“So sorry to wake you at this way-too-early-for-anyone-but-builders-to-be-awake hour, Dragon Lord, but you have a visitor.”
“Who?” she demanded sleepily. “There had better be a good reason for the guards to have both of us up.”
Druid Tim sighed. “There is. It is the Valkyrie Astrid and Hildr.” He watched the color drain from Obsi’s face and chuckled. “It is ok, my dear, if they were here to claim a soul we wouldn’t know they were here.”
“Do you know what she wants?” Obsi asked as she pulled on her cape.
The Druid shook his head. “Only one way to find out.”
They walked briskly across the base as the sun rose. Astrid stood on the Riverwatch perch with Hildr. She was not wearing her armor and was unarmed, which Obsi took as a good sign. The Valkyrie was almost 6 feet tall, with long golden blonde hair which she had braided to one side. Her fur cape flowed in the breeze as she waited for them to reach her. Her dragon, Hildr, had her neck, chest and front legs encased in gold and leather armor. Gold scales trailed down her back and tail. Her ears were miniature versions of her wings – white with rust-colored tips. Once Obsi and Tim reached the top of the perch, Hildr curled herself into a ball to nap while her mistress spoke.
“Greetings, Dragon Lord Obsidian Dall and Druid Timothy,” Astrid said with a smile. Her voice was comforting yet authoritative.
“Greetings, Valkyries Astrid and Hildr,” Obsi replied with a bow.
Tim also bowed, and asked, “To what do we owe this honor?”
“We have come to ask for your help with something,” Astrid replied slowly.
“What would we possibly be able to help you with?” Tim asked carefully.
Astrid sighed. “I’ll try to make this long story short. The rumors of your uncle’s ghost speaking to the Blackbloods is true. His spirit has evaded capture by countless other Valkyries for all these years, and the Gods have asked me to intervene. I know his pet, Gunnar, has been here. I know, if you take Gunnar in, Gustav will come. I can set a trap for him and take him to the next world.”
Tim shook his head. “You want us to capture Gunnar and use him as bait to capture Gustav’s ghost?”
Astrid took one step toward the Druid. “No. Obsi does not capture dragons. That implies she holds them against their will, which she and her sister would NEVER do. Gunnar needs a home. Well, he needs more than just a home, but a home to start with. This base, your base, Obsi, is the only one he has ever been seen on. I feel he will come back and when he does, for lack of a better term, we can ‘use him as bait’.”
Tim looked at Obsi as she began to speak. “I remember, at the moment when Gunnar escaped, feeling the hatred he had for Gustav, as well as fear. I do not want to subject him to that. It’s cruel.”
Astrid sighed. “I agree, it is not the ideal solution. But it is the best one I can come up with. We need to end this as soon as possible.” Astrid stepped closer to Obsi and placed her hand gently on her shoulder. “Trust me, when this is over you and Gunnar will be free of any threat from Gustav. If my plan goes as intended, the entire world will sleep better.”
Obsi looked at Tim, who nodded. “Alright then,” Obsi said, “what do you need us to do?”
Astrid smiled. “Thank you. I truly appreciate your help and understand that this will be difficult on you. I will not let anything happen to you or anyone here. You have my Word, which is sacred.”
Obsi smiled. “Thank you,” she said softly.
“Now, to answer your question,” Astrid said, turning to face North, “what we need to do now is wait for Gunnar to return.”
Gunnar sniffed the air outside his hidden cave deep within the Frigid Narrows. The scent of those who smelled of his master was faint, but he knew they had been there. It was time to go. The Girl was nice to him, and he was sure she would give him more food if he went back to her. A thin, seemingly endless shadow moved over him, and Gunnar opted to take to the skies to join the dragon casting it. Gunnar and Jorm flew playfully around each other for a few moments to say goodbye, then Gunnar flew off towards Obsi’s base. Jorm watched his friend fly off, then silently landed his thin massive frame on the ledge above the opening to Gunnar’s former home. He waited, just out of sight and impossibly still, melting into the moss-covered sarsens on the ground around him. As night fell, he saw a human climbing the rocky pathway to the cave. It was the one the evil ones called Fang.
Fang crept silently along the pathway to the mouth of Gunnar’s cave. He’d set the trap earlier that day and was hoping to have finally caught the massive beast. He wasn’t sure he actually believed that Gustav’s ghost was speaking to Morrigan about catching his pet, but it wasn’t his job to question orders. He stopped in front of the mouth of the cave and listened, then, suddenly, everything went dark…
Jorm waited until Fang was peering into the darkness ahead of him before he struck. He bit the despicable human in half, then spit the corpse out so it lay in two pieces in front of the cave. Now THAT would send a message. Jorm hoped that message would be enough to keep the humans, especially the Blackbloods, out of the Narrows for good. He didn’t want to lose any more of his friends because of their interloping. Jorm shook his massive head to rid himself of the depressing thought and stood. He coiled his elongated frame into a spring and using the enormous strength in his tail he pushed off into the sky toward his own hidden abode to wait for fate to bring him and his friend together again.