The high, snow-capped mountain range which separates the Frozen Northlands from Skylding Vorhooven
Blithe had been out on the frigid plains for days, walking in a straight line towards the ominous new arrival. Her eyes still found her little fortress an easy mark, and her mind was filled not with worry of how to return, but with worry of what this tall creature was, and how she might best deal with it. It was fast encroaching upon what she considered her territory, her wide expanse of safety. She had lain mark to it some days previous, while perched atop her little iron fortress, and set out immediately, holding Shudder easily in her hand. Now, as her convergence with what she had now dubbed ''Pesh'' (one of the few sounds her untrained tongue could form,) became imminent, she was thankful that she had stopped long enough to feast upon a seal. The blood coursed strongly through her, and she prepared Shudder for an overhand lob as she held out her right hand in a halt signal to Pesh and screamed threateningly.
"Pesh" was, naturally, an ice-nymph from the Kingdom of Qyaan'oe. Blithe had studied them from a distance for some time with her piercing eyes, and something about their societal structure, their way of movement, even their faces, had always made her uneasy. Now, this creature had crossed her border. If it did not stop, it would suffer her wrath.
It did stop, about fifty feet away. It seemed to be rather uneasy itself, sizing up this little bluish girl, standing in the cold barefoot, in a little tissue of a gown, with glistening fangs, and a strange metal sphere at the ready.
But this hesitation lasted mere seconds. Soon it was advancing forward again, at an easy jog. Within a heartbeat, Blithe launched the deadly sphere directly at the ice-nymph, but it was quick and sure, rolling smartly and giving the unknown projectile a wide berth. Still, it felt a cold blast of air slash its arm, and fell back weakly from the surprise.
Blithe charged forward swiftly, making full use of the nymph's momentary weakness and praying that it did not have a weapon with a long reach. The nymph leaped up as Blithe careened into its torso, locking her fangs deep into the shoulder before it could block her head's trajectory. The nymph reared its neck in pain, but lost little time in drawing from its belt a rather cruel-looking bone dagger. As it thrust upwards into Blithe's stomach, it all at once felt her unbearable aura of cold, and fell once more, pacified and entering a state of numbness.
Blithe withdrew. She needed not this creature's life, nor its blood. The bone knife had gone rather deeply into her gut, and the pain caused her head to swim, but it soon froze over and shattered, falling harmlessly out of her body. She bled little, and the hole would disappear with time.
She maintained a distance of five feet from Pesh, and stared at it in a threatening, condescending fashion, the way a lion would stand over a carcass and stare at a jackal. Her cold aura would keep the nymph subdued while she attempted a linguistically void form of inquisition...
There was a moment of extreme stillness, in which the faroff wind wearily threatened to take its own life, and the ice crystals shifted menacingly beneath her little unprotected feet. A single drop of blood stained her little white slip, and she glared reprovingly at the blemish. The nymph seemed terrified, paralyzed except for the shivering caused by her now dangerously low body temperature.
Blithe backed up a little. She though it odd that Pesh was not dead. It seemed to be far more capable of resisting cold than any other creature she had encountered. If Pesh were to tell its friends of her existence, she could not be certain of surviving an onslaught. It was best, perhaps, to do away with Pesh...
Blithe moved slowly to within two feet of the nymph, and watched, not without sadness, as its skin froze over completely. She then loped lithely over to where Shudder had landed, retrieved the sleek instrument, and used it to shatter the now-statuesque Pesh.
A solemn end to a long and tiring errand now gave her the desire to turn her feet homewards. Her white eyes, flashing with the occasional obsidian streak as the high afternoon sun caught them, rested upon her little fortress, which lay three days' journey back from whence she had come. There were still no signs of life around it, save the occasional hare, and an ice bear further to the north. With no cause for haste, she set off at an easy pace, shoveling some snow into her mouth as she went.
The journey back, devoid of purpose, left much room for quiet observation, both inward and outward. Blithe had not lived very long, yet she had been gifted with an assuredly ancient and terrible power that made her so much more than an eight year old girlchild. This, of course, she could not know. She merely perceived her life as it came to her, having been denied any frame of human reference that would contradict her normalcy. Even the humanoid creature that she had just slain was quite like her, as far as she could tell. However, what made her reject its presence was merely a learned behavior that she had found imperative to her survival ever since her birth here in this wasteland: the acceptance of the fact that she was completely alone. Any potential threat must, therefore, be dealt with swiftly, efficiently, and by her own hand. The winds were wicked, and could not be trusted to rustle the fates in her favor.
She desperately needed a kindred spirit, one that she could rely upon. Dangers were closing in, and only became more apparent to her in accordance with her increasing strength and wit. An ally would soon be more than a wish: it would be a necessity. She must travel southwest, along the coast. East held nothing but danger for her, with the Ice Nymphs and the great, swarthy Vikings, and a direct route south showed itself to be full of heat and dessication.
But for now, it was still some journey to her little fortification...
The transition of sun to moon meant little to her water-tuned eyes. She was able to mark the shift by means of subtle variations in the texture of the hovering storm clouds, but she was not tired. Ragged would have been a better descriptor; she had never taken the life of anything larger than a seal. Now, she and she alone stood responsible for the parting of a soul from a body twice her own size. She told herself, never slowing pace, that it had been a matter of necessity, a mere case of survival. Yet she could not believe it. There should have been a better way.
Blithe shed a tear, and quickened her pace. She was already almost halfway back to the peace and shelter of her fort.
The sludgy, rainy snow soon turned out to be a blessing indeed. As it began its downpour, freezing all around her, she marked in the distance a large ice bear, the same one she had previously seen wandering off to the north of her fortification. It now stood between her and her destination. A cleft in the rocks to her left proved itself to be good shelter, and she was tired. She was wary of these ice bears. She had never tried to kill one, mainly because there had never been need to, but also because she found them downright terrifying. If her throwing arm should fail her... well, she had seen how fast they could move, and a swipe of those paws could break every bone in her body. She could not be sure of bringing one down close range, and therefore had always taken a defensive approach to the beautiful creatures. There were many other, easier sources of sustenance, after all.
She watched the bear lumber about in the wet snow, its magnificent figure clearly etched in by the descending amalgam of overmoist crystal and fluffy powder. She might not have spotted the brilliant creature so easily had the air been dry. It was still many miles off, and Blithe was exhausted. She calculated that it would be safe to doze off for a time.
Grigomri wandered the snow fields, it was raining as it often did in these parts, he felt hungry but wasn't sure where to get some food, he was too far away from water to hunt there and in this weather animals didn't venture out......oh, except for that bear there....hmmm....but was it worth it, certainly bears had a lot of meat on them, but they were also difficult to kill.
Grigomri scratched the top of his head, a movement which made the bear look up and then run away......it seemed to have been sniffing at something, Grigomri approached.
Oh it was a little home!, Grigomri's tongue tasted the air for anything, but he could nto tell who or what had lived here, it was too cold really for such senses to work....it was always too cold, Grigomri put a massive hand into the entrance, no-one there?.....any food?.......no.
Grigomri sat down and dug at the nearby snow with his had for a while, then he lay back agains tthe little home....it creaked, but took his weight.
OOC: you just made my day! mind describing this snow giant in a little more detail? I couldn't find him on the character boards...
A byproduct of having lived in an entirely self-sufficient manner literally since she exited the womb, Blithe's finely tuned instinct invaded her dream and brought her to wakefulness with efficient speed. The bear was on its way...
And there was something else as well. Some form of large beast was reclining upon her fortress! The rain rendered the image crystal clear: the twisted metal that she had propped into buttresses, support poles, and walls were creaking under its weight. It seemed to have found the one flat surface on its outer face and made it into a bed. The rest of the fortress was constructed with defense in mind, rather than shelter, for Blithe had no need to keep out the cold. Jagged iron jutted out at impaling angles from its wall base, and its only point of entry was just big enough for her to crawl through.
How would she deal with this? Certainly, it was no crime to fall asleep. But what could this thing do to her if roused from slumber?
In addition to these clouds upon her mind, there was the more immediate issue of the ice bear, thundering towards her little cleft at an alarming rate. Blithe did not think that it had seen her as of yet. These creatures were stalkers, not chargers. It was more likely that the bear was scared witless of the leviathan now lounging against her place of rest. She needed to act quickly.
Moving in the shadow of the rock, she found a place in which she could stand, still out of view of the approaching menace. As it closed the distance between them, Blithe lifted her arm, Shudder poised perfectly in her palm, extended backwards like a drawn bow twine. Fifty feet, forty feet...
OOC: I'm guessing you're a moderator. Care to play the bear as well?
OOC: I haven't got round to the character profile just yet, but there is a racial description, which should suffice, one Snow Giant is pretty much the same as any other. Grigomri's profile will be released tomorrow, however as for the bear.....
The Ice Bear had had enough, it had possibly found something, curious smells emanated from some structure, but the hole was too small for it to get into, it had paced around the entrance for a while, but just as it was planning on leaving a Snow Giant arrived! Just one, but one was bad enough, the great big hulking things ate anything, even the normally safe Ice Bears, so it ran anywhere but towards the Snow Giant.
Shortly into it's run it picked up the same smell as it had from the metal structure, it's animal brain decided that it better get something out of this, so it ran towards the smell.
OOC: Yes I am a moderater, Origanuth, I deal with all the unusual stuff that doesn't fit into being a Human, a Dwarf or an Elf (previously Lizardytes, but now Snow Giants too!)
At thirty paces, the bear's line became more direct. It had scented her, this much was apparent, but its eyes were not burning into her, its snout was not pointed at her in raged hunger. The protection of the shadows served her well.
At twenty paces, she was a sure shot with it. She launched the ball directly at the oncoming bear, and nigh quick as an arrow it sailed towards its bulky target. Blithe hoped that the screaming blades of cold air would at the very least petrify a limb or crack its teeth, possibly even immobilize it completely.
As the bear raced towards the scent it spotted the small bipedial thing, then some round object fled towards it. Acting purely on instinct the bear attempted to snap it out of the air with it's mouth.
This proved to be a huge mistake as the effects of the unusual ball both froze and cut the sides of it's mouth and then gave it a decidedly unhealthy brain-cicle, the bear landed on the ground and skidded forwards, very dead.
Grigomri had not seen the cause, but did see the result and knew that the bear had been badly injured.....bear don't normally do that.
He got up to try and see what happened, but nothing seemed obvious, however there was now some effort-less food available.
Grigomri decided to go and see if the bear could now be eaten and he lumbered forwards, alternately using his massive arms and short legs to move at an ungainly but surprisingly fast pace.
Shudder, nestled neatly under the bear's shoulder, quickly began its work on the dead bear. A matter of seconds saw the bear's head, arm and shoulder completely petrified, and the rest of the body was not far behind. But now, the impolite house guest's attention was drawn to Blithe's recent kill. A moment of panic held her fast as the lumbering savage got up and began walking towards the scene of the crime. But then, a thought struck her. This dumb beast would make a direct path for the (soon-solid) food, most likely not registering her minimal presence behind the rock. She had, after all, thrown from shadow. Why not let Shudder kill two birds with one stone, so to speak? Her own Cold Aura was wide enough to prevent the beast from moving into her little cleft, and her delightful little sphere would work its wonders marvelously quick on the ugly giant, possibly before it even connected the freezing temperature with its own proximity to the bear...
So she crouched and waited, not moving a muscle.
Grigomri finally reached the bear....hmmmm....it was more cold here how unusual. He poked at the bear....it was frozen!....no food for him then, he pulled off a leg anyway, it shattered.
Grigomri looked at the stump in his hand and then he licked it, definitely frozen...but what had killed it? He dropped the stump and then pushed the frozen bear, the whole thing then shattered, with some parts of it not quite frozen yet, Grigomri quickly picked those up and ate them.
Oooh, what was that? a round thing? He put his had towards it, oh it was very cold, it almost hurt, but Grigomri liked cold, cold was home, he picked up the small ball and brought it closer to his face, strange little thing.
Grigomri walked back towards the funny looking structure and sat back down against it, it creaked again, but still held his weight. He then started to play with the round thing, throwing it in the air, rolling it on the hard snow and watching as it made the snow even colder. It was fun.
ooc: the temperature of that sphere is a heckuva lot colder than ice at its coldest. unless snow giants have some seriously wicked properties, there's no way Grigomri would be able to touch Shudder, but we can run with this.
Blithe was scared witless. The snow giant didn't seem to be very much affected by Shudder. She had never seen this strength of resistance in a creature before. The brute was simply casting it about like a toy, once more making her fortress into an armchair.
The recent events in her life had been more than bewildering, they had been downright terrifying! First, a humanoid form from the East that, upon closer inspection, seemed to be glacially conceived, had revealed to her by its death the full extent of her own powers, testing her Cold Aura for the first time beyond freezing point. The Ice Nymph had fallen slowly, to be sure, but swift enough to assure Blithe of her own prowess.
Then, following a day's travel from whence she had come, desperately in need of sleep, she had sought refuge under the shade of this o'erhanging boulder only to be assailed by an ice bear, which was also an entirely new experience, one that made her reconsider what she had learned of these creatures.
Now, having dispatched that unexpected threat with quiv'ring knees, she faced the theft and dumb patronization of her impossibly cold, globular companion by this improbably warm-blooded, childish mass of meat and fur! It bordered upon the ridiculous!
With these thought running through her head, her fear soon gave way to anger and indignance, as is often the way with temperamental children. She would not let the fates treat her so! This beast must be dealt with!
Flitting quickly out from under the rock face, she skirted the mongoloid's peripheral vision in a crouching sort of gallop until the fortress lay between them, the entrance, as Providence would have it, closest to her. It was still some distance away, perhaps two miles, and she could not be sure the daydreaming monster had not seen her.
The adrenalin managed to at least partly clear up her sleep-deprived body as she began moving quickly and quietly towards the little dark hole.
OOC: I've got round the problem of temperature by stating that Snow Giants are capable of generating sufficient heat to keep them alive no matter how cold it gets...within reason, by that same reason neither Blithe nor her ball will generate sufficient cold to cause a problem with that process.
Grigomri eventually grew bored of the ball and let it drop by his side, he noticed that when it stopped moving, it wasn't as cold. His tummy rumbled, only partially satisfied with the meager remains of the Bear, he's have to find something else soon....but now he felt tired, so he slept, the fortress creaked even more as he wriggled into a more comfortable postiton for sleep.
OOC: hehe, that doesn't leave me much... what kind of skin does it have though? because that ball makes stones crack. even if the snow giant's body produces enough heat to keep it generally warm in the presence of the ball, I find it unlikely that its extremities would not suffer greatly from contact with the thing.
Blithe managed to make it into her fort without discovery by the snow giant. The ceiling was quite tall for a girl her size, almost nine feet from the ground in some places. She looked at the section of wall where she knew the Snow Giant to be slumbering or playing, and moved towards it quietly. Holding herself fast against the wall, she exerted what little control she had over her Cold Aura, and directed as much cold as she could towards where she guessed the thing's head would be.
OOC: We'll take this offline for the sake of preserving the board, I'll send you an e-mail.....but can't post right now, my response will be tomorrow.
Funny, Grigomri thought, his back was getting colder, what could cause that, he stood up and looked at the flat surface, it didn't look any different, he tapped it with an oversized finger.
Nothing, except cold....hehe, cold was good. He then put his hands on either side of the flat shiny surface and pulled, he wanted to find out why the surface had become colder. With a loud rending of metal the side of the little fortess came off to reveal a surprised looking Blithe.
Grigomri looked at the small thing for a while, his black eyes taking her in....was it food?, he tasted the air, she smelled like she could be, but it looked like a little hairless Snow Giant......maybe, maybe it was a child!!.....Grigomri was a father!!
Grigomri said in his deep voice, the word meant child, but Grigomri had no way of knowing that Blithe would not understand him, none-the-less he chucked the metal wall to one side and moved to pick Blithe up in his arms.
This was undoubtedly the most terrifying moment in Blithe's life to date. This beast was invincible! Why had she never seen them before? Her incredible, moisture-torqued eyes provided a farflung, panoramic view of this water-saturated landscape, for miles and miles and miles! From whence had this thing made its way (in a most unwelcome fashion) into her little territory?
But terror shared a bunk with anger, both kicking eachother beneath their blanket of confusion in Blithe's mind. This brute had just demolished her home! And now it was looking to demolish her! She would have none of it. Glancing sideways, she saw Shudder laying just beyond her newly created, wide and ugly threshold. She was far quicker than this thing, she knew. As it lunged towards her, she lunged towards Shudder, rolling sideways and out of the gaping hole in her fort. Having it in her her grasp, she rolled upon her back, her heart pounding with fear. Ye Gods, would she be forced to run from the thing? She would not leave without her blessed sphere, her only protection.
Where had the child gone?, it was there, but now.....oh, there it is!
Grigomri said in his deep voice, Nouma meant fast. Why was the child running from Grigomri...and why was it so interested in the ball.....maybe it wanted to play!!
"Gurochi Moog!!" Grigomri said clapping his hands, an effect that was not only loud but caused Blithe to be buffeted by a weak, but none-the-less felt shockwave.
The effect of the clap had, indeed, been felt rather strongly by Blithe, who was still laying on her back at this point, but as she looked into the beast's gentle eyes, she saw that, though savage, it was benign and friendly, much like herself. The difference was, of course, that this monster was large enough to get away with being benign and friendly. Blithe, being small and insignificant at first glance, was forced to hide her soft nature and display naught but cruelty and wariness.
She stood up and clutched the ball, putting her right hand on her hip crossly, and frowning disapprovingly at him. Then, pointing off into the distance at the long-collapsed ice bear, she jabbed her thumb into her chest and pointed at the ball.
She then looked at her little climbing tree some way off. She had loved that tree for a long time, it seemed to be the only tree capable of growing in this region. However, all good things must, necessarily, come to an end. As a demonstration, she lifted the ball and cast it with a vicious spin so that it curved round to the tree. It was cleft threefold, with brutal quickness, collapsing in a shower of ice-encrusted sawdust and smoothly sliced logs.
She then crossed her arms and frowned some more at the beast, waiting for it to say something more intelligent.
Grigomri was completely oblivious to Blithe's facial expressions, considering that Snow Giants had very little visible facial features with which to make expressions, the show of power as lost on him too as he believed that they were now playing some sort of game.
Grigomri ran (he did this by swinging his arms forwards, putting his body-weight onto them and then swinging his body forwards, much like a monkey might) over to the now broken tree, he poked at it then scrabbled about and found the funny ball, he held it in one of his feet and then ran back to Blithe, dropping the ball at her feet.
Grigomri next rolled up some snow to form a large ball, which he lifted and then threw atthe remains of the tree, being a ball of loosely pcked snow it didn't do much damage, but exploded in an impressive looking cloud of snow.
"Moog! Moog!! Gurochi Moog!", the word Moog meant play, Snow Giant speech was quite simple their desires in life quite basic and for the moment Grigomri had forgotton his hunger.
A moment of tension coursed through her body as the creature began to move again, but it soon relaxed as this humorous playtime unfolded, and for the first time in her life, Blithe laughed. The sound surprised her: a child's laughter, pure and joyous, welling forth from her hardened psyche like blood from a stone.
Apropos blood... Blithe was beginning to feel rather weak. Many miles away, her moisture-fueled vision picked out another ice bear. She had grown confident in her abilities since her latest victory, so she motioned for the snow giant to accompany her as she retrieved Shudder and loped off in the bear's direction.
She felt it would be best not to trust the thing once it got hungry, so she would see to it that the thing wouldn't find it necessary to turn its kindly eyes on her own meager frame for sustenance...
Grigomri grinned as Blithe laughed, he recognised that, the child was happy, although Grigomri's grin might be a bit scary, a mouth full of very sharp teeth, obviously designed for tearing meat.
He then watched as the child looked at something in the distance, he couldn't see anything there himself, his eyesight not being that great, but the child started walking and waved a hand at him, he wasn't certain what the child meant, but took it (correctly) to mean that it wanted him to follow it, so he did.
A good hike later and they were within a mile of the ice bear. Blithe pointed at the bear, then turned around and held her arms up, obviously wishing to be picked up by Grigomri. A perfectly childish tendency, but with a clever hunter's purpose. Blithe could not cast Shudder at the bear, for a completely frozen, shattered corpse would leave neither blood nor meat for them. And she, with her weak little frame, dared not try her hand at tackling the bear herself. However, her Cold Aura, meted out upon the bear from the safety of Grigomri's shoulder, would make the creature easy, slow prey for the impressive Snow Giant.
She doubted he would understand this, but hoped that he would follow along.
Grigomri looked at the child.....she wanted picking up!!
Grigomri did with much happiness, he then gave her a surprisingly gentle hug for one so big....then he remembered something, she had pointed at something in the distance, he couldn't make it out still with his poor eyesight, but his tongue told him that it was an ice bear, the last one had been frozen, but this one was okay......oh, maybe the child was hungry!!
Grigomri put the child back down again, then with a speed that his size and form did not suggest he could achieve he raced towards the snow bear, his arms piling into the snow.
As the bear realised it was being targeted it turned to defence and counter-attack.....it didn't get the chance. Grigomri's hand-like feet grabbed onto the side of the bear and cluched vice-like, while his massive hands smashed into the bears head, it was here that Grigomri's savage potential was shown, his body held immense power, and although the Ice Bear was tough prey it was unable to stand up to the pounding for long, nor was it able to put up much defense, only managing a single swipe that only grazed Grigomri.
"Grigomri uccha Buurag!!" Grigomri shouted, pointing first at himself and then at the bear.
"Gurochi ouf!" he then said, pointing at Blithe then at his own mouth. He stepped back, waiting for Blithe to approach, his arms spread to either side of the bear.
Spending her infancy blind, and unwittingly feeding upon the blood of her dead mother, was the closest thing to family that Blithe had ever known. Accordingly, Grigomri's fur, massed warmly in her face, brought to her a considerable rush of emotions that she had never felt, nor had she the linguistics to rationalize them into defined form in her mind. She could only understand it as a sense of happy unity. This in itself was enough for her to swallow for the time being, as the thought of sharing anything had never seemed to her a gratifying act, and she had always thought it seemed rather stupid or arrogant when she watched these humanoids, from a distance, as they smiled and handed each other things. Now, nuzzled safely in the arms of the beast that had used her fortress as an armchair and stolen (albeit not malevolently) her primary means of defense, she was beginning to think otherwise...
Soon enough, however, Blithe's first foray into the intangible and naive philosophies of love were abruptly turned upside down as Grigomri gently put her down and went about thoroughly boxing their prey to death. So much for cunning teamwork, she thought, but smiled to herself in an intoxicated sort of way as the impressive display of brutality gave way to the afterlude of a gentlebeast's offer to dine. This was not going as planned at all. She could not feast first, else the kill would frost over and leave nothing for the snow giant. Nothing, that is, except her own meager frame, never mind that the brute would find her entirely inedible only after crushing her into a pulp...
She shook away these thoughts, suddenly feeling bad for mistrusting her new companion, but kept them tentatively in the back of her mind, as necessary precautions of habit.
Instead of approaching the fresh kill, she motioned with her hands that Grigomri might pull it asunder, allowing each of them to do as they might with their own half.
Grigomri watched the child, at first it seemed to be about to tuck into the bear much as Grigomri would himself, but then it stopped and looked at him, then it motioned apartness.....oh!, pull it apart, clever child!
"Grigomri tlou", he said patting himself and then he tore the bear apart, it wasn't clean in the slightest, nor was it fair really, but he tried.
By the time he was finished he was covered in blood, and some had gone on Blithe too, but indeed the bear was separated.
Grigomri picked up a leg and started to munch on it, bones and all, he then sat down and continued to munch, rather noisily, but happily.
Blithe moved in to the ice bear's rent upper torso, digging in to the main vein in the neck and drinking her fill quietly and quickly. Rearing her little head, her huge fangs shown for the first time in their unretracted state, huge and dripping with fresh blood, she smiled childishly and withdrew them into her mouth.
Waiting for Grigomri to eat his fill, she perched silently on a rock and surveyed the land around them. Her eyes blazed with frisk energy, and her mind was suddenly rousted from its state of sleep deprivation. With her perceptions at their peak, she could see even further than normal: The Ice Nymphs seemed more organized and purposeful as of late. Now they were flitting about the visible apertures of their citadel like clockwork gnomes on a toy rail, obviously being productive in some manner. Blithe wondered what was in the making. And who was this scout that they had sent? What would be the repercussions of her disappearance? Perhaps they had better head south...
Grigomri was oblivious to Blithe's musings, as he filled his once emtpy stomach, nor was he overly concerned by Blithe's eating habits. He was hungry, now he was not, and he had his own child.
"Grigomri ouf, Gurochi ouf"
Grigomri grinned a bloody grin at Blithe, then he started to eat some snow and roll in it too, rubbing tii over himself till the blood had been washed off, fur must be kept clean.
Holding the heart of the ice bear in her hand, she waited until it was frozen and then made a dessert of it. The heart of a creature always gave her such a superhuman feeling, from her intensified Cold Aura right down to her core, and this was her first taste of the powerful ice bear.
Finishing her meal with satisfaction, she then began to dance about childishly. Small patches of dirt frosted over beneath her feet as she distractedly pranced around. A smile crossed her tortured lips as she experienced the new freedom and safety of having an ally.
But this free time was short-lived. She felt the urge to flee from the ominous preparations taking place to the east. Perchance the friendly southerners ought to be warned as well...
Looking at the Snow Giant, whom she had by now taken to be called Grigomri, she spoke his name haltingly, and with an unpracticed tongue. Pointing east, she shook her fist and gave Grigomri a scared look. She then pointed south...
Grigomri laughed as he watched the child play about, Grigomri's laugh was loud and deep, but full of pleasure, the child was happy and that was good, but then it stopped.
The child then attempted to say his name, it wasn't said well, but he understood. "Grigomri" he said pointing at himself, he then said "Gurochi" and pointed at Blithe.
He wasn't sure what to make of it's gesturing though, the child pointed in a couple of directions, not saying anything and made some odd things with it's face.
Blithe's communication abilities were abysmal, even for an eight year old child. She had been completely alone for so long, she was not in the least bit accustomed to having to make her thoughts known and understood to a second party.
Standing amongst the gore of their recent feast, she stamped her feet frustratedly, causing bits of messy flesh to crackle and vaporize in a subzero anger. She spent a moment sizing up Grigomri, wondering what was behind those huge eyes. Could he handle himself were they to approach the Ice Nymphs? Would they be welcomed peacefully? The south suddenly did not seem like such a good plan. Those that peopled the southern regions seemed narrow of mind and ways. She felt a greater distance between them and herself.
This charade of pointing and waving would do no good. She retrieved Shudder, and began to walk purposefully eastward across the plain. The ice bear's blood had made her Cold Aura strong and vibrant, and the ground sparked violently beneath her feet as she went.
Grigomri again was oblivious to Blithe's frustrations, his own little mind separated what he could understand, which he attempted to process as best he could and what he couldn't understand, which he completely ignored.
What he had decided was that Blithe was definately his child....a bit small for a snow Giant perhaps, but a child none-the-less, thus it would be helped, followed, protected and watched over and if there was anything he could teach the child, then he would....although he couldn't think of anything right now.
Grigomri followed Blithe as she headed east, not caring much where they went, he wasn't hungry now and that was usually his only motivation, aside from play or sleep and he didn't feel like either for now.
Blithe could see the Ice Citadel about five days' travel away, and made a beeline for it. A scan of the horizon showed no particular dangers, so it seemed as though they had a long, uneventful march ahead of them. Digging her legs into every step, she dogged forward, letting the steady rhythm chisel away her childish temper.
Grigomri followed without question, and Blithe, noticing this, felt a sudden happiness and peace. Her stony countenance softened into joy, and the day seemed fuller. For the next while, as they walked, Blithe was content to aknowledge the strength of the ice bear pulsing through her, and feel the life in her bones and the friendship of her companion.
They made good time, Grigomri hugging close to Blithe's Cold Aura, his powerful frame easily capable of keeping pace with the energetic girlchild. The vampiric in Blithe ached with satisfaction; her bloodlust would not return for some time. She had merely to walk and sleep, walk and sleep.
Grigomri did not fully understand their destination or purpose, but his tendency was not to put much emphasis on destination, rather focusing on the more primal needs of the present. Thus were they content in eachother's company, and traveled well after sunset, eventually finding rest and hiding by burrowing out a hole in the permafrost.
Grigomri worked quickly and brutally to carve out a space for them both, arching his back and torquing his muscular frame downwards in order to break the ironhard surface and pummel through the interior. Blithe understood the process well enough, and kept her distance so that her Cold Aura would not hinder his endeavors. Soon, they were fast asleep, Blithe avoiding direct contact with the gentle giant lest his cold immunity prove insufficient for an entire night's proximity.
And so they continued, setting forth from a new snow shelter each morn and making good time throughout the gently brisk summer days. Upon the third day of their travels, just as Blithe had stopped feeling the superhuman effects of the ice bear's lifeblood, she espied a strange party coming slowly over the mountain pass to the east and north. They looked to be Vikings, though not the kind she often saw in boats, waving their swords and arguing. No, these were not the tall, dangerous warriors she had so ardently avoided all these years. Yet there was something ominous about them nonetheless. The fur that clung to their bodies reminded her sickeningly of her companion's hide...
Grigomri's vision was far less powerful than her own (though he was blessed with being able to experience the joy of colour), so he saw nothing of the faroff party as of yet, and would probably not see them for a day or so. He did not know what to make of his child's tension, but was put on alert nonetheless, and followed without question when Blithe suddenly changed course, aiming for a point just off to the right of the rising sun (a point which anyone gifted with a compass would unerringly call East-South-East.
Blithe hoped to bypass these potential enemies altogether. If she was to have audience with these mysterious Ice Nymphs, she wished to have by her side a bodyguard, not a skinned pile of meat. She only hoped that the day's journey would place them far enough to the south that they might skirt around the coast unnoticed by these newcomers.
Coming off the glacier at last on the northern end of the VIRGE MOUNTAINS, Torveld and his fur-clad companions and slaves at last felt somewhat warmer, and had a respite from the howling winds which scoured the mountain heights. 'Warmer' of course was a relative term, the temperature was not much above freezing even on the afternoon of this midsummer day. But it was warm enough for Torveld to remove his mittens, leaving on the woolen gloves underneath, with which he removed his fur hat.
Despite the cold, his disheveled blond hair glistened with sweat from the exertion of keeping the treacherous footing on the sloped ice of the glacier above to the east. Rivulets soon ran down his face, while with each breath vapour clouds formed as he exhaled.
The trapper looked around at his little band of trappers, packing much of their gear in addition to the burden of heavy fur clothing. Most of the slaves pulled tow-ropes of sleds, now at last having to tug them forward on their runners, rather than straining to keep their sleds from sliding down the slope as they had during the past few days of the trek.
"Be nice to camp on flat ground tonight," he commented to his colleagues, as he began to stride onto the packed snow, crunching forward with each step. "In fact, getting late now," he realized, looking towards the snow, low now over the blindingly-bright snowfields to the west. "Best to head for those rocks," he announced his decision even as he thought aloud, pointing to some grey rocks thrust up through the snow, their sheer sides kept clean of snow and ice by the winds--winds from which the rocks would also offer shelter. "We should make the hotsprings by tomorrow afternoon," he continued to think aloud, even as he led onward, leaning forward to balance the load on his back as he headed for the evening campsite he had chosen.
By the end of the day, she estimated the trappers to be about twenty miles off north. They themselves were into the hilly country that preceded the mountains, which loomed above them not twenty minutes' walk away. Once again, Grigomri set about pummeling out a cubbyhole in which they might find rest for the night. This practice was more for the purpose of hiding, rather than shelter. The cold and wind affected neither of them; if anything, they were welcome companions, temperate bedmates.
The newcomers, however, did not seem to be of like mind. From what Blithe could discern, they were not particularly adapted to the cold, (though they seemed to bear it well). They would certainly make way for the bubbly plains, the warm, vaporous masses that Blithe and Grigomri had recently passed. My, but they were scarcely a saunter away! This would not do...
Blithe lay in the cubby, worrying and fretting, until Grigomri began to snore loudly. Then, sneaking out, she carefully, tenderly, froze over the entrance, leaving a thick layer that nothing short of a team of icepicks, or Grigomri's own brutish strength, could make short work of. Then, she set off north, catching a rabbit on the way and sucking it dry. She would reach the strange camp before dawn if she was lucky...
With the sun glinting off the snowfields to the west, it was actually surprisingly refreshing to at last reach the long shadows cast by the upthrust rocks--one is typically not aware of how aching it is to be squinting into sun glare, until the glare is suddenly removed.
"Right, slaves, dig in!" Torveld ordered, speaking now in the Common tongue since not all the slaves could comprehend the Skylding Norse language. As he saw those tired men dropping their packs and pulling out digging implements--axes and shovels, he turned his back to a sheer rockside and lowered his pack into the lee from the wind. His blond trapper colleagues did similarly, then shook out cramped muscles, answered the call of nature, and took stock of their surrounds in the failing afternoon light.
Meanwhile, motivated by the desire to eat and not be working into darkness, the slaves of the party had made good progress towards opening a trench several yards long in the lee of the rock formation looming immediately to the east, and were hollowing out a shelter towards the base of the basalt. As they worked, a large ice cave was hollowed out to where a heavily fur-clad man could crawl in on hands and knees.
Which, all soon did, bringing in their tools in case snowfall overnight--more likely blown snow in the summertime, might cover the entrance. They made no fire--it was impractical to carry fuel for such this far into the wilderness. They did have along some peat moss which could be used for kindling of animal fat and sinews, hopefully from tomorrow they would start to have such luxuries for a time. As grey twilight began to deepen, they lay down within their shelter and took out tough smoked and dried food which they had carried next to their skin to prevent freezing--water was carried in leather canteens in similar manner. After drinking his water, each man packed snow and ice into the container, then put it underneath his body to begin melting more water....
As Blithe scurried forward, the dying sun casting its penance in sharp relief across the left side of her face, and the blood of a young buck rabbit emblazoned frostlike on her crippled hands, Grigomri slept deeply and peacefully. When the shadows were enveloped by the greater shadow of night, Blithe grew instictively wary. There were always many animals in these parts...
She now stood halfway between the hot springs, Grigomri included, and these newcomers to the North. She would be upon them within an hour. She had watched them huddle into the ground, disappearing from her vision behind a wall of rock, yet she marked the spot well in her mind by its peculiar formations of snow. The blood was strong in her, and she found that she could run like a pack dog if her vampiric urges were well maintained. Scarcely ten miles to go now...
As grey of twilight turned gradually to black of night in the manner such transition happens in the far north during summertime, the trappers and slaves of the expedition made their final preparations for sleep, then slipped back into their shelter, close together for warmth, and since they were exhausted from day after day of crossing the mountains, to a man soon fell asleep within. From experience, they felt there was little to fear by night other than the deathly cold--in a region where even in midsummer, the temperature at night drops below freezing, nature did not breed animals for nocturnal activity. And out of the wind, with their own shared body heat combining for warmth within their low shelter, the freezing temperatures would not reach them....
Blithe knew that had only a couple of hours of darkness in which to work undetected, so as she approached the cubby hole, her mind was in overdrive. Staying out of sight of the entrance, she came at it from the side, and rested Shudder upon the outside face of the little tunnel. Its Cold Aura, combined with her own, worked quickly to freeze deeply through the narrow passage. She only hoped the crackling of newly formed ice would not wake the denizens of this soon-to-be prison.
...And even before full dark had covered the snowy lands, Torveld, along with all the other exhausted men within their snow shelter were all fast asleep.
Blithe, after icing over the first length of the excavated opening, then moved further in and continued ensconcing the trappers in a glacial cell. She did not wish death upon them, she only worked for the preservation of her companion Grigomri.
As this crossed her mind, though, she recognized that it was entirely new to her: this concept of working to preserve the life of one other than herself. She had never been saved from death by anything other than her own wits and strengths, yet now she was risking her life for the sake of this lump of fur that, only a few short days ago, was impudently making a resting rock out of her fortress and a plaything out of her weaponry. How strange it was...
Having frozen through the entire entrance passage, she then moved back to the outside face and began sweeping over the thinnest parts of the ice, (which surpassed her arm in length at this point,) in order to fortify the cage she had built.
Their air supply constricted if not cut off by the unnoticed icing over of the entry, Torveld the men and slaves slumbered on--probably best for them, as with the reduced breathing rates during sleep, it would be some while before the air would begin to deplete. The smell from the bodies and clothing might get worse, but they were mostly inured to this by now.
Satisfied with her work, Blithe rushed southward. The way back seemed longer, probably due to a renewed sense of urgency. She hoped that Grigomri had not woken up in her absence. If they made for the northern pass right away, they would surely pass the trappers safely.
Two hours' journey brought her to the little bed that Grigomri had burrowed out for their repose. She entered eagerly, tensely, wondering what she would find within...
Grigomri awoke while Blithe had been out having her fun, it was confusing to find himself in the dark, but he could still breath, just not see anything.
Having nothing better to do he started digging, shovelling snow out of the way and creating a diagonal path downwards, the snow was not soft and did not give way to even Grigomri's strength easily, but on the other hand due to it's thickness it formed it's own support thus creating a downwards tunnel, Grigomri wondered if there would be anything to stop his exploratory dig.
Blithe marked that their cave was larger than before: The moisture patterns that enabled her depth perception were altered, longer and more streamlined. Deeper within, the sound of Grigomri's labours echoed back to her. What was he doing? She stood in the entranceway, silhouetted against the night sky, and made a small cough, thus alerting him to her presence.
Just as Grigomri heard a light cough from above and behind him his still moving fists suddenly punched through very weak snow, an opening appeared and with an obvious cry out Grigomri fell, it was short though and after a brief fall he fell with a thud onto something that did not feel like snow at all, or ice.
"Gurochi?" Grigomri called upwards as he heaved himself back to his feet, his sturdy body not taking much more that a few unseen bruises from the fall.
At this time Grigomri wished his eyesight was better....but then with only a small amount of light filtering through from his tunnel he doubted it would have made any difference.
Blithe grimaced as she watched Grigomri fall over into the cave. What were the odds? Just when their escape route was clear, they became immobilized. Moving forward, Blithe could clearly see the space Grigomri had fallen into. It was about five feet wide and five feet high, not squarely lined in any way, but nevertheless bequeathed with a sort of spiral symmetry by its maker(s), and it seemed to continue further under the mountains. Her moisture-driven pupils were perfectly capable of seeing in the pitch darkness, and she leapt lightly down beside Grigomri. Upon closer inspection, there seemed to be some strange lettering carved into the ice walls on either side. She thought out loud: "Pesh?"
Grigomri looked at Blithe, "Pesh" had been the first word she'd spoken, but it's meaning unknown.
He felt the walls around them, uncomfortabley small for him, it's origin also unknown and to his simplistic mind he didn't really care either, but there seemed to be space forwards and so that seemed the best way to go, Grigomri started to walk.
Blithe kept Shudder close to her side, remembering her first encounter with the Ice Nymphs. Her childish curiosity, however, far outweighed her fright, and the symmetric beauty around them kept her gaze wandering and her imagination in circles.
She found, after a few moments of walking, that she could see rather far into the ice walls, and she noticed what seemed to be a parallel passage not far off to their right. Then, another one off to the left. To her continued surprise, as they traversed the tunnel further into the mountains, more and more ice passages showed themselves, albeit often blocked by veins of rock. They seemed to be funneled out of the thick, glacial crust that enveloped the mountain range: About fifteen feet beneath the ice, the rock ran deep and solid.
After approximately an hour of following in Grigomri's footsteps, Blithe noticed that one of these parallel tunnels, some way off to the right, seemed to be occupied. She could vaguely make out, through the thick, wet ice, a tall woman waving her hands in the air in front of her. No features were distinguishable, but it seemed to Blithe that the shadowy striations of her surroundings seemed to be melting away as she worked her foreign practice. She was burrowing!
Blithe stopped to watch, fascinated. She made a small cry so that Grigomri would not continue without her. She must have seemed to be staring into the wall. After a moment, no new developments in the stranger's process had made themselves apparent, so she turned to continue. But as she did so, she saw out of the corner of her eye something that made her wonder if she should refrain from such pauses in the future. The place in which she had just been standing was now much narrower. Hardly a moment's stillness had given her Cold Aura time to freeze over the passage enough that it was doubtful now if Grigomri's leviathan frame could return the way they had come. They had better keep moving, and hope that their passage did not adjoin itself with danger...
OOC: TO THE VIRGE MOUNTAINS (DEEP BENEATH THE GLACIAL CRUST)
If grigomri noticed the passage gettign smaller, he didn't indicate this fact, however he had noticed the Ice-Nymph at work, they didn't hunt Snow Giants, not needing the astounding warmth that their furs offered, but they often had difficult temperaments and thus were best avoided, however the Gurochi seemed to want to watch the Ice-Nymph, so Grigomri waited.
OOC: To the Virge Mountains (following Blithe)