Tryst leaped forward, roaring a battle cry designed to attract the monster’s attention while Cronos hacked into its back with an overhanded swing of his favorite bastard sword. When the blade met the things back, the steel came away red hot, the edge warped from contacting the creature’s hide.
“What the hell IS this thing?” He shouted, “We have to get her OUT of there!”
Vilhylm ran forward, growing bigger and stronger; his brutish aspect coming out. He grabbed the creature’s limbs and tried to pull them apart, struggling to tear it in half and release his sister. Callindra felt the thing’s throat constrict around her and with horrible force. With a herculean effort she managed to draw a sliver of Brightfang from his sheath and released a blast of raw magic. A slash opened in the side of its throat and she gulped a breath of fresh air.
The monster reared up, shrieking in pain and anger. A flailing limb slammed into Cronos, knocking him onto its back. His armor began to blacken and burn and he rolled off into the snow, cursing a blue streak. Vilhylm slammed his fist into the creature’s vulnerable underbelly, impacting Callindra’s body slightly and shoving her face halfway out through the hole her magic had punched.
“This god-cursed bastard. Is trying. To EAT ME!” She grated, trying to free her sword further.
The monster turned and tried to run back into its lair, but Tryst jumped in front of it, dropping his shield and gripping the sides of the wound, pulling with all his strength. Vilhylm joined him, and they each pulled on a side. As they pulled, Cronos discarded his damaged sword and drew another, hacking down and opening the cut far enough that Callindra spilled out in a burst of superheated blood. The digestive fluids of the creature had done their work; her hair was burned off as were her clothes. And her armor. And her sword sheath.
She shivered uncontrollably and felt as though she was sunburned all over. “Gods and demons. I feel burned and chilled to the bone all at once.”
“We must get her into the monster’s cave and build a fire or else she will freeze.” Tryst said, sweeping his cloak off his shoulders and wrapping her in it. Callindra winced at the rough wool touching her burns but pulled it around herself with her right hand, grateful for the warmth.
“That bastard burned up all my clothes.” She said, her voice rough with pain. “Bring its carcass into the cave, I’ll make boots from its blasted hide.”
“I’m not sure we have time for that.” Cronos said, looking at the still steaming corpse of the monster. “Don’t we have somewhere to be?”
“I’m not hiking across a sarding glacier nude Cronos.” She said acidly, “I think it won’t matter for the short term if they aren’t completely cured since it’s so cold, now shut up and help Vil drag it inside. We can probably start a fire from its damn hide. Tryst, can you please do something about these burns? I think I’m going to … just pass out for a bit.”
Callindra crumpled into Tryst’s arms and he carried her into the cave, followed by Vilhylm and a cursing Cronos as they dragged the beast’s body into the cave. As Callindra had suggested, the heat from the red hot organs on the creatures back continued to give off enough heat to keep the interior of the cave warm.
After Tryst healed the worst of her burns, Callindra gradually regained consciousness. Cronos had found some of his spare clothes that more or less fit her, and although she didn’t have the support of a breast band she at least wasn’t naked and shivering.
While her brothers rested, she deftly skinned the beast using her sword as she had so many times before. With the creature’s brain and a bit of magic, she managed to cure the hide in a matter of candlemarks and made herself a surprisingly serviceable pair of boots that laced all the way to her knee. She also cut out a rough breastplate that she could later reinforce to replace the beautifully embossed armor she had bartered for so long ago. Before she could finish that, she would need buckles and more advanced tools though.
After a meal of trail rations and snow melted in a pan on the still warm back of the monster, they set off across the glacier. Callindra found she didn’t much mind being forced to always keep Brightfang in her hand; his weight was a comfort to her although her hand quickly became stiff from the cold chilling the steel ice cold.
The next night, they camped in the lee of a massive snowdrift, setting up a tent barely large enough for all of them to fit in. The cramped conditions at very least allowed them to benefit from each other’s warmth. In the morning, they were able to make it to the base of the ashmount.
There was a large tunnel opening at the base of the mountain. An unguarded opening that had a stiff breeze blowing at their backs as they walked inside. The floor was littered with blades. Swords, scimitars, daggers, polearms and axes were scattered like leaves from a weapon tree. Some were broken, but others looked flawless at first glance. There were thousands of weapons more perfect than any blade they’d ever seen for sale in any shop.
A staircase wound around the outside of the room with broken blades scattered over the steps carved into the stone. The dominant feature in the room wasn’t the collection of weapons. In the center of the volcano was a pool of lava thirty feet across. Standing in the center of that pool was a figure Callindra could only think of as a demon. It was over fifty feet tall with red skin and jet black wings. Two huge chains ran from an iron collar about its neck to massive pillars of white stone or ice.