A Gathering of Wyrms

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Artwork by Jarom Neumann 

Wind blew ice and snow against silver helms. Metal blistered against skin as the sky tore open and fell upon the shielded knights.
“Callum, to the cave! They are vulnerable!” Kasia shrieked. She leapt to the side as another powerful downdraft of air iced over the rocks where she had stood. Powdered snow and chunks of frozen water clanged off of her metal chest plate. She rolled under the branches of a low evergreen. Something above her roared in frustration as wicked talons gripped the cold.

Krullen. Seethed Kasia.

Branches cracked above Kasia as the Krullen gripped the tree in its powerful claws. Wind buffeted her body as two sets of wings beat an upward retreat.
No, not retreat. Oh no! She had not time to think, or even breath. Rolling out from under the tree Kasia caught a glimpse of an ashen grey body, covered in curling hooks and barbs. Great wings beat against the mountain air as muscle flexed. Four cold eyes scanned from a horned and twisted face.
“Kasia, no!” Callum screamed as he lifted his bow to the beast. A piercing shriek filled her ears, swallowing the sound of her own scream.

Callum’s arrow sailed true into the Krullen’s face. Roaring in pain it fell to the ground, supple neck twisting back and forth in pain. Kasia rolled away from writhing limbs. Snow and rocks shifted under as the beast continued to roar.
The idiot! What was he thinking? Stumbling between rough stone Kasia made her way to where her companion had been. Behind her the raging beasts calls echoed between the mountain peaks.

“Callum! Callum, where are you?” she screamed above the Krullen’s cries. Snow blasted into her face, causing her skin to tingle. Snow whirled around her as the storm intensified. She could no longer see the twisting beast.

“Callum!” Her cries blended with howling wind as the full fury of winter was unleashed. Frosted crystals tumbled from bruised clouds, obscuring the twin peaked mountain.

She screamed a few more times, making her way up a small ridge, half sliding in the rapidly accumulating snow.

It’s no use. She thought as fear tightened her chest. We’ll never find each other in time. There has to be more of them that heard us. We’re running out of time!

“Callum!!” she cried into the swirling vortex.

Something caught around her legs and she fell hard on her side. A gloved hand pressed against her mouth as a human form pressed against her.  Kasia reached for her belt knife, but hands as strong against solid wood held her fast.

Strange furs wrapped a form in a cloak of black and gray.

“Who are-” she tried to say but the being help up a hand. All around them raged the wind raged.

Kasia was about to try again when something massive impacted on the ground. She felt the ground beneath her shiver from the impact.
No, she thought, those are impacts. The ground continued to vibrate as massive bodies fell from the sky.

The being that held her fast shifted around, looking into the sky. Between the ridge she pressed against and the cloaked stranger Kasia couldn’t see much, but she could hear.

Chill hisses escaped from a dozen throats.

Beasts raged all around, their calls whistling and shrieking into the wind.

A deep voice whispered into her ear, making her jump, “You must remain calm, they can smell your fear.”

Suddenly conscious of her own breaths Kasia stammered out, “M-my companion,  where is he?”

Rocks cracked under clawed feet as Kasia watched the half hidden face turn this way and that.

“Please, tell me.”

Something outside of her view shifted and a thick cloud of snow fell on them both. Kasia wiped at he face, she spit out a mouth full of ice.

Above them both, not an arm’s length away, an ivory foot gripped the ridge. Shining talons as long as Kasia’s forearm dug into rock and frozen earth.

The stranger pressed against her his face almost nose to nose with hers. A pair of shining golden eyes looked into her own. She felt a sudden calm run through her body as he opened a bearded mouth to speak. “He is in a safe place, your companion. Much more safe than where we are now. You’ve got to listen to me and do exactly as I say or we’ll both die.”

Relief flooded Kasia face as she felt the tightness ease in her chest.
He’s alive!

The moment wash short-lived as two more scaled bodies shifted around their hiding place, effectively blocking say route of escape.

“There goes any chance of us escaping anytime soon.” The cloaked man growled. “Looks like we’re in it for the long haul.”

Consternation replaced the young girl’s calm.

“What do you mean the long haul? We’ve got to get back, I’ve got to get Callum!”

The man shook his head, “This has turned into a Wyrm-moot, don’t you see. There are literally hundreds of Krullen out there.  If we try to run now we’d be dead in a second. And that would leave your prince in quite a predicament.”

Kasia’s brow rose in astonishment, “How did you know Callum’s the prince? Who are you?”

The man gave her a small smile. “I am Galbraith, Last Mountain Druid of the North.”

Kasia blanched at the name, eyes doubling in size.

Above them a Krullen twitched. Galbraith waved her silent pointing upwards, “And if you don’t shut your mouth and listen to my instructions, Kasia, they will name you Prince Slayer.”

She nodded, eyes wide.

“Good, now let’s see about getting out of this mess.”

 

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