Dec 9, 2011

Tales of Tyria - Chapter 6: Fight!

If you missed it, here's a link to the previous Chapter.
This was not how Skoldur had imagined his legendary fight with Cracktooth the great Cave Bear starting out.  It was night and he was currently up a tree like a scared squirrel while the bear paced below trying to figure out how to get to the tasty Norn morsel.
Skoldur wasn't afraid of the fight - it was exactly why he had travelled here in fact.  His position was less than ideal, but that would only add to his legend (or so he told himself).  He decided to start things on his terms so he managed to string his bow and knock three arrows.  It was too dark to make a precise hit, so he figured he'd go for quantity and hope he got lucky.  Skoldur pulled back on the string and pointed his bow at the dark shape below him.  He let loose with his volley and was immediately rewarded with a loud roar.  He had scored a hit!  Skoldur knocked another pair of arrows and sent them down on the bear.
Another roar told him that at least one had found it's target.
Before Skoldur could reload again, he was almost sent flying from his perch as the bear slammed into the tree with a ton of force.  Skoldur managed to grab a branch with each hand, but in the process he dropped his bow.  He had just enough time to stabilize his position before the tree swayed far off its axis.  It took only an instant for Skoldur to realize what had happened: the first hit had been from Cracktooth striking the tree with his shoulder while the second hit had been caused by the bear standing on its hind legs and leaning on the tree at a point much higher up the trunk.
There was a third hit, and this time it was accompanied by a cracking sound as the tree began to split.  Skoldur knew he had only seconds before he would be toppled from his perch so he quickly drew his Greatsword and dropped straight down into the gaping jaws of his foe.
Unfortunately, due to the dark, he misjudged Cracktooth's position and instead of driving his sword into the Bear's skull, it glanced through its shoulder, making a huge, bloody gash, but not delivering the fatal blow Skoldur had hoped for.
The hard landing also knocked the wind out of Skoldur and as he tried to climb from his knees to his feet he was sent sailing through the air by a backhand blow from Cracktooth.  Miraculously, he managed to hang onto his sword despite landing on his back and sliding through the snow about ten feet.
Cracktooth was still trying to figure out exactly what was happening and where the little man was when he heard a holler of challenge come from his right side.  He turned to see the Norn standing with his Greatsword held before him.  There was blood on the side of his face, but otherwise he seemed to be in better shape than the bear was right now.  Still, this was Cracktooth's forest and he wasn't afraid of a little steel between him and his dinner.  Cracktooth roared back his own challenge and then lunged at the man.  The bear had fought Norn before and was expecting the sword to come at him, point first.  When it did, he swatted it aside with the back of a well-timed forepaw.  As the man staggered back, Cracktooth swiped at his head with his other paw.  Only a strange thing happened -- the man ducked and the bear missed.
Skoldur silently and quietly thanked the spirits for cursing him with being short -- he knew that his lack of height had probably just kept his head attached to his shoulders.  With all of his strength, he managed to reorient his sword and drive it into the Bear's left hind leg.  As he was pulling the blade out for another strike one of those huge paws struck out and hit the blade with such force that it snapped in two -- the blade remaining stuck in the leg while Skoldur held onto a now useless pommel and hilt.  The breaking of the sword also threw Skoldur's balance off and he tripped backwards onto his back.  From his vantage on the ground, Skoldur saw his death in the form of the great cave bear Cracktooth, bloodied, but still very much alive, rear up on its haunches with its six inch claws poised to drop onto him and finish him off.
And then Cracktooth burst into flame.  Skoldur found the strength to push himself backwards through the snow and no sooner had he put a few feet of distance between himself and his adversary when the area burst into a curtain of flame.  He wasn't entirely sure what happened next, but it seemed as if a flurry of rocks flew through the air above him, knocking the bear over when they struck it squarely in the chest.  Then, the air crackled with an acrid smell and his hair stood on end as fingers of lightning leapt from the tress and arced all over the bear.  There was a roar, but this time it was far more subdued and sounded more like an agonized moan than a fear-inspiring challenge.
The lightning stopped.
The glade was still for a moment.
Then Cracktooth, burned and blackened started to roll over.  A flurry of small fireballs flew from the forest, striking the bear until it lay still on its side.
This time the glade remained calm except for the strange shadows set dancing by the half dozen small fires burning in the dead bear's matted fur.
Skoldur was stunned. His life had been saved, but his trophy, his kill, had been stolen by... What?
Skoldur looked around but couldn't see anything. "Show yourself!" he bellowed.  "I was meant to kill Cracktooth to prove myself to Bear!  And you've ruined that!". Skoldur realized that he was yelling, and that his voice was filled with anger.  At the same time he realized that he wasn't angry with his unseen savior -- he was angry with himself, for he knew that he had failed.  How could he possibly hope to earn Bear's favor after this?
As he stood up, gazing into the woods, he found that he still held the pommel of his shattered sword.  With a snort of disgust, he tossed the ruined blade aside.  "I won't hurt you.  You can come out." said Skoldur in his most downcast and somber tone.
At first, there was nothing.  Then he saw movement, only it looked like the trees were moving despite the complete lack of a breeze.  Specifically, it was just one particularly short tree that was walking towards him.
As he contemplated just how hard Cracktooth might have hit him in the head, the little tree spoke: "Greetings Skoldur.  I am Naimh of the Sylvari.  I'm in need of a guide."
The story continues in Chapter 7.

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