away from the floor with an easy pull when I went to lift it. I carried it out to the mouth of the cave.
The night was old and the stars littered the sky like the fires of hosts gone before. I placed my icy burden at the top of the stairs and sat behind it with my legs crossed. I waited for the sun. I could not feel the cold. I sat and must have passed into dream for I saw visions: lights of green and red raced across the sky, the stars wheeled and turned like burning chariots as if the hosts as one sprang to attack. I could hear the call of horns as the wind howled through the cave behind me. Dark shapes fled the lights and the fires into the empty corners of the sky. I felt the weight of a hand on my shoulder. It only lifted as the first rays of light came with the dawn.
Quickly I stood and held the shapeless knot of ice in these beams. I shouted Gorum’s name and swore to follow his red path across the world. I slammed my hammer to the ground and shards of ice flew away.
I raised it again and named those I had felled in battle. After each name I drove my hammer to the ground, shearing ice from the block in chunks.
I named the kobold Fall. I named the dragon Winter.
With the final strike I named my hammer.
The ice fell away leaving it polished and shining. The weights glowed briefly, as if running red with blood, but slowly faded like sun shadows in your eyes.
It was Fjær Wurm Breaker. Name earned in dragon blood and cast by Gorum’s hand.