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Two Trails - Title

Chapter 51

Ralt was stunned at the sight of the Storm Giant. He’d never seen one, of course, but the descriptions from the ancient texts left no doubt as to the creature’s identity.

It stood over 33 cubits high, with dark blue skin and purple eyes. It had long purple hair and beard. A gold circlet kept the hair out of its eyes. It wore a sleeveless white tunic that left one shoulder bare. A gold belt cinched the knee length tunic at the waist. The whites of its eyes were a white electric blue that sizzled with power and menace. Its teeth, fingernails, and toenails on its bare feet were the same shade of blueish-white.

The old books in Gerald’s library were copies of copies, but the monster looking down at them was a perfect match for the ancient monsters detailed in their pages.

It raised a fist to the heavens and roared out something in the Old Tongue.

“What’s it doin’?” Ragrak gasped.

The question brought Ralt out of his stupor. “Magic.” He grasped Shadow Flame tightly. “Storm giants have powerful magic. Get ready!”

Durin crouched expectantly. “Fer what?”

He got his answer almost as soon as the words left his mouth.

Clouds boiled up out of nowhere, darkening the sky. Howling winds blasted them with frigid cold as a blizzard struck the mountain, blotting out everything more than a few cubits ahead of them. Lightning crashed and thunder shook the mountain. Rock, gravel, and dust rained down on them in the midst of the whirling snow. Wet, heavy snow obscured everything and began piling up on the ground.

Ralt had his Sight switched on and saw the storm giant, outlined in the magical weave, heading toward them. “He’s coming! Run!” He tried to grab Missy but she was darting forward to crouch beside a boulder, crossbow at the ready. The mithril weapon and its magic bolt stood out clearly in Ralt’s Sight. So did the two mithril daggers she carried. Briefly he wondered at how bright mithril was but he had more pressing matters to attend to.

His lips compressed at Missy’s stubbornness but he couldn’t help but admire her courage too. He started forward but the giant was already there, its enormous stride closing the distance faster than he could have imagined. It raised a foot and tried to stomp on Ralt. With no time to run and nowhere to go, he crouched, planting the butt of Shadow Flame on the rock beneath him. The giant’s foot came down hard, driving over half the length of the unbreakable mithril shaft into its own flesh.

A horrendous bellow of pain split the air. The giant pulled its foot back, nearly dragging Ralt with it before Shadow Flame broke free, its length dripping red with blood.

The giant staggered backward and sat down hard on the steep mountainside. Missy saw her opportunity and fired at nearly pointblank range. The shaft hit the giant squarely in the forehead. The giant’s head and upper shoulders were instantly enveloped in a globe of utter darkness.

The giant said something in the Old Tongue and the darkness vanished.

Ralt’s jaw dropped.

Behind him, he could barely hear muffled sounds of battle through the constant barrage of thunder and lightning, and the howling winds of the blizzard, but what little he could hear seemed to indicate the tide had turned against Durin’s forces. The frost giants were perfectly at home in fierce winter storms and the blinding snow worked to their advantage.

The storm giant levered himself to his feet, ripping a huge boulder out of the ground as he did. He hurled it straight at Ralt.

Ralt barely had time to stab Shadow Flame at the boulder before it flattened him. He got the staff in position just in time and the boulder shattered into a thousand pieces.

The giant roared with anger. “Puny mage! I will rip you in half and feast on your flesh!” He aimed a mighty fist at him. Ralt muttered a hasty jumping spell, channeling it through Shadow Flame. The mithril staff could enhance any spell he cast and the result sent him leaping high over the giant’s head to land nearly a hundred cubits up the slope. The giant’s fist smashed the ledge he’d been standing on into rubble that went cascading down the mountain. Ralt stumbled as he landed, planting Shadow Flame to help him stay on his feet.

“Magic against magic,” the giant bellowed. He reached for the sky then brought his hand down with a jerk, pointing a finger at Ralt. Lightning split the sky.

Ralt gasped in fear at the lightning bolts the giant aimed at him, then he gasped again as they veered aside, drawn in by the shining metal in Shadow Flame. It struck the mithril shaft and followed it harmlessly into the ground. He felt a tingle in the palm of his hand where he held Shadow Flame but that was it. He laughed in shaky relief.

His comfort was short-lived though. The storm giant was coming up the mountain, bellowing in anger and frustration, needing only three monstrous strides to cover the vast distance. Behind the giant, his Sight showed the mithril weapons being used by the dwarves, but too many of them were lying still on the ground, revealing the deaths of their owners. He gritted his teeth. This monster had to be stopped and the blinding, freezing storm it raised dispelled, otherwise, the dwarves were doomed.

He didn’t know if he had enough power left to cast his new spell again but he had to try. He raised Shadow Flame and shouted the words of power, channeling the spell through the mithril staff. He brought it down on the ground with a thunderous crack.

The stones beneath the storm giant’s feet suddenly shot to the side as if yanked away. The giant’s front foot, as it climbed the mountain, was pulled sideways with the moving stone and the monster spun halfway around in the air as it fell. It landed flat on its back with an earthshaking crash, its head mere steps from Ralt’s feet.

It lay stunned for a moment.

That moment was all Ralt needed. With no time to think about the foolishness of his action, he grabbed the butt of Shadow Flame in both hands and swung it around in a mighty, roundhouse blow to the side of the giant’s head.

There was a flash of light as it smashed the giant’s skull and broke it open. Blood and brains spilled out in a gory flood. The back blast from the blow knocked him down and he fell, sprawling in the deepening snow. He scrambled backward to get away from the thrashing body of the giant, then watched in awe as the magical storm it had conjured faded quickly as its life drained out of it. The skies cleared and abruptly the suns warmth was beating down on them again.

He lurched to his feet.

The fighting down the mountain paused as giants and dwarves alike turned to look at him. He raised Shadow Flame triumphantly overhead. The dwarves raised their own weapons in return.

“Em-rys Giant Bane! Em-rys Giant Bane! Em-rys Giant Bane!”

Their sudden chant echoed back from the mountains and valleys around them. He grinned. Victory was back on the table again.

Durin sensed it too. He raised his voice above the growing chant with a single word.


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