“We need to separate them. They stay together and we don’t stand a chance.” Bow caught her breath as she spoke, recovering from her blows and preparing herself for the ones that would inevitably come later. The sun was nearly gone, though it hadn’t been completely there to begin with in the overcast sky of Fimbul’s Winter.
“Lure them apart, then blind them, and find a different section of town to hide in. There’s too many buildings to kill them; too much debris and crap will be flying through the air,” Vrendel said. He peered out the window looking for their looming shadows. The heights of the rooftops were just high enough to hide the stretched visage of a giant and their overgrown body parts from both hunters’ eyes. The ground rumbled beneath their feet, like the pavement and brick wanted to uproot and run towards the sunset.
“Coming from the west?” Vrendel said, tilting his head to the side. “No, wait- east?”
Another boulder smashed through a building across the street. Splintered debris flew through the air, the deadly sharp projectiles lodging themselves in the door of their sanctuary. The two hunters tried not to cough in the ensuing dust cloud, but they couldn’t help it. A strangled roar like stretched tissue answered back from streets away. The air reeked of old stone and broken wood.
“I’ll lure this one, you take out its eyes,” Vrendel said. Bow grimaced, then nodded. Returning the gesture, he threw open the door and sprinted into the street dodging broken brick and crumbling mortar. A figure crested over some buildings behind him like a living wave. It looked like an old man, only its features were exaggerated. It had a hanging face, with a tangled beard full of mud and trees. Its nose was covered in hair, and its eyes were a sharp and hollow white, like the center of the sun. It was at least fifty feet high, and wearing a shredded tunic of rusted armor mixed with human bones. Its arms dragged through the sides of buildings and along the streets like stray strands of ribbon, only they were alive, and ready to peel the flesh off any human walking through.
The giant hollered as it noticed the metal-bumbling Vrendel running towards the Fimbul Wall. The apish roar made the windows push out of themselves like uncertain reflections. The way the Giant interacted with the crumbling city was a major clue to its feral nature. Giants that had been left on the frontier between the mountains and Jotunheim raised themselves like animals. They were cannibals too, devouring any traveling giant caught unaware on the roads. The presence of feral giants meant someone or something had lured them here from the frontier. Vrendel knew it wasn’t Fraka either; not even he would bother messing with a pair of feral giants.
Vrendel was getting closer to the edge of the city where the buildings would space out and he’d be able to turn around and maneuver easier. He would turn the other direction, and lure the giant back towards Bow who would blind it with a few arrows. He didn’t want to look behind him. He could smell rotted meat drifting down from the dangling mouth of the behemoth. The buildings passed in front him like a concrete stream, with a few windows flashing out like squares of light. The wall would be close soon. He rounded a cobblestone corner and leapt over a deserted wagon turned on its side. He nearly tripped, but used the mace to balance himself like a walking stick.
If he had tripped completely, he would have tumbled into a wall of snarling fur and yellow eyes. The wolves, undaunted by the barriers around Frigga and ignoring the red-cloaked figure from earlier, had wandered into the alleyways of the city.
“Oh- hello,” Vrendel said, surprised. Reacting quickly, he waved the mace at them like a steel hand. They bent their backs skyward and hissed deep in their gullets. A grumble thundered behind Vrendel. He quickly rolled backwards and underneath the wagon, as a calloused hand the size of a horse wrenched up the road. Wolves charged at the hand, and a few attached themselves on to its bubbling joints like leeches. The giant roared and shook his hand wildly. Vrendel knocked the wagon aside with his mace and dashed between the giant’s hairy feet like a shiny ant. An arrow whistled through the air and over the giant’s mountain of shoulder. It pierced the right globe of the giant like the needle of a clock.
“Run!” Bow said from behind a pile of rubble. The evening sky was barely there and everything looked blue. Dust was hanging like the streets were on fire. The wolves piled on the legs of the giant like a grey tide of mercury. They snarled. They snapped. They bit into the giant’s tendons behind his great knees and dragged him down. The giant wasn’t idle during their moving feast. He shook them. He threw them. He pulverized their scrambling bodies beneath rubble and flesh. The river of wolves kept flowing though, scrambling up the giant’s torso. A few wolves even sprinted towards the rumbling Vrendel, who was fleeing the scene like a convict. The long arrows of Bow found them though, piercing their hearts like paper.
“We need to go hide. With the wolves, we can’t engage the giants,” Vrendel said. He was panting out huge chunks of breath in the fading light.
“Maybe those wolves will take that one down for us. You know it’s Fimbul when the wildlife challenges a giant.” Bow shook her head in disbelief. Just then a shadow came over their hiding spot. The other giant had found them watching the battle from behind their rubble. It swung a boulder casually at the building next to them. The rock shattered the roof above their heads. It ripped the top off the building like a shingled hat. Debris rained down on them. It cracked, pebbled, and bit into their skin. Vrendel wrapped his body around Bow and closed his eyes. They would not survive this descending onslaught of rock.
“This is it,” Vrendel whispered to Bow. She was shaking under his arms. He found her even more attractive when she showed a little humility, or when she showed a little fear. He was just sad they were about to die, because he wanted to tease her about it later.
The debris suddenly stopped though, and a figure had his arm around the two of them. Vrendel opened his eyes to watch a pair of rooftops flicker beneath his feet. The world suddenly turned and he was thrown onto his side still holding Bow. She wrenched herself free and pulled Blood Thunder around in front of her. It was knocked away with a quick swipe, nearly shattering into the stone rooftop.
“Is this how you thank your rescuer, human?” Fraka said. His voice was lower than a pit. He towered over the two hunters like a perfect nightmare. Fraka was a giant, but he wasn’t your typical breed. He wasn’t overly huge, brawly, or long limbed. He was tall and sinewy, though his weight did make the building stir slightly beneath him. Fraka was bred in a long line of assassins for the giants. He was the genetic apex of their warrior line. His talent with a Grizzle, or a giant’s sword, was unmatched, and he was rumored to be matched up with the god Tyr for the coming Ragnarok. Fraka was completely covered in black fur, like no slight part of his body could be seen from his midnight cloak. He hunched over the two hunters slightly leering.
From his forehead on down, Fraka’s face was covered by a bone mask, which looked like a human skull, only with antlers branching out of its top. His eyes were a cutting green from behind the hollow sockets. His nose was long and blistered, and his chin and mouth were narrow with a slight grin. His sword was hidden beneath his cloak.
“Bow and Vrendel, the pride of Grayton. So happy to meet you,” he said.
“Likewise. Thanks for the save; now why’d you do it?” Bow said. Beneath her fur she was getting a few throwing knives ready for Fraka’s eyes. They’d fit perfectly in those green gems.
Fraka leaned towards them suddenly, making both hunters jump towards the edge of their rooftop.
“My enemy’s enemy is my friend,” Fraka said, teeth bared in a wild grin.
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