Fan Fiction

7 June 2004, 5:34 AM

Part II: The Fall of Gwyon by Jonathan Goss []

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The contingent of twenty Ghols raced through the thick snow drifts, their sinewy forms pulsing as they loped through the mountain passes. At their helm was Strangler, the pack leader of the Ghol. He was long and white, with a black "X" across his brow. He was the fiercest Ghol of the pack, and the sack that hung around his neck was testament to that fact. It was filled with as many Ghol skulls as human and fir'Bolg. Which is why he and his pack were perfect for the task ahead. None of them looked back, only forward, towards their goal: The Sickled Foot, the lowest point of the Stair of Grief. There they would set up a picket and wait for the scattered Armies of the Province to try and retake it. The Ghols would sit and wait for however long it would take, and then the second some hapless warrior or berserk came traipsing near they would send back a scout to warn the Hollow Men who were amassing in a gorge. It was the first of several groups Balor was sending over the Stair in three years. And Strangler had been chosen to lead the way. It was late morning, and already the snow storms were letting off a bit, opening up the visibility of the Ghols.

But another force lingered in the icy mountain passes. A force of men, matched in number and valor. Berserks. Twenty of them. Led by Tyrfing, Egil's lieutenant. They had been tracking the Ghol pack for nearly an hour now, tracking them on a steadily south-westerly course. If only the Ghols had turned their heads to look behind them they would see the moving shapes of twenty stealthy berserks following not far away, hidden in the craggy icy cliffs and slopes.

But they didn't, and because of it Tyrfing was getting ready to pounce upon his prey. Like a pack of timber wolves the berserks stalked their prey hungrily. All of them had been chosen for their experience with Ghols, all with enough kills to warrant them the title of veteran. There would be more today.

Eventually they came to a small alcove in the pass, where two other passes converged. Ten meters up resided the track that Tyrfing and his men were following. Below, in the oval shaped alcove of roughly forty meters, the twenty Ghol paused for a moment, their loping arms and feet kicking up waves of snow, some slipping on the ice. It looked as though they were trying to determine which path to take.

As they sprinted and ducked between snowy cover Tyrfing searched for Gwyon and his kin. Egil had ordered them to go with Tyrfing, and for good reason; they were experts at dismantling Ghol attacks. No other group of berserks could dodge a rain of puss packets like Gwyon and his five brethren. They were well seasoned at the art.

"Gwyon!" Tyrfing called with a hushed tone. "Gwyon!" In a moment the young berserk was racing at a crouch towards Tyrfing's position. "Move 'round to the southern pass, we'll push 'em into it and you trap 'em."

"Aye," Gwyon replied, nodding. In a moment he was sprinting towards his brothers who sat huddled together not far off. Seconds later Gwyon was giving the plan to them, and without hesitation they began the trek south, towards the southern pass.

When he was gone Tyrfing turned to the rest of his men. There they waited.

"Alright, lads, Gwyon's goin' to wait for 'em down at the mouth o' that southern narrow. We're goin' to attack those dog-strokers from the rear, an' push 'em right into Gwyon's blades." A chorus of "aye"'s erupted from the sixteen berserks in the upper pass. Tyrfing smiled at them. This was going to be a slaughter.

Gwyon and his brothers leapt down from the upper ledge to the lower pass in a series of sloppy thuds. Within minutes they were shooting to either side of the pass, the Ghol pack lumbering about in the alcove a good ways off.

"Warm the snow, brothers." Gwyon ordered as he dove into the wet cold. His brethren did the same, burying themselves in the caked snow and ice along the walls of the pass. In seconds they were lost from sight. Now all they had to do was wait. Slowly Gwyon drew his claymore out from the baldric slung at his back, the sharp singing of iron scarping against itself. His brothers followed suit.

There they would wait, Gwyon Whose Sword Sings of Carnage and his brothers:

Eirik Who Jams the Gates of the Underworld

Luh of the Long Arm,

Tyrolf Flame of Battle,

Bran of the Iron Skin,

and Thrend Atop the Piled Dead.

Strangler knew now that it was time to wait a bit. Hopefully, if all went according to plan, there would be a force of equal or larger number of Ghols that would meet him here, or close to here, and direct him to the quickest route to the Sickled Foot. But he couldn't wait long. The Ghols were sill trying to decide which path would be the quickest when suddenly Strangler snarled at them to be silent. All barking and growling ceased as they obeyed their pack leader. Strangler flung a sinewy arm out towards them, scythe slicing through the air for silence. Immediately he began sniffing the snowy air. Something was not right. There was a warmth in the air, a scent of heat and hunger that was not his own. Suddenly the snow storms started to pick up again, driving wave after wave of wet cold into the alcove. Visibility would not remain for long. Strangler sniffed furiously, jabbing his pink colored snout into the air as far as it would reach. He couldn't place the stench, only that it was fresh. Was it men? Had they been followed? Surely not. His beady black eyes scanned the terrain. Ahead of them lay the eastern path, leading to the Sickled Foot. To their south lay the other pass, leading to warmer weather and an auxiliary route. They could not linger much longer, every moment wasted was one spent on freezing death and borrowed time. It was possible that the Light was already sending forces north to retake the Stair of Grief, and if that was the case Strangler would have to hurry.

Then it happened. Out of nowhere one of the Ghols in the rear screeched maniacally and started jabbing its wicked scythe into the air behind them. Strangler turned in a rage to see what all the noise was about. Snarling, the white Ghol wheeled around to see Biter, one of the older, more senile Ghols, barking and snapping at the pass they had just exited. It looked back at Strangler with a hating, fearful expression. It was the kind of look that he gave whenever he saw the enemy. But Strangler knew there wasn't anyone behind them. How could there be?

In a fury Strangler loped back down the line of his pack to where Biter was still raging. Strangler took one look at the rear passes and saw nothing. Biter was wasting their time. As punishment Strangler swatted the old Ghol's long neck with his fist, causing the thing to yelp. He left it at that, and quickly raced back to the front of the line. As Biter rubbed his vertebrae he squinted painfully towards the icy past. Fifteen berserks were racing towards him with swords drawn.

Tyrfing crossed the wintery alcove, his numb legs slinging snow everywhere as he raced to the Ghols. Behind him were sixteen other Northmen waving their giant claymores in the snowing sky and howling through frost covered beards. In an instant he ordered his men to fan out in an effort to block the eastern pass. Six berserks raced off to the right side of the alcove, ignoring the howls and barking shouts of angered Ghols. Angtyr the Sword Lover led them. In moments they had successfully cut off access to the eastern pass, filling its open gap with ten sweaty, scarred, bare forms and hungry claymores dancing in their hands.

Strangler saw the cut off and immediately ordered his pack forward into the southern pass. Closer and closer they drew, slowly outpacing Tyrfing and his men. If they could reach the southern pass then they could create a bottleneck and start hurling puss packets at the enemy. But they would have to hurry. Trying it now would be useless with all of the open terrain; the berserks would just dodge them. But in the narrow southern pass they would have no where to go, and Strangler would butcher them.

Gwyon threw a glance back at his brothers. Half of them he couldn't even see, they were so well hidden. The others had their eyes fixed anxiously on the approaching Ghols. Gwyon saw Eirik, by far the tallest of his kin, practically doubled over with his knees in his beard behind a snow drift. Thrend waited not two paces behind, his body pressed against the pass' wall, snow showering over him. Gwyon smiled. This was their turf, their playing field. They knew how to survive and thrive in this kind of terrain. What was more was that it was totally alien to the Ghol. They thrived in the dusty, craggy landscape near the Great Devoid and the Dwarven cities. They couldn't maneuver as well in the slick ice and sludge. And the winter climate was known to have claimed more than one pack of the dog-beasts. It was going to be perfect.

By now Gwyon could make out the racing forms of Tyrfing and the others, albeit hazily through the torrent of snow. He could only see nine of his fellow Northmen chasing the Ghols, who were running more out of determination than fear. He traced a finger along the flat of his claymore. Once again it would be time to descend upon the Ghols and gorge his weapon on the flesh of the enemy. Like the great swords of so many of his kin, Gwyon's claymore was simple and rustic. There was no fancy filigree on its handle nor any engravings on its hilt. And certainly no precious stones were set in its pommel. It was a sword, a weapon, meant to cut, chop, maim and kill. Nothing more, nothing less. About five feet tall and weighing a good ten pounds, the claymore was heavy enough to chop anything in two, especially with the first fourth of its blade wrapped in thick leather. allowing Gwyon to grip it higher for better leverage.

It would all be used today.


Gwyon met the eyes of Eirik, and raised his left hand. Three fingers rose, and then fell, one at a time. It would be the signal to spring the trap. Eirik nodded his understanding and began passing the message down to his brothers. Five up turned thumbs raised slightly above their respective covers, alerting their leader that the plan was a good one. Gwyon nodded and turned back around to the Ghols. They were a good forty meters away now.

Thirty-five meters.

Thirty meters.

Gwyon's heart pounded in his chest. It never got old. He never got over it. The few moments before a battle always gave him butterflies, always made him nervous. He could never tell the others, it would be considered a sign of weakness. The culture of the Northmen demanded the showing of strength even when no strength could be found. He chewed his tongue a bit. Just a few meters closer. Closer. He slowly raised his left hand. Three fingers. Two fingers. One finger.


Without a word Gwyon and his brothers leapt from their respective covers amidst the snow and rocks. In a blaze of terrible fury they erupted from their positions, snow and water showering everywhere as they burst forth. The Ghol froze in their tracks. For a moment. Gwyon then caught sight of him. There was a Ghol of particularly enormous size, about waist high, and weighing as much as any man. He was covered in white with a peculiar black "X" mark across his brow. The thing had to be the pack leader. Gwyon immediately sprinted for it. His brothers were not far behind.

In a tremendous thundering clash the six berserks met the twenty Ghols. A chorus of yelps, screams, and ringing metal. Scythes met claymores in a furious cacophony. And without hesitation Gwyon and his brothers started wheeling their swords around, limbing everything that got in their way. Eirik flanked out to the right with Thrend, the two fighting back to back and turning circles together as they fought. They looked like some spinning top of carnage. At least four Ghol were hacked to pieces by the two lanky brothers. Luh of the Long Arm wasn't too far away, spreading his arms wide and laughing maniacally at the pair of approaching Ghol. When the two beasts were in range Luh swathed through one with a single stroke, its legs crumpling to the ground and its torso flying over Luh's head. Right after that the long limbed berserk buried his equally lengthy claymore through the ribcage of the second Ghol, its arms flinging madly at its side. A shower of blood erupted from the thing's body, covering Luh and melting the snow around him.

Behind Gwyon Bran of the Iron Skin and Tyrolf Flame of Battle each had skewered a couple of Ghols. But no sooner had they retracted their blades then another pair of the beasts lunged at the brothers. One Ghol fell right on top of Bran's broad shoulders, its scythe slicing through the air and its jaw clamping madly into the berserk's crown. Tyrolf was attacked by the other, the Ghol launching itself through the air towards him. He caught the thing with his hands and dropped to the ground, wrestling with it. A moment later he had pinned the thing down and lopped its head off. Tyrolf could still hear the thing whimpering as he severed the spinal chord.

Gwyon had found the leader of the Ghol pack. The thing was larger up close than he had expected. And sufficiently meaner. Its scythe was almost the size of Gwyon's claymore, and it swung the thing with such quick ferocity that it took all the berserk had to duck out of its way. He dove to the earth, snow clumping into his mouth as he fell. in an instant he was off his belly and onto his feet, crouched and searching for the leader of the pack. He was easy to spot.

In a blinding fury the Ghol swung its blade downward to Gwyon. He leapt again to the left, barely dodging the wicked, curved scythe. It landed with a sloshing thud into the snow and rock at his feet. Gwyon wheeled about and brought his claymore across in a horizontal sweep. The Ghol, despite its enormous size, deftly hopped over the claymore, its scythe torqued at its back left for another strike. Gwyon saw the muscles contract on the sinewy Ghol and knew what was coming. Without warning Gwyon jerked his body upwards and away, winding his sword around to the sky to get out of the way. The Ghol's right leg shot forward in a kick, but met only air. Gwyon dropped to the ground and wheeled his sword up. It caught the beast squarely in the right hip. Blood spilled out onto the snow, followed quickly by the wounded form of the Ghol. But the thing did not die.

Gwyon jerked his blade out from underneath his prey and held it ready over his right shoulder for a thrust. But the Ghol was ready. It slung its scythe around with a shadowless velocity. Gwyon felt his legs give out, and promptly found himself landing in the red snow. For a moment he was woozy and couldn't feel a thing. His vision went dark a little and the sounds of combat raging around him subsided. He lost control, and fell over onto his side. Time then seemed to slow. He saw Eirik and Thrend, surrounded by Ghols. Thrend didn't have a sword, and was clawing madly and punching anything that got close enough. A Ghol leapt for him, and the brave warrior tackled the thing, wrestling it to the ground and beating it senseless. Above him, Eirik's sword was broken, and he was fighting with his shattered hilt in one hand and the broken blade in the other. Their faces were fearless, blood-stained teeth bared in unison snarls. Moments later they were lost from sight, engulfed by Ghol.

Gwyon saw his brother Luh as well, and it broke his heart. Luh's right arm was gone, torn at the shoulder. Red sinew and glistening white bone jutted out of the torn socket. But it did not slow Luh down, not until a Ghol knocked his sword out of his hand and buried its scythe into the berserk's stomach. He dropped to the ground, dead. A few meters away Tyrolf was trying to stand up, his legs filleted with wounds. He was trying to carry Bran on his back, who didn't have any arms. His left leg was gone too, severed at the knee. Gwyon thought he could see Bran's mouth moving as Tyrolf tried to carry him. A Ghol raced for the two, but Tyrolf still had his sword in his right hand, and slung it end over end at the monster. It landed straight through the thing's body: entering through the mouth and exiting out the back. Gwyon watched helplessly as his two beloved kin were cut down seconds later.

The last thing he saw was the enormous white Ghol, with the black "X" across it's brow, crouching over him, drooling and grinning devilishly. Gwyon tried to swing at it, but he could no longer feel his arms.

Tyrfing and his men raced onto the slope where Gwyon and the others had met the Ghol. The brave Northmen could not take a step without tripping over a Ghol head or a piece of tissue. Limbs were scattered everywhere, and the ground had been turned to a sloshing, red mud. More than one berserk slipped on entrails, and those Ghol that survived the first attack were met with killing blows from Tyrfing's contingent. He raced as fast as he could to the sight where Gwyon was fighting. But he wasn't fast enough. None of them were, they couldn't keep up with the loping Ghol, and by the time they arrived to aid in the attack he could see no signs of his fellow Northmen.

Then he saw the pack leader, standing over a fleshy heap. The thing was huge, bigger than any Ghol Tyrfing had ever fought, that was for sure. It was all white, with a black "X" across its brow. In its hand had to have been the largest scythe Tyrfing had ever seen. But the thing was bleeding, obviously wounded. As Tyrfing drew closer he saw the remaining half dozen Ghol begin to form up for a defense.

The berserks descended on the pack in a blitz.

Within seconds the Ghol were embroiled again in fighting. The berserks fought with a vengeance for their fallen comrades, who they now could spy amidst the carnage. Tyrfing even saw the body of Gwyon himself, his legs chopped off above the knees, his head decapitated. It was time to return the favor. Tyrfing knew that it was this pack leader that had slain brave Gwyon. It would certainly pay. He lunged at the beast in a fury, at the same moment that the beast lunged at him. The two met blades first, a sharp "clang!" erupting from their weapons. But their ferocity got the best of them, and the two slammed body to body into one another. Moments later they were both dizzily shaking their heads and picking themselves up off of the ground. The Ghol lurched a bit, stunned and still reeling from its wound. It was all the time Tyrfing needed. He swept his claymore up towards the air, arching its tip into the chin of the Ghol. Its pink face split in two, and the thing fell backwards. Tyrfing leapt onto it but was met by the thing's massive feet, which caught the berserk and launched him into the air. Tyrfing flew back into the red snow, the breath knocked out of him.

As Strangler picked himself up he grabbed his scythe and lunged for the berserk. Reaching into his sack he produced a puss packet. It wouldn't do that much good in the snow, but it was better than nothing. Clasping it with his left hand he reared back to throw it.

Tyrfing shook the snow out of his eyes to see the Ghol bearing down on him. Its left hand held something he could not discern, but obviously a projectile. The Ghol were notorious for throwing all manner of battle field detritus at their opponents, most feared of which were the puss packets. If that's what that was then Tyrfing was in trouble. Not wasting any time the bulky berserk rolled onto his knees and flung himself to the right, just as the projectile landed in the ground where he lay not moments before. It promptly exploded into a sulfurous, diseased jelly, spilling sickly residue everywhere. Tyrfing narrowly avoided it.

Strangler snarled at the agility of his opponent. He landed on the lick ground with a harsh thud, his legs nearly giving out from the wound at his hip. To compensate the dog-beast flung its weapon around to the berserk at its left. But the man caught the blade with his own, and seconds later Strangler was dead on the ground, a claymore buried in its brow.

"Ex marks the spot you bastard." Tyrfing grunted as the beast toppled to the ground with a whining whimper. Exhausted, Tyrfing observed the field. Six berserks remained stranding, covered in blood and bandaging their wounds. Two others were knelt or lying on the ground in pain. One was not moving at all. It was a victory. They had won. But at a dear price.

Tyrfing walked over to the corpse of Gwyon and looked down. The man was practically torn to pieces, as was most of his brothers. Tyrfing felt a pang strike his heart, if it were not for Gwyon's brave charge and the sacrifice of his noble brothers then the Ghol would have escaped, and Tyrfing's mission would have failed. But the brothers had managed to all but stop the Ghol in their tracks, and though Gwyon and his kin were all dead, they had bought enough time for Tyrfing and the others to reach their prey.

And now it was over. The day was won. He only hoped Egil's men had succeeded as well, or the sacrifice of everyone would have been in vain.

"Tyrfing!" Shouted a berserk from far off. Tyrfing searched with bleary eyes through the heavy snowfalls for the source of the call. "Tyrfing!" It came again. He saw who it was: Gymir Battle Seeker. He was calling from the mouth of the eastern pass, about fifty meters away. Tyrfing moved towards him.

"Wha' is it, Gymir?" Tyrfing asked, shouting over the howling winds.

Gymir cupped his mouth with his left hand, and with his right jabbed a finger into the unseen direction of the eastern pass.

"Ghol from the eastern pass! They're comin' this way!"

The other shouted. Were they up for another battle? Would Egil and his men return in time to aid? Were they even alive? "How many?" Tyrfing asked.

"So far," Gymir said with a dire tone. "Hundreds!"

The End.

~ You have reached your journey's end ~