The Warrior in The Dark

Wulfgar rode his Harley through the jagged mountain pass. The cliffs jutted out like crooked teeth in the darkness, boulders and rock-slides threatened to cut off his path. The sun had set three days ago and had not risen.

In his youth, this would only be a sign of winter. In the north lands where he was from, now called Lapland, the sun would set in November and not return until nearly January. But this was not the north lands. The sun rose, even in the most frozen part of winter.

A boulder crashed down from the cliff. He sharply swerved his motorcycle and barely missed getting struck. A towering troll sat at the top of the cliff, grinning with a club in his hands.

“Come celebrate with us, warrior! It is a never-ending night. We shall feast without fear of the sun turning us to stone. Join us, brother in the darkness,” said the Troll.

“I swore an oath, as brethren of the night to protect humankind,” said Wulfgar.

“That was nearly two thousand years ago, your brethren left, and humanity’s time has come at an end.”

“Begone foul bridge dweller!”

Wulfgar held an ax shaped amulet towards the troll. The troll shrieked as if they threw acid on it and slunk off into the woods.

There was a loud mechanical sound in the distance. The metallic scream came from the West, over the next mountain. There was a small logging town in the area, and perhaps Wulfgar only heard lumber equipment. He cocked his ear to the side to hear the scraping again. It was an unfamiliar mechanical scream.

Restarting his Harley, he rode towards the next town.When he reached the outskirts of the town, the sound was loud enough to drown out his motorcycle. It became too oppressive as he headed toward the lumberyard. Wulfgar’s hearing was far too acute as his eardrums threatened to burst from the noise. Even now, he could feel the pressure from the sound. He had to turn back and head towards the town.

Wulfgar saw a bonfire at the end of the road, next to a trailer park and a dilapidated apartment complex. A group of people huddled together around the fire. Dressed in coats, hats, and knitted scarves. Their eyes widened as Wulfgar road up to them. They gawked at the biker. His long blond hair, leather jacket, and piercing green eyes seemed to put him out of place with the trailer park crowd.

“I come in peace,” Wulfgar hollered over the sound.

One man eyed him cautiously and put his hand into his sports coat. Wulfgar raised both of his hands over his head.

“I thought you could use some help with the..” Wulfgar nodded in the noise’s direction.

A woman with long dark hair and doe eyes nodded.

“You really think you can help?” she asked. Two young boys clung to her.

“I can try,” said Wulfgar. “It’s better than nothing.”

A man with thick glasses and a parka stood by the woman, putting his arm around her.

“What’s in it for you, man?” he asked.

“I swore an oath,” said Wulfgar.

“You a cop or something?”

“Or something,” said Wulfgar, grinning slightly.

The sound came from the lumber mill. I tried to investigate it, but it’s impossible without hearing protection. My ears are extremely sensitive.”

The man quirked an eyebrow, but the woman handed him a pair of fuzzy earmuffs.

“They’re all I have,” she said.

“I have some ear protectors for the firing range,” said a voice from behind them. It was a middle-aged gentleman in forest camo.

“Thank you, no offense, ma’am, but I think those would work better,” he said, handing the earmuffs back to her.

The hunter handed the hard ear covers to Wulfgar and shook his hand, looking deeply into his eyes for a moment before recoiling.

“Your eyes!” said the hunter.

“Contacts, they help deter bandits,” said Wulfgar.

The hunter shook his head and headed back toward the fire. Wulfgar put on the large plastic ear protectors and rode toward the lumberyard. Huge woodpiles and pallets dotted the yard.

He had to park his Harley walk the rest of the way. Heading toward the sound, a pool of black shadow manifested into a form. It was twisted and rotted; an animal’s skull appeared as its head.

Another monster, a muscular being covered in hair with snarling jaws, formed from the shadows.

“They take our homes and cut down our forest. They are the monsters, not us. Join us, let Fenrir cleanse the earth,” grumbled the wolf-like creature.

“I swore an oath to protect man,” said Wulfgar.

“If the earth dies, there will be no more men to protect. Even you need them to feed. Let us cull them now,” whispered the wraith.

Wulfgar pulled a revolver from his jacket and shot at the bony creature. The bullet shot through the wraith, splintering a two by four in the distance. Of course, these were creatures of shadow. Human weapons did not affect them.

Wulfgar’s eyes glowed bright green like a cat, his nails grew slightly longer, and his teeth sharpened into fangs.

He leaped on the wolf-like creature, tackling it to the ground, his hands grasped around his throat. The creature snapped back, catching part of his shoulder. A stream of blood poured out, painting the wood.

He spat and grabbed the wolf by the throat with his teeth. He ripped and tore. Blood from the creature poured out, and Wulfgar drank deeply. The monster screamed and melted into a black ichor that faded away. The bony wraith shrieked and flew towards the mill. Wulfgar chased it into the large mill.

An enormous wolf, the color of mist, was fighting against a silver chain. The chain wrapped over a circular saw. The blade was spinning, but the wolf pulled in the opposite direction, causing the horrid screech.

“They caught you in a trap, brother,” said Wulfgar.

“These dark creatures found my chain and left me in this forsaken realm,” snapped the wolf.

“So, they have not set you free for Ragnarök?”

“Oh, how I wish my brother, but now is not the time. Wraiths trap me,” growled Fenrir.

“I was summoned here; I know not by whom,” whispered a voice in the shadows.

The bony wraith appeared in the corner.

“By someone calling for the end of the world, and I think he wanted me to join him,” said Wulfgar.

Wulfgar remembered the troll atop the crag. It would have reason to call upon the never-ending night. There would be no sun to turn him into stone.

“I will free you. Can you stop trying to pull your chains?” asked Wulfgar as he turned off the saw.

“I agree, brother, and thank you,” said Fenrir.

Wulfgar raced back toward the mountain where he found the troll. At the top of the bluff, a small cave jutted out into the darkness.

Wulfgar climbed up the cliff inside the cave to find the troll sleeping. Behind it, a thin silver chain draped around a boulder.

“Troll, you dare to trap Fenrir here? Now is not the time for Ragnarok.”

The troll woke up, yawned, and looked at Wulfgar grumpily.

“If they don’t call Ragnarok now, humanity will end the earth on their own accord. Even now, the ice melts and the sea boils. I called upon darkness and winter to save them,” yawned the Troll.

“Never-ending night is not the way to save them.”

“Their time is over. They could not take care of the World Tree. Even now, its leaves and branches die. Is this the parasite you wish to save?”

“I swore an oath!” said Wulfgar.

“To a blood maiden that died on her shield thousands of years ago. It is over. Join the night. Humankind is but your food to feed on. Isn’t that why they sacrificed unto you. How many brides have you drained throughout the years to save the human species?”

“I haven’t drained a bride in years. They give willingly now, and I only take what I need, or I fill in battle. I can taste the likes of troll blood in my gullet now,” said Wulfgar. His fangs gleemed in the moonlight.

The troll rolled over, and his club hit Wulfgar hard, knocking the wind out of him. He staggered and rolled to the other side of the cave. The troll went to hit him again, but he uppercut the creature in the jaw, hard. The troll staggered back but rushed him again.

Wulfgar had fought trolls before. They were large and fairly stupid, and he normally would wear them down until the sun rose. At that point, the troll would turn to stone, and he had to run into the shelter before he burnt to a cinder. But now, night had no end, and the creature would not stop fighting. It wouldn’t be as simple this time. The sun would not rise unless he freed Fenrir.

He inched closer to the boulder, but the club hit him again, knocking him toward the cave entrance. Wulfgar caught himself before hurtling down the side of the cliff. The troll stormed out and raised his club, ready to smash his hand, when something caught the troll from behind.The giant wolf had somehow escaped the mill and now had the troll in his teeth. He shook it from side to side, and the troll went limp. Fenrir tossed the troll over the cliff-side, the creature hitting treetops with a thud.

Wulfgar went to the boulder and loosened the other part of the chain.

“Are you ready to go home?” asked the bony wraith as it materialized behind them.

The giant wolf sighed as Wulfgar handed the lead to the wraith. A portal opened behind the wraith, and it was full of stars. The Aura Borealis glowed.

“When I return, you shall know it. The ground will shake and freeze over. No sun nor moon shall shine. But not today. I’m only letting you drive me. I could snap you in two if I so chose,” said Fenrir.

“I’m sure you can, but for now, be a good boy,” sighed the wraith.

Fenrir growled and lowered his head and tail as the wraith led him through the portal. The portal closed, and, for the first time in three days, the pale light of dawn stretched across the horizon. Wulfgar headed back into the deepest part of the cave. He would have to stay there until nightfall, lest he became a pile of ash.

A growl came to his stomach, and he remembered the Doe-eyed woman. Yes, he had saved the village, and when he returned, he would take his sacrifice as a tribute.

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