'Inspired By' Valley Of The Wyrm

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Fantasy Realm

'Inspired by' is a series of stand-alone Grimdark / Fantasy short stories, inspired by the fantastic artwork of Frank Frazetta

'Inspired By'

 

 

 

Valley of the Wyrm

 

The storm had been brutal, angry, and windswept with crashing waves like mountains falling upon their heads and washing men overboard to die in the cold fathomless sea... Njord the sea god was angry... or drunk... or both... he tossed the boats about dragging them down to his watery Kingdom for his own perverted amusement. The longships were overturned, their hulls breaking the water like the hump-backed whales before sinking into the brine, sucking their crewmen down with them, to a cold lung-bursting watery death... Njord was pissed off, for sure...

The survivors, scant few, had been regurgitated from the depths and thrown up onto the pebble shore of an uncharted Island... An Island that should not have been there, according to the nautical charts of the seamen... Still, the survivors did not complain. They were alive unlike some, and thankful for that small mercy... It was not to last! like all things joyous... They were short-lived fleeting moments, before the harshness of life and the grim gods intervened and ripped them from your grasp...

Hrothgar sat on a rock resting his bearded chin on a clenched fist. He glanced over the crags and rocky terrain of the Isle with slitted, untrustworthy eyes... His gut tightened, that was never a good sign. He sniffed the salty air. There was something tainted about it, something... Not right with it. He stuck out his tongue; he could taste the bitterness on the wind. He hockled out a glob of spit ridding that sour taste from his mouth. He had learned to trust his gut instincts, they had kept him alive thus far... and now they were telling him danger lurked out there cloaked in the swirling tenebrous mist...

Hrothgar gripped the haft of his war axe for comfort...

 

Night fell unnaturally quick upon their heads like a rain of enemy arrows... The sky was moonless, starless, and cloudless... The northern lights appeared fluttering like ribbons in the cosmos, casting an eerie lichen green hue upon their heads... All was silent, no sounds of animals, or insects, or seabirds. Just the constant rhythmic lapping of the sea on the shoreline, reminding Hrothgar of a hungry dog licking a hambone...

Men huddled around their small campfires warming their shivering bones and cooking a small amount of fish they had managed to catch with spears... They would be lucky to have one mouthful of fish each from their meagre catch.

Some of them had travelled a short distance inland but came back empty-handed... The Island was nothing more than a rocky hump with sweeping valleys and gorges covered in moss and trees... There was no sign of freshwater or animal life... It was a barren, ugly, Island that would not support them for long... come first light the seamen would go vigorously to work on the wreckage of their ships that had washed up, cannibalizing them and patching the most seaworthy of them up... They would have to get off this impotent rock or slowly starve to death, a fate that did not sit well with any of them.

And then it came in the night. Slithering across the sand, its body as thick as a tree trunk covered in scales as tough as iron and eyes as black as death. It hissed and reared up. Its mouth opened, it spat out sour oily spittle. The men ran at it with axe and sword and shields... They shouted and hacked and stabbed at that tree trunk of a body, but their weapons were useless against its scaly outer coating... And then its huge tail came up over its wedge-shaped head and rattled like a child’s toy and sparks flashed from that vibrating tail and then it slammed it down into the puddles of saliva it had spat out. Its spittle erupted into leaping flames. Men screamed, engulfed in that terrible firestorm. The Wyrm sprayed another torrent of saliva, drenching the running men with it, and then rattled its tail again calling the flames with it.

Hrothgar’s back ignited. He screamed as the flames licked at his flesh. His skin bubbled like porridge and melted. He leaped into the sea, but even the brine could not quench the fire that still burned, beneath its surface. Hrothgar crawled back ashore and rolled in the sand... The flames thankfully died down and went out, and Hrothgar’s mind went black, saving him from the insufferable agony of his burns...

The light of day came. There was no sun in the sky, just a sickly light... Hrothgar opened his eyes to the horror of the night before. His men lay strewn across the sand. Charred black from the Wyrm’s attack. He counted the blackened corpses. Half of his men were gone, eaten by the Wyrm.

Hrothgar found his axe; he picked it up and grimaced at the pain in his burned back. His eyes were slits. His mouth turned down into a feral snarl. He headed toward the trees on the trail of the Wyrm. Vengeance burned in his breast as hot as the pain in his back... The Wyrm was going to pay for the lives of his men it had taken.

*****

The light was starting to dim. Hrothgar’s mighty muscles glistened with sweat. His long straw hair hung damp to his shoulders. His axe blade gleamed sharp and deadly in his calloused hands.

He stood at the entrance to the valley of the Wyrm. He could smell its stench wafting on the breeze, coming from a large hole in the ground. He walked up to the entrance of the lair and clashed his axe and sword together ringing them like a dinner bell and bellowing his challenge to the Wyrm of the earth.

His voice echoed down into the gloom of that hellish hole. The Wyrm answered his challenge. Its tail rattled, its hissing voice echoed from the depths and the ground trembled beneath Hrothgar’s feet.

Hrothgar turned and ran.

The wyrm erupted into the dim light of day... It slithered after the figure running ahead of it.

Hrothgar’s heart beat wildly in his chest, he was sucking in air frantically, as the Wyrm came slithering after him like an avalanche of scaly death.

He came to the first marker he had made on a boulder. He turned and waited... The wyrm came into view. It was terrifying fast and moved like liquid across the ground. It reared up before him. Its obsidian eyes gleamed lifelessly; he could see his own reflection in them. He brought his axe down on the rope tether.

There was a rumbling sound as the counterweights came crashing down on the pulley system he had constructed from the wreckage of his ships.

A trap sprang up hidden in the dirt, a wooden spiked paddle. It slammed into the wyrm’s head. The creature was knocked back, stunned. It shook its head and then leered at Hrothgar and sent a stream of sticky saliva at him. Hrothgar cursed, the trap had done little to no damage to the beast. He leaped to one side turned and ran for his life.

The wyrm thrashed and tore the trap apart and came at him, enraged.

The gorge narrowed ahead, Hrothgar pushed onward. His legs were tiring quickly. His chain skirt was weighing him down; his weapons were becoming heavy in his hands. He was doomed, he knew it. He passed the second marker and spun on his heels.

The wyrm came slithering around the sharp corner. Hrothgar hefted his axe and cut another rope. This time a landslide of stones tumbled down into the gorge. The wyrm thrashed like a giant eel on a hook as the side of the gorge collapsed, trapping it beneath the rockslide.

Hrothgar wasted no time; he leaped upon its back and brought his axe down hacking and hacking at it like a berserker. The Wyrm thrashed and hissed. Its scales, after a dozen strikes, started to crack. And then his axe blade bit into stinking soft Wyrm flesh, beneath. Blood squirted from the deep gash. The Wyrm wriggled, desperately trying to free itself from the weight of the rubble holding it down.

Hrothgar dropped his axe and took up his sword and thrust it point first into the soft exposed flesh. The sword sank up to the hilt. Blood bubbled up pouring over his boots. Hrothgar grinned with satisfaction. He took up his axe once more and hacked and hacked until the wyrm’s head came off in a heavy bloody chunk.

Hrothgar collapsed from the effort. His chest was heaving, his strength was spent. He could not stand...

A drop of saliva hit him on the shoulder and then another and another... Hrothgar turned and looked up into the obsidian eyes of another Wyrm. It hissed at him, its tail appeared over its huge wedge head, rattling, and then it sent a spark flying toward him.

Hrothgar gripped his axe tightly to his chest, gritted his teeth, closed his eyes and cursed the gods for their grim, dark humour...

 

 

 


Submitted: May 18, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Celtic-Scribe63. All rights reserved.

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Comments

AdamCarlton

They say good things come in threes. And maybe bad things in twos. Let's hope for the best for team Hrothgar... :)

Tue, May 18th, 2021 1:54pm

Author
Reply

Poor hrothgar ???? he rolled the dice, they came up snake eyes
Cheers, Adam

Tue, May 18th, 2021 8:26am

Sumit Kumar Arora

Well done.

Wed, May 19th, 2021 8:39am

Author
Reply

You are welcome, thank you for your positive comment.
Regards

Wed, May 19th, 2021 4:31am

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