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To Slay Beasts Most Foul

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‘You bastard,’ said Arnvjald, unfortunately on the self-same pitch of a nail screeching against glass; ‘I told you to bring me a mug of mead, instead you brought me your grandmother’s piss.’ He stood to face the bartender, who had been working more tides of late. He worked the night before, and the night before that, and a good many nights in succession. Arnvjald hit him. Hard. And he fell to a heavy sleep on the ground, and his wooden tray of cups clanked in frantic circles beside his slumbering body. Nonetheless, not a hair turned in that direction, for they were all too occupied in the haze of their own drunken events. Mercenaries, merchants, whores. Not even the drum beaters, lute stringers or flute blowers ceased to play their merry tavern tune in the candlelit inn. ‘Now what was I sayin’?’ He asked the man keeping his company whilst reclaiming his stool. Arnvjald was brutish, tall, unfathomably strong. Able to log a grand axe upon his waist-belt and strike down a bear in a single blow. His armour was few and thin, for the thickness of his skin made him so resistant to hurt that he only wore the fur of beasts he had slain over his shoulders. ‘You were close to explaining-‘


‘Aye, that’s it.’ The brute interrupted, coming slowly into a sitting posture. ‘Took me a while to track down the beast’s lair, but I did. Thing’s lurking in a cave not more than half a day’s hike from the village.’


‘So,’ returned the other man, ‘why does it yet live?’


‘Come now!’ Arnvjald bellowed, ‘Might not be the brightest hunter in the land, but even I know not to charge head on into those fangs alone. Especially not when it’s in it’s lair. Damned thing’s probably just waitin’ for some fool with a silver axe at dinner time. Which makes me wonder why a bard’s even askin’ about it.’


‘Loneliness afflicts his coin purse.’


‘Coin purse, eh? You keep a spare dress with you too by any chance?’




‘A death wish then.’ After some delay and demur, Arnvjald grudgingly hunched forward. ‘Fuck it.’ Said he, who then drank all of the vile mead which, earlier, sprayed the bartender’s weary face. With force like unto a behemoth he banged his mug down on its head, and belched. The stinking odour of fermented honey floated toward his ephemeral drinking companion’s nostrils. Arnvjald, after surveying him in silence until he stood up once more, remarked: ‘Take care of your chest and voice, and should you die, won’t be me or no one else here come lookin’ for your sorry bones. We make way at dawn. Don’t be late.’ …



… It was a morning of early Autumn and a frosty chill hung in the air. The sun shone brilliantly white light through the thin mist that surrendered a foreboding scent of morning dew, filling the forest with an unearthly atmosphere. The safest path tread alongside a lake hardened by the unforgiving cold, and as Arnvjald and the bard trekked through the wet coat of earthed clouds, the wildlife became cautious of its steeled visitors; daring to get closer only in the safety of shrubbery. The bard equipped his own two blades, which were slung on his back, and a simple crossbow, given to him at dawn, by his waist. The day became darker, more ominous, more quiet, and the mist had vanished. Yet somehow the pair felt no safer with the clearing, for though they would be able to sight their bounty were it to roam the night, so too would it be able to see, to stalk, to hunt them. Arnvjald, of course, promptly adopted a more prepared stance, and his axe was drawn and clutched with both hands. Not a sound parted from either of them. They made sure to gravitate near to each other at all times, until Arnvjald came to a slow halt, and he looked back with a gesture; warning the bard to stay put. He then disappeared into where no moonlight pervaded.


As the night proclaimed sovereignty the forest fell to a slumber, deep. The trees no longer danced in the wind, the hypnotic melody of running water was no more, the drone of insects humming and buzzing went missing. And it was cold. So very cold. Perhaps cold enough for predators of the dark, hoping to catch an easy snack, to come searching? One man, alone, would surely make for such. And what voluminous trees could stand as passive protectors of the lonesome bard? They were all sleeping. But his ear caught wind of them croaking in the shadows. With wariness he turned his cheek to the eerie sound, breathing a song of solemn silence. The noise was continuous, it was unknown, and it would not end. The painfully slow, stabbing noise of a creaking door, opening and closing. Opening and closing. The bard drew his crossbow, aiming it at nothingness… The croaking stopped.




Original post here(!): http://museofeld.tumblr.com/post/147464085244/to-slay-beasts-most-foul

Part 2 on it's way.

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