From: Andrew Joelson (email@example.com)
Date: Fri 02 May 1997 - 15:29:13 EEST
The Last IceBreaker, Part XII
Harlios stood near the center of the Dueling Grounds, scowling as
he watched the last of the Ice Lords fade into Rashtingall's aura.
"Pathetic," he thought. "Thick furs are no more a match for my
enchanted armor than bone clubs are for Ichor. I have defeated four
Champions of Winter, and what will come of it? It was too easy; it
cannot count for much against the strength of Winter. Does Hend know,
through some divine means, that I have a limited time to fight?"
"No, he cannot know," came Drel's response. "If he did he would
make some excuse, and simply wait for us to collapse."
"Would he? This is the Place of Challenge, he cannot refuse to
join in combat, or to send one of his minions."
"Don't forget, he seemed to have picked your foes before the Host
arrived. What would you have done against all four at once?"
"Mmmmmmm, probably tried to burn their faces with my vambraces
while circling. And used up Yanafal's blessings at an alarming rate.
But where is our next opponent?"
Harlios turned and walked towards Hend Valindsson. He limped again,
now that he had time and attention to spare the pain. Behind Hend a
group of hollri where chittering in a circle, waving their claws in
seemingly random patterns.
"My next opponents?"
"You will not find them so easily defeated," said Hend with a frown.
"The uzhim plied tactics suited for a group together. The hollri know
better. They are sharing their strength now, each one giving a part of
their strength to their Jarl. He will defeat you."
"Jarl?" asked Harlios. "The word is unfamiliar. I presume that the
Jarl is the most powerfull member of the group?"
"A Jarl is one who has distinguished himself in the past, and been
gifted by Himile. Such gifts are not limited to powerfull magics; they
often result in superior strength, hardiness, or wisdom. But now it is
your turn to answer a question. How is it your limp seems to come and go?"
"It is not a physical injury; it is the price I paid for my sword."
"A straight sword? Is that not blasphemous to Lunar thinking?"
"It was not straight when I began my quest."
"What? Surely you will not tell me that you have survived a meeting
Harlios jerked in surprise, and burst out laughing. Drel echoed his
mirth, unheard by Hend. "Har har har, do you take me for a child of the
gods? Only one with divine blood could, ho ho, even consider such a rash
course. He he he, it was a quest of Yanafal Tar'nils, of course."
Harlios stopped, and took a deep breath.
"The fact that I acquired an arm of considerable potency, and suffered
a hurt that could not be soothed was not lost on my superiors. But that
the blade is straight is mere happenstance. I thrust it, point first, into
my enemy. It went in, right up to the hilt. Disgusting yellow slime oozed
out of the wound. Unable to draw the blade free, I put my foot to the
creature's breast, and drew my sword out. But it came out straight, like
a candle drawn from a chandler's vat. And what passed for blood in the
beast burned like the spittle of dragonsnails."
"If you wish to know more, Hend Valindsson, you must convert to the
worship of Duke Yanafal."
A great cry erupted from the circle of hollri as the Jarl came forward.
It's eyes glittered white and blue.
"I have heard all that is needfull. The weapon's virtues will function
only for it's proper master. Well enough, it shall be hung as a trophy on
the Wall of the Vanquished. And if it takes to 'biting' any who dare to
touch it, so much the better. None shall think to make off with it. But
tell me one last thing, has it a name?"
"Ichor," sighed Harlios. The he stepped back as the Jarl approached.
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