Völuspá

Into the Mines...

Even with another great victory under their belt—the defeat of the dreaded wolf, Frageir—the stalwart companions, breakers of the curse of Hel’s Needle, did not tarry; instead, headlong they rushed over withered forest toward their destiny at the Cornerstone of the World. Hungry for their chance to, once again, earn their seat in Odin’s hall by battling the evil corrupting the roots of the cosmic tree, Yggdrasil, but hounded, yet again by wolves, the party broke out in battle formation to face the circling pack as they loped into view. Bows were strung and axes unslung, claws were unsheathed from paws, and even in the dim twilight, sharp teeth gleamed in foaming jaws, as the man and wolf yet faced each others again!
All except for one. Uhtred, the Ulfhednar, shape changer, wishing neither man nor beast to spill blood that day used his cunning animal empathy to allow the wolves the opportunity to back down. The pack, perhaps weary of doing battle with the slayer of one of their strongest, scampered off, leaving the party fresh to resume their march to the mines.
At last, the warriors caught sight of human encampments up ahead. Yet, upon drawing near it was clear that death and destruction had ridden through the desolated town before the mines, and the smell of the dead hung thick in the air despite the cold of winter. Though signs of struggle abounded, strangely, not a single body of any warrior was to be found to bury with his weapons while the corpses of slaves lined the streets. Yet, apart from that, the town itself offered the companions no clue as to what had befallen it nor the nature of the enemies they would face. Only one incident did strike the Galdr, Warg, as portentous: a curious collection ravens cawing a strangely familiar lullaby in union atop dead slaves struck up at the public gallows. After a few moments, he reported to the rest of the party that the song evoked a memory a tale he had heard in childhood of a bitter, ancient hermit, and his wife who had to “cure his mind” before he himself could be saved.
The Taskmaster’s house became their last stop before venturing down into the Earth. Pieces of paper and a bound volume full of hand scribbles were found; however, the warriors were men of action, and none had ever bothered to care for the silly runes and symbols some men used to record the storage of fish, the ravings of mad men, the boasting of want-to-be pretenders, old wives tales, and other trivial matters. Even the Rune Master, the one of all who might had inclination and opportunity to learn the symbols, had scoffed at the notion of such a weakling skill.
Mighty thus were the dedication to Viking-hood and the discipline of the warriors!
Warg’s sharp and un-paper-dulled eyes lead to a discovery of a hidden compartment hollowed out within the table. Inside laid an ornate box with well oiled lock of masterwork quality. It’s intricacy itself saved it from being smashed to match sticks with ax or hammer as the companions decided to keep the trophy in case somehow the task master had survived.
Just as the companions were about to enter the mines, figures started appearing in the distance. Although they were shaped as men with longsword and shields, their flesh were blacken and hung tight to their bones. Grond’s sharp eyes alerted him and the warriors that there was no mist arising from their breath despite the chill of the eternal winter. As they neared, and their true nature could no longer be concealed, the Galdr finally remembered what his study of Niflheim’s horde had revealed: the spiked shield made of Death Bone, apart from its defense against the spiritual also attracted the Draugr—the souls of those whose deeds had not warranted them a place in Valhalla or the fields of Folkvangr, but were condemned to walk the earth of Midgard again except as shells of their former selves. As the ghastly undead approached, erecting alkas of power, they just as suddenly stopped maintaining their position and distance, waiting. After sometime, a lone Draugr approached and stopped at a distance from the party as if in entreaty.
Deciding to ignore the their presence for a moment, the warriors move towards the mines. The lone Draugr followed, heads immediately tracking the movements of the shield strapped onto Warg’s arm. Rather than have them follow the rest into the mines, the warrior consented to give the Draugr their quarry. As he placed the shield upon the ground, a skeletal hand, unbelievably quick, latched itself upon Warg’s now bare arm. Mistaking the gesture for a signal of consent to the trade, the warrior nodded to the skeletal face, unmindful of the raised longsword in the abomination’s other hand!
With a singular blow, the undead lopped off Warg’s shield arm, attempting to carry it off as a macabre trophy! As the crippled warrior screamed in pain, his companions readied to return insult to injury, in kind, drawing their weapons and charging. The battle was over in a matter of minutes, with Ragnar’s mighty treant decimating the Draugr that hung back, breaking their encircling alkas after Borga’s arrows felled their first ranks. War Pig and Uhtred, now in wolf form, raced to deliver the final blow to the last Draugr forced to retreat at the furry of the party’s underlings. The wolf finally won, ripping out the throat of the last unworthy warrior with his mighty fangs.
Reduced to one arm, but still conscious, Warg decided to keep the set of keys found on one of the bodies and identified the still usable longswords and shields. Each longsword had been slightly enchanted with magic, though none matching the one still waiting for the heroes return at the smithy in Evingard. One shield, however, proved to help boost a spell caster’s power and was claimed by Warg who only had but the one arm left to use it.
And so, with lanterns lit, and Ragnar quickly pulling his cold-healing necklace off, the heroes descending into the mines. They found carts, then ore which they were not allowed to touch. Their journey lead them to a room full of mining tools and then a flooded section taller than any of them could walk without sinking. The party, utilizing the tools at hand built 2 small crafts, one for the party and one, later, for War Pig who did not take a liking to his first attempt at braving the water by himself. Ragnar’s treant pulled the craft along until the party could disembark on the far shore where a path lead them to a large barricade holding back the smell of rotting dead. Rather than dull our blades and waste our precious lantern oil, the Druid, using his sect’s powers of terraforming, commanded the rock to create a narrow path bypassing the barricade. Once through, the party spotted a person attempting to camouflage himself in the earth ahead, but Warg’s sharp eyes detected the ever so slight movement up and down upon the ground.
Upon the threat of an arrow through him, the stranger came out of hiding, revealing himself to be …., an engineer sent by the Angel of Death in … to scout the minds and handle the burial affairs of the victims. He read the papers we had found earlier at the Taskmaster’s cabin, and established that the mines had indeed been shutdown by revolting slaves, though whatever caused the slaves to revolt seemed to scare the man enough to build the barricade to keep everyone out. The party escorted the man out and told him to rest at the Taskmaster’s cabin, where they themselves rested before heading back to brave the mines in the morning.
At last, they came upon a group of what appeared to be large lizard or reptilian men inside a large camber room backed with a large metal door. The battle was over quickly and was more of a slaughter than anything. Of note though was that a snake seem to jump out of every dead slave. After the battle, Warg, proceeded to commune with the spirit of the dead slave. The images he saw were disturbing: It seems Niohoggr, the dragon gnawing at the root of Yggdrasil itself, was the origin of the snakes that had somehow consumed the human slaves. Though lesser men might be daunted at the prospect of such a mystical adversary, the party steeled themselves and pushed on through the metal doors to find a large, dark, seemingly endless hole into the earth transverseable only by a thin bridge to the other side.
Then, as the party began crossing the chasm, large, screeching creatures their wing span the size of a man from head to food swooped down on them from above…

Comments

A worthy 2 wyrds.. thank you!

Into the Mines...
punkassphilosopher

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