1963-10-20 - Under Storm King Mountain
Summary: Sif and Hrimhari hope to find some information from the leirjotnar exiles. Instead they find trouble courtesy of Jotunheim.
Related: Halls of the Storm King
Theme Song: None
rogue hrimhari sif 

Storm King State Park isn't much different from the last time the clutch of Asgardians visited, save the foliage has steadily diminished. Patches show the dark soil through the denuded branches, where a few of those giants were not torn from the soil or devoured by sinkholes. Several posted notices on paper sag from the rain, almost illegible warnings about avoiding trails up to the mountain doing little now.

A goodly number of sinkholes still inflict themselves on the environment, dropping down on spirals of frozen stone and rock into the deep layers of tunnel buried beneath the park and leading to Storm King Mountain. Very few surface trails give an idea of where they are, much less where they are headed.

The trick is finding a way down safely and getting under the mountain, since the way out (thank you teleportation) is not the same as the maddening way in.


<Where are the others?>

Hrimhari casts his thought out to his nearby subjects — other wolves, of Asgard — while he stands watch over some of the active sinkholes. One wolf, a mottled brown-coated male, trots back to the wolf-prince and bows his head.

<This one is pleased to report that scouts have found passages beneath some of the sinkholes,> he explains to Hrimhari. <Trout-Swatter was first in. He complains of worms in his snout now…>

The prince shakes his silver-coated head and snorts. In wolfman form, naked but for his fur, he turns aside from his subject and remarks aloud:

<Take the thanks of Hrimhari with thee, Bracken-Tail,> says he in the tongue of beasts before shifting his attention in the direction of one lady Sif.

<This one will confer with the Denmother.>

<This one wants to see Two-Leg Denmother kill more things…> Bracken-Tail retorts with a tail-wag.


It has been a while since Sif was wrapped up in a mystery of this kind along with her fellow man. Even as Hrimhari convenes with the wolves, the turns a near scowled eye towards the two with a slight raise of her body to stand to her full height. Even though she has her armor, it was in it's minimalist form. No vambraces, no shield, only two swords that hang upon her hips as she dusts her hands off to free them from dirt. Whilst she could understand the speak of the beasts, she herself does not use it. It could be that her vocal cords were not wired as such, and if she even tried, she'd sound like a little cat mewling. So to save everyone the embarrassment, she speaks openly.

"Now now, Bracken-Tail." She coos, kneeling once again with an offer of her hand. "We do not travel beneath to bring sword to stone. We only seek to speak. Mayhap, learn. And deliver the news to the Princes Three. Are we understood?"


Activity under the surface may exist, but there's no much of a fresh trail to speak of. The Asgardian wolves will find old scents of clay and ore, stone disturbed and soil fallen. Some rain might infiltrate through the boulders because precipitation always finds a way. Ask anyone with a basement.

The particular sinkhole visited by the wolves is a large gyre with jumbled boulders, soil, and broken bits of bedrock and trees mingled together. They drill deep into the soil, plunging into another tunnel presumably. But it's a very narrow fit, squeezing depending on one's proportions, trying to slither through the space. The wolves have to be unhappy about that.


Bracken-Tail's head comes up at Sif's reply, and he tilts it far to one side, his ears alert and erect. <The Two-Legs learn from talking to stone?> he inquires with muted bewilderment.

<This explains much.>

<Hush,> Hrimhari commands, and the other wolf bows his head to both liege and denmother. With a flick of his tail, the prince makes his way over to the indicated sinkhole… and frowns. His own ears flatten against his head and he gives Sif a rueful look.

"The scents are old," says he in English. "Stale. Uninviting. As is the entrance to Below. 'Tis a good thing the Denmother wore so few metal coverings. A tight fit awaits thee…"

With that thought in mind, Hrimhari drops to all fours and morphs into a 'normal' sized wolf. He nods once to a very unhappy Bracken-Tail and his little 'squad' of warwolves, to follow him — and leaps into the sinkhole.


ROLL: Sif +rolls 1d100 for a result of: 89


ROLL: Hrimhari +rolls 1d100 for a result of: 45


A lean forward to press a kiss to the tip of Bracken-Tail's nose was given before she stands to approach the hole. Her purpose of wearing that outfit was two sided. One to show kinship with the wolves and the other for tight fits like now, that would be much needed. Hair, dark as it was, decorated with braids of varying types; loopholes and ringlets to tie off at the ends.. and fur. False fur that lines the arms and collars just because.

"Old. Yes." She murmurs quietly, looking down below.. "But there is nothing left.. but the drop.."

Without another word, Sif leaps, her arms clasped together over her chest, her back hitting the tight fit of dirt which allows her to follow the tunneling down below easily. While she could have teleported down below, she remembers the cavernous space like the back of her mind.. this way?

WAS MORE FUN! «cue aggressive music»


Little sunlight manages to slip through the gyre, and as soon as they start to squeeze around the frozen earthen maelstrom, the available illumination dwindles down to nothing. Darkness devours the travelers, forcing them to rely on their other senses to compensate while their eyes spark with invisible stars, straining to find any speck or particle.

Rough walls bear an unnatural overall shape, the floor flat, just like the previous tunnels Sif and Hrimhari encountered. Equally as odd, a dull light shines out like so many stars at a much weaker hue. Tiny pinpricks sparkle and leave a delirious sense of what is up and what is down. Corridors weave off the arching path, sometimes splitting into Ys, dead-ending, wandering this way or that. Not that the topography matters if you can't see.

It's all fun and games provided one knows where they travel… And doesn't get stuck in the rock.


Humiliation is not something a wolf relishes.

Pride is as important as one's sense of smell, to survive — or so these noble creatures believe. How terrible it must be for Hrimhari then, to find himself *stuck* part way through the hole, so that only his head, chest and forelegs protrude from the ceiling of the cavern below.

Bracken-Tail makes it past without trouble.

As do the warwolves behind him.

The prince growls. "This one… requires assistance," says he as he tries to free himself. He partly shape-shifts, while sending his wolves on ahead down the tunnel. <Divide thyselves,> in orders the wolves. <Go, see, and tell Hrimhari all…>

<Sire,> Bracken-Tail chimes in. <The surface earth is eating thy… hind portions!>


Now imagine how it looks to the raven circling above the trees, croaking its chortling laughter as it wings through the branches and takes off.

«Silly dog, you can't return to Mother Earth the way you came out.»

A stirring of feathers runs on the wind.


Hugin and Munin were possibly laughing. Telling words to Heimdall, Odin, and Frigga themselves. Frigga would press a hand to her lip to keep still the merry sound. While Odin would possibly kick a foot up in laughter while clutching his belly.

Sif reaches the bottom with no fanfare, the landing, with her heavy self, creates a soft little crater kicked up by the dust as she glances upright to the dark spots. A rock was picked up with ease and placed upon her shoulder, her feet bearing down, ear pressed to the thing as she begins to turn. Her body angles so; like an ice skater yet on dried land, and another ballerina-esque bend has Sif HURLING the rock towards Hrimhari's bottom.

He wanted help, he shall get it, and a wider crater so that his body could move through..



The Prince of Wolves, son of the Dread-Wolf himself… manages to un-stick his bottom from the sinkhole trying to swallow it — with a bit of help from the Denmother — and lands on the cavern floor.

At least that part he manages with some degree of dignity.

<Humility is an ever-important lesson for all beings to learn…> he comments with mock-nonchalance, and then he pads ahead toward the other tunnels.

<These clay-giants make the earth feel wrong…> he mutters aloud in his native tongue. <Now this one wishes he had studied the mystic arts, like his Grandsire…>


They reach the tunnel and it goes in both ways, with equally dead and faded out scents barely lingering on the rock. This is not the way they went before; there is no familiar musk of wolf, no traces of Odinsons or that weird brew of an Inhuman.

The other wolves run about trying to find their way, but Asgardian wolves still have to contend with running their noses into walls, scrabbling on dead falls of scree, or barking in irritation at a dipped hole in the floor. Could they be forgiven for feeling rather irritable about these demands laid upon them? Surely. The party tries to lumber its way along, one of those poor lupine souls sure to need a bandage for his very bruised tail. Maybe he should stop thumping it on rock faces.

Onwards into the stars last time involved an unceremonious fall through the floor. They're quite high up and last they checked, headed at least towards the mountain. But there are many ways off. So, follow your nose, Toucan Hrim?


With his pride mostly intact once again, Hrimhari morphs back into wolfman and pauses, one arm across his chest, his elbow resting upon it, while he taps at his chin. Two of the scouting wolves — Trout-Swatter and Cloud-Dancer — return from up ahead, giving little or no sign of their approach until they are much closer.

Both wolves open their mouths and drop a number of glowing crystals (taken from the walls and floor of the tunnel) as a faint source of light.

The prince smiles and swishes his tail. <This will help,> says he, turning to Sif. <That way,> he points to one of the tunnels. <Smells more favourable to Hrimhari. Shall we chance it?>


The wolves are sure to have very sore teeth. Chewing out the crystals from the walls is not easy work; for a dwarf they practically jump out, eager to greet a dvergr, but for wolves, they glow sullen and listless, barely brightening around the Asgardian and the wolf prince.

Pet rocks have feelings. But they do work as rather awkward little lanterns!


A handful of minutes later, Hrimhari stands further along in the tunnels — holding in his clawed, left hand a small pile of the glowing rocks (he left others for Sif). The rocks are still sticky from wolf-saliva, not that the prince notices.


He walks over to one of the walls, and holds out his free hand toward it, palm flat, if only just to feel the wall's texture — while he sniffs at the air ahead in the dark…


ROLL: Hrimhari +rolls 1d100 for a result of: 96


ROLL: Rogue +rolls 1d100 for a result of: 1


Considerable trial and error leads the pair through the tunnels, aided by the wolves who have marked, sometimes in the most bestial ways, where not to go. Once he leaves behind the calculating part of his half-immortal blood behind, Hrimhari can find the rhythm of the pace under his feet, the dull glimmer of lights shining in confounding patterns but easily forgotten if he narrows or shuts his eyes and instead trusts in nose and paw. The turn and twist requires the pair to jump down through another of the holes bored into the ground, and this time, he doesn't get stuck.

… Many twists and turns later …

They emerge into the huge cavern under Storm King Mountain. Evidence of occupation is a little hard to miss. Glowing rune circles weave around the leirjotnar participants arranged in a lozenge, the top point occupied by the cliff-sized guardian, himself glowing from head to toe with such dense rune magic that he looks completely tattooed. The thrills of a chant rumble through the air, and no doubt Hrimhari and Sif felt the basso rumbling and shaking long before they reached it. The ground is shaking and trembling walls throw dust down on the participants. Three equal ranks of the stone giants stand arrayed towards the entrance where the construct usually stands, armed with boulders, long trunks, hammers, cudgels, and more. Towards the back of the chamber, if only they had light to see — the giants don't require it — then the Asgardian and wolf prince might observe dozens of noncombatants back on the stone buildings, out of reach, ready to hurl stones as a last ditch defense if they can't run up into the tunnels.

A lurid sheen of light spills from that entrance where the construct guards, where the leirjotnar themselves fled from Thor. The bluish striations look like the ocean under ice, a glacier lit by the sun, and bitter, bitter cold roars out.


The prince stops dead, just across from Sif and flanked by all the wolves that have followed them down here. His ears focus intently upon the gathering of clay-giants in the voluminous cavern, and his tail coils about his left leg.

Sniffing the air, he instantly wrinkles his nose against the scent of clay — lots of clay — and the ice… Once he recognises the portal to Jotunheim for what it is, the prince's lip curls into a snarl.

But he does not utter it.

<The Two-Legs of Clay have arrayed themselves against us…> he murmurs in the Wolf-Tongue. <As though defending something… but what?>

<So too, have they kept the portal in their sights,> says one of the wolves. Sif would recognize him as Runs-In-Circles: a black and white 'teen' — named by her, in point of fact.

<Aye,> replies the prince. <But not to march ON it…they have come THROUGH it. Peculiar…>


Snow and ice, rock and clay. The leirjotnar are children of rock. The winter-kin, on the other hand, reek of blizzards and clammy skin.

The warriors are not an impressive sight by jotun standards, given the size difference. Yet they have the advantage of a lower ceiling than the average frost giant. The narrow corridor also limits how many can come out as much as it constricts how many can go in. They are arranged in a funnel so any spill over will hit the flanks of the chevron of warriors, and allow the wings to close to crush, bash, smash, and otherwise dismember enemies.

Never mind there is also a huge animated statue unlikely to feel pain or fear. It does not hold any obvious weapons, but then why need it, when its reach is so long?

The women and many, many juveniles on the rooftops can only watch their best face the portal and the first emerging shapes.

Shapes that are revealed by portal light to be blocky, squat, and terrible. Other leirjotnar, wearing furs of slain wolves and mantles of stranger beasts. They come forth in a gush of snowflakes, and swing their clubs and fists as furiously as their brethren. Shadows bend and twist as the fray begins, and that barely audible rumbling builds in a crescendo that shakes the very roots of the mountains. A chorus from those behind join as they howl their cries, and the four men with their mouths to the great horns built into the wall blow.
The horns groan their long war cries.

And blow.

The sound reaches for miles.

And blow.

The bedrock itself shudders.


The wolves need no further provocation than to know that portal leads to Jotunheim — and there are Jotuns pouring through it. All of them snap into a threatening stance: forelegs splayed, heads down, teeth bared — awaiting word from their prince.

Hrimhari… sees the pelts on the Jotuns' belts.

And then he sees red.

The prince drops to all fours, only to grow in size until he becomes a direwolf the size of a horse. He is more monster than beast, now — courtesy of the blood of Fenris.

<No Wolfslayer leaves,> he orders his people. Then they attack. With speed and agility on their side, the vargr break off into pairs — going for weak-points like ankles and other joints as well key targets such as the eyes.

Hrimhari leaps airborne for the largest Jotun he can find.

The Jotuns may yet again learn why they fear the wolves.


ROLL: Rogue +rolls 1d100 for a result of: 90


The tunnel is too narrow for more than two stone giants to move through at a time. These are warriors, full grown and healthy, glistening under a shellac of frost. Their muscles crackle when they move, and their growls and shouts in the complex, groaning language of the leirjotnar promises violence and pain.

The exiles' forces might seem rather scanty by comparison, though they are every bit as bristling and enraged. Their weapons might not shine like glass, if they have weapons at all. A twelve foot long caber is still a formidable weapon hurled by a creature, sibling to gneiss and schist. One of them breaks formation in the chevron to hurl the thing, sending it sailing past the rune-strewn golem into the midst. It collides with the chest of the advancing stone giant, exploding into splinters and bark, knocking back the assailant a few steps.

The soldier behind him doesn't care, shoving past and hurling a pair of icy objects that explore into mist and freezing the air.

The five chanting jotnar surrounded by runes sing the deep magic as best they can, and their guardian swivels on one massive foot. It is enormous, smaller than a full grown frost giant, who would have trouble fitting in here easily, but easily capable of confronting one.

Ice and snow might give the wolves trouble, their paws sure to find little purchase if they charge out from the tunnel. The cold bites the lungs of anything that breathes, bitterly so. It's like a punch to the gut.

The golem doesn't breathe. The golem doesn't care. "Traitors defy the word!" It bellows around the shaking ground and punches its stony fist into the unharmed front rank soldier. The sound of breaking stone and bone is hideous, and he /pulps/ the boulders. Who knew boulders could be pulped? Apparently they can!


It was instant mayhem as soon as they revealed themselves. With Sif unprepared for battle, she nearly jumps to the side to block Hrimhari from attacking, but it was his right. Many of his kin were worn upon the giants as a second skin; trophies, the dead staring out with open maws in a taunt that Sif herself could not ignore.

With the children and women hiding, the Jotun providing their line of defense, the cold that nearly blisters the tips of her toes and fingertips singing out a pain that she does not want to feel, she wisely.. withdraws.

Even though her weapons were soon brandished against the fray, she's on the defense. Many of the ice shards that were hurled towards the Jotun were intercepted by the Lady Sif; blades cutting through, stopping through mid air, a kick up of a shard and a second kick towards the butt of it draws their own projectiles back towards them in reflection. Where one would revel in such a fight, this was wrong. Equal parts of her determine that they shouldn't be involved, but with the sight of the wolves, it was already too late.


Some of the wolves lag in their attack when the air turns to ice. Their responses low, they hesitate here and there — but none of them stop. Even when a howl of pain splits the air, or a similar yelp as one wolf is skewered by an ice shard, the rest… do not stop.

Hrimhari does not falter for a second. He has been fighting Jotuns for millennia; instead he attacks the axe-hand of the largest Jotun before him, slashing deeply into its wrist, severing bone and tendon. His second attack goes for the giant's elbow, while trying to avoid the creature's other arm…

<The Clay Ones,> he orders his wolves. <Defend the chanters! No Wolfslayer leaves. No Wolfslayer leaves!!>


Leirjotnar fights leirjotnar. The greater warriors spilling out from the tunnel have two very large obstacles, beyond their own pulverized associate: a huge wolf, an unimpressed golem. They dive and smash their way through, eager to strike at the exiles.

A nasty surprise comes to anyone who hits or strikes the enemy stone giants: they're covered in a sheen of ice, a mystical coating to armour them further. Claws and blades don't bite so deep, and even punches and blunt weapons fail to impact as much. It simply gives another layer of protection, and the bitter cold is terrible to teeth and gums. Don't lick: wolf tongue will get stuck.

Two by two they emerge from the tunnel. Behind them a frost giant chants and howls, bringing down winter into the subterranean world. A blast of icy pellets shoot out over the heads of the advancing leirjotnar, reducing visibility further to pea soup. The front lines have to wait for monsters to emerge from the gloom and strike, hoping they aren't hitting their friends and allies.

Sif can see the cowering children, the leirjotnar women armed with simple weapons: tiles, boulders. In Asgard, and in Jotunheim, the women rarely fight. They're unpracticed at this. If the front lines break, it's a slaughter waiting to happen.

And the month of slaughter begins in but days…


There was no satisfaction in this; the ice shards beat back to their creators, in which the wolves take up position to defend the mystics to ensure their survival, Sif does as she had promised the first night there.

She protects the women and children.

She was going to be the last line of defense to ensure this, both blades soon twirled as she makes her approach, a simple nod given to the women and children to lay down their arms and -run-. But then it starts, those blade swings to work up the energy for the berserker to bring itself forth. Up, around.. down.. t'was not a mystic glow that the sorceress who would not be named put upon her, but a building up of something that was already there. That faint within her eyes, the blood coursing through her veins. And yet, when the final blade falls and implants itself into the deep caverns of the earth the Goddess of War ignites herself into a new flame amidst the battle of frost, stone, wolf and bone.

"Women and children.." Her voice was quiet at first.. "..FLEE NOW."


Five sorcerers positioned in a lozenge with the golem formerly at their point are doing all they can to keep the construct protected by the slow, ancient magic they wield. It's an old form that does not respond to hasty efforts, the runes used to give shape and form to nebulous possibilities. But the earth groans and bucks underfoot, tilting the battlefield this way and that. Leirjotnar aren't dvergr; they are possibly cousins (tell no one) and sturdy, but not so sure footed. Another warrior goes down, pounced upon surely by wolf and stone giant. The golem grabs and punches; any that he gets his hands on, he simply tears in half. Clay and sand rush down where that behemoth pulls apart a giant into two pieces, dumping them aside. But it's only one combatant, against many who split their focus on Hrimhari and the wolves, the leirjotnar, the really big giant statue with tattooed runes everywhere. In the mist, it's pure chaos.

The leirjotnar children scream and cry, huddling behind the walls. Their mothers watch this display uncomprehending, only knowing they aren't being attacked. A shout to flee is met with a shuffling here and there. Many won't run. Some scrabble to the roofs, trying to reach the tunnels under the mountain. Flight in the dark, pursuit by their own kinsmen and kin. A boulder flies at Sif.


A giant hand goes flying.

It is holding onto an axe of ice.

Immediately following it is the sound of a giant falling upon another giant; it screams of being blinded — until its screams die in a gurgle.

Hrimhari stands atop the Jotun, sprayed in its strange blue-black blood and ichor, and slashes the creature's belt.

The pelts of fallen wolves drops to the ground. The prince quickly surveys the rest of the carnage, noting also Sif's stand by the women and young clay-ones. Good. Most of his wolves still live — a fact for which he breathes a sigh of relief — although he does notice Runs-In-Circles tugging on a dead giant's frozen earlobe…

More accurately, the wolf has his tongue stuck to it, but at least he is in no immediate danger. The Prince HOWLS — a deliberate command, but not for the wolves here…

It is for his people still hunting in Jotunheim. 'Follow this one's call. Find the portal if you can. Safeguard it against any further incursion by it.'

A second later, and Hrimhari joins Rowanoak, Sleeps-In-Hollows and Fly-Swatter near the mystics, and attacks the Wolfslayers fighting toward them…


It's worth noting that the frost giant, or possibly giants, have not ventured out from the tunnel. The portal is their responsibility and the emanations of wintery weather follow their presence. The low bellow of the horns continues, rolling further and deeper into the mountain, an alarm ringing through stone into the belly of the land.


Violence takes many forms: it's the punch that caves in a wolf's ribs, the ice-rimed axe chopping through granite arms, severing a limb. It's in the hard blow that takes Hrimhari on the hip before one of his wolves leaps up to bite at an elbow, trying to shake off an opponent in the melee.

One of the sorcerers takes a hurled hammer to the skull, pick driven into the shallow bone over his ear. The runes around him wink out, and a line of tattooed runes on the golem in dull taupe vanish from sight. It roars again, its strategy to defend. For every body on the ground, another comes deep from Jotunheim.

That population is seemingly endless. But then filtering an army through a straw takes a while to drain.


There was nothing Sif could do for the ones that do not run, though the ones that do would live to fight another day and that was all right with her. T'was an odd thing, defending the giants, though there was a fight to be had an honor to uphold..

"Don't just stand there!" Sif hollers out, until rocky arms lift in attempts to shield themselves for what was to come..

Which was a boulder. A really, really big boulder; there wasn't enough time for her to formulate a plan, save for arms that instinctively hold itself upright, both palms of her hand pushing back against the might of the boulder that slams against the palm of her hands. It nearly burrows her into the ground, sliding her back within her pace until it cracks and remained to only be held up by an adjustment and a force of a push together. There was obvious strain, but a Goddess does not cry out, she only plants her foot into stability, turning, twisting with her hips in attempts to throw the boulder like a heavy discus towards the portal that the enemy filters through.

And once they were trapped? If it works? Game over.


ROLL: Sif +rolls 1d20 for a result of: 3


The Prince goes for the portal.

Not the portal itself, but rather the Jotuns still coming through it. At this point, he does not attack any single giant, but darts like silver lightning through several of them — attacking well-known weaknesses to slow them down, put them off-balance, or even blind them. As Sif's thrown boulder misses one Jotun only to strike another full in the face, Hrimhari slashes the legs out from under it, using the giant's own body to shield him from the shattering boulder. Then he runs up it, to go for the eyes of another.

Sleeps-In-Hollows joins him.

When the wolf takes an axe to its back, it locks its jaws around the giant's leg, biting through a joint with its dying breath.

Rowanoak takes its place.

A blinded Jotun stumbles deeper into the cavern, bumping into its own people. It swings its frozen sword around, responding to the sound of wolves and fleeing clay-giants… beheading one of its own kind.


The discus swings towards the tunnel the leirjotnar pour out of, but with all that mist in the way, even Sif's fine senses are stymied. Her guess goes wide as the irregular boulder smashes into a wall towards the back of the chamber and caves in a small walkway.


The portal at the end of that tunnel is not one or even ten yards back. That long route chiseled into the bones of Storm King Mountain is full of enemies: leirjotnar almost one and all, but here is a troll, there is an ice giant (the smaller kin of the frost), and a good number of run of the mill vindthursar—the wind giants, those of the highest peaks, who billow out more of the storm rime, causing lightning to spark and thundersnow to boom overhead. The piecemeal armour and weaponry doesn't much matter except they are all clearly a mercenary force prepared to bash their ways through.

Hrimhari has a fundamental problem: getting through the sheer mass of them blocking him. There are far too many creatures to avoid them all without taking hits, strikes, or in one notable case, a frosty gauntlet.

The frost giant holding open the portal is not ignorant of the trouble stirring up, and though it's hunched way, way back there, the glee in its burning blue eyes is similar to the greatest ice sheets about to drop a berg on an unsuspecting boat. He, for it's decidedly that, raises a hand and swipes a hand from side to side, throwing a very large block to the ground. Magic sparks: it writhes out of the fallen thing.

And then a wall of ice explodes up to the top of the cavern, like toothy icicles clamping shut. It creates a wall in front of the portal, true, but it leaves a fair bit of room for the warriors to gather in the space around it. Out of reach.


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