(Of Torques and Dreams)
Garr was suddenly transported to the world of his dream. There, he was surrounded by a cool morning mist and he could see a vague shadow wending its way through the shadows of trees and coming closer. Garr stood his ground but realized that his hand had strayed to the pommel of his sword in readiness as the shadowy figure drew ever nearer.
The figure was wrapped in a hooded cloak which hid the face. Garr called out as it approached. “Hold. Who are you? Make yourself known or come no closer. I am armed.”
The figure stopped a few yards from Garr and pulled back the hood. “Do you not know me, my son?” Before Garr stood the commanding figure of Guntar Bloodaxe, his father. Garr gasped and fell to his knees, “Father!” he croaked, around a knot in his throat, tears flowing freely down his cheeks.
Guntar stepped forward to take Garr by the elbow, helping him to his feet saying,”Arise lad, ‘tis I should be bowing to you. You’ve accomplished much and now must be King for none are so qualified as you.”
Garr had so many questions he barely knew where to start. “Oh, Father, Where have you been all these long years? I’ve missed you so.”
Gutar put his strong hand on his son’s shoulder saying, “And I you, lad. Would that I could have been with you as you grew into the fine man that you are.”
Garr wiped away his tears wanting to show strength and live up to his father’s praise.” Why did you not come back to us, Father? What could have been your fate that cost us so dearly?”
Here Guntar sighed and sat on a fallen log indicating that Garr take a seat and join him. Garr sat. “I’m sure that most would assume that it was the storm that sealed our fate but alas that is not the case. I am grieved that folks would forget so swiftly the renowned seamanship skills of Guntar Bloodaxe. Nay, we rode that storm and indeed reveled in it, up one wave and down the next in fine ships, born to its peril.” His eyes seemed far away as he recalled it.
“Then what was it that took you from us, Father, if not the storm?”
“Alas, ‘twas a huge and many-tentacled beast. A horrid apparition called by mighty magic from the depths. We fought as valiantly as we could, each warrior hacking uselessly at writhing tentacles that grew immediately back once cloven. But the thing was too powerful, too swift and we were vanquished and pulled beneath. Know this, my son; that it was Doden of the Dead that authored our demise, not the fickle weather. He called against us a monster that seamen through the ages have known well but never speak its name. ‘Kraaken’.”
At his, Guntar reached under his tunic and drew out a silver Thor’s Hammer pendant, lifted it over his head and placed it in Garr’s breast pocket. He placed his hand over his son’s heart and patted the talisman saying, “For luck. It is no proof against mighty magics, but it saw me safely through many dangerous campaigns and helped me live long enough to know my beautiful son and daughter.”
Garr was speechless. There was so much he wanted to say and ask. So much catching up to do. He didn’t know where to start. Guntar became very solemn and snapped him out of his reverie by taking him by both shoulders and looking intently into his eyes. “Know this, my son; that this same threat is aligned against you and your people. Doden will stop at nothing. Total and all-consuming domination is what he seeks and he will not rest until he succeeds…or is defeated. Getting me out of the picture was his first coup and I’m ashamed to say that I made it easy for him by my ignorance of his plans. Would that I’d have heeded Arnaald’s advice that day above the Greydeep. Well, you have the advantage I didn’t. Knowledge. Use it against him and use it wisely. There now marches southward, an army of Goblins under Doden’s explicit control and if anything will weigh this conflict against you it is that. Tell Arnaald he must locate the Lost Torque of Asgaard or all is lost.”
Guntar began to fade and Garr called out desperately, “Father, don’t go. I need you. Stay with me.” But Guntar continued to fade repeating over and over, “Remember, find the Torque or all is lost, all is lost, all is lost, all is lost, all is l…”
When Garr came back to himself He was back in the great hall, the dream had vanished and Gronn was wailing, “All is lost. Oh, woe is me. All is lost.” Arnaald gave him a swift poke in the stomach with the butt of his staff, shutting him up in good measure. “That will be quite enough of that kind of hysteria”, said the mage. “Nothing is a foregone conclusion. This latest turn of events means only that we need to re-evaluate our plans and as you, yourself said, focus.”
Garr was still shaken and a little disoriented. The dream had come flooding back with such energy that there was no doubt in his mind that it was more a real visitation of the specter of his long lost father and the warning must be taken very seriously indeed.
Tykk, who’d been standing next to Garr during his vision now noticed the state Gar was in and asked, “You okay, lad? You’re pale as death.” Garr made no reply but crossed the floor to where Arnaald was helping a winded Gronn down from the table. Garr grasped him by the shoulder and whispered, “We need to talk, straight away”!
Seeing Garr’s urgency, Arnaald nodded and with his staff, indicated a small private antechamber off to their left.
Once inside the small room Garr drew the heavy, embroidered drapes that served as a door and turned to meet Arnaald’s questioning gaze. “Remember me telling you about my dream?”
Arnaald peered over his spectacles while lighting his pipe and said, ”It was only an hour ago, I’m not senile…yet.”
Garr continued, “When Igar mentioned the Goblins it all came flooding back. I remembered everything of the dream, no, I actually relived it. The great hall disappeared and there I was again in a remote, fogbound forest and I met my father there.” Now he had the mage’s full attention. “Arnaald, this was more than a dream. My father told me that it was not the storm on the Greydeep that swamped his fleet but was in fact the Kraaken, called up by none other than Doden, himself.”
Arnaald let loose a low whistle and his eyebrows raised high above his spectacles.
“There’s more”, said Garr. “ He confirmed the bit about the Goblins. Or perhaps I should say Igar confirmed it, being that my father came to me in this dream last night. And Arnaald, he gave me a message for you.”
“Truly. He bade me to tell you to search out and find the lost Torque of Asgaard. What importance he placed on it I know not, for that is where the dream waned and ended. I assumed you would know its importance.”
Arnaald shot, “Pfft, indeed I do. Such a talisman would be a powerful boon to anyone possessing it. Unfortunately the operative word is lost. The last king to wear that torque was Gorvelt Thunershield. And that was over a thousand years ago. King Gorvelt it seems was felled in battle and eaten by the dragon, Hudbrannsar. The Torque went missing with him. Was he wearing it at the time? No one knows, but if he was, it would require searching every load of dragon crap from here to Valhalla that has been left for the last millennium and I daresay that is impossible.”
Garr scratched his chin. He’d not shaved in nearly a week and there was the beginning of what he was considering letting grow into a beard. “I see your point, but Father made it seem so important. Fact is, he said in no uncertain terms, that if we didn’t find it, all would be lost. Those were his exact words”.
“This is exasperating, Garr. I know the power of dreams and I’m sure this one has great importance in your heart, but to go off on some treasure hunt on the strength of it would be foolhardy to say the least, especially now.”
Garr felt as if he was not being taken seriously and there was a note of panic in his voice. “Please, Arnaald. I’m sure it was more than a dream. I could feel it…can still feel it.” He stammered and continued, “Why it’s as if he was here only moments ago and has just stepped out of the room…” Tears of frustration and extreme emotion began welling up in his eyes.
Arnaald stepped close and seeing the tears and profound sadness he focused healing energy into his right hand and placed it over Garr’s heart and said, “Be at peace, lad”.
At Arnaald’s touch Garr felt something other than the mage’s hand press against his breast. Arnaald felt it too. Garr stepped back and scrabbled in his shirt pocket. What he drew out amazed them both. Dangling from Garr’s hand was the Thor’s Hammer pendant. Arnaald gulped a deep rapid breath and stepped back awe-struck.
Garr smiled and the tears flowed freely. “When he gave this to me, he said that he wished he’d listened to you that day above the ocean. What did he mean?”
This almost knocked the wizard off his feet. He gripped his staff with both hands, took a few steps backward and plopped heavily down into a chair against the wall.
He paused for a few moments as Garr stared helplessly. Finally, ”I have never spoken of that to anyone. The storm was building that day on the crags overlooking the Greydeep Sea. I urged Guntar to leave the ships and return overland but your father saw too much value in those ships and their cargo to leave them. Guntar was nothing if not pragmatic…and stubborn.” Here he smiled in bittersweet remembrance. “He ordered me to take your birthright overland and see it to safety which, as you know, I did. Many’s the time that I wished I’d cast a spell to bend your father to my will. But that is something I know I never would try with such a warrior as Guntar Bloodaxe.” He hung his head and though Garr could not see it, a lone tear stole its way down his cheek and took refuge in his voluminous beard. When he finally lifted his head, he smiled and said, “Well sir, I guess we have a treasure hunt to launch.”