Mary and Larry suddenly felt extremely cold and began to shiver. They had landed at the entrance to the Ice Tomb beneath the Ice Cliffs.
They remembered the last words of the Dwarf King before they catapulted into the vortex:
“The Dwarf Kingdom will honor you with our knowledge and help you find the little one. Beware the white wraiths that walk the Ice Cliffs and seek out the Hall of Warriors where the swords are held. Take a few of my warriors with you in this quest. You’ll need them in the tomb.”
Looking through the icy archway, teeth chattering, Larry said: “This must be the Hall of the Warriors. I can see several crouched men in golden robes inside. But they are not moving.”
The Dwarves all whispered ‘ssshhhhh’ in unison and silently unsheathed their swords.
‘What do we do next?’ whispered Mary.
‘Follow my lead’, said the King, ‘Quickly and quietly now, and keep left against the tomb wall … we must not disturb the Tengu warriors. Tengu is a type of legendary creature found in Japanese folk religion and is also considered a type of Shinto god (kami) or yōkai (supernatural being)’.
In the yellowy gloom of the Hall, the entourage crept silently and resolutely forward till they reached the left side of a raised icy platform. On the platform, they could see twelve small ice blocks arranged in a semi-circle around a larger central ice block on which there was a throne of black ice. Upon the throne was a white-robed man with very white skin and he seemed to be asleep. His crowned head resting to one side on a pillar.
The Dwarf King pointed to ten of his dwarves and one by one they quietly made their way onto the platform and took their seats, leaving two vacant in the middle. Each dwarf held his sword upright in the space in front of their icy chairs with both hands on the hilt of the sword.
He then whispered to Larry and Mary, ‘take your seats and wait for my command to awaken the Ice Lord. I will then ask our request three times and you should stand and bow on the third request. We need the permission of the Ice Lord to take twelve of the Ice Swords to vanquish the Red Wings. And we’ll need them if we run into any of the White Wraiths on our way out of here.’
Larry and Mary nodded and moved silently to the central ice chairs and sat down, feeling the chill seeping through their bones.
The Dwarf King then began to sing!
‘I am Oakenshield, Durin’s kin of Brimir’s blood made
Mighty Lord, we bow in reverence and seek your aid
To rid our lands of Red Wing fiery destruction
We need the help of Ice Swords and your instruction
Awaken Tengu Master from your icebound dreaming
Behold ten brave dwarves, await your deeming
Two human warriors here among the entourage
Will lead our armies over Ice Cliffs with courage
Grant them all the right to wield Ice Swords
Grant them all the right to wield Ice Swords
Grant them all the right to wield Ice Swords’
Larry and Mary then rose from their ice chairs and watched solemnly as the Ice Lord opened his eyes and stared at the group in front of him. His eyes were black as ebony and where his face should be there was a red bird-like mask, fastened with leather thongs looping over his long lobed ears. He raised his head, looked straight at Larry, and then spoke just three muffled words.
‘Remove the mask’.
Larry moved forward in slow small steps and approached the throne, quivering and staring. Larry then reached out and slid the leather thongs from the ears of this strange white man and carefully removed his mask, not knowing what lay beneath. The mask had obscured a large protruding beak-like nose, quite alarming. But Larry held her ground without flinching.
The Tengu Master began to rise from his throne and Larry could hear what sounded like ice cracking as the white man stood up. Extending from his shoulders were two large folded wings. In his right hand was a staff and on his chest was a leather mantle bearing insignias of status. He was an awesome sight and Larry was not sure what to do next. The Tengu Master spoke again.
‘You are a brave young warrior, not many who visit here have removed the mask. You are worthy of receiving the Ice Swords. To be wielded by the bravest warriors of pure intent. Use them wisely and well.’
He then gestured to the now awake golden-robed Tengu warriors who gracefully drew their Ice Swords and placed them on the raised platform at Larry’s feet.
‘Thank you, Tengu Master’, said Larry. She quickly distributed the swords to the dwarves and saved two, one for herself and one for Mary. The twelve swords were gleaming in the fading light of the tomb as if their light came from within. Each was finely engraved with strange words written in the Tengu language. ‘The words mean … courage under fire!’ said the Tengu Master finally.
Oakenshield then approached the Tengu Master and they exchanged a strange ritual of hand and arm movements, bowed low to each other, and then said their farewells. Both retreated from the raised platform, one to his black ice throne and one to lead his warriors out of the Hall.
As they looked back through the icy archway they could see that the golden-robed warriors were once more in their perpetual kneeling position and bowing to the Tengu Master as he waved his arms to send them back to their icy dreams.
Outside at last the band of warriors, each carrying their Ice Swords, made their way up the steep steps carved into a wall of ice. The stairway zigzagged across the face of the cliffs and it was difficult to see what lay ahead and it was impossible to see what was above. The question in Larry’s mind was, “How are we few mortals going to vanquish the Red Wings? The question in Mary’s mind was: “What do we do if we are confronted by the White Wraiths, at the top of these Ice Cliffs?”
Both these queries were answered in quick succession as the band of warriors arrived at the top of the Ice Cliffs. Several White Wraiths appeared and bared their teeth, ready to pounce on anyone who moved. The Dwarf King whispered ‘be very brave, still and quiet, these creatures rely on the smell of fear and have a poor sense of hearing.’
‘What is needed here is the fiery breath of the Red Wings to bring down the Wraiths and then we can use the Ice Swords to kill the dragons.’ The Dwarf King then surprised them all with several shrill blasts on his brass horn – pitched well above the hearing range of the Wraiths! Three dark clouds appeared in the sky above and as they flew closer, the warriors could see the deep red colour of their underwings. Their flared nostrils streamed a reddish smoke and their talons gleamed blackly against the ice as the three dragons landed in front of the Wraiths.
‘Whilst they exhaust their fire and fumes on the Wraiths, we wait and ensnare them with our Ice Swords. It is best to attack their soft underbelly and it will take four strikes from your swords to kill them. Break into teams of four and get ready to battle these giant serpents.
They are called Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion and have been the scourge of our mountain lair for centuries.’
Just as Oakenshield had predicted the three dragons exhausted their energies in annihilating the White Wraiths and were at the most vulnerable as the warriors moved in for the kill. Their combined efforts in wielding the Ice Swords in unison paid off. Each dragon received four mortal blows and screamed in agony – their death throes were loathsome to watch. Just as they were drawing their final breath, each of them lashed out with their barbed tails. If it had not been for the quick footwork of the warriors, there would have been more bloodshed this day.
‘We have beaten our foes, our arch enemies the Red Wings, are dead!’ said all the dwarves together. ‘We are grateful to you both for your bravery and courage under fire – and, thanks to you, now ten Ice Swords belong to us. Let us now help you find your way to the Tomb of Sargerus where you will find the Ring of Destiny!’
Use your own Ice Swords now to take you on the next stage of your journey.
Mary and Larry held their swords on high and chanted their call to the vortex.
Take us to another world
Show us how to find the ring
Let our dream places be unfurled
In the Tomb of Sargerus the vagabond King.
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