Soon I neared the heart of Midgard, the wind began whipping at the trees which had become pine and other evergreens. The land grew higher so that as I reached one particular hill, I could see the gleaming spire of the Vanaheim Magicians Tower and the expansive sea.
At the top of the cliff was a large village. I had been here occasionally before. It was Drasil, called such for it's proximity to the tree Drasil. No homes were built around the actual tree because of the many spirits that inhabited the latter, even though some still found their way to the village from time to time. But the Drasilians were a strong, proud people who provided the Kingdom with the greatest warriors, mostly due to how close they were to Muspellheim, the great volcano where the Fire Giants lived. As I turned right, I could see it in the near distance, eerily glowing red.
We slowed down to a trot, the horseshoes clattering noisily along the stone pathway.
"Your kind aren't welcome here," a stern voice called from behind me. It was a stern but sincere tone.
"I'm just passing through," I was clearly visible as a magician with my long black cloak embroidered with gold leaf. I pulled the hood over my face slightly, casting it in shadow.
"Turn around, let me see you more clearly sorcerer."
I obliged and slipped off the horse. I pulled down the cowl to reveal my long black hair, deep green eyes and pale skin.
"Melethorn!" he exclaimed, his face alive with shock and recognition, "it's been a very long time," I smiled gently.
"No hard feelings, Goran," he slapped my shoulder then.
"Come with me, I have somebody I'd like you to meet, somebody who exceeds even your reputation in these parts..." he turned around suddenly and looked at me, surprised at his own words, "well, you know we don't hold much stock for you magic types - sorry for calling you a sorcerer by the way - but you have always been good to us, forever aiding us and never turning your nose up at us. But yeah, this guy is pretty special..." he led me down the path towards a very grand looking street where the pathway was lined with holly and circled a large white tree. All about us were large homes of wood and stone and thatched roofs.
At the end of the street, slightly higher than all the others, was a huge cottage.
He rapped heavily on the door via a knocker shaped like a Giant's face. Pretty soon, a young boy opened it.
Once inside, we were brought to a man, tall and strong I could tell, with a hard-set face that had seen much bloodshed and took a knock or too. And yet he lay in pain on the couch, his face haggard, his foot crushed and smothered in dried blood.
"I could heal that," I pointed at it. His face went stony and pale, probably due to the idea of magic.
"There are no quick fixes in life sorcerer, besides, I like the pain, it makes me stronger in the end," he turned away then.
"Suit yourself, so this is the man Goran?" I asked peevishly.
"Aye, Thorri the Giant Slayer, just yesterday he tussled with a Fire Giant, he was all over it-"
"-I had my warriors backing me, thankfully none of 'em was hurt," his face shone with relief at the thought, "but ye, I killed a Giant yesterday, what have you done recently Sorcerer, other than siit behind a desk pushing pencils?"
"Killed a dragon... actually," he glanced at me, annoyed, then sniffed and looked at his foot.
"I bet she was tethered to the floor, her brains all mashed and ready for you to pulverize. Bet that thing never had a chance."
"As a matter of fact, the monster nearly killed me, but I know enough magic to get by, and that saved my life."
"What a shame," he laughed to himself at this. I felt my face redden.
"And too bad that Giant didn't smash more than just your foot, you brainless oaf! At least I can leave a fight without getting myself needlessly hurt-"
"Do you want to test that-" he got up suddenly at this, forgetting his injury, until his face went green and he collapsed back on his chair. He growled angrily.
"You two settle down. Thorri, he's not like most Magicians, he actually cares so keep your mouth shut, and Melethorn, he's our villages guardian and savior, show some respect-"
"-don't want to hear it, now-" there was a scream, it took some time before the reason for it entered the house. When she did, her face was ashen and purely terrified.
She ran in and yelled something about a spirit, then collapsed on the ground. We all looked at each other. Goran quickly left the house, followed by me. Even Thorri with his injured foot managed to push himself on.
We heard more screams and violent noises. Running towards it, we soon found the reason for the commotion. In the village square drifted a battalion of spirits. All of them appeared as humans, but they were semi-transparent and in various stages of injury. All there auras were darkened and there eyes were blank and mournful. One of the souls outstretched his hand at a woman. Tentacles appeared in place of his hands and grabbed her, leeching the life from her as she shrieked in pain and horror.
"What does this mean?" Goran asked, "usually the spirits are harmless."
"It means something is troubling them, and I think I know what..." but no further discussion could be had as a dozen spirits noticed us and charged. We split up to fight as the first of the souls attacked.