I write this to tell the tale that shall never escape my lips. That of my journey into the west and that which it showed me. Things that I would rather have left unseen. As I lay here under the shadow of the mountain I am reminded of my childhood and of the stories of the god’s great deeds. I used to think of the towering mountains as the epitome of their creations, bastions of strength and solidarity that reach to the heavens and seem to brush their underbelly. Now they seem intimidating. Dark, jagged peaks tearing into the flesh of the sky. I know I will not overcome them, my body is far too weak now, but this message may make its way into the lands of men. Let it then give knowledge and insight to those that read it.
The heads of the war had devised that we needed to pose a counter offensive against the armies coming from the west. Their plan was to send a large force over the south seas where the dwarves still held dominion and set up a base camp at the southern coast. I was to captain our vessel, a dwarvish galleon named Fassir’s Hammer that dwarfed even the mightiest of ships that I had seen in the navies of men. It was painstakingly designed specifically for this mission. Its lowest deck a storage hold large enough to hold an entire village, filled with food, weapons, armor, and tools. The decks above were mostly hammocks for the crew and soldiers all in all numbering well over five hundred sturdy men and dwarves. The upper deck sprouted four huge masts upon which were strung the sails, each of which had to be hoisted by a hundred hardy men. It was also the host of dozens of early design great bows capable of launching arrows twice as long as full-grown man. The ship certainly struck a striking figure and was to serve as a fortress once it had been beached. knowing the dwarves even a ship as large as this was likely a pile of timber and ore but a few weeks before.
We sailed for three slow, monotonous weeks across the steady rise and fall of the sea; as though we were cutting through the skin of some vast living thing. Then we struck something. At first, I thought it was reef, though absurd to be so far from shore, that is until the sound. I can still hear it, the sound of the wooden hull scraping across the rough hide. Then the deep bellow that seemed more an unnatural vibration in my bones than an actual sound of any living thing. A moment passed and the ship settled back into the waters as though it was all a dream. The men however became frantic, sprinting to the railings to try to glimpse the source of this frightful encounter. Minutes passed as we watched for any sign of our attacker but the seas seemed content to hide the beast away below the green waves, taunting our eyes with shifts of color and shade. All was calm and soon the crew grew tired of looking for nothing and started back to their positions.
It struck again. The ship rose clean from the water flattening me and the crew to the deck as that echoing bellow sounded again and drove all feeling but fear from our hearts. It must of been just a moment, that which felt like years of my life, suspended over the plummeting ship, seeing the dark shadow that lay under it, unable to even scream, the air having been stripped from my lungs. Then the fall, the horrible short fall back to the hard deck below and to the horror that was under it.
Rising from the deck I paid no heed to the sound of screams and crunching wood that came from below. I was too preoccupied with my own preservation to care about the fate of the crew or the ship. I had only one thought. I had to get off. I reached the railing and, as though guided by a thought not my own, gazed down into the churning sea. Great, black, oily tentacles, further round than the towering, white marble columns of Vasckr where climbing the hull, squeezing it to pieces. Hypnotized by the pulsating flesh I could not move, only stare as they rose above the railing in front of me. Rising till they towered over the ship like some gothic crown before falling heavily back down on top of us, felling the masts and splitting the deck. I was thrown overboard, falling through the churning sea for several feet like a rock.
I did not look. I dared not even open my eyes as I frantically pulled myself up through the water. But the surface brought no absolution only the screaming of men, creaking of timber, and sloshing of the sea. I gulped down the air fearing that at any moment I may be pulled back below the waves by a hungering appendage. And I swam. I swam away from that wreck that should have been my grave. I swam till my legs were numb and my eyes burning, fighting the current and the tide all the way to shore. The physical exertion helped to clear my mind of the thought of that horrid thing. A welcome if temporary respite. Finally pulling myself from the waves like a beached whale I reveled in the feeling of land. taking handfuls of sand just to feel it run through my fingers. I lay at the foot of towering grey cliffs silhouetted against the rising moon. A great wall barring entrance into the kingdom of beasts. I was dragged further west than I had hoped. At that realization my exhaustion addled mind abandoned me and I fell into a restless sleep on the cold, wet sand.
I awoke disoriented to the cawing of seagulls, my face crusted with sand and the waves lapping at my legs. Rising unsteadily to my feet I looked around nervously as to a clue of where I was. Several scattered pieces of wood and a tattered cloth lay drifting forlornly in the water. I knew then it was no figment of some horrid dreaming but a terrifying reality. Knowing there would be no rescue and not hoping for any survivors I set out eastward towards my only possible salvation.
The days that followed passed in a daze, progress marked only by the decreasing height of the cliffs and ever-growing mountains in the distance. Then as I stumbled over the small ledge that was all that remained of the oppressive pale cliff face, I saw in the dim light of dawn a huge mass far in the distance and I knew it was no mountain for it moved with a slow deliberate certainty. I stumbled and fell back hard onto the damp sand. I sat a moment pondering whether what I saw could be anything but my own exhaustion manifest. Then I shivered, remembering that creature beneath the waves. Rising once more I peeked over the edge hoping that it would be gone, an actual hallucination rather than another frightening reality. But no, the creatures dark shadow stood in clear contrast to the blue sky and no matter how hard I tried I could not make it disappear.
As I stared listlessly at the titan’s steady progress I witnessed another being materialize before it. A faintly glowing humanoid that stood almost head to head with the titan. It wielded a mighty sword that must have been as tall as the mountains of the north. I know now what alluded me at the time. that this must have been a god, the very same that we call upon in our desperation and in our joys. For what the other beast is I can only imagine for it must not of been made by any god’s hand.
The two beings clashed for what seemed like hours. Their great bulk causing the earth to shudder and shake with every motion. The god cut deep into the titan’s flesh with its sword and drove it back in strides. But the beast was not so easily bested. Its jagged claws drove into the god’s chest and it breathed great heaps of flame that clung to the god like a shroud. Even as they fought the ground shuddered and broke and the god stumbled. A wurm of the elder tales, for no other creature could fit its description, rose from under the god’s feet. It wrapped itself around his legs, binding them tight and throwing the god off balance. And before he could make any attempt to remove the wurm the other beast had leapt forth, its great wings spread as it tackled the god to the ground. The battle turned into an incoherent struggle barely visible from my distant viewpoint, a primal battle for supremacy between colossal beings.
A moment passed. Then a bright, multicolored light came from the battlefield and blinded me. The ground shook violently throwing me off balance and as I stumbled I was hit by a powerful wind as though caught in a sudden gale that shoved me violently to the ground. When I could see again I saw not any sign of the giants only the rising black smoke that joined the dark clouds in the sky. I stared at the aftermath till I could no longer bear it. Tired and dismayed I set my path as it had been, to the mountains.
I stand but a day’s walk from the mountainside. I can feel my body giving way to the fatigue and hunger that had so far driven me like a whip. I doubt I will make it over the mountains to see the land of the gods. I have long thought of the things that I have seen and I do not know if I should believe them. They seem even to me the ramblings of a mad man or troubled child. But I, even in my delirious exhaustion, could not have imagined those horrid things. I am shaken, of that I’m sure, both in body and in faith for I know, even if I cannot, that I witnessed the death of a god. If the beings that made us and this world can fall prey to these beasts like a farmer to the wolves then what chance do us insects stand against them.