“What was that up there?” Vrendel said. The wolves had formed a panting ring of frost on the cities edge. Vrendel walked backwards towards the wall with his shield out and his mace dragging a trail of snow. He didn’t want to let his guard down completely. The situation was still blood-hungry and unsettling. Bow loaded her crossbow and backpedaled toward the gate. She watched the wolves as she moved. More fangs, red eyes, and phantom hunger.
The wolves weren’t going to stay still very long.
“Vren, the gates look locked, break them open,” Bow said. The afternoon light had a hint of crusty blue to it, like the moon should be out instead of the sun. A few restless howls left the storm-ready wolves. Vren ran to the gate and smashed the round latch attached to the side of the wide door with his mace. The collision of standing steel against a desperate war club echoed into the Black Ends, throwing a cluster of sparks into the air.
“Sorry,” Vrendel said, as he kicked the door open with a boot. The eerie groan of untouched, unmoved, and unwilling metal hung on the air. A cobblestone road opened up like a dull layer of light. A shadow moved in the alleyways of the city just a mile ahead.
“Get, get in, so I can close the goddamn door,” Vrendel said. Bow was still watching the wolves. The moment Vrendel walked into Frigga they had stopped their grumbles, and silenced themselves. A few whines even drifted up.
“They’re silent. Quiet. Are they afraid?” Bow said.
“Nobody cares, Bow. Get in the city so those wolves can stay quiet,” Vrendel said.
“Something unnatural is happening here, something weird.”
Vrendel pulled Bow inside by her coat and swung the gate shut. “Yeah, well, there are a bunch of weird things happening everywhere.”
“I’m serious Vren. It’s bad enough it’s Fimbul, but why the whines and fear from a ghostly wolf pack?”
“You’re not one to contemplate the feelings of things, Bow. I’m not sure you should be thinking about these things anyways. Just stick to Blood Thunder. You always do.”
Bow wiggled her narrow form beneath her coat. She relaxed the muscles in her thighs and took a deep breath. The view through the grates of the gate was narrow.
“Can’t see anything, anyways,” she said.
Frigga opened up to them in bricked houses with yellow roofs and stone-paved streets with curls of bridges. Homes had small windows of stained glass and hats of uneven snow. Some hovels were bigger than others. Blacksmith, tavern, inn, they were all the usual suspects for any small town outside Grayton’s territory. You wouldn’t fine a larger town than this in such proximity to Jotunheim. Bow and Vrendel seldom traveled past the the Black End’s and Frigga towards the Giant’s Teeth, which was a spine of silver mountains dividing Midgard and Jotunheim.
Bow and Vrendel waited on the outskirts of the street. The road split into two adjacent paths leading into the city. The hunters knew they could take either route to the Iron Citadel, since that was the center of the town. It was the literal metal sun pulling the city round. Both hunters knew for certain it was too populated to not have a single person meet them at the cities northern gate. Wagons sat empty. Doors blew back and forth like bad omens.
“How long has it been since we heard from this city?” Vrendel said. He watched the alleys.
“They said four months, but maybe longer, info out of Grayton’s is sketchy at best,” Bow said. She was holding Blood Thunder in her right hand beneath her cloak. The shadows beneath the sunless sky had a sinister drift to them, like they didn’t want to be out in the open either.
“Let’s head right,” Vren pointed.
“Let’s head left,” Bow pointed.