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Timera's Den, a tale depicting a maltreated and misused Mortiwraith in distress, takes place at the end of the Final Storm. Mallik and Nock, dear friends despite their differences, set out to Frostland in a response to the land's plea for help—until they hear Timera's side of the story.. and change their minds.

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The sun still lurked just below the horizon behind a deep wall of clouds and thickening snow. It cast an eerie blue twilight over Frostland and the two travelers who traversed its wintry landscape.

"The snow is relentless," said Nock as he and Mallik marched under the shadows of towering green pines.

"This place is called The Everwinter Wood," Mallik replied, a mischievous grin forming beneath his coppery mustache.

"An apt name." Nock shivered and brushed a powdery layer of flakes off his shoulder armor. He frowned. "As is Frostland."

"No stomach for cold, ah?" Mallik laughed. "You need more meat on your bones. Padding, my friend." Mallik took a hand from the haft of his immense hammer and patted his ample belly.

"So I see," said Nock. "You've stomach enough for all season... is that it?"

"Oh yes! And as a matter of fact, I'm rather hungry." Mallik grinned.

Nock looked up through the swirling snowflakes at the dark gray mantle of clouds overhead. "We've already strayed far from the dragon steeds, and the storm seems to be strengthening."

"Agreed," said Mallik. "The sooner we find this monster the better."

Nock grimaced. He wished he knew more about what they were hunting. "Stark white," muttered Nock. "Red eyes and razor sharp talons and teeth. King Brahndivir of Frostland could have given us a little more to go on."

Mallik nodded. "I wonder if he could have. That Captian Halfir and his group—they are the only ones who have seen the beast. And they seemed a bit tight-lipped to me."

"So it is with the warriors of Frostland, I'm told," said Nock. "Hard... and cold, like the land on which they live. And even more so having lost two men to this creature."

"Could be, but I think this Halfir fellow was none too pleased that King Brahndivir sent to Alleble for help."

Nock's bright eyes narrowed. "In any case we know very little about this beast, Mallik. We should be cautious."

"Bah, it's probably just a wolvin... one of the white pelts, like as not."

"Kaliam thought as much," said Nock. "Still, I've not known any wolvin to have red eyes. Until we know for sure, it would be wise for us to approach more quietly than we have."

They trudged along in utter silence. The thickening snow made no sound and seemed to absorb the crunch of their footfalls. The pines rose up like dark towers on either side. So tall were the colossal evergreens of Frostland that they seemed to scrape the clouds. And their limbs were bushy, broad and strong—strong enough to hold heaps and great mounds of snow. Mallik watched as Nock walked beneath one of the lower boughs. Mallik put down his mammer, leaped up, and shook the branch so hard that a huge clump of snow plopped down on top of Nock.

Nock's eyes bulged, and he arched his back, comically wriggling in his armor in order to get the invading snow away from his back. "Malliiiik," he whispered furiously. Mallik thought perhaps he'd gone too far, for Nock unslung his bow and reached for an arrow.

Suddenly, a mournfal howly rang out from far ahead. "Great moonrascals!" Mallik shouted. He picked up his hammer and charged through the pines. Nock raced after and quickly passed his larger friend. The branches whipped backward, smacking Mallik in the chest and face and powdering him with snow. He broke through a row of trees.

Nock yelled, "STOP!" and grabbed Mallik by the shoulder, else he would have half-blindly careened over the edge of a snowy precipice. "Get down," Nock whispered and then drew Mallik to the ground. "Look."


More to come soon!

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