“I hate when my armor pinches,” Gor Steelfist murmured as he adjusted his mail shirt. Wulfvin Sturmbjorne stood beside him on the dock scanning the fjord ahead of them. The water was as still as glass. He’d never seen the waters this still – and it put him on edge.
“Then why did you wear it,” he chided.
“It is my BEST armor,” Gor proclaimed. “I want to be wearing it if we meet the All-Father.”
“It is not very pretty,” Wulfvin poked.
“I did not say it was my PRETTIEST armor,” Gor corrected. “I said it was my BEST armor. This shirt has the most blood in it.”
He pushed his chin against his chest and pulled at the chain mail. “I am pretty positive that is goblin blood …. no …. orc … sticky, nasty, gets up in the rings.”
Ravenna kept a close eye on the other countries gathered around them. There was an uneasy peace – or at least a cessation of hostilities – brokered by gods and defined in the scroll each country leader held.
“Here they come,” Wulfvin announced and pointed.
Around the corner of the fjord, they saw dozens of massive longships, under no sail and with no men at the oars. But somehow these ships glided along the placid waters. Those with wolf heads carved at the front eased into dock near the Felgardians. Those with great stags carved at the front landed for the Elidorians. And so forth.
The ships for Ched Nasad bore a great Chaos Star at their head. The unruly bunch hopped aboard before they even stopped.
“Where’s Yak?” Game asked as he threw himself down in the cushioned seats. “Didn’t he say he’s from the north? He’d love this shit.”
“No one could find him,” Skrappy the Collector reported. Then he held up a dead squirrel and grinned. “But I found this.”
Soon all the ships were boarded and they pulled away from the docks as effortlessly as they had arrived. They turned slowly and floated across the water back out of the fjord.
Three countries still stood on the hill above the docks. No ships had come for them. The proud warriors of Legion Exsillium, the orderly drow of Chosen Blood, and the raucous orks of Waaagh! They begin to look at each other with puzzlement.
Then, they would have sworn the earth moved slightly.
A moment later it moved again.
Then they heard it.
They turned and coming over the hill was an army of giants. But not giants like they had ever seen or heard of. These were giants of legend. The giants who built the mountains. The giants who battle gods. Giants whose each matched step was thunder.
Instinctively, the heavy infantry of Chosen Blood formed their line and their casters opened their spellbooks. Exsillium seemed less concerned, but was somewhat uneasy that this was indeed a surprise. A total betrayal of the rest of Darkon was not unlikely in their minds. The orks were awestruck and completely silent as the massive creatures came close.
Without a word or signal of any kind, the first giant picked up two orks gently and turned to head back the way they had come. The second picked up two more and followed. Then a third and so forth. More giants came and picked up members of each country and headed back over the mountains.
“Easy with that ballista!” called a purple-clad Euryale – always mindful of the equipment. The giant in question cradled it like a baby. A big, wooden, death-baby.
The ships of Ched Nasad had not cleared the fjord yet and saw the giants. They tried to turn them around and head for a fight. But there was no altering course. The best they could do was fire a volley of arrows that fell well short of the shore. A symbolic resistance if nothing else.
A moment later, it looked as if a giant bird had taken flight from the shore. It sailed high into the air and arced by the sun. It was then they they realized it was not a bird. And that it was getting bigger as it began its descent towards them.
The great boulder splashed into the water a few yards behind the ship and the ensuing splash covered the decks and soaked all of Ched Nasad in ice cold water.
Warrior Pun tapped the soggy tobacco out of his pipe and nodded in their direction, “That’s cool.”
The rest of his shipmates were furious and tried to jump ship and swim back to shore to avenge the slight. But as soon as their feet hit the water they found themselves back in their seats.
On sailed the ships.
On marched the giants.
The Rings Game has begun.
The Rings Game
“This Game Is About to Be Played”