The Elder Invasion: CHAPTER 10 - The Gosai Mountains

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The Gosai Mountains are a place of oldest legend. It was here that King Gabriel trained under the wise master Gosai, and where the angel Asmodeus fell down the Steps of Heaven, and where Saint Palonis vanished after the war, and many other myths.

Nowadays, though the peaks are still largely unexplored, the Mountains are home to the Viking breweries founded by Lord Torsty. From here, a daily supply chain of alcohol and rare animal furs travels down narrow mountain paths to be sold in the City and the Cult Quarter. And likewise, the mountains are never without a band of adventurers seeking to hunt some mythical beast or find the lost temples of Gosai.

The largest peak - Mount Iwaku - is capped in ice and subject to constant storms. Few who go up there ever return.

[Power Hierarchy: C, R, D, S]
Re: The Gosai Mountains

In the courtyard of a dilapidated temple near the peak of Iwaku Mountain, a man sat cross-legged, his eyes closed. Though freezing snow fell about the man, he did not show signs of being cold, sitting perfectly still and silent. Then, suddenly, his eyes snapped open, and with a loud bellow he shouted, "Turd! TURD! Where's my tea?"

Hurriedly, a young man dressed in a Buddhist robe ran out of the main building, holding a steaming teapot in one hand and a tray with a single cup on it in the other. "Here you are, master Palonis!" said the young man. "I apologize for the delay in the preparation of your morning tea, but there was a complication. You see, we have visitors."

Standing up, Palonis grabbed the objects from his apprentice's hands and poured out some tea for himself. "Well, just don't delay ever again, boy, and I won't have to kill you," he said, and took a large sip of the hot tea before suddenly spitting it out again. "Wait a second!" he exclaimed. "Did you say 'visitors?'"

"Yes, master," Turd replied shakily, backing off slightly from his master. "They arrived just a minute or two ago. I think they're part of an..." When he saw that Palonis had already closed his eyes, he stopped talking and stood silently. Finally, when his master opened his eyes again, the young man continued as if he never stopped, "...archeological expedition."

"So they are," the ninja proclaimed, and thrust the tea items back into his apprentice's hands. "Keep that warm," he said. "If these people are what they appear to be, I may need a large drink of that pretty soon." With a small surge of mystical energy, the ninja vanished, reappearing in the temple's inner chamber.

Just as he had sensed, the intruders had walked in through the damaged back wall, and were now gazing at the various facets of the temple with expressions of admiration and educated interest. Some of them had already begun transcribing the markings on the wall when the ninja teleported in, causing the closer ones to jump in fright, dropping their pencils on the stony ground. Some of them clutched their hearts, as if fighting off a wave of excitement. "You're're the..." said a skinny blond woman near the front, apparently barely able to speak.

"I'm what, if you don't mind me asking?"

"SAINT PALONIS!" she shrieked, and soon everyone began to advance towards the ninja in a frighteningly happy-looking mob. "When that strange man in the robes told us that he'd find 'Master Palonis,' we were sure he meant you. Oooooh!" she squealed, "this is going to make us famous! Everything thought you were dead!"

"That was the dominant impression I was trying to convey," said Palonis, calmly backing away from the excited archeologists. "Now if you don't mind me asking, who in the world are you people, and why shouldn't I just kill you to preserve my veil of secrecy?"

Surprisingly enough, aside from the whole lot of them scooting back and a few faces becoming pale, the group seemed very calm. "We're with the Gosai Mountains Expeditionary Force," spoke a pudgy man with an unpleasing bowl cut and an equally unappealing green winter jacket. "And to answer your other question, look to your right."

Palonis didn't ever need to turn. Just in his peripheral vision, he could see a man with a video camera attached by a long cord to a laptop computer. "You're taping this on a live stream," the ninja said, disgusted. "BUGGER!"

"Geez dude, watch the language!" exclaimed the cameraman. "This is a live documentary, y'know. You wanna give the kids nightmares?"

"What do you have a film crew for anyway?" the ninja responded. "That seems like a treacherous load to carry up this unforgiving mountain."

"It's just a precaution, dude! Other expeditions ain't come down from the mountain, so we wanted to at least have proof we made it, ya dig?" The cameraman fiddled around with a few doodads on the camera. "Ain't it cool? We got a zoom lens and everything!"

"Anyway," continued the fat man, "that said, despite your obvious fame, you are in the way of our sponsored task. I hope you will let us do our work for King Rory."

"'King' Rory?" Palonis said, obviously dumbfounded by what he was hearing. There was a moment of silence as the ninja lowered his head in thought, and then he said, "Excuse me for a second."

Without waiting for assent from the crew, the ninja vanished, reappearing next to his apprentice, working a kettle over a fire. Hearing the audible puff of smoke that indicated his master's teleportation abilities, the apprentice stood and bowed. "Ah, master!" he said, "I have kept your tea warm for you. Would you like-"

"Pack up a change of clothes and some toiletries, Turd. We're going to see us a king."

"A king?" Turd exclaimed. "You mean we've got a job? I'll pack up my serrated knifes!"

"Might as well," said Palonis with a shrug. "If I don't like the explanation for this expedition I get from 'King Rory,' we very well might need them."

(Summary: Palonis is living a nice life of training on Mount Iwaku with his apprentice when a group of archeologists discovers the temple he's using. After they reveal that they're sanctioned by Lord Rory, Palonis decides to take his apprentice and pay Rory a visit.)

(Palonis is bound for Castle Iwaku)
Re: The Gosai Mountains

"Change... it's not just change. It smells of..."


Coffee feels it. Like a drifting sour wind, it's gone quickly, but the impression is strong, lasting. Something distant and grave, begun somewhere in the mangled past and still building.

In those days before the binding he might have waited.

The Chorus quietly murmurs behind the brilliant expanse of the Fourth Wall and he turns away.

A warm breeze drifts over the old cedar flooring, casting damp footprints as the chamber doors open.

Outside is a hill of white, the mouth at its base quickly vanishing beneath the fresh storm. Passing through, Coffee turns and beckons.

And beneath the snow, the wood creaks obediently.

As he drifts over a far ledge, the hill begins to shed, and like an ailing pet, the abode follows its sole inhabitant.
Re: The Gosai Mountains


The Holy City of Vetmimir
Gosai Mountains
The Castle

Staring out of his tiny window from the castle, Lord Torsty looked down at the townspeople and farmers walking by. As always, the main objective in the small mountain villages was to secure enough food for all the people throughout the long and cold winter.

Vetmimir, Little Vallhalla, whatever you choose to call the Viking mainhold was mostly made up of brick-houses that could keep people warm and alive through the blizzards and that would hopefully stand a chance against rockslides and snowslides. Apart from that there wasn't much else to find. A football-stadium, the usual pubs, boxing arenas and an inn was what made up Vetmimir's streets. The only road that led up to the isolated terrain was guarded by an impressive stone-wall and a castle.

The town is surrounded by a handfull of farms, providing the people with most of the food, another important factor for the cycle of life. Further up the hillsides lies the breweries.

The Castle, which is mostly vacant expect for the Lord, his servants and his children. Used for rituals, parties and other meetings.

When the men weren't out on missions fighting foreign forces they spent their time with their family. Most were appointed at the breweries. The main source of labor and activity in all of Vetmimir. Thanks to the business of selling alcohol to the outside-world, Vetmimirians could depend on living of their own food. Making a well-established income. Much like their ancestors they refrained from spending big-time to save money for when disaster might struck.

But these were changing times for the little community up in the hills of Gosai Mountains. Embla Oddardottir entered the room where Torsty resides.

"Why haven't you come down yet? You know you can't stay in here all day!" She barked.

A beautiful girl, still young enough to be labeled as so. Embla was the daughter of a former companion of his that had fallen during the Admin War.

She had the look of a goddess, blond curled hair, blue eyes and a skin-tone that lit the darkest places in the saddest moments. And yet, a great warrior she was. Definitly someone Torsty could trust to take his place when the day came. But she had many men competing for the spot, all who were of his blood. And so it would cause great confusion among the villagers.

Embla had almost taken up the job as personal-advisor on her own.

He didn't mind, it was clear that they couldn't keep on going like they had for decades for much longer. It wasn't like they had to sell their soul to Hel and Loki and work as slaves for the King. And Embla had lived outside of the mountains for some years, mostly in Iwaku City. She knew what they had to do to come on better terms with the outside world.

First and most importantly, as the face of the whole Viking-community, it was him, Torsty, that needed to change.

The days of reckless insanity were over. Bonds to the Mad King and his cultist minions had come to an end. What the future would bring was still uncertain.

A geographical look on Vetmimir, Little Vallhalla. Changes are in motion.]
Re: The Gosai Mountains

Sitting in his personal kitchen, just finished his last coffee, Torsty kept his attention to the small book that lied on the table infront of him.

The Viking Lord had taken an interest for Taoism and was trying to get all the information he needed to practice it in the most correct way. Being able to live a long and healthy life was a big priority for him at this stage of his life, and he found 'the way' to be a good tool in realizing that.

"Torsty! What are you still doing here?!" Embla shouted from the hall.


His response was followed by quick and harsh footsteps coming to wards the kitchen. He lifted his head ready to meet her eyes before she entered the room.

"Now see...see what you just said to me? How you adressed me?" Embla said in a surprisingly calm voice.

"You can't act like that infront of people, Torsty! I know you can be polite. And you have to be that to me, to the farmers, to the fishermen...even to the Shapeshifters from now on."

Torsty answered only with a few grumpy words that were unclear to Embla.

"Fine, just let me finish his page of the book and I'll head over to the shaman and hear what he has to say."



"The Shaman will be with you soon." A young boy with freckles and short red curled hair stepped out from the curtain that divided the visitors from the Shaman's personal space.

There was no one else but him there at the moment. Sitting on a carpet in the middle of the room which was circled by candles lightning the room, but it was still filled with darkness. The walls were whittled in tables and images of gods and mythical creatures.

The curtain vanished and before him sat an old long-bearded man with a helmet on his head. Sitting in his chair that was placed on top of a podium so that he would always be above the visitors.

"Now....'Gamle Erik'.....what can you tell me?" Torsty asked.

"Not much..."

"Old man, I don't have the time to be asking for the answers you can give me. Let me know what the winter brings." He raised his voice to make the Shaman understand that he was serious.

"Fair enough, I got more visitors waiting, so I'll be reasonable today."

No one really knew the real name of the Shaman, some said he didn't remember himself. So Torsty had just decided to call him 'Gamle Erik' (Gamle= Old), a nickname for the devil.

"This winter will be remembered for being a harsh one. It will continue to snow for months with few and short periods of abodes inbetween."

"Anything else?"

"I sense something is coming for Vetmimir..."

"From where? From the Mountains? From the City? The Shapeshifters?"

"That I do not know, all I can tell you is that something is coming. I suggest you do whatever you can to prevent this from entering the villages, Torsty. The faith of Vetmimir lies yet agian in your hands. Now...that is all."

'This can't be good.'
Re: The Gosai Mountains

"Come on ye big sissy!" Looking the bear right in it's eyes as they both were preparing to brawl together. Standing in the deep snow that covered the ground even in the deep woods.

Their circling movements made a crunchy sound as they stepped on the hard surface. Torsty squinted through the snow that was still falling down like it had done all morning and a cold wind that just got stronger the further he went up the hill clearly were of no advantage. With his steel blade in his hands, the Viking lord was ready to fight.

It had been several hours since he had left Vetmimir to take a trip up the mountains. Even though the settlement had been there for over hundred years now, they had never really taken the time to uncover the whole mysticism about the mountains.

He had only told the local blacksmith that he was going on his trip, he'd only end up arguing with Embla if she were to know anyway. He had no time to waste, he wanted to taste blood and go on a trip again, it had been too long.

He leaned forward and shouted "WITH ODIN BY MY SIDE!" as he charged for the bear. As they clashed together the bear swung his paws with great speed to wards his head. The viking avoided the attack with great precision, but the bear was able to scratch a marked wound on his left shoulder. He countered by swinging his blade in the back of the neck, killing it instantly.

'That was too easy..'

"Well, what would one expect of the great Viking Lord Torsty? A simple bear is no match for my mighty strength!" He said loudly to himself, resting his right foot on the slain's back.

After he was done flattering himself in front of no one, he cut open the bear and packed all the meat he would need for later in a bag made of the very same bear's fur that he had just fought.

Then he moved on.
Re: The Gosai Mountains


The snow in front of Torsty erupted upwards as a massive creature sprung its ambush. The Viking was knocked on his back and forced to roll aside as a great club smashed into the ground next to him.

He rolled to his feet and narrowed his eyes at the Troll.


"How did you get in?"

The Troll swung its club at the viking, roaring crude insults with every strike. But Torsty parried expertly. He was about to deliver a counter-attack when a knife slashed open his back. He dropped to one knee, grimacing as more tiny knife-strikes hit his back and shoulders. In the corner of his eye he saw a skinny-looking warrior girl, muttering a stream of incoherent babble as she danced around him.


"sighidon'tknowwhattodowhywon'theloveme...yousucklolpieisgreatilovenaruto!" hissed the Spammer as she wielded a dagger in each hand.

"Oh, for the love of..." Torsty got up again, swinging his axe to keep the Troll and the Spammer at bay. But then his arms were suddenly snagged as heavy chains whipped around them. The Viking was stuck by link after link and pulled back to the ground. Torsty felt each chain pulling at his soul, trying to carry it away to some other world. On the slope above him, an odd man in a top hat cackled and threw another link.


"Don't resist the links. They'll take you to a better place," said the nasal voice of the PimpRat.

With a roar, Torsty broke free of the chains, charging up the slope towards the man in the top hat. But then a blast of flame struck his side and threw him back down the slope. He landed on his back again, looking up at the boy with hate-filled eyes and flaming fingertips who guarded the PimpRat.


"NICE TRY YOU FUCKING FAGGOT!" roared the Flamer.

"Right, that's it!" For the fourth time, Torsty rose, but then he was assailed by a splitting headache. The world seemed to stretch, the ground around him losing all sense of proportion. He felt his joints being pulled too far, the ground beneath him blurring.

On the opposite hillside, a strange naked man was covered in paint and screaming dramatically.


The world stretched again, causing Torsty to go dizzy. He was knocked down again by the Troll and the Spammer, pain flooding his body.

"Stop toying with him," said a voice. On the hillside near the painted man, a lone figure stood in robes, a veil covering his face. He was clearly the leader of the assassins.


"Our lords want him dead," said the Hijacker. "Now get on with it."

[SUMMARY: Torsty is attacked by a group of Outsiders, who seem to have been ordered to assassinate him. If the above post confused any of you, then click here for a explanation.]
Re: The Gosai Mountains

The Temple of Gosai, Five minutes before the invasion.

"Saint Palonis! Now that you've returned, we have some questions for the viewers at ho-"

"No comment. Now get out of my house!" Having returned to the Temple of Gosai, Palonis couldn't say that he was especially surprised to see that the news crew was still broadcasting. Over in one corner of the main atrium, kept warm by a perpetual blaze burning in the center, two members of the crew were taking photos of the markings etched into the walls.

"Get out?" demanded the crew member attempting to hold a microphone under the ninja's face, a look of theatrical shock on her face. Turning to the cameraman, she added in a tone too deliberate to be coincidental, "Out into the intense cold of Mount Iwaku, where we might all freeze and die?"

"Keep up that tone of voice, and I might just do that," Palonis replied, having already turned away from the camera to march over to the storeroom he had cleared out and refitted as a bedroom. "If you know what's good for you, you'll leave after you're finished with your business. I do not take kindly to trespassers." Without another word, he opened the door, walked in, and slammed it shut, opening it again temporarily to throw out another crewman with a camera.

Now that he was finally alone, though he could still hear that woman commenting on his actions just outside the door, Palonis sat cross-legged on the floor of his room and commenced his daily meditation, emptying his mind of the cares and worries of the day. With any luck, he'd calm himself down enough to have a good night's sleep.

As he slowed his thoughts down, the ninja began to see what he knew to be visions of the mountain. He didn't know where these visions came from, but more often than not, they were important to him somehow.

He saw Torsty, leader of the vikings. He was being ambushed by strange beings that the ninja had never seen before. He was being overwhelmed by their combined powers, but he was still alive. There was still time.

"It appears that tonight is going to be a nightmare," he mumbled to himself as he stood. Focusing his power through his katana, he closed his eyes, and vanished.

When he reappeared, he was still on the mountain, but now he was on one of the many frozen peaks. "'Old still, ya Nazi!" shouted the Troll, swinging its club down at where the viking lord's head had been, only to get a face full of snow when Torsty shifted to the side. Though restrained, burned, and disoriented, he was still making an effort to avoid the attacks of those who were swarming upon him.

As fate would have it, the Hijacker stood just a little behind of where the ninja appeared, surveying the assassins' attempts to kill one man. When Palonis popped into existence in front of him, his first reaction was to jump backwards, shouting, "What in the-?!" Turning, the ninja favored the strange apparel of the man with a dismissive humph, and carved him in two with a swift swipe of his katana.

"BASTARD!!!!!" someone shouted behind Palonis, and he began to feel a sudden increase in warmth. Spinning around, the ninja ducked under an approaching fireball, and hopped hurriedly to the side to dodge a second and a third. The Flamer, howling obscenities all the while, had taken time off from attempting to roast Torsty, and the Spammer was nowhere in sight. This was not a good sign.

Sure enough, from the corner of his eye, the ninja saw the waifish young girl poking her head out of the snow and leveling a pair of pistols at him. She had somehow worked her way around to a flanking position while the Deviant, the PimpRat, and the Troll remained occupied with attempting to put down Torsty the rest of the way.

Without warning, the Flamer shrieked another obscenity, and charged forward at a devilish pace, throwing fireballs with every step. At the same time, the Spammer fired off a volley of shots both high and low. It would have been an inescapable pincer strike, had their target not suddenly vanished. The Flamer skidded to a halt, shouting another obscenity, while the Spammer hurriedly dropped one of her pistols while she fished within her pocket for fresh clips.

Just as she slammed one of the clips into place, a hand closed around her neck, and she was hoisted violently into the air. One of the disadvantages of being so light and agile was that even a man like Palonis could lift her into the air with one hand. "whoisitletmegoi'llkillyoustopit" she gasped, fervently trying to pull out one of her knives. Noticing this, the ninja squeezed harder, just as the Flamer saw the plight of his swiftly-choking comrade.

"Who am I?" Palonis growled. "I'm Death, and I've come to say hello. Goodbye." With a fresh new curse that the ninja hadn't heard in a while, the Flamer charged forward, melting the snow at his feet as he advanced. Placing his other hand on the Spammer's lower back, the ninja raised her above his head and tossed her light body right into her ignited friend's path. The instant he tripped over her form and fell on top of her, the young girl flared up herself, although unlike her friend, she wasn't fireproof.

Not that the Flamer noticed. Singularly focused on the strange man in the dark purple garb, he stood and advanced again past the now-screaming girl, just as Palonis walked slowly forward with his sword drawn, deflecting every fireball launched in his direction without breaking stride. "Your fighting style loses a little something when you take out the surprise factor," the ninja said, knocking one fireball in such a way that it sailed right over the Flamer's head and onto the still-burning Spammer.

In less than two seconds, the men had closed the gap between each other. Wreathed in flames, the assailant raised his burning fist and cried out, "SHUT UP MOTHERF-" In the same instant, the ninja swiped out with his sword, catching the burning man right in the chest. He went over backwards, mouthing out the last part of his highly clever cuss as he fell.

Palonis would have fought with more expedience, but with the numbers he had attracted to himself, he figured that he had evened the playing field enough for Torsty to handle the remaining problems. No sense wasting valuable energy on a non-crisis, after all.

(Summary: Returning to his abode, Palonis discovers, via one of his visions, that Torsty is alone and in trouble. Teleporting over, he takes out the Hijacker, the Flamer, and the Spammer, leaving the Deviant, the Pimprat, and the Troll for Torsty to deal with.)
Re: The Gosai Mountains

Was this the end? Would he die here, killed by a pack of losers?

It would at least seem that way. Torsty, still in the position of a praying man, begging on his knees spat blood into the white snow.

'But if this is how it's gonna end, i'll end up in HEL!'

A sudden turn of events appeared as someone was occupying the Hijacker and some of his minions. Without wasting time to see what distracted them Torsty stood up, grabbed his hammer and swung it at the Troll's kneecap while the giant was looking the other way. A big "crack" came of it and the Troll roared in pain as he fell forward, holding onto his kneecap as if that was of any help.

As he was about to swing his hammer at the back of the foes neck, something sharply forced the hammer out of his hands.

Torsty quickly turned around to spot the PimpRat laughing back at him.


Quickly he sent a link that whired itself around the vikings right-shoulder.

"BY ODIN! YOU...SHOULD...KNOW....NOT...TO...STEAL...A..VIKING'S WEAPON!" Filled with rage the viking cursed the demon, grapping a hold to the link, slowly pulling the Pimprat towards himself with all his might.


He could feel his strength vanishing hastily, but by the time they stood face to face, Torsty reached out with his left hand and easily stuck his fingers in the enemy's eyes. The link dissappeared and Torsty used his right hand to choke the Pimprat, seconds later it's will to live gave up.

"Only I share links around these parts.....FAGGOT!"

As Torsty had finished the Pimprat, Palonis had come to rescue again and finished off the Troll easily, slicing it's throath.

Exhausted, Torsty picked up the hammer and moved in the Deviant's direction, again his head started aching and he felt as if the snow beneath him had turned into ice. In a 'now or never' attempt, the viking threw his hammer, making a conjugated turn before it hit the remaining threat in it's ribs, killing it instantly.

Again, Torsty stood there, struggling to keep himself standing. His vision was blurred, but he managed to turn to the person that had helped him out. And even though he found his appearance somewhat familiar, he couldn't recognize who it was before he fell on his knees.


Before the rest of his body followed into the cold terrain, he added the two words he'd never thought he'd say to someone else; "!..."


He passed out.
Re: The Gosai Mountains

"You're welcome!" Palonis said haughtily as Torsty collapsed in front of him. It seemed that he would need to render more assistance than he originally thought. Standing in the snow, looking over the unconscious viking, the ninja sighed and reached out his mind. The land of the vikings was somewhere in these mountains, he knew, and it was imperative that Torsty return to his people immediately. If there were assassins out for his blood, the proud warrior would be safest surrounded by his people, ferocious and powerful as they were.

Amusingly, Palonis could barely see Vetmimir through his mind's eye, possibly because of the fog created by the snowfall. This was possibly the motivation for constructing a city on these frozen peaks. The only alternative was that the vikings really liked the cold. Or maybe they were crazy. Whatever the case, crouching down so as to be as close as possible to the wounded king, he closed his eyes, and the two of them vanished.

When they reappeared, they were within the halls of the castle, causing a servant cleaning the floors to give a sudden start. Staring at the prone form of his lord, he cried out, "Who are you, and what's happened to the lord?"

"He was attacked by assassins, that's what!" Palonis responded, trying in vain to lift the heavy viking, but finding himself unable to lift much more than his arm. "If you value your lord's life, you'll get a healer, quickly." The servant hesitated, then ran off to comply, leaving the ninja in what appeared to be a completely empty royal chambers. "You must not entertain many guests, old boy," he said casually, hoping that whatever healers existed in this snowy community would get here shortly.

(Summary: Palonis teleports Torsty to Vetmimir and tells a servant to get a healer.)
Re: The Gosai Mountains

Palonis words had awoken him from the unconsciousness. A grumbling "Thank you" was all he managed to say before he pulled a chair nearby to rest his weakened body.

"Being affiliated with the Mad King hasn't excatly made me the most popular guy in Iwaku. I haven't left the mountains for 18 years..." Torsty stopped, still exhausted he took some time to catch his breath, still no sign of a healer.

"I guess I owe you one for helping me out, Mr. Ninja-Saint. I feel that wasn't just a small-time gang passing by. I've never had trouble with assassins up here, in the mountains."

Finally a healer arrived with a young assistant, immediatly handing Torsty a big cup of warm tea, he took a long sip before continueing.

"Sorry for the non-existent hospitality, but I fear we might have quite the task protecting our homes. And if my scouts are correct, I suggest you hurry back to your temple and prepare yourself for whatever may come. I can always lend you some men in ai...." The viking lord closed his eyes and his head fell back as he fell asleep.

The healer, an elder woman, approached Palonis.

"I'm sorry, stranger. Lord Torsty won't be able to speak to anyone for awhile, he needs time to recover from his wounds. I suggest you come back tomorrow if you have unfinished business."

Torsty speaks to Palonis and warns him about what may come, clearly affected by his condition. A healer arrives and Torsty falls asleep due to the medication he is given. Palonis is told to come back tomorrow if he wishes so.]
Re: The Gosai Mountains

At the Base of Mount Iwaku
One Week After the Fall of Shapeshifter Town

Many who wished to overcome the treacherous Mount Iwaku had noted the frigid, unwelcoming nature of the mountain. Covered by a perpetual snowfall and pockmarked by occasional but deadly storms, it was not a place fit for any but the most hardy or determined of men. Unless, that is, you knew its secrets. There was a path up the mountain, concealed by snow almost all year long, which the heroes of old could climb with comparatively few problems. Not that this method was foolproof either, of course. The path was narrow in places, and if a person was ill-prepared, the frightening winds and frozen ground could easily dislodge him from his footing and send him tumbling to his doom.

These thoughts and more raged through young Anton's head as the mountain drew ever closer. Though he knew of the path, he had only ever crossed it twice in his life. Generally, Palonis had simply teleported him up the mountain to the temple at the top. For what it was worth though, it was the warmer time of the year, so there would be slightly less snow on the mountain. The amount of snow, however, would still be more than enough to kill somebody if he let himself stay still for too long.

Sitting in the passenger seat at the head of the convoy, Anton glanced back at the problem behind him. These were not experienced mountaineers, nor were they strong viking warriors. They were city people, women and children with them, some of whom had probably never seen snow in their lives. While they would certainly be safe and warm in the Gosai Temple itself, he wondered whether any of them would make it there in order to appreciate it. Perhaps, he considered, there would be someone who could create fire in this group. Certainly, Shapeshifter Town was home to some of the strangest and most exotic beings who lived in this world, so anything was possible. Or perhaps they could all change themselves into tiny creatures that would fit comfortably in a nice warm cloth-lined bag. Or perhaps...

"We'll be at the mountain in a couple hours," said the driver of the front vehicle, seated beside him. "What do we gotta do when we get there?"

Anton paused for a few seconds, then hesitantly responded, "Uh...we need to go...left! Yeah! Left when we reach the mountain, and then we'll see the path. It is hidden, but I will notice it when I see it."

"Uh huh?" said the driver, noticeably leery about the man commanding him. "Yeah, we'll do that then." There was a short pause with neither Anton nor the driver saying anything, then the fellow added in a sardonic tone, "So, you're sure it's safe? 'Cause you know, back in the city, we weren't safe even with the 'dark angel' on our side. No offense, but you ain't filling me with confidence."

"We will be safe!" Anton snapped. "You have my word on that!"

"Yeah, sure. As if your 'word' can stop those spider thingies from killing us."

Anton was tempted to say something more, but he stopped himself. Asmodeus had saddled him with the task of escorting these civilians for a reason, and he would not fail the angel. Not even if he had to tolerate the complaints of these people for days and days, not to mention the constant demands for breaks and the occasional doomsayer.

Transporting these people had been far from entertaining, to say the least, but he would persevere.
Re: The Gosai Mountains - CHAPTER 10

After hours of treacherous ascent, Anton's convoy rolled up onto the Goromid Plateau, a level ridge halfway up Mount Gosai. Some of the Teknikan frigates had landed here, while more hovered in the sky awaiting their turn to unload their civilian cargos. A retinue of Vikings from Vetmimir were present, helping the Teknikans to organise the wounded and convey them along the paths to the Viking strongholds.

It was a peculiar sense of unity that existed here - a quiet consensus to help those in need and to bow to the wishes of the Viking hosts. With the mountains seemingly free of the Elders, none of the madness and disunity they had caused seemed to exist here.

In the mountains there was hope.

As the convoy parked up on the plateau, Anton disembarked and hurried over to the lead Viking, who was directing the Teknikan squads. "These are the last of the civilians from Shifter Town. We picked up any we could on the way."

"Welcome to Vetmimir," replied the armoured chief, "We have food and fires ready for you. Do have you word of Lord Torsty?"

Anton looked at the ground, "He... he was still in the town when we left him... I... I don't know..."

There was silence between them, then Anton looked up again. "But we've brought something... something the others fought to protect." He motioned to one of the dusty humvees behind him. "It's the Sheathe of Iwaku, guarded by the Contract Spirits of the Lycan Queen."

The Viking nodded. "The Teknikans said it would be coming. We'll keep it safe."

"What about the rest of Iwaku?" asked the boy, staring beyond the plateau into the icy winds that whipped around the mount.

"As far as anyone is concerned," replied the Viking, walking away to deal with the wounded, "This mountain is all that's left of Iwaku now."
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