The jump lasted four moments in time. The first moment was a shattering of frost-weaved glass and black layered iron. The second movement was Vrendel screaming as Bow jammed her knee into his back as they landed. The third moment was Bow rolling onto the wooden floor like a half-trimmed clump of animal hides. The fourth and final movement was the crunching of Vrendel’s armor as he tried to stagger to his feet. The broken glass sat on the floor like hammered chunks of desperate shadow.
Light and dark were moving strangely in the abandoned house. Both hunters noticed it, but couldn’t describe it.
“Move Vrendel, get to the door,” Bow said.
They were in a bedroom. The walls were coated with drips of cobwebs and dead moths. A large bed with navy blue sheets sat nearby. There were dark stains bubbled out along the fabric like captured raindrops. The room was too shadow-caught in the early night to see if it was blood or not. Neither hunter had the time to inspect it as they staggered to their feet. The wolves were probably at the door, or at least a few had followed their leap to the next building. Not every snarling snout would’ve been baited by Fraka’s hop from roof to roof.
It was fortuitous that the famous giant had saved the two hunters. Fraka was bred from a long line of killers. He had a genetic predisposition to handle the Grizzle, the legendary god-killing sword. He had the inherent skill to measure its wild swings and awkward blades. To bend the enchanted steel just right against the heaviest of collisions. He was made to kill a god. To battle Tyr against the fiery backdrop of flaming fire pulled from Surt’s sword.
Fraka was a giant. A prized and shiny abomination from the bowels of Jotunheim. Both hunters were wary of his presence yet grateful to have him on their side in this cursed city. His presence meant something sinister, but so did theirs. After all, Bow and Vrendel weren’t exactly pushovers in the killing community either.
Outside the room, a staircase shot downwards like a checkered tongue. The dark walls surrounding it were ravaged in round slashes of bark and plaster. The delicate glow of dried blood sat in the shadows of the staircase like unwholesome oaths. It was everywhere. There was too much blood, even for a trail of hungry wolves gnashing through the house when it was still occupied. Something had come through and torn the people to chunks, and spread their blood like jam against the walls.
Bow’s eyes found the crimson swipes and decorations, followed them down the stairs and splatter.
“What in Hel is going on?” she said.
A howl mauled the night, like it needed to answer, or defend itself in an argument.
“Who cares? Let’s go,” Vrendel said. He grabbed her trembling hand and tore her down the stairs. They wrenched the heavy iron door of the house open and sprinted out onto the street. They checked the trails of alleys for galaxies of wolf eyes. Nothing gleamed against the haunted street-lanterns and cloudy sky. The torchlights glowed like bashful children along the quiet streets and beneath the rooftops. Puddles of darkness just barely broken by the orange lights looked at them. The street slowly stretched out in front of them like a strip of asphalt-caramel. The ribbon of fused road billowed upwards crushing rock and brick like castoff waves.
Somewhere close by, the feral giant roared like a broken bell.
“The shape of the streets are changing!” Bow hissed. Vrendel shook his head, exhausted and confused.
“This has got to stop at some point, right?”
If you haven’t read Chains yet, you can find it here. Also, if you are looking for a specific part: 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. Chains: Part Nine – Between Nightmares.