Friday, September 26, 2014

The Hill Giant Chief - Nosnra's Saga - Part VIII

The Great Hall blazed with light. At its center a fire burned high within the stone-lined pit, and along its walls and wooden pillars, dozens of torches smoked and sputtered. The double-doors at its northern side were opened and Engenulf walked through, Nosnra at his side. All eyes within the hall turned to watch the witan's entrance.

Eadwig raised his head but held tight to his brother's inanimate hand. Ogiva, Huon's wife, held back her tears and with a stern command muffled her daughter's sobs and her own as well.

Nearly all the giants were gathered in the hall while ogre servants and orcish slaves were scattered here and there. A hush fell over them as Engenulf made his way to the high table. He was an imposing sight, tall as a forest tree, thin but possessed of a wiry strength, and corded with muscle detailed beneath his skin. His hair was long, no razor-knife or shears had ever cut it, instead many braids had been woven, twined with polished rune-carved bone, feathers from a dozen winged beasts and dye-stained cord, some creatures hide, now colored red and green and a dark rich blue. About his waist a belt of bone, the ribs of man and monster strung together with lengths of centaur hair, the buckle carved from a dragon's tooth. He wore a cloak of deep, soft fur thrown back from off his chest, its clasp, a human skull, eyes now cuts of amber ages old. Between its teeth it clamped a silver tang, held firm by jaws that iron rods kept closed.

"Friden, slafin-tif," Engenulf pronounced so softly the words almost went unheard. He stood upon the raised wooden floor, the high table at his side, and gently made the troubled Eadwig close his eyes and rest. From a fetish pouch he drew a careful measure of a grey-white ash, the harvest of a sacred pyre, and scattered them above the sub-chiefs head. "Friden, friden, friden..." he intoned and Eadwig gave a snore.

From his brother's hand, Eadnoth's hand was taken and Engenulf held it in his own. Then, as if to warm the death-cold flesh, the witan chafed its palm between his rough hands and held it to his lips.

"Sauber-ghen," he breathed the words upon the unseen skin, "Sauber-ghen, uss-ghen-ets!" he commanded. The translucent flesh obeyed, and in a wave that started with the hand within the witan's grasp, Eadnoth reappeared.

The giant's corpse was grim indeed, now visible once again, with open eyes that held a startled look and a throat slashed from ear to ear.

"Good that he sleeps," Nosnra said and looked sadly at Eadwig's recumbent form.

"Death comes to us all," Engenulf replied and bent to search the gaping wound. "The kindred claim their own."

"Death such as this," the chief pointed to his slaughtered guard, "should not have come at all."

"This cut was from a very sharp blade," the witan lowered his head, and, with braided hair covering the sightless eyes, sniffed along the severed neck. "An ensorcelled blade; It smells of magic," he turned and spat upon the floor. "Bring me a cup of ale!" he called "I need to rinse this wizard stench away."

He pulled a needle of splintered bone from a folded pouch of black, coarse cloth, and, with a length of resilient gut, sewed razored flesh together once again.

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