The Hunt

Find the last story in the saga here.


When Geir the Giant walked into a town, sensible folk sought shelter. There were many warriors who would relish in the ability to cause such dread by simply being, but Geir didn’t particularly care. His mind was focused on far more important things: the preservation of the Skels; the destruction of the Winter; and, on most nights, the hunt.


Night had usurped day, but Geir saw the world clearly with his runesight. His eyes glowed a sickly green, wisps of magic trailing from them as he surveyed the entrance to Halland.


The town was an important trade crossroads that had recently flourished under the oversight of an avatar named Oris. Avatars were few in number but great in power, and usually moved from town to town. It was only natural that the Huntsmen would strike at one that had begun to settle. As a prominent member, Geir had taken it upon himself to hunt the twisted fusion of eauath and man that called itself Oris. Besides, it was growing clear that the inhabitants of Halland were being wrapped around Oris’ finger—though whether it was due to an honest but misguided infatuation or manipulation of emotion was unclear.


It had taken several days to lay the trap, but Geir was a patient man when it came to the Huntsmen’s cause. The Winter was a deadly opponent, and half-measures and rushed actions had sent many souls to the Wintersea. Geir had no desire to join them. Besides, he wasn’t keen on fighting an entire town alongside the avatar. Fortunately, he knew the clan who had founded this town by their superstitious reputation, and had managed to convince several clan guards to assist him. Two of them had led Oris to Geir, and the Huntsman had struck a single blow before the avatar could react. Fortunately, a single blow was all that was required for the gravebringer runes to take effect.


Runic Slaughter by Wojtek Depczynski

Geir could see them now, carved in swirling patterns on his two inky Winter Crystal axeblades. After use, they pulsed with energy, green stars amongst an obsidian backdrop. For centuries, the use of such runic magic was forbidden, their effect viewed as dishonorable and needlessly cruel. Now, such words were used to describe the Winter, and turnabout was fair play.


Against commonfolk, the runes did little more than disorient, but against magical foes they were another beast entirely. The gravebringer runes made forming even the most basic of spells an arduous task, clouding the mind and suppressing magical bonds.


They were most of the reason Geir was still alive. Oris had recently managed to subdue a rampaging ancient, and power like that was too much for any single Huntsman to handle. However, once the runes were upon her, there was little the avatar could do but flee.


Through his runesight, blood gleamed like lanterns as he stalked Oris at his leisure. The longer the runes had to work their magic, the less danger he was in. He stopped outside of town next to one of the clan guards.


“Thought you’d finish her off in the woods,” the man said.


Geir didn’t look at the man as he spoke in a low rumble befitting his stature. “No reason to risk that. She grows weaker by the moment.”


The guard shrugged, “you’re the expert.”


“Where’d she flee to?”


“The inn, she owns the place. Anyone who’s in there will probably try and stop you,” the guard gave Geir a good once-over. “Well, maybe not you. Suppose you’re used to that though. Right, big guy?”


Geir grunted a response. He was used to the comments about his size. His namesake came from his father’s side, though unlike true giants, he had eventually stopped growing. Nevertheless, at a bit over eight feet tall and over four hundred pounds, it was immediately obvious he had giant blood in him.


The half-giant started to leave when the guard spoke again. “I don’t much trust the eauath—nor anyone who bonds with one—but…make it quick if you can. You Huntsmen have a reputation to, um, play with your prey. Oris has done right by this town, I’d rather she not suffer.”


“I don’t do this because I enjoy it, I do it because I must. It’ll be quick.”


“You’re better than the rest then,” the guard said, giving Geir a nod. “Good hunting.”


The Huntsman passed the guard and entered the town, focused on the glinting trail of droplets. Faces peeked out of windows at his passing, but they were more curious than concerned. He paid them no mind. If the clan guard was right, anyone foolish enough to fight would be at the inn. The other commonfolk were inconsequential.


Halland was a fairly large town by Skellic standards. Over two thousand people called it home, and Geir passed by several closed storefronts. Multiple buildings had been recently damaged from the ancient’s attack on the town, including one shop that had been speared by a titanic tree trunk. The attack had happened a fortnight before, but the town had already repaired most of the damages. As much as he hated to admit it, the town had been lucky to have Oris at that moment; not even Geir could have stopped an ancient so easily.


He reached the center of the crossroads and the blood trail turned north, ducking into a broad, two-story building near the edge of the town. A freshly-mounted sign identified the building as the ‘Ram and Rogue Inn’.


Geir reached into his cloak and unclasped a small leather satchel. He begun to mutter a prayer as his hand curled around a soft sphere. He was a Huntsman, but his first duty was to the druidic order, and he drew power from Yore as all other druids did. To them, Yore’s blessings were simply a way to end the Winter so that Vanoc, god of mists and the creator-god of the Skels, could return. Geir could not disagree more. They believed Yore did not interact with the world because he was silent. In Geir’s mind, he interacted with the world through him. Yore spoke through Geir, he decided who lived and died through Geir, he combated the Winter through Geir. The half-giant was nothing more than a vessel for a greater force.


“God of what should have been, may what is about to occur one day become a grand memory in your name. If what I am about to do is wrong, may I fade from memory. And should my path be true, bless me with your might.”


Lifeseed by Uros Sljivic

He finished the prayer, took the seed of Yore from the satchel, and tucked the softly glowing sphere under his leathers—just above his heart. The warmth that radiated from the blessed seed calmed Geir, and he took it as a divine sign that his path was just.


Yore on his side, Geir entered the inn. He had to crouch through the door, but was relieved to find the ceiling was high enough to allow him to stand. He had expected five or six men to be waiting for him. Instead, a dozen sat at various tables. Most wielded axes, or at least kept them close by, and all seemed to be able-bodied warriors. Grim, bearded faces surveyed him as he took in the silent room. It appeared Yore wanted a show.


Several gripped their weapons tight, sliding into fighting stances while doing a poor job pretending they weren’t. Most simply watched and waited.


Geir nodded at the room. “Gentlemen.” His basso tone shook several empty flagons.

The inn was large, thank Yore for that. The center of the room was clear of furniture, and most tables were placed against the walls. A fire crackled at the far end, next to a set of stairs which twisted out of view. To his left, a long bar stood, populated by three men and one wary-eyed barkeep.


The Huntsman moved and watched four of the warriors twitch in anticipation. Good, now he knew which ones were eager. He made his way calmly to the bar and pulled two barstools together to take his weight. His axes scraped against the bar, and he shifted so the oversized weapons were easily reachable.


He made eye contact with the barkeep, who had a befuddled expression on his face, one most of the men shared. The barkeep was young, with oily blonde hair and a stub nose.


“Ale?” Geir asked.


The barkeep blinked. “What?”


“This is an inn, isn’t it? I can smell the ale. I would like some.”


“You’re a Huntsman, right?” Geir rolled his eyes and his parched mouth grew more noticeable. Hunting avatars was thirsty work.


“And you’re a barkeep. Only one of us appears to be bad at our job.”


One of the other men at the bar—all of whom had scooted to the opposite end—snorted. Geir looked at him with a bored expression.


“He has a point Sigfast. Give the man his last drink,” the man said. A wicked grin spread across his face, like a drop of blood in water. The man had a patchy red beard and there was a cocksure gleam in his eyes, the confidence of an experienced warrior. Geir smiled back.


“You have a back kitchen?” the Huntsman asked the barkeep. The man nodded. “Go back and cook me up some meat, don’t care what kind. I’ll be hungry in a moment. But, I’ll have that ale now.”


The barkeep placed a flagon under a spout and filled it with an enticing golden-brown liquid. He placed it before Geir, who gripped it gingerly in his giant hand and took a swig. Foam dripped from his black beard as the Huntsman grunted his approval and shooed the barkeep towards the back with his free hand.


“You’re awfully confident, aren’t you, Patchface?” Geir said without looking at the man.

“That’s not my name, Huntsman,” Patchface spat.


“That’s a strange answer to my question.”


Patchface laughed. “You know what my favorite part of fighting is?”


“Nope.”


“It’s teaching men like you their place. I don’t care who you are, no man fights twelve to one and lives. So yes, I’m confident.”


“No man, perhaps,” the half-giant said. Calmly, he slid his axes from his waist and placed them gently on the table. Each one was longer than a normal man’s arm. “I assume the avatar is upstairs?”


“Doesn’t matter, you aren’t leaving this room.”