It was the first time he had been spelled by a shamanic rune.
[...] Unlike Berserkrs and Shieldmaidens who inhale the magic of the Gods fighting with their bare hands or through the weapons they wield, the Shamans use spells, a type of magic linked to runes and sacrifices of living beings [...]
Dag recalled having learned something about Viking shamans when he was still on Earth.
"Your skills are stunning, Myr. As always, I am pleased with your services," Hjalmar said.
Myr made a slight bow.
Dag didn't know what to think. He was doomed by now.
Only Magni could have freed him from that prison. But what if he didn't get there in time? What if it took too long?
"You're going to let me rot in here, aren't you?" asked Dag, in a heartbroken tone.
Both Hjalmar and Myr burst into a fat laugh.
The man who had dragged the girl was still there, behind them and he also laughed, to please his ruler.
"Are you afraid to die, kid?" asked Hjalmar.
Dag grabbed the bars, approaching them with his face.
"You're the afraid ones, you idiots! Otherwise, you wouldn't keep me locked up in here! Cowards!" he yelled in Hjalmar and Myr's face.
Shaking, the cage moved again, squeaking.
"We? Fear... you?" said Myr, as Hjalmar kept chuckling, making fun of Dag.
The shaman took off his hood.
He was an elderly man, with a thick grayish beard aged by time.
On his wrinkled face, there was a huge scar that covered almost the entire face, passing over one eye, which was no longer between his eyelids.
In addition to the main scar, his face was covered by many other deep, smaller scars.
The only eye left was red. His skin did not look like that of a normal human being: it was very pale as if he was a corpse.
"I'm not afraid of anything, brat" replied the shaman. At these words, he lowered his arm to the ground and opened his hand.
A noise began to be heard, like a hiss.
From the long sleeve of his cloth robe, a large black snake came out, crawling on his arm until it reached the floor.
The girl, at the reptile's vision, was so frightened that she let out a scream. While still on the ground, she began to retreat, until her back touched the bars of Dag's cage.
The snake continued to crawl toward the cage.
It arrived in front of the girl, who was paralyzed in fear.
"No! I beg you!" said the young woman, pleading for mercy.
Dag was right behind her, on the other side of the bars.
The snake rose to the girl's face, swaying sinuously.
It slowly began to contract the muscles of its long body, preparing to quickly attack its prey.
Dag looked at Myr.
The animal was moving under his control!
He had been able to summon a real beast directly from his body. Dag couldn't believe his eyes.
In an instant, the snake snapped towards the girl's face, opening its mouth wide, showing off its sharp hooked teeth.
"No!" yelled Dag, trying to defend the victim.
Myr nodded his hand.
The serpent stopped, with its mouth still open, just over an inch from the poor girl's face, which kept shaking paralyzed.
From its sharp upper teeth hung small droplets of a greenish liquid.
It was certainly a venomous snake. If it had bitten its prey, she would have died within a few hours.
Myr moved his hand again, and the reptile crawled back toward him until it slipped back into the sleeve of his robe.
Dag was heartbroken. His heart was beating fast in his chest: he was afraid to watch the death of that girl before his eyes.
Hjalmar approached the cage.
The girl moved immediately, to avoid being trampled by the King Of Bones.
"It was Myr who convinced me to leave you alive for 9 days. If it was up to me, you would have died in that forest before you were even captured by my men," he said.
Dag looked at Myr.
The old shaman was impassive, and with his red eye, he reciprocated Dag's gaze.
"He heard something coming from you. He felt a dark power," Hjalmar continued.
"Not just any darkness," Myr interrupted.
"It's an energy much more like our Gods than yours," he continued.
"Your Gods?" said Dag, incredulous.
"We have stopped believing in the false Gods. Odin, Thor, Freya... They can't do anything against the power of the all-powerful Xis!" said Myr, looking upwards.
Hjalmar listened to the smug speech, his arms folded.
Dag opened his eyes wide.
"It's not possible... did he really say that they practice the cult of the Xis?!" thought Dag, frightened.
"Wh... who?" he said, pretending he hadn't heard well.
"You got it right. The omniscient Xis are real and tangible. Their power is boundless and we are their humble servants on this lower planet! They allow us to live, according to their rules. They grant us the grace of being able to breathe! The only thing they ask us in return is our absolute fidelity" Myr continued as if he were reciting a prayer.
Dag clenched his fists.
"You're just fools! The Xis are evil beings! It's true that if we are still alive it is only thanks to them, but it's also true that they have betrayed and enslaved the entire human race! They have exterminated all the men on the planet and force billions of women every day to procreate to give birth to children who will be separated from them at birth! Their science and powerful technology do not justify this infinite cruelty!" yelled Dag tearfully, as if he wanted the Xis themselves to hear those words.
The girl looked at him intently. His eyes became shiny as if she was going to cry. She looked at Dag admiringly, as if for the first time she had heard someone really tell the whole truth about what had happened to Earth.
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