Without hesitating Thorsten and Kurgan charged the nine hill-men surrounding the mysterious girl. Beautiful women are rare enough in the mountains without letting hill-men take off with them!
As the two mercenaries charged through the snow Sameer moved to the side to adopt better a firing position.
Kurgan threw an javelin at the nearest of the hill-men, who were still oblivious to their oncoming foes. It glanced off his thick skull and at that point the hill-men, armed with a variety of stone weapons, began to recover from their surprise and turn to face their assailants. The girl would keep for later…
As they closed Kurgan began to chop at his enemies, brutally hacking into a number of them in a few short seconds. Their mountain furs no protection against his axe. Meanwhile Thorsten guarded his back, spearing more as they closed and Sameer loosed arrows into their flanks. Soon a heap of the dead and dying lay around the two warriors.
The final two hill-men turned to run, but Thorsten closed rapidly with one and speared him in the back, whilst Sameer finished the other off with a long range shot to the neck, before walking forward to finish off the wounded..
As Kurgan moved towards the girl she flung herself upon him, her eyes wide with wonder.
“You were like a hero of legend” she exclaimed “like Ymir come to save me”. The reference was lost on Kurgan, who just put his arm around the girl for comfort.
She explained that her name was Ilga and she lives in northern Cimmeria with her father, Barak, in the small village of Algar’s Valley 3 days southeast of the mountains. Her father is the blacksmith and she had come north with her Uncle and a few tribesmen to trade with the Aesir before winter closed. On the way back south they had come under attack by the wild hill-men, hairy cannibals that dwell in the mountain caves. She fled on her horse, until it tripped and broke a leg, and then ran for what seemed like hours. She had finally been cornered and had given up hope when she saw the three warriors move around the glacier into view.
Looking around Thorsten realized that they would never make it off the mountain before nightfall. It was already getting dark, the wind was rising and snow was beginning to fall. The three friends would need to find shelter.
Moving down the side of the glacier they spotted an overhand of rock against a cliff face with collapsed boulders scattered around it. This would help protect them from the biting wind and falling snow at least. Moving into the boulders the Kurgan lit a small fire whilst Thorsten secured the horses and took the first watch. The giant glacier loomed in front of their small shelter. Thorsten tried to concentrate on the the whistling wind as the sound of Kurgan and Ilga’s lovemaking grew louder. Luckily Sameer was already fast asleep.
Sameer was woken later by Thorsten and took the second watch. As the night passed he began to hear a strange piping sound, but assumed this was the wind howling through the cracks in the ice.
Kurgan slowly began to wake up, sluggish and sleepy due to the cold. Opening his eyes he saw that it was nearly morning and that the sky was beginning to lighten in the east. Nobody had woken him for third watch, he realized, jerking awake. Looking around he saw that Sameer was slumped against the surrounding boulders, fast asleep, and Ilga was gone. He strode over and kicked Sameer awake. An argument quickly erupted between the two.
Thorsten strode about the campsite looking to see which way the girl had gone. With surprise he came across the frayed remains of rope. Whatever had happened had frightened their horses enough for them to break free and scatter. Looking about he saw strange markings in the snow. Something huge, soft and sinuous had emerged from a crevasse in the ice in front of their shelter. The marks were easy to see, and calling to his companions they gathered their gear and followed the strange track.
The trail moved down the valley and then turned up-slope moving around hillocks of snow and jutting ledges of rock, up the hillside toward the windswept peaks and away from the glacier. As the companions continued they came upon one of their horses, frozen solid. Its eyes were wide with terror and froth, frozen as it hit the air, was thick around its mouth. As they passed over a low ridge the three adventurers saw a smaller glacier stretching out across a valley in front of them. This glacier continued down-slope until it met with the main glacier below. The trail led straight into a small cave like entrance in the glaciers side. Hoisting their gear and readying their weapons the party entered. The morning sun glanced and flashed from the ice walls on either side. It seemed as though the companions were walking through a colossal gem.
As the adventurers moved into the cave they stumbled across Ilgas body, or what was left of it. Her head was gone, and with it most of the flesh from her upper body, so that the bones gleam white in the dim light of the cave. The protruding bones had been cleaned, as if the flesh was sucked from the very bones or licked clean by a giant rough tongue. There was a finely worked steel pendant covered in saliva alongside the body, which Kurgan collected, vowing to kill whatever had done this to the girl under his protection.
Now intent on destroying whatever had done this to Ilga the three resolute companions continued forward until they came to a fork in the tunnel. Kurgan, as always, suggested left and Sameer led the way through the tunnel. Soon snow began to crunch underfoot. Looking up they saw that they were now in a crevasse in the glacier, open to the sky. Continuing on they came to another fork in the ice. Moving left again the corridor in which they were travelling became wide and level, unlike the narrow cracks elsewhere in the glacier. Once, months or centuries ago, water poured in a torrent through this passageway, smoothing the corridor and leaving milky white ice everywhere. Moving on they find out what had happened to the waters. The passage opened into an echoing gloomy cavern whose floor sloped away to a dark and unseen end. Peering ahead Sameer could see an exit on the far side. There was a narrow ledge around the side of the hole and the three friends roped themselves together.
Sameer crossed the icy ledge without incident. Thorsten moved across. Suddenly his feet slipped on the ice and he plunged into the hole, unable to prevent himself he let out a loud scream of terror! First Sameer and then Kurgan were pulled off their feet, unable to find purchase on the slippery surface. The three fell into the hole….only to land much sooner than expected a mere 10ft down. Luckily the hole had frozen over and this prevented the adventurers from plummeting to a nasty death, although it was badly cracked. Sameer had managed to land lightly on his feet, but Kurgan and Thorsten were not so fortunate in their heavy armour.
Managing to climb out of the hole the battered companions moved out of the icy chamber, Kurgan leading the way. The tunnel soon opened up into a wider space and as Kurgan moved into the middle something large, clawed, incredibly vicious and furry jumped from above and slammed into his chest, almost knocking him down. Despite repeated blows the Wolverine kept lunging at Kurgan, clawing and biting at his armored legs until finally the three companions managed to put it down. Looking around they decided that this small area was a good place to rest up and get their breath back…….