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Damon Dane

Ragnarok Fantasy Part Seven

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Here ended the Book of Endings, the final book in the epic that was the Holy Tome.

Filled with a sense of foreboding, Gothia raised his eyes and looked at Stargard, haunted by a fear that they were standing on the brink of an apocalyptic cataclysm, and that a horrifying darkness would soon sweep down over them all.

‘For good or for ill, you and I have been born into the Dark Ages,’ Stargard said, ‘the Third Age, the Age of Endings, the end to all ages. Lupus Minor, the eye of the Wolf Constellation, has become a red giant; Ragnarok is nigh.’

Gothia sat for several moments in stunned silence, before asking, as pragmatic as ever, ‘Is there any way to somehow stop these things from happening?’

‘If you have a way to stop the Anti-Christ from cracking the Seven Seals of the Abyss and rising up from hell, then please do not keep it to yourself. Otherwise, we must just fight with the weapons we have, and what we have are the Seven Swords of Hyperborea.’ Stargard frowned into his plaited white beard. ‘Well, we don’t exactly have them; they’re scattered across the world, and the most important one is in heaven, but they must be found before the Destroyer’s return, and they must be found by none other than the Angel of the Lord himself.’ He gave Gothia a meaningful look.

It took Gothia a few moments, but then he understood the words that the Warlock had left unspoken: he was about to send him on a quest to gather the Seven Swords of Hyperborea, which meant…

Tentatively, Gothia asked, ‘Am I… the Angel of the Lord…?’

Stargard looked at him in incomprehension - noted the earnest look on his face - and then roared with laughter, slapping the table with both hands, and chortled happily for several long moments, while Gothia wondered what was so funny.

Stargard has an odd sense of humour…

Stargard apologised, once he had contained himself, but to think of this battle-scarred, saké-swilling, geisha house-cruising, murderous former pirate as an angel really tickled his funnybone. He delighted in the look of confusion on Gothia’s face. ‘Sorry, it’s just that…’ he started giggling again, then dragged his Holy Tome across the desk, took a deep breath, and read the final part of the prophecy.

‘Okay, let’s have a look… “Know the Angel of the Lord by these signs: he shall have eyes like the sky, hair like the sun, and the mark of the lion upon his face. He will ride a black horse, and death shall follow in his wake”. Are you the Angel of the Lord? I can’t be sure, so let’s just match you up to the criteria: I know that death follows in your wake; you’ve a well-deserved share of infamy for that, but do you have eyes like the sky?’

‘Ye mean blue?’

‘I suppose so, unless it’s raining, in which case the sky is grey.’ Stargard looked into Gothia’s golden-brown eyes. If the prophecy specified the eyes of a lion he might qualify…

‘Er, no, I don’t have eyes like the sky.’

‘Well, okay then, do you have hair like the sun?’

Must mean blond, more’s the pity… Gothia ran his hand through his stubbled black hair, which was as dark as night, sprinkled with a light dusting of silver at the temples. ‘Hmm…’

‘Do you have the mark of the lion upon your face?’

‘What’s that, a lion-shaped birthmark or something?’

‘I don’t know, I’m just asking what’s written in the book. You’re old and wise enough to interpret it as you will. More likely it means has a big pussycat ever scratched your face and then tried to eat you?’

‘Lions? I had a few scraps with ‘em in the Uruk War, but they never scratched my face. I ended up eating one of them actually… It wasn’t good - I prefer fat Ophirian emirs.’

‘I see. Well, there’s no mention of cannibalism.’ Stargard read through the prophecy again. ‘Oh, there is this bit about striking your own father and lusting like a beast for prostitutes without limit. I imagine you might qualify there…?’

Gothia shrugged. ‘My father was killed by ninjas when I was nine, but I don’t recall ever hitting him before that. But prostitutes… aye, there’s been a few lusty lushbutt lasses I couldn’t resist; not without limit mind ye - only when I’m out on campaign and got no fighting to do. When I’m home I prefer to stoke the home fires.’ As if to prove his point he added, ‘I’ve got fourteen children.’ What he meant was that he had roughly fourteen children, for he found it hard to keep track of the exact number: his wife was better at that sort of thing. And of course grandchildren were another matter entirely.

Stargard shook his head. ‘I’m afraid you don’t qualify then. It quite clearly says “prostitutes without limit”, not “a few lusty lushbutt lasses whilst on campaign”. Ah, here’s something else though; do you ride a black horse?’

Gothia shrugged his heavy shoulders. ‘I can ride any horse. What difference does the colour make?’

Stargard shook his finger in admonition. ‘Come on now General VW, prophecies can be finicky things. It’s not for us humble servants of God to question them, but only to interpret them as best we can, and, where necessary, to try and do their bidding.’ He shook his shaggy white head. ‘No Gothia, you may be either disappointed or relieved, but you are not the Angel of the Lord. I’d say we’re looking for a blue-eyed blond vagabond galloping around on a black horse, whoring, hitting his father, and leaving death in his wake. I’d also say he has lion claw scars on his face, or even bite marks. He’s also a king of the North. That should narrow it down a bit, seeing as there are only five Norse realms, including the Ursans, who can probably be ruled out - I’m sure the prophecy would mention it if the Angel of the Lord was an Ursan. And the Vandar don’t even have a king, only clan chiefs, so that narrows it down to the kings of three realms: Hyperborea, Gothland, and Barbary - and there is mention of a “banner of lions”. The Barbarian King carries such a banner.’

Stargard paused, looking at Gothia as if trying to make up his mind about something. At length he said, ‘Come on, let me show you something.’

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Updated December 18th, 2010 at 06:50 AM by Damon Dane (Grammar error)

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