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Damon Dane

Ragnarok Fantasy Part Eight

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Happy new year guys! Here's a funny old Viking joke for you...

A raven walks into an ale-house and says, 'Got any bread?'
The Viking barkeep says, 'No, this is an ale-house. We sell ale, not bread.'
The raven walks out, then walks back in and says, 'Got any bread?'
The Viking gets angry and says, 'I told you mate, this is an ale-house; we don't sell bread. If you ask me again I'll nail your damn beak to the bar!'
The raven walks out, then walks back in and says, 'Got any nails?'
The Viking says, 'No!'
The raven says, 'Got any bread?'



DAMON DANE'S RAGNAROK

CHAPTER FOUR
THE ROAD TO HELL


Stargard pushed out his chair and padded in his socks across to the ladder leading up to his loft, which also doubled as a bookshelf ladder allowing him to reach the dusty tomes languishing in dignified neglect upon his topmost shelves. Climbing quick as hungry chimp, he told Gothia, who was still easing his three hundred pounds of half-thawed muscle and bone out of his chair, ‘Come on General VW! The world is about to end!’

Gothia followed him up the ladder and squeezed around Stargard’s book-laden bed. The witch’s-hat roof was built of thick tiles bolted to an extremely sturdy wooden frame. Indeed at this height, and in these ghastly weather conditions, everything had to be built with a sturdiness which would have done credit even to the architecture of the Ursans of Castle Wulfenhold, which was legendary for its robust indestructibility. In fact the HK Citadel was said to have been built by the Ursans in ancient times in return for the Hammer of Donnar, the priceless Ursan religious artefact and symbol of kingship which the Ursans had misplaced and the knights had found. The hammer had since gone missing again - in the Age of Chaos, some six centuries before, and had not been seen since.

Stargard shot a pair of iron bolts to open a trapdoor in the roof. An icy wind howled in, blowing snow into their faces.

‘What’re ye doing?’ Gothia asked in disbelief, ‘Going out on the roof?’ The tower was two hundred feet high, set at the top of a sheer, thousand-foot cliff, and the wind was very, very strong.

‘Yes.’

Gothia looked past Stargard’s shaggy head to behold a magnificently bleak view of white peaks and jagged black ridgelines. The Dragon’s Back Mountains: no matter how harsh this wilderness might be, there was always something intoxicating about it, and for reasons Gothia was beginning to understand, he liked just to be here and soak up the atmosphere. In fact this mysterious allure was one of the reasons why the Citadel had been built in the mountains in the first place, and not in some sunny field or on an idyllic tropical island: there was a tremendous amount of holy mojo swirling around in the mountains, and those who dwelt here gradually absorbed it, especially here on Holy Mountain, which was so hallowed a place that it could make a man holy with the tremendous power swirling through it. Even a man like Gothia.

With an agility that belied his age, Stargard bounced on his bed and hopped out the hatch, perching like a bird on the wooden ledge, his bedraggled socks dangling over the tiles.

Gothia was alarmed, for one slip and Stargard had a very long fall, and he wasn’t sure that even the Warlock’s alleged immortality and great store of holy mojo would protect him from splattering like a bug at the base of the cliff. Then he realised what Stargard was up to: he was going to fly. ‘Don’t ye have to change into a dragon first?’ he shouted over the wind.

Stargard didn’t appear to have heard, and started climbing out and up the steep, slippery roof, quickly vanishing from view. Faintly Gothia heard a wind-drowned, ‘Come on General VW!’

Gothia shrugged his heavy shoulders, bounced on Stargard’s bed - nearly breaking it - and boosted himself out the window. The wind smacked his face like an icy gauntlet and almost bowled him off the roof, but he gripped the window frame hard and held on.

He looked down. Only six rows of icy tiles - the sloped rim of the witch’s-hat roof - lay between him and oblivion. Beyond that was nothing - only a whistling thousand-foot plummet to a hammer-hard death on the rocks far below. He looked up, to where the peak was nearly lost amid the swirling snows. Stargard was nowhere to be seen. Gothia was alarmed. Has he fallen?

‘General VW!’

Relief flooded through him: Stargard’s robed figure stood with one arm wrapped around the pointed roof spire and the other urgently beckoning him onward. His hair and beard were being whipped by the wind, but his blue eyes were sparkling with enjoyment.

Well thrash me thrice with a startled tabby! Gothia silently exclaimed. How did he get up there so fast? And what the fok is he doing?

Then he noticed something he was sure had not been there a moment before - a single row of roof tiles had been set flat to form a kind of narrow staircase, spiralling up and around towards the spire. Tentatively he set his booted feet upon it, concentrating intensely, mindful of the fact that Stargard had done it in his socks, and apparently in a few swift bounds, and at the age of… several hundred.

Then he stopped thinking about Stargard, for there was no sense in comparing the Warlock with ordinary people.

After several minutes of careful climbing on the smooth-frozen tiles - while trying to avoid being blown over the edge and wondering why Stargard dispensed with the basic mountaineering precaution of a safety rope - Gothia reached the spire.

‘Hold onto me!’ Stargard shouted over the howling gale, before adding unnecessarily, ‘And don’t slip!’ He was higher up than Gothia, so Gothia wrapped one arm around his waist, while splaying his feet and spare hand against the roof and flattening himself against it, all while wondering what sort of insane antics the Warlock was amusing himself with this time.

Stargard released his hold of the spire and folded his hands in prayer. White-gold light flashed.

Gothia couldn’t believe his eyes, and wondered if he was hallucinating, for where, moments before, had been nothing but the frozen roof spire, appeared a sort of wooden tree-house, perched miraculously atop the pointed roof.

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