“Stop!” Vrendel grabbed Bow and pulled her back up the rooftop, just as the gutter began to curl backwards like a wayward hair, collapsing into the dark street stocked with yellow eyes.
“How’d that happen?” Bow said, grunting from the exertion as she crawled back onto the roof without looking back.
“The wolves chomped it so it tipped?” Fraka guessed. He stared down at their hissing hides and gripped the Grizzle, the famous Giant sword, a bit tighter beneath his cloak.
“No, it was something else; even these wolves aren’t that clever,” Vrendel said. He helped Bow up and walked to the opposite side of the roof. In the distance, more lanterns began to glow like hallowed memories. The alleys were starred with the ghostly light, and in the darkness the streets seemed to stretch on into the night sky, stars and lanterns one and the same. It was hard for the trio to ignore the invisible shadows lighting them: even Fraka was unsettled by the unnatural life behind the flames.
“Whatever it was,” Bow said, staring down at the gutter, “it’s cut off our only way down.” Vrendel frowned.
“Fraka, can you carry us to another rooftop?”
“No, or I wouldn’t risk it with balance. You’re built a little too sturdy, human. One false step onto the street and those wolves will converge upon us like a wave. I’d rather not take that chance.”
“Well, then we’re stuck until we can figure out a way down and to the citadel,” Bow said. She squinted through the darkness down to the stretched cube of steel just blocks away. “I don’t think we’ll be able to head there straight on.”
The wind picked up and the cold air fell upon the trio of killers like winter’s breath. Fraka could survive out in the blackness with his giant-hide, but the cold would take a serious toll on Bow and Vrendel, especially since they’d been exposed to it all day. Roars bent the night just a few blocks away, like the buildings were coming to life.
“Is that giant hunting us through the night?”
“They do that when feral. Nothing stops the blood-hungry,” Fraka said.
The ground trembled some more. They could be expecting another boulder through the air at any moment. It was no inconvenience for a feral giant to have to pulverize some prey before devouring it. Vrendel stared at the building next to them. It was a butcher shop, with high windows that matched the rooftop of their hiding spot.
“Let’s hop through there,” Vrendel said, pointing with his mace. Fraka shook his head.
“I’m too big, human. The wolves will notice me.”
“Fine, then you take off on an opposite route and we’ll meet at the Citadel,” Bow said.
“That’ll leave me alone to take on the blood-wild. That hardly seems fair.” Down below the wolves howled and yipped on the cobblestones, as if reminding them of their presence.
“Would you rather face a sea of wolves?” Bow said.
“Yeah, at least you can try and avoid the giant. Those wolves will drag you down though,” Vrendel said. Fraka looked at the sliver of darkness building over the grey clouds. The moon would be out in full that night. It would be full until the end of time. It was another sign that Fenrir would be appearing soon enough.
“Fine, humans.” Fraka shrugged. “Have it your way. I’ll see you there.” He jumped through the air onto an adjacent roof like a violent cloud. Wasting no time in watching him go, Bow hopped onto Vrendel’s back as he arranged himself on the shingles for the leap.
“Go for it, big guy,” she said.
Need Parts 1 – 8? Here you go: Chains: Part One – The Black Ends. Chains: Part Two – Ugaba. Chains: Part Three – Frigga. Chains: Part Four – The Red Figure. Chains: Part Five – The Iron Citadel. Chains: Part Six – Fraka. Chains: Part Seven – The Feral. Chains: Part Eight – Lantern Light.