Yet he did not give up the search, for he was a stubborn and loyal old dragon, and not the...
Wednesday Apr 2013
Yet he did not give up the search, for he was a stubborn and loyal old dragon, and not the type to abandon his friends at the first sign of difficulty. He felt no life within the knight, but nor could he sense the darkness of death.
A spark shot through the dragon’s mind, a blood-red mist growing into a glow of raw animal vitality pulsing deep within the knight’s core. The knight’s eyelids were encrusted with ice, but they edged open now, just a little, to reveal glittering orbs of pale golden-brown, like the eyes of a lion on the Afrikan savannah — touched by the serene emptiness of a man no longer bearing witness to the struggle and suffering of this world.
He is alive, the dragon thought, his happiness manifesting itself through sparkling spheres of pink, green, and blue light that swirled around his head like the northern lights in miniature. Only Gothia has the raw vitality to survive the eighth circle test for so long — the test of the Grail Knights.
Feeling the otherworldly power, the knight recognised the dragon, though from where and when he did not know — it was still too soon for that, for the knight’s consciousness lingered in another time, another place, a universe across which his spirit had roamed while his body kneeled atop Mount Hyperborea and froze, almost to death. He was like a man just beginning to awaken from a dream, who does not yet realise that he is no longer roaming across the mayhem-filled worlds of dreams and nightmares, but is lying at home in bed, although of course, the peak of Mount Hyperborea was no bed — not unless you intended to sleep forever.
Gothia, the dragon said, telepathically.
Stargard, the knight replied, his frozen lips not moving, the words a flicker across the face of his mind. Warlock.
You live Gothia. I thought you were dead.
As did I. Does this heart still beat? I feel no life remaining in this body…
That thought is life.
Stargard the dragon poured warm swirls of Stardust into Gothia — a cascade of glittering moons and stars that sparkled amid the wintry whites and greys, washing through him like a river of warmth and life, trickling through his muscles and organs and restoring life to frozen flesh.
Don’t die Gothia, live…
A second tattoo adorned the knight’s back: the flared crusader cross of the Hyperborean Knights, wide enough to encompass the broad expanses of muscle, and deep enough to stretch from his neck to the base of his spine, while a pair of tattooed lightning bolts zapped down his rippled shoulders towards his elbows. Around his neck hung a second flared cross, cast of gold and held on a ring by a pair of miniature dragon heads. An iron chain manacled the knight’s ankle to a spike driven deep into the rock. The spike, the chain, and the manacle were all frozen; everything was frozen — especially the knight.
The dragon dropped down beside him, steadying himself on the narrow summit, for the wind was strong enough to unsettle an elephant. I am too late. I left it too late, he has been here too long. He had left the knight here three months before as part of an advanced martial arts test. Three months…
The test was only supposed to go for one.
The dragon had intended to return here two months before, but the crazy dreams he had dreamed in Castle Dragonheim had given him much work to do, much study among his disorderly nest of books, and he had lost track of time, as he so often did. But Gothia is as hard as a piece of iron, he thought, he hoped, looking down at his old friend, this flawed borderline psychopath in whose sword-callused hands the fate of the world might soon rest, for better or for worse.
The dragon reached out his golden talons and held them around the knight. A white-gold haze glowed around them, a sacred power which the dragon mentally directed down into the knight’s frozen flesh, closing his cosmic eyes as he searched for life.
He found nothing, just coldness. Ice. Frozen solid, he lamented.
Midnight came and went. The blizzard softened, then blew out altogether, the roiling clouds thinning to moonlit wisps journeying across the starry sky, framed by the iridescent flashing of the Northern Lights.
The morning star winked above the horizon, and the dragon followed it, ever onward towards the south, until he reached the very edge of the land, where a thousand feet beneath his right wing the ice sheet dropped away into the North Sea. Following the coast, he finally caught sight of his destination: the Dragon’s Back Mountains — a world-spanning line of peaks marching away to the east, wreathed in icy mist and gleaming white in the moonlight.
Then before his eyes the mountains vanished as the volatile northern weather went about proving its reputation as the foulest on earth. Dark banks of cloud ruffled across the sky, and dawn, when it came, was marked not by welcoming beams of sunlight, but by little more than a cotton-wool lightness barely illuminating the gloom.
Yet the dragon was not troubled by anything so trivial as weather. His mind was occupied by greater matters. His journey had almost come to an end, for through the swirling snows he saw Mount Hyperborea rising before him, the highest of the ten thousand peaks of the Dragon’s Back.
I hope I’m not too late. He spiralled up and around the mountain, higher and higher, his hundred-foot wingspan as insignificant as that of a wind-blown sparrow against the forbidding faces of ice, snow, and jagged black rock — though no mere sparrow could have flown in such winds as these, and even an eagle would have been hurled helplessly across the sky.
With a last great flap of his wings, the dragon reached the summit.
An excessively muscular knight was kneeling in prayer, though his prayers had long since ceased, and appeared to have availed him little. With no coat, no shirt, nor even a pair of boots, his only concession to warmth was a pair of blue woollen trousers — frozen, as the knight himself was frozen. His stubble of black hair was frosted with lashings of Arctic ice, and the slabs of muscle across his chest were so covered in snow that they looked less like frozen flesh and more like a frozen sculpture: the dragon could only just make out the runes tattooed across them:
Though I walk through the valley
Of the shadow of death
He was in the right place.
The dragon was rushing southward for three reasons: firstly, he had seen the hordes of Gehenna gathering beneath the Banner of Sorrows Promised, arming themselves with great clanging industry for the invasion of Barbary.
Secondly, the King of the North, the Lord of the Paladins, the Angel of the Lord, would soon be born into this world; a holy paladin foretold to unite all the realms against the Horde of Darkness. The Angel of the Lord had to be found, and prepared for his sacred calling.
The most compelling reason for the dragon’s haste was his concern for his friend the knight, who would die if he did not reach him soon, and the knight was a vital link in the dragon’s Machiavellian plans.
But I am already too late, he lamented, flapping his broad wings. Too late by far. The Dragonheim library has far too many old books to distract and enchant, and to steal time like a thief in the night. If only the months did not pass like hours each time I bury my head in those superb tomes of antiquity. Dear oh dear, with each passing century I really do become more and more the absent-minded old boffin.
Yet the dragon did not look like an absent-minded old boffin who has spent centuries among musty tomes. He glowed with a strange aura that sparkled in all the colours of the rainbow, and radiated so much energy that little bolts of lightning crackled and zapped along his golden spine and down over his seven-horned head, reflecting from armoured scales of pink gold shaded with pure gold and blending with streaks of white gold across his crown and neck.
His jaws were lined with rows of six-inch teeth, though he rarely opened his mouth to reveal them, needing neither to eat nor speak as mortal creatures do, for he was blessed with powers of telepathy, and sustained himself not upon the flesh of beasts, but by drawing freely upon the primal energies of the universe itself.
Strangest of all were his extraordinary eyes ¾ as black as the night sky, splashed with a cosmos of bright stars in every colour, all spinning and flashing in the whirling dance of creation, for these were not so much eyes as windows to eternity, shining with the wisdom of unknowable aeons, glowing with powers beyond the most power-crazed dreams of mortal men ¾ powers lost to the world after the fall of the Holy Empire of Hyperborea, nearly 666 years before.
Onward through the night the dragon flew, worrying about the knight: If Gothia does not survive this ordeal, then who will prepare the Angel of the Lord for the Apocalypse? No other warrior is anywhere near as… qualified… as Gothia.
Don’t die Gothia, live.
TEN YEARS LATER
Armageddon rumbled across the dark northern skies. Thunder boomed, lightning cracked and tore at the earth, and in the frozen wastes beyond the Dragon’s Back Mountains, a darkness beyond imagining began to rise. These were the Dark Ages, and moment by moment, the darkness grew darker.
A Norse dragon flew through the night, soaring across the vast sheets of tundra that spanned the frozen North from horizon to horizon. All is changing, he lamented, thinking of the chain of events he was about to set in motion to try and save the world from tumbling into Hell in the Apocalypse, the War of Endings.
All is ending.
For a day and a night the dragon had been flying, making the epic journey back to the realms of men from Castle Dragonheim — the fabled home of the Norse dragons a thousand miles north of this place. Bold Barbarian mapmakers labelled this land The Top of the World, but in truth not even those dauntless explorers knew what was here: their maps of the vast wastes were guesses sprinkled with myth, fermented in tankards of winter ale and bolstered by boasts of, ‘I saw it once, but long ago. ‘Twas in my younger years, when neither snow nor storm nor leviathan could bar my way.’
But no man could sail his longship across a solid sea of ice, and not even the most intrepid explorers had trekked more than a few hundred miles from the North Sea coast, clad in mammoth coats and sustained by whale blubber and the relentless longing of the Northman to discover what lies beyond the horizon. But even the toughest Norse dreamers had limits to their endurance, if not their madness, and none had ever set foot upon this swathe of howling tundra. Only the Norse dragons and the Sons of Ymir had come so far from the realms of men, only they knew what was here. But the dragons did not speak of such things, and the Sons of Ymir were the grim frost giants, who avoided lands where either sunshine or men were to be found in any significant quantities.
Hi! My name is Inga und Ich liebe das Kriegsspiele! I am also a Bavarian supermodel and Oktoberfest beer-drinking and pig-eating champion.
When I'm not getting drunk and devouring swine I like to paint minis and play wargames. Check out some of my tabletop thugs...
I enjoy Warhammer and 40K, but my favourite is DBA: medieval guys are so chivalrous and macho! They have huge biceps from swordfighting, and smell like real men instead of deodorised dandies. BTW I only date men with a double-figure body count or more, so get raiding soldier!
The best part about wargaming? I only weigh fifty grams, so I can walk around on my wargame table without breaking it in half!
My girlfriends ask how I keep my weight so low when I drink so much beer and eat so many pigs. Simple! I only eat the pigs I catch with my own two hands. Ever chased a wild pig through the forest? Now that's some real cardio you treadmill zombies! And Bavarian beer is more healthy than fruit juice: it contains negative calories, which neutralise the calories from food. We need to eat pretzels whenever we drink, otherwise we would waste away, and by the end of Oktober would actually cease to exist!
I also burn calories from excitement every time I go for a drive. I roll a 6.3-litre AMG V8. It's a German car, so it's loud and brutally powerful with no sense of humour. Eat my dust Auslanders!
Chaos guys are strange, but cool! I used to date one with a big purple tentacle!
I haven't photographed my DBA guys yet. Please come back soon for Vikings, Romans, Crusaders, and, of course, Teutonic knights! (Those Prussians are some cocky motherf**kers, but us Bavarians drink them under the table every time).
I like Spartans too, but why did those Hollywood dandies have to dress them up in gimp suits instead of their traditional armour and uniforms? They perverted a 2,500-year martial legacy. Annoying! It's almost as bad as the Roman legionaires mincing around in their pretty red skirts. You been too long in the field soldier! Loot a pair of trousers from a fallen German tribesman already. Oh, that's right, they whooped your skirt-wearing ass and crushed your empire ;)
Thanks for visiting my blog. Hope to see you again soon. Tchuss! Inga :)