Ymffrost The Giant
by Jason Hoyt
Tales of the Sacred Sword (YouTube)
In the northern edge of the known world, all the way past the Darkwood Forest. Past the branches of great families. All the way to a place most Kaigon men and women had never heard of, let alone had ever set foot in, lied a town forgotten to the passage of time.
Nine moons of winter and hard barren soil made life there difficult enough. Ymffrost made it unbearable. Ymffrost was a giant that lived in a cave high in the Razor Mountains to the west. Some say he lived in the mountains due to his love of the cold. Some say his lived there to hear his great roars echo off the mountains. All said his skin was invincible.
On the coldest winter nights, when even the heat from a great fire and the embrace of loved ones could not keep the chill from one’s bones, Ymffrost would descend from his mountain cave. When the town folk awoke from their long winter’s sleep, there was a chance that one home would be short a member.
On one particularly cold morning Saeth awoke with his loving wife in his arms, but his daughter Ceg was nowhere to be found.
With determination in his heart and a farewell kiss from his wife, Saeth donned his warmest furs, strapped his sturdiest axe in a loop at his hip, and slung his trusted bow over his back.
Powered by vengeance, Saeth climbed the mountain until steepness and lack of air forced him to crawl. He crawled past the highest tree. Past the loneliest cliff goat, wolverine, and white owl.
The winter sun does not stay long this far north in the world. With the onset of darkness came Ymffrost’s song. A great roar that reverberated throughout the mountains. It called out like a beacon and Saeth continued through the darkness.
The morning sun cast a long mountain shadow to the east. Past that shadow daylight broke over the town. Saeth scrambled up the hill, like a madman. Ceg had been missing for a full day. He was close.
A snow fox, as pure white as the snow around him, watched Saeth scoop a handful of snow as sustenance. Saeth paused and calmed himself. He nodded to the fox who ran away. Saeth would learn well from this lesson.
Saeth pulled his body over an escarpment. A flat, snow-covered land lay before him. At its end the mountain continued upward, but a cave stood out at the base of the flat land.
Ymffrost’s song beckoned Saeth to the cave. Through the roars, a faint muffled cry called out. A parent knows the call their child apart from all others.
With a beaten and defeated Ceg slung over his shoulder, Ymffrost emerged from his cave. His great arms outstretched and his roaring ceased, if only long enough for a yawn. He was twice the height of a man and his skin was coated in a rocky green so dark, it was almost black.
If Ymffrost noticed Saeth, he gave no indication. With a hand as large as a loaf of bread, he dug through the snow like a rodent digging for grubs. He yanked out a root Saeth had never seen before. He clenched his fist then opened it. The root had ground to dust which Ymffrost sprinkled over Ceg’s hair.
“Meat must be spiced just so,” Ymffrost’s voice was halfway between a song and a roar.
“Unhand her,” With his axe held high overhead, Saeth charged the giant of the razor mountains.
Ymffrost turned his back to Saeth and placed Ceg on the ground. She was tied like a hog with vines and roots as ropes. Rags stuffed her mouth to gag her sounds.
Saeth’s axe rebounded off the giant’s green back, with a clang. Saeth struggled to control it.
“No blade can harm the great Ymffrost,” Ymffrost spread his arms wide, calling to the mountains. “Can you not hear my song? My skin is made from Atrotos. I am invincible,”
Ymffrost scooped Ceg in his arms, like a man holding a kitten. He headed back into his cave. His ambling gait a speed greater that most men can sprint.
Saeth inspected the spot here he struck Ymffrost. Not a dent nor scratch. As he started after Ymffrost, the snow fox caught his eye. It yawned at Saeth then sauntered out of sight. Saeth nodded in return.
Saeth entered the cave at a determined but not rushed pace. Bones littered the floors and walls, like a sick art display of a mad tyrant. Skulls too small to be adult. Femurs on opposite sides of the room. Clothes of long dead children scattered the ground.
“Come to strike me again? You’ll only dull your axe. Begone man. Your flesh is too old for my tastes. It reeks of mold. I have no interest in you and you have no chance of saving this one. Return to your home,”
“I’ve not come for that one,” answered Saeth
“Oh? Then what have you come for?”
“All my life I’ve heard tales of the great roar of Ymffrost the giant. I’ve followed you hear to hear it for myself,”
Ymffrost studied Saeth then placed Ceg’s body in a cauldron of water. At the cauldron’s base, a fire grew. The first bubbles forming from the heat. Ceg thrashed, but she was bound and gagged. The giant sucked in a gulp of air then let out a roar.
The sound was deafening. Saeth’s hat flew from his head and his hair whipped back. He leaned forward to avoid falling backward. Several bones flew out of the cave and many others rolled along its floor. After several seconds the roar ceased.
“Behold the roar of Ymffrost. Are you satisfied?”
Saeth wiped a web of spittle from his skin. The winter fox watched from outside the cave. It yawned. Saeth nodded then faced the giant once again.
“I had heard the roar of Ymffrost was greater than a thousand white bears. Yet all I hear is the mew of a kitten. Such a wasted trip,” Saeth sighed.
“Kitten? I’ll show you kitten,” Ymffrost blew the remaining air from his lungs. He closed his eyes, placed his hands on his stomach, and sucked in air for a full minute. He opened his mouth to let out his mightiest roar.
Before any sound came out, Saeth had drawn his bow and fired. The arrow struck true, deep inside the giant’s mouth and buried into the inside of his skull.
Ymffrost may have skin made of invincible Atrotos, but his insides were as soft as the flesh of any man. The giant collapsed to the ground.
Saeth untied his daughter and wrapped her in furs. With her in his arms they descended the mountain. They returned to his wife.
Many beasts make their calls from high upon the Razor Mountains. The hoot of the wise owl. The roar of the white bear. The purr of the cougar. But never again was heard the roar of Ymffrost.