Quick breathing – feet running lightly across the rocky trail coming down from the peaks – moonlight shining through snow-clad branches of the woods in Snowden Drifts. The worst part of the Shiverpeaks was behind him now; Frostgorge Sound and the frozen wastes, yet more imminent were his assailers. The wolves’ jaws snapped at his feet, seeking to pull him down so the pack could swarm him. Instead, Bowen pressed on and silently mouthed an incantation that seemed to make him immune to the dead ice wolves corrupted beyond life by the elder dragon Jormag. Its influence was rapidly growing stronger in the Shiverpeaks region and its minions were constantly pressing further south.
In the distance gleamed lights from the Lionguard stronghold of Highpass Haven he reckoned, torches posted by the gates lit up the surrounding areas of the approach, but Bowen was still too far off for the predators to give up the chase just yet. A pack of wolves by themselves would not be so bad, the smell of civilization would scare them, but these wolves were different. Their corruption lent them an extra depth of lifeless and unrelenting ferocity and their fangs were dripping with the elder dragon’s ancient magic. They were icebrood. If their teeth pierced him, freezing saliva would seep under his skin, his blood would gradually freeze and slowly bend his will to that of the Elder Dragon – or at least he suspected as much. The process would be irrevocable. Shuddering at the thought, Bowen pushed on with all his might and gripped the golden Vanguard issue winged, glass orb from Ebonhawke tightly, chanting magical words that channeled through the focus as a blue, protective aura covered him. Behind him, he felt a lunging wolf rebound into a pile of snow as the shielding aura deflected its advances and he gained a few feet on the remaining, frozen assailers. Then however, he felt his feet swept off the ground as something tangled around his ankles. The bolas originated from another pursuer and whilst the wolves were intimidating, the corrupted, icebrood hunter following behind was an even greater concern. Bowen braced for impact and hit the ground with a heavy thud and brought his shoulder forward to manage a half-roll turn so he could come up facing the opponents bearing down upon him.
Bowen’s vision was slightly impaired from the snow that stuck to the helmet’s visor, but in a fluid motion his sword was in hand and he instinctively swung in front of himself catching the neck of the first corrupted wolf that thought its prey had fell defenseless to the ground. Blood – albeit nearly black and frozen to its touch – sprayed the thick white snow, but Bowen had no time to consider whether the first wolf was dead because a split second later the second wolf bore down on him. Again, he swung his sword in a reverse arc and felt the blade shear through a thick coat of fur. The whelp of the creature that had its throat slashed was unmistakable and he darted his eyes about to look for the third wolf and their beastmaster, once a loyal, deluded Son of Svanir hunter now corrupted beyond control or reasoning. The Son of Svanir were devout in their ways, but they were still human and that counted for a lot when it came to dealing with dragons. Bowen had come across other Norn on his way who managed to talk their way past one or the other Svanir. He brought his attention back to his remaining attackers. The two had split apart to flank him, the Norn – or whatever was left of him – nocked an arrow to his shortbow while icy blue mist seeped from the horned helmet’s visor. To his other side, the third wolf was hunched low and slowly edging towards him with a menacing growl, fangs bared in a vicious leer. Still on his knees from tumbling over, feet still locked by the tangling bolas at his ankles, Bowen would have no time to evade the hunter’s arrow as he was readying the bow. He prepared to intercept the icebrood Norn, and closed his eyes…
Then he started swinging his blade in an arc; it flashed brilliantly in response as he complemented the fluid motion with an incantation that blinked him from his kneeling position to right in front of his two-legged foe and found his subsequent flurry of slashes ripping armor and flesh alike. Cool, azure eyes lost their gleam and faded to dark, mouth open in disbelief at the surprise attack by their seemingly cornered prey. Slowly bow and arrow fell from his hands followed by body also slumping to the ground. At his back, the last of the corrupted wolves saw its chance to strike now that Bowen was turned the wrong way. It lunged forward, bounded the short distance he had moved from where he’d been on the ground and leapt at him through the air. Flurries of snow whisked up in the air and fluttered around it, and just as Bowen braced for the wolf’s impact, a mighty hammer caught its neck and rammed the creature’s massive body to the ground, pinning it with a nerve-racking crunch of bones. Bowen scrambled around and the muttered words of his aura incantation trailed off his lips, only to find himself staring into the face of a large, grinning Norn. Growling grunts from the immobilised wolf saw the Norn raise his great hammer again and bring it crashing down on the creature’s head, this time cracking its skull from the force of the blow. The wolf was silent. As was the surrounding forest again. Bowen was safe and had escaped the corrupted minions of Jormag, and more importantly, he had found what he had sought for a long time; wrapped in a sheath strapped to his back was the legendary blade called Jormag’s Breath. Light to the touch, it glowed with a blue fire kissing the blade extruding from the sheath encasing it, and its hilt was a decorated, roaring dragon’s head; blade extending from its open mouth like icy, dragon fire.
The Norn greeted him with a hearty laugh, “Ho traveler! Looks like you were in a bit of trouble there! Good thing for you that the mighty Thorgan was out catching a bit of the fresh, night air…” He offered and hand, which Bowen accepted gratefully and got to his feet, “Yes, I think these should be the last of them…”
“Dwayna watched my back at a few occasions tonight, that trail coming down from the north was more dangerous than I first expected.”
“Sounds like an adventure you need to tell me about over a stein of ale. Come!,” said the crafty Norn, “let’s get you back to the outpost to get you some warm supper and a strong drink.”