King Makers' Road

-The Tale of the First Battle of the Singing Sword

In the strange red, green glow of the huge ice cavern of the Jarl’s throne room, the two massive combatants stood thirty paces apart, facing each other. The holy knight, somehow standing almost twelve feet tall, bedecked in resplendent armor. His opponent, slightly taller and more impressively muscled, was less adorned but imposing none-the-less. He stood, with a half-smile, cracking his frost hued face, easily seen despite the icy blue beard covering his face, moving to a rhythm only he could hear, drumming a cadence by slapping his sword to his armored thigh.

There may have been a slight murmuring in the room, I don’t recall, it doesn’t matter. All eyes and attention were glued to the two champions near the center of the cavern. It may have been colder or warmer than normal but all that was all forgotten once the Jarl, draped on his decorated throne of death, broke the anticipation with his booming voice, “BEGIN!”

In a blur of speed, surprising for a being of such size, the giant raised his ballista sized crossbow and squeezed the trigger and then let go of the contraption in the same instant. In one fluid motion, swiftly kneeling to pick up a shield that was large enough to protect the broad side of a plow horse. He stayed in a low protective crouch. The move may have been too swift as the bolt he shot flew high and to the side, embedding its barbed head into the white wall above the knight’s companions, who stood a rock’s throw away.

At the same time as the giant raised his crossbow, the knight’s stance changed in an instant. Where he was once alert but at ease, he raises his sword to a guard position, protecting the right side of his body and left side of his face. There seems to be a metallic hum in the room emanating from his weapon, a tone that both feels and sounds expectant, like the rumble of a distantly approaching storm which promises fury when it arrives.

The warrior breaks into movement, running, charging forward, with a sneer on his face that promises death to the evil that confronts him. In an instant the two clash without words, letting their deadly prowess speak for them, expressing their mutual contempt. At the last possible instant he ducks below the shield bash the giant prepared, allowing him to shift slightly off balance to his left, thrusting his sword towards the hip joint of the fell creature’s armor, hoping to pierce there and drag it up with a backhanded slash from the left hip diagonally across the belly. The storm arrives, the hum that had started now growing in intensity.

Before the disemboweling move is complete, the frost giant recovers, grunts in pain and pivots on his right foot, dislodging the blade from his hip, releasing a gout of blood in the process. Undeterred and still moving with surprising speed and fluidity, he brings his enormous sword across the head of the human confronting him, sending his helm and part of the scalp flying across the room to clatter against the west wall. Momentarily dazed, Jarvin is caught by a second slash across the bicep of his shield arm, nearly severing the muscle and sending the feeling of dull fire from fingertip to shoulder. As his vision clears, he is able to jump back and avoid the third, potentially killing thrust that was aimed at his heart.

Seeing the chance to quickly end this threat and prove himself to both the Jarl and the rest of his clan, the giant presses forward toward the injured man. It is here that the first, fatal flaw is made. The icy floor, now slick with the warmed blood of the combatants, causes him to slip and lose momentum. Jarvin, recovered from the blow to his head strikes quickly to the unprotected knee, chopping down and cutting deeply into the thigh, hitting bone hard enough to nearly jar the shrieking sword from his grasp. Reversing his grip, he thrusts it in and up, trying to catch the creature under the chin while ducking and kicking out with his right leg trying to connect with the savaged leg of his opponent. The frost skinned creature proves more stout and balanced than he anticipated and despite the mangled thigh, maintains his stance despite the slick footing and injury.

The shining knight, having left himself open with the kick is struck by another blow to his midsection, armor caving and rending, and Jarvin feels the sharp cold pain as steel slides below his lowest rib. He screams Torm’s name, half in prayer, half in supplication as the giant pulls the blade free with a sickening sucking sound, his sword point awash in the vile human’s blood.
Despite the pain in his belly, he sees his opportunity as the giant, screaming something in his language, lunges to finish the fight. Torso unprotected, the giant recognizes too late his error as Jarvin swings with all his might. The sword, screaming now in a deafening wail, arcs through the air, cleaving through armor, bone and flesh, finally stopping midway through the giant’s upper torso. Tearing the blade free of the toppling creature, the body is dead before it hits the ground; a torrent of steam rising from the widening pool of blood spreading from the corpse at Jarvin’s feet.

Sheathing his sword to end the ear splitting shriek, Jarvin faces the Jarl, panting as he catches his breath, and begins to truly feel his wounds.

“IT IS DONE! YOU HAVE PROVEN YOURSELVES WORTHY.”

The slain giants belongings, wife and children were given to the next sub chief selected by the Jarl, for this is the way of frost giant clans. The group was quickly blindfolded and taken to the secret path leading the way to the land of Snell, king of the fire giants; they could not see the hatred in the eyes of the two children watching from a shadowed alcove. They also could not know that this battle’s tale would be told and spread through the clans, the tale of the War Band of the the Singing Sword would frighten giant children and inspire young warriors for generations to come.

-The Tale of the First Battle of the Singing Sword
_ Tomlin Berrypicker, Bard of the Cove_

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