To the norns, the Hunt is a feat of strength, courage, and strategy. It is a time to prove your worth, your skill, and to be noticed as a great hero. For Koda’s Breath, it was an opportunity to ingratiate himself into his adoptive nation. Had he memories of who he was, perhaps his sense of purpose would be more defined. However when your self has been taken away, the act of redefinition is crucial. Without a purpose the mind begins to slip and madness draws ever closer.
Koda’s Breath arrived without fanfare. His deeds were not known and he felt like an outsider amongst these competitive beings. They boasted of their previous feats, and tried to create instability by claiming the ease in which they would fell this new foe. Knut had tracked an Icebrood wolf pack, seemingly controlled by a single master, to the Icesteppes near Twinspur Haven. He suspected that they were the murderous group who had infiltrated the Might and Main, and had sent mail to each participant to be prepared for this unique foe. Eir had excused herself early in the preparations, as she had been called to the Pact base far to the west.
Koda’s Breath surveyed the group now walking through the Eastern Watchpost. An even spread of men and women, some dressed in leather, others in silk and cloth. Many wore elaborate plate armours. Mara walked beside him, her face painted in green and black, longbow strapped across her back. Her hair was braided again, with flowers today, and she was stealing glances from a tall, slim necromancer who clearly didn’t return the sentiment. Koda’s Breath smiled, shaking his head, and focused on the task ahead.
The party loudly made its way to Twinspur Haven, boasting and revelling in the excitement. Koda’s Breath was the only one who walked silently, his thoughts turned towards the large hammer in his hands. He had spent the morning running his paw pads along the cold ridges that formed the icy head, memorising each crevice and ridge so intense was his concentration. Mara had grown quickly bored of his silence, and moved towards the head of the group and joined a few of her friends. Between the walls of Breakneck Pass the voices of the norns reverberated throughout, so loudly to cause the snow clinging to the edges to fall lazily down. Koda’s Breath felt the cold less keenly than the norn, so wore less bulky clothing to shield from the area’s icy grip. He found himself less tired as they passed through Taigan groves, needing only a moments rest at Victor’s point. While sitting, a young norn child came up to him.
“What are you?”
Koda’s Breath guessed the child had never seen kodan before.
“I am Koda’s Breath. I am a kodan from the northern tribes.” It was the extent of his knowledge about his past.
“Why do you look like a bear though? My uncle can become a bear, but only when he is upset. You’re not upset are you?”
“I am not. We kodan do not change our form, as the norn do. It is rumored that once, the norn were kodan who, in losing their connection to the great creator Koda, fell from this form into the form you are now”.
Koda’s Breath could not remember where he had heard this fact. As had been common in his memory loss, his knowledge of certain things were not lost, such as how to speak, or why the sun rose and set, but his memories of where he came from or his experiences would not, despite his meditations, come to his mind.
“I am not a Bear. My parents follow Snow Leopard and I will too.”
“I do not know whether this is true, little one, but I think it would be an honour to be related to your people. You have shown such kindness.” Koda’s Breath bowed his head, and the child grinned.
“Would you like to play with me and my friends? We are going to have a snowball fight”.
“Thank you but I must prepare for the coming Hunt, and meditate.” Koda’s Breath smiled at the child as she scampered away to join her friends who had clearly dared her to talk to him. He crossed his legs and spread his palms out wide. In the snow around him, he drew a figure. Two sets of claw slashes, in two half moons, slightly adjacent to each other. He did this instinctively, and began to meditate on Stillness. One of the Great Meditations, it cleared his mind of everything, and he became like a block of ice, unmoving in the snow. His heart barely beat, quietening the emptiness of his mind.
Koda’s Breath was shaken out of his meditation by Mara, and the party continued its way through Icevine dale to Twinspur Haven. The distance was not far but hampered by a sudden and severe blizzard, making their progress slow. The cold wind bit into his eyes and dried out his nose. The shelter Twinspur Haven provided was welcome. When all the party had moved out of the cold, Knut conferred with a local Lionguard, and then called them to attention.
“The Icebrood Wolfmaster and his pack have been seen circling outside in the blizzard! We will fan out and trap them. Kill off the wolves first then focus on their master!”
The norn and Koda’s Breath made their way out to the Icesteppes. Koda’s Breath was near to Mara and a few others and they made a wide circle, waiting to catch their corrupted killers. Once in formation, Mara sent Meeki out into the centre, and had her make noises similar to a wounded bear. Quickly, they could hear the howls of the Icebrood wolves and shouts in a deep voice. In the whiteout of the blizzard he could not see the rest of the circle.
Suddenly the wind changed, and the blizzard subsided. The Icebrood Wolfmaster was in the middle of the circle, but they had underestimated his pack. Six fierce Icebrood wolves bared their teeth at the encircling norns, and slowly padded towards them. With a almighty yell, one of the larger norn broke rank and raced towards the wolves. He swung his greatsword around, missed, and was not fast enough to bring it back when two wolves pounced on him, knocking him to the ground. He went down nearly instantly. The other norn ran in to help their fallen comrade, and one by one they were taken down. Knut managed to kill one of the larger wolves before the wolfmaster threw an axe at him, forcing him away towards Koda’s Breath and Mara’s position. Koda’s Breath threw up a barrier, reflecting his flying axes, and threw himself into the air towards the corrupted group, swinging down hard onto the ground. He could feel Mara’s arrows flying past his body, her aim good, but doing little damage to the wolves he now faced. Koda’s Breath swung his hammer at the nearest wolf, the icy head catching the beast mid-air and forcing it to the ground.
Knut was shouting, ordering the norn to form a group to attack the wolfmaster, but many had been crippled or suffering from the chill that emanated from their enemies’ bodies. Koda’s Breath was in the thick of the melee, swatting at the wolves with all his strength. He spun, consecrating the ground around him and forming an impenetrable barrier. In an instant he released his virtues and felt himself grow more powerful. Arrows rained down on the wolves from Mara, and an elementalist off to his left was blasting the area with fire. He hefted his hammer behind him and swung powerfully, knocking the Wolfmaster off his feet. He raised his hammer again, but he was not fast enough to deal the killing blow and the wolves quickly overcame him.
He rolled out of the way of most of the damage, and fled towards Knut and Mara. Others fell in behind him, taking attention away from him and separating the wolves from their master.
“Mara, I can’t continue.” Koda’s Breath was badly wounded. Mara’s eyes were wide with fear. Knut turned to both of them.
“Go back to the Haven!” He shouted over the screams of another dying norn. “I will kill the beasts!” He raised his sword, and charged into the foray, slicing the head off of a wolf in one stroke.
Koda’s Breath and Mara fled south, back to the Haven. The gate was closed, and the Lionguard inside did not respond to their calls. They turned south-east, and rounded the hill near the tower end of the haven. Someone had stacked barrels and boxes near the edge, and they climbed into the garrison, and made their way down the stairs inside the tower. The door at the bottom was bolted shut, and Mara exclaimed several oaths to Bear before sitting down and tending to Koda’s Breaths bruises.
After a few hours passed, the wind whipped up into a frenzy. Another blizzard had arrived, and brought the cold winds with it. They were relatively safe, but needed to start a fire soon. Mara found some kindling and a tinderbox in a supply crate, and they huddled near to the fire.
“Do you think we will be safe in here?” Her voice wavered slightly, and Meeki came over to comfort her.
“I do not know. But we will need to wait for the end to this blizzard. Let us rest, and in the morning we will see who has survived” Koda’s Breath stayed awake until he could no longer keep his eyes open.