THE RISTAAG (Continued)


Yet another werewolf came out from behind a bush, leaping towards us and, going for the throat. Rolf came to my aid, using his blade to severely injure the beast. My mace finished the werewolf off quickly after that.


As quickly as the battle had begun, it was over, and we were the victors. There were several werewolf corpses strewn about the area.

"It was like they knew we would be here." I said to Rolf.

"Aye, that's true." he said "It is as if someone doesn't want us to complete the Ristaag."

He kicked one of the dead werewolves, making sure it was dead. "We have defeated these creatures and honored our fallen comrades." he continued. "Now, though, we must find the Spirit Bear and return its heart to Wind-Eye." He placed a heavy hand on my shoulder. "You have proven yourself a valiant warrior." he said, with a huge smile on his face. "You shall lead the way for the rest of the Ristaag."


As much as I appreciated Rolf's confidence in me, I really didn't have a clue as to where this bear would be found. I decided to continue west for a bit, then a bit northwest.

Suddenly, a huge white creature lumbered towards me in the dark. I pulled out my mace. It was the Spirit Bear, and he wasn't happy to see us, either!


Oh, he was definitely not happy to see us.

The spirit bear lunged at us with his huge paws. Laurenna was knocked to the ground, her armor preventing any serious injury. Rolf and I managed to bring his attention to ourselves. "Arrows!" I shouted. "Get back and use those arrows!"

She didn't have to be told twice.


It was a great battle, the bear lunging forth, trying to chomp on us, Rolf's blade and my mace answering the attacks, while dodging those very sharp claws.


Over and over, my mace hit it's mark.

The bear's claws stuck my left arm, and for once, I missed that shield that I usually summon.

Of course, had I been alone, a spell of God's Fire would have been better.


One more blow of my mace, and the mighty Snow Bear fell to the ground, after putting up one tremendous fight.


"You must take it's heart." Rolf said, in a solemn tone. We removed the heart from the Spirit Bear. The Spirit Bear vanished from sight, returning to wherever the Tooth and Claw Totem had summoned it from.

"Return now to the village, and give the heart to Wind-Eye." said Rolf. "You have done well tonight, Eldorf Dragonmeal, as did you, Laurenna of Lokken." turning to acknowledge her place in this battle. "Rolf Long-Tooth calls you friend. I will remain here in these woods for a time. The All-Maker has chosen you to finish this journey alone. Good luck to you."


We made our way through the snowfall back to the lake, the ghostly fire there still burning brightly.

It was curious - what did the lake of fire mean? Why were the werewolves attacking now? And two people now kidnapped after werewolf attacks. This was a mystery I felt I needed to solve, as there were definitely other forces at work here.


It was nearly midnight when we finally returned to the Skaal village. Korst Wind-Eye was awaiting our return eagerly.

"You have the heart!" he exclaimed, taking the artifact from me. "You have done well, as the Skaal have come to expect of you. Your efforts are not unappreciated. Allow me to teach you more of the Skaal magic."

He whispered a spell in my ear, which I repeated softly back to him. He nodded that I had learned it. "You may now summon a bear to your side to aid you in battle." he continued. "You have earned this, Bloodskaal. Now, I fear we must speak more of the ominous signs that have appeared on the island."    


"Tell me of these signs." I asked.

"There have been many, though I've been reluctant to speak of them." he replied. "The coming of the werewolves, the fire on the lake, and now I've been told that the northern shores are the scene of a massacre. Many horkers are dead. The shores are littered with corpses, and the death of the horkers has not been explained. All these things are suggested in the Bloodmoon Prophecy. We must find out what has happened. Perhaps this is a sign of prophecy, perhaps not. I prefer to think that it is the work of mortals."

"Can you be certain of this?" I asked. "It does not look like the work of any magick that I know of."

"Well," he replied, "I would have you travel to Castle Karstaag, and confirm my suspicions."

"Hmmm, this castle sounds remote." I said. "Where would I find it?"

"It is a castle made of ice on the northwest part of Solstheim." he explained. "There lives the frost giant Karstaag. The Skaal have lived in peace with the monster for many years, but we have heard nothing from the giant for some time. This slaughter could be the workings of the Ricklings who serve him. Go there and find out what you can. You will not be allowed in the main entrance, but we have recently discovered an entrance in the waters north of the castle. Good luck to you, Bloodskaal."

"What about those Ricklings?" I asked. "Any advice on dealing with them?"

"Vile little beasts," he replied, "but not as mindless as some may think. These creatures are intelligent. Some are capable of speech, and all are capable of great cunning."

"Thank you." I replied. "I'll keep that in mind."


"You should probably check out the story on these horkers." said Laurenna, obviously concerned over all these signs. "I'll wait here for you by the tent."

I agreed, changing myself in a mist form, and floating over the Skaal village, looking for proof of these dying horkers.


I floated over to the northern shore of Solstheim, and sure enough, there were two horkers on the rocks. They didn't seem out of place, but they weren't moving in the usual manner.


Just as Korst stated, many horkers were dead. The ones that weren't dead were pretty close to dying. The Skaal relied on these creatures for so much. To have them die off like that would be a terrible thing.


I floated back to the village and changed back into my very handsome self.

"It is exactly as Korst describes it." I said to Laurenna. "The horkers are dead or dying all over the northern shore."

"What do you think it all means?" she asked.

"Not sure." I replied. "Seems to revolve around this Bloodmoon Prophecy Korst keeps mentioning. Seems pretty nervous about it, too."

"What are we going to do?" she asked.

"Well, you're going off to bed." I replied. "I'm using the castle return scroll to head for home and practice these summon spells, perhaps have a ring or two enchanted to attach to them."

"Will you be back tonight?" she asked.

"I'll try." I said. "But if I'm not, don't go anywhere without me. I feel we're going to encounter a bunch of Ricklings, and I want to make sure we're ready for them."

Laurenna understood that sometimes long night hours have to be put in to make sure a mission goes well. She gave me a kiss on the cheek, and promised to wait right by the tent for me. I made a promise as well, that when I returned, I'd bring back a pie from the castle's kitchen. That seemed to make it all better.







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