The Beast Lord
Eric White | Mike S. Young
The broad shouldered Viking sat slumped against a cliff side on a snow-covered mountain. He was clad in war torn leather armor that was ripped and burned from a recent battle. A war hammer was strapped across his back, and an axe hung from his hip. No less than four arrows were still stuck where they hit him. One was lodged deep in his shoulder, one in his thigh, and two in his chest. The chest wounds weren’t deep enough to be fatal, and he ripped them out easily. The blood steamed as it flowed from the wound, but it quickly froze.
The Viking had seen better days, but the cold numbed him so much that he barely felt his injuries. There was a soft ringing in his ears. He judged from his cracked helm that he hit his head pretty hard, and he was positive that he broke some bones in the fall. His lips were caked in frozen blood, and a tooth was missing. Though, a nasty gash in his side and another on his leg were the most severe.
Now he lay dying in the snow, his mission failed. He thought he had found the ancient beast of the gods. He thought he had found Kun’Lago. Now, he realized that he had been fooling himself the entire time, and the world was doomed.
He sighed heavily against the rocky cliff wall, and he thought of his trusted wyvern, Roko. He had been so foolish, blindly flying over a demon encampment. The flaming arrows and boulders had turned out to be too much for his animal companion to handle. Roko dodged back and forth, but eventually the beast master was knocked from the wyvern. Roko disappeared in a black cloud of smoke and flame, as the Viking fell more than a hundred feet to the mountainside below him.
He tried to sense his animal companion but he couldn’t find him. He tried not to assume the worst; he didn’t know what he would do without Roko. A beast lord formed a soul-bond with one beast in their lifetime. It was a bond so strong that it connected them forever, and if one died, part of the other would die too. He was okay with dying. He just wanted Roko to survive.
As he pulled the remaining arrows out, he thought of the nine kingdoms. The army of demons was surely at their borders by now. He would be responsible for the destruction of their world.
The Viking paused for a second at that realization.
His thoughts were interrupted when he heard their footfalls in the woods. The demons must have tracked him through the night, coming to kill him where he lay. The Viking reached for his axe, but then he realized it was futile. He knew that he was in no condition to fight. Meanwhile, the footfalls just got closer.
The demons emerged through the trees, pausing when they saw him. The ringing in his ears grew louder and his head was pounding, but the demons just smirked at him. Their hungry eyes glowed red with anticipation, and they cackled as they slowly closed in around him.
They could see that he wasn’t going to fight back, and they relished the easy kill. There were only eight of them. The Viking remembered a time when he would have slain them all where they stood, but now he just closed his eyes in anticipation of the killing blow. Then to the Viking’s shock, he sensed him.
“Roko,” he said, opening his eyes.
The wyvern dove out of the sky and hit a demon so hard that it died instantly. Roko spun around, lashing out at a second demon still in shock. The wyvern tore at his throat over and over again until the devilish creature fell. The ringing grew louder. The beast lord felt like his head was about to explode.
He did not care. He could not and would not let Roko die. It was the one creature in the world that loved the Viking and would die for him. The Viking could not let that go unrewarded. The Viking forced himself to his feet.
Just as the third demon assaulted Roko, it was hit in the back of the skull by the Viking’s mighty axe. The beast lord was on his feet now. The ringing was unbearable, and he felt as if his head would split open. He didn’t care, he bashed in the skull of another demon with his war hammer. The other demons began to close in, but Roko and the Viking fought side by side. His heart beat stronger with every blow he dealt. He swung his hammer with the fury of the gods, and Roko engulfed their foes in flame. Lost in his rage, the Viking screamed and raved at the demons. He cursed at them, he cursed himself, and he cursed Kun’Lago most of all.
The mere thought of the ancient beast made his head erupt in pain. The ringing had grown so loud that it threatened to consume him, and the agony forced him to his knees. Then everything clicked for the beast lord.
“This world will not die,” the Viking said, holding his hammer high above his head. His eyes lit up as bright as the sun, and Roko’s flames danced around him. The remaining demons began to run away in fear as the beast lord rose to his feet.
The Viking threw down his hammer, and the sound of thunder echoed throughout the mountainside, Roko roared approvingly at his side, spitting flames into the air.
“Kun’lago! The world needs you once again. Rise! I am Beorn the Beast Lord! Awaken and save this world!”
The mountain began to shift and stir. The cliff side began to shake and rattle as boulders began to tumble from its ledge. Then, the cliff side slowly lifted, revealing one of the giant yellow eyes of Kun’Lago.