The Legend of Nordica
From the north-west land of Loqland she came.
Like a cold wind looking for foes to maim.
She carried a sharp axe and was looking for gold and fame.
A barbarian with a brave heart, Nordica was her name.
With her axe in hand she carried herself with pride.
The wisest of warriors carefully stepped to the side.
Beware the foolish warriors who were crude and snide,
And woe to those who sought her for a thrilling ride.
Many fights she had with those who did not respect the gleam of her axe.
Their imminent defeat was as sure as death and tax.
So many men fell to her that she placed their heads in sacks.
Until at last she made a friend named Max.
Maximilian the Blizzard, a Cryomancer by trade.
A wizard was he, not strong but skilled, and in need of an ally's aid.
All wizards are vulnerable while they slept and sleep they must lest their powers fade.
He saw Nordica's unstoppable potential as an ally and their bargain was made.
"Even I must sleep," Nordica admitted with a sigh.
"We can take turns sleeping while the other keeps a watchful eye."
Together the wizard and warrior bled many beasts dry.
And you should pity the fools who did not question why.
But foolish men and beasts are not the only foul creatures that stalk the land.
Many darker creatures live beneath the mountains and in the sand.
For although dragons are feared the pair ran afoul a demon's hand.
Galzebub's crimson appendage was the end of many a hero's last stand.
Nordica and Max found the clawed red hand in a mountain troll's hoard.
Max saw it and recognized it instantly as the lost hand of the demon overlord.
"Don't touch it!" he said quickly, his voice sharp as a sword.
Nordica hesitated and sensed the evil of the vile thing could not be ignored.
Using great care and long spears they lifted the cursed hand into a clay jug.
Maximilian filled the vessel with conjured ice and wrapped it in an old rug.
He then bound it with a rope and gave it a gentle tug.
Down out of the mountains of the Troll Lands they then did lug.
Now you might wonder why they treated this evil thing with so much fear.
Centuries old and countless legends had fallen upon many an ear.
Any who touched it witnessed the deaths of all the friends they truly held dear.
They knew not how to destroy it and decided to take the hand to the Minotaur Seer.
Deep in a strange wood south west of the Troll Lands they traveled.
An ancient forest of unicorns and fairies where no tree had ever been felled.
Where nature ruled supreme in all of its might and evil was quelled.
They strode past frollicking critters and wee fairies who snickered and yelled.
Onwards Nordica and Max walked, all night and all day.
Until a herd of great unicorns blocked their way.
"We have come seeking the Minotaur Seer," Nordica did say.
"She is expecting you," said the largest of the unicorns. "Follow me. Do not stray."
Deeper into the forest and to a watery grotto they were led.
A gaping hole in the ceiling dripping with green vines illuminated the minotaur's head.
She sat on a large flat rock, unmoving, for all the world appearing to be dead.
The Minotaur Seer was bathed in light, draped in white, brightening her skin which was rusty red.
Dragging the demonic thing bound in the old rug, Nordica approached.
"You have come bringing evil," the Minotaur Seer reproached.
"The last time such evil was here unicorn horns were poached."
Nordica and Max knelt before her, feeling as if they had encroached.
"The thing you wish to destroy is truly hideous and no mere toy."
"You can take it to Zyguinas the Troll-King, who is devious and coy."
"Or you can take it to Lucentius the Necromancer, who is no mere boy."
"Or you can tempt death with the Northern Leviathan, who rarely brings joy."
Nordica and Max stared in puzzlement as the Minotaur Seer faded into mist.
"She is gone!" exclaimed Nordica, frustrated and gripping her axe with her fist.
"Yet three options lay before us," concluded Max, hopeful at this plot twist.
Nordica nodded. "Yes, but one wrong step with any of the three and we cease to exist."
"Zyguinas the Troll-King is cruel and vicious, certain death for anyone foolhardy."
"And Lucentius the Necromancer would likely kill us just for being tardy."
"But the Northern Leviathan is so destructive she causes whole fleets to flee."
"Regardless of which we choose our deaths are certain with any of these three."
"Still we must try," Nordica declared. "Which of them is the closest?"
Max drew forth a map. "This is Trollhaven. Lucentius' tower lies due west."
"Just north-east of Trollhaven is the heart of the Troll Lands, where Zyguinas does rest."
"Far to the east is the Leviathan Sea, where the gigantic beast makes her nest."
"Very well," sighed Nordica. "We shall try Lucentius first, and if we fail continue onwards."
Max nodded in agreement and rolled up his map. "Well, at least we are not cowards."
They trudged out of the mystical forest in silent agreement, heading east and forwards.
Whether they were drawn by a sense of duty or destiny, none could say afterwards.
East across the plains they strode, then north along a river bank to a waterfalls.
They climbed up the rocks on the far side of the river, and to the ruins of ancient walls.
A village had lain there once, destroyed long ago, many mysteries in its crumbing halls.
But onwards they went, paying no mind to the ancient village's possible financial hauls.
Coming again to a riverbank they followed it eastward until they hailed a barge heading up river.
The barge captain was a lewd man and watched Nordica with lustful eyes that made her shiver.
But one swish of Nordica's axe was fast and sharp enough to make the greedy captain quiver.
The barge captain then tried to refuse them passage, but Max accused the man of being a false giver.
Up the river they went, their reluctant barge captain leading them all the way to Trollhaven.
The trading fort lay deep in the Troll Lands, a bastion of hope from the trolls and other craven.
The walls and gates of the fort were armed with many men, most of them heavily armed and unshaven.
The Fort Captain came forth to greet their barge, a valiant swordswoman from the east called Raven.
Raven greeted the barge captain as an old acquaintance, dubious of his greedy looks.
Next she spied Maximilian the Blizzard, amused that he was carrying such heavy books.
But when she saw Nordica she smiled broadly, pleased because she was surrounded by crooks.
In Nordica she saw a woman with honour, a fellow warrior who had little use for schemes or hooks.
The Fort Captain recommended to them a local inn, the Tavern of the Forgotten Lamp.
Nordica and Maximilian thanked the Fort Captain and went up the dock ramp.
Following the muddy streets the wizard asked for directions from a crippled tramp.
Dropping a few copper coins in his hat, they found the tavern hidden behind a mining camp.
Inside the Tavern of the Forgotten Lamp the hearth was warm and lively.
The ale flowed, the meals were hot, and the furniture was clean and not dively.
"We must thank Raven for her recommendation," said Maximilian brightly.
"I once stayed in an inn where I saw a rat feasting on a hand. The rat ate it entirely."
Nordica did not wince and replied. "I stayed at one where the customers ate the innkeep."
Maximilian shook his head as he took a seat. "At least this is a place where we might sleep."
Nordica nodded in agreement. "Undisturbed sleep, I hope. Tonight I shall be counting sheep."
The barmaid brought them two tankards of ale and they toasted and drank until they might weep.
But lo their presence did not go unnoticed, and nor did the old rug which they had towed.
A brute of a man waited until they were both drunk before he stooped to inspect their cursed load.
Maximilian slumbered at the table, his head bobbing with his snores that sounded like a bloated toad.
Nordica stared dreamily, nursing the last of her ale, weary from their journeys on river and road.
The brute knelt by the ancient rug and untied it quickly and quietly.
Inside he found the clay jug, filled with magical ice so wisely.
He sent a curious glance at the unsuspecting Nordica to check her sobriety,
And then he hefted the jug and threw it at the fireplace mightily.
With a crash the jug burst apart and the magical ice cracked under the heat of the flames.
Maximilian awoke with a start, drooling and looking for the cause of the noise and games.
But Nordica was faster, grabbing her axe and suddenly alert to the brute's foolish aims.
The ice cracked once more and Galzebub's demonic hand spilled forth to wild exclaims.
The tavern was in an instant panic, for some recognized the dread appendage.
In their surprise and alarm they fled for the doors leaving furniture in wreckage.
But the sneaky brute cared not as he lifted up the crimson hand to his eye vantage.
At the sight of this every man who called the brute friend shrieked and went into a rampage.
They drew knives, swords, axes - or whatever they had in hand and began attacking.
Berserk in their fury and they fought without mercy or parrying with their swing.
Maximilian wisely dove under a table and began fumbling with a pouch string.
Nordica stood her ground and jumped into the melee like she would into a wrestling ring.
Her axe felled every man that stood in her way, making them all headless, armless or defenseless.
She overturned a table as she sped towards the fireplace, knocking several men senseless.
She danced past the screaming barmaid who stood there shocked and breathless.
The brute sneered and drew his broadsword, he was unimpressed with Nordica's progress.
A berserk man launched himself at Nordica's hind quarters but slipped as the floor turned to ice.
Unwary of the ice beneath their feet many men fell down in the melee, looking like tumbling dice.
Max stood up, pushing aside the table and looking quite pleased as men became as useless as mice.
Berserk or not, their fight became a battle of the follies as men often fell once, twice or thrice.
Nordica advanced on her foe, her surefooted feet gripping the ice as she waited for his attack.
The brute laughed in triumph and charged wildly, seeking to knock her on to her back.
She twisted and spun to the side, her axe coming down to hit the back of his kneecap with a thwack.
The brute went down in a heap as he screamed like a captured man being tortured on the rack.
Galzebub's demonic hand dropped to the ground, mired in blood and mingled with ales.
The chaos in the tavern continued as men fought like demons, spilling heads and entrails.
Maximilian made his way around the worst of the fighting, skipping past men who now fought like snails.
He grabbed a broom from behind the bar and then past the men whose fists flew wildly like flails.
He brushed the demon's hand into a bucket and scooped it up, and then made a hasty retreat.
"Unless we want to see the inside of a jail cell I suggest we find somewhere else to eat."
There was no need to discuss, they slipped into the kitchen and out the backdoor very discrete.
Maximilian hid the bucket and the demonic hand beneath his cloak as they crept down the back street.
Once more Maximilian conjured ice and filled the bucket containing the cursed hand to the brim.
"Let us be gone from this place," said Nordica. "And let us finally be rid of this cursed limb."
They made their way to the gates of Trollhaven, where guards stood silent, stoic and grim.
"It is good to be gone. The greatest danger from this thing is the randomness of a stranger's whim."
They headed west, in the direction it was said where Lucentius the Necromancer had built his tower.
Hours later they came upon a strange short tower, tiny in its appearance, a clear lack of power.
Rows of gardens and grapes surrounded the south side of the structure, bedecked with many a flower.
Lightning crackled and the wind picked up, they hasted to the overhang to avoid a rain shower.
Taking shelter from the wet, they stood in the overhang that lay above the door and saw a sign.
It was handsome script and read as follows: "Gone fishing. I just got some new fishing line."
"Are you certain this fellow is really a necromancer?" asked Nordica. "And not a maker of wine?"
"Honestly, I don't know," replied Max. "Legends say he was powerful, none of them said he was benign."
A trail through the tall grass led downhill towards the river, the same river from yesterday.
They followed it down the hill and saw there a middle aged man, handsome, sitting on a fishing quay.
He looked up at their approach and waved them closer, a clearly honest and friendly display.
Nordica approached, a hand on her axe. She suspected he was about as honest as a Lavordian toupee.
Lucentius smiled. "My reputation precedes me, I am sure. Come sit. You have come for a reason, yes?
Max sat next to the legendary necromancer while Nordica stayed standing. "Yes, we have. I confess."
He brought forth the bucket of conjured ice and showed it to the fellow wizard to assess.
"My word!" exclaimed Lucentius. "I imagine that gave a certain one armed demon prince much distress."
"How do we destroy this thing?" asked Nordica, getting to the point. "Can you destroy it?"
Lucentius frowned. "When you slay a demon it is banished back to the Abyss, back to its hellish pit.
This thing is trapped in a dimensional paradox whereby its owner was banished, but it remains split.
Forever severed from its master the paradox drives men mad, causing them to go into a violent fit."
"Destroying it I believe is impossible. The best thing is bury it where no one will look."
Maximilian nodded in understanding. "There is nothing you can do? No bit of knowledge from a book?
The Minotaur Seer suggested we take it to Zyguinas or the Northern Leviathan. Not hide it in a nook."
"She is very cryptic," mused Lucentius. "She wants a powerful monster to guard it, not a common crook."
"My recommendation would be to hide it in some place ancient and then place around it deadly traps."
Nordica considered his helpful words. "We passed some ruins on the way here, it wasn't on any maps."
"Possibly. A hidden place is best, but you should also take steps to make the entrance collapse."
Lucentius got a bite on his fishing line, a good omen. "If we make all preparations, then perhaps."
And so it was that Nordica and the two wizards traveled to the waterfalls and the ruins nearby.
Deep in a burial chamber they hid the cursed arm in a manner that would be ignored by a passerby.
Maximilian enchanted ice traps designed to slay intruders outright if they trespassed hereby.
Lucentius cursed the dead so that they would rise and slay, forever guarding on stand by.
Nordica disliked the idea of raising the dead, but could not come up with a better plan.
She looted and destroyed the ruins so it would be hopefully be ignored by any greedy man.
When the traps were all set, she collapsed the entrance and covered it with a heavy rock span.
Impressed, Lucentius planted flowers, vines and trees to hide the ruins as best he can.
"Do you think we have hid it enough?" asked Nordica. "What if someone comes to build a farm?"
"If they plough the fields and use horses to move rocks, they might find the arm."
Lucentius thought on this, considering her to be wise. "Then someone might come to harm."
He thought some more. "Adventurers you are, but will there ever be a day when you retire and disarm?"
Maximilian nodded. "Indeed. I have given thought to retiring to Weyvin and opening a vineyard."
Nordica laughed. "You see one retired wizard and now you want a vineyard? Why not a shipyard?"
Max shrugged. "Honestly, it looks pretty good. I can do deep sea fishing and hang out in the dockyard."
"Seriously Nordica," pleaded Lucentius. "Can you see yourself farming here? The soil isn't that hard."
Nordica looked at the ground and scratched at it with the toe of her boot. The soil was indeed fertile.
There was a village here once, perhaps one day there would be again. She could retire in style.
She would have the river for water and fish, the waterfalls for a mill, and it all looked worthwhile.
"Maybe someday," Nordica said. "I'm not ready to retire. It is adventure for me while I am still mobile."
Maximilian and Nordica parted ways from the kindly necromancer, who was not what they had expected.
They had done their good deed, without any thought of reward or payment, they reflected.
Someday perhaps Nordica would return and retire, guarding the place and keeping it protected.
But until then they knew they had done their best and it was well hidden and not neglected.
Lucentius returned to his tower where he enjoyed his gardening, his fishing, and visiting guests.
Eventually Nordica and Max would part ways, going on their separate but equally important quests.
Maximilian would become a powerful and famous cryomancer, skilled at destroying monsters and pests.
Max retired to Weyvin, but Nordica wanders still, smashing skulls and foes, as her fame suggests.
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The Legend of Nordica
Last Updated: February 8th 2023.