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Damon Dane

Ragnarok Fantasy Part Two

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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 Northern Lights flashing in iridescent splashes of pink, green, and gold.

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 well-deserved reputation as the foulest on Xanadu. 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 busy mind being occupied by far greater matters. His journey had almost come to an end, for through the swirling snows he saw Holy Mountain rising before him, the highest of the ten thousand peaks of the Dragon’s Back, and quite possibly the highest mountain on Xanadu - a true giant among giants.

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 short black hair was frosted with lashings of Arctic ice to the whiteness of a hard-living octogenarian, and the thick slabs of muscle across his chest were so covered in snow that they looked less like frozen flesh and more like a sculpture carved from ice: the dragon could only just make out the Norse runes tattooed across them:

Though I walk through the Valley
of the Shadow of Death

He was in the right place.

A second tattoo adorned the knight’s back: the flared 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 Hyperborean 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. An effervescent white-gold haze glowed and flowed around them, a secret, 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.

Yet he did not give up the search, for he was a stubborn and loyal old dragon, not the type to abandon his friends at the first sign of difficulty, and even though he felt no life within the knight, 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, and growing stronger. 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 Bosobolorian 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 magic, the knight belatedly 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 Holy Mountain 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 Holy Mountain 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 barely-perceived 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 flicker of thought is life.

Stargard the dragon poured warm, healing swirls of holy mojo into Gothia - a cascading rainbow of glittering moons and stars, shining so brightly amid wintry whites and greys, washing through the frozen knight like an enchanted river of warmth and life, trickling through his muscles and organs, seeping right down into the marrow of his bones, restoring life to frozen flesh.

Don’t die Gothia, live…

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Updated November 26th, 2010 at 06:35 AM by Damon Dane

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