The sickening sound of metal slicing through bone was quickly followed by the scream. Pain, fear. Skoll could feel it. Smell it. Taste it. As he steadied himself to make the killing blow against the prone elf before him, Skoll sensed danger. Senses from two heads simultaneously gathering data from his surroundings, heightening his awareness, making him ever vigilant, keeping him safe. Skoll trusted his instincts, and spun around just in time to parry a mighty dwarf warhammer that would have shattered his shoulder. Skoll recognised the dwarf immediately, Thrommel of the Ironbeard clan. It took all of the ettin’s might to stall the dwarf’s hammer blow and fend off the immediate follow-up strike. Skoll knew he’d been frustratingly close to driving the elf from this place, but he could only growl in rage as she slunk away, all of his attention required to prevent the dwarf from braining him with his infernal hammer.
Skoll had fought Thrommel before and knew he had little chance to finish this fight quickly, it would be difficult and drawn-out, unless fate intervened. It appeared that fate heard his prayer when the sound of hooves clattered on the cobble stones behind the dwarf. Thrommel turned to his side an attempt to dodge, but couldn’t escape the thrust of two mighty horns that pierced his gut plate, and then sent him sailing through the air, to land hard on his back metres away. Skoll was big amongst his kin, yet the huge frame of Thorgar towered over him, and for a moment, Skoll feared the beast would not know friend from foe. The moment passed, and the rage in Thorgar’s eyes subsided enough to allow a snort, and a hand gesture indicating that Skoll should pursue the elf priestess who had fallen back to the outskirts of the melee. The minotaur then turned and made a beeline for the prone dwarf, clearly intending to finish that fight permanently.
Skoll ran towards the priestess as she drew yet another soul out of the ground. There were now two of the blue spectres whirling around her, in some kind of macabre dance. She seemed renewed, most of her wounds healed, and she was clearly braced to fight this time as Skoll bore down on her. Although the instincts of his race urged him to charge head-long into melee, he fought the urge and instead drew on the reservoir of will that his two minds, joined in unity purpose, granted him. This formidable will was the root of what had bought him such grand status amongst all the orcs of Athien, and here in this place, it could rend the earth itself. Bending his mind to the task, Skoll drew deeply from the power vested within the Effigy that had summoned him, and magical energies surged through his body, contorting his muscles and popping veins in his neck, to the point where he thought he may burst. The release was ecstatic as a pulse of pure energy rumbled outward from his feet in all directions, staining the ground red as it passed. The wave reached the elf before she could react, her gaze moved from the ground to Skoll, and the realisation of what was to come dawned in her.
As the wave struck her, the souls around her were dyed blood red as the ground, and their dance became disjointed and broken, leaping around her in a frenzy before freezing for an instant. Then, they exploded, shattering in unison and blazing with a hell-red fire that scorched the elf. She screamed for a moment, silhouetted in light, before wining out as the chord that bound her projection to Between was severed and Saiyin returned to her mortal body on Athien. Skoll revelled in the backwash of power around him as she was driven away, a new soul, carved from her energies, and the Effigy that had bound her here, coalesced on his skin, and formed the familiar light blue ball that danced around him. The power felt like a drug in his system, opening new possibilities, removing limitations. Though he knew this was only a temporary gain, sure to leave him when he left this plane, he knew he had some time to enjoy it.
He whirled around to survey his surroundings once again. The sounds of battle reverberated around the ancient amphitheatre they had been summoned to, grey and bleak in the half-light of the plane of Shadow. The dwarf had somehow survived to continue his struggle with Thorgar, and Skoll could see further of that the rest of his war band was faltering without their two largest fighters to hold off the enemy. He hardened his grip on his massive axe and bellowed a war cry plunging headlong back into the fray. Today he would gain much power before the battle was done.
Origins of Ettins
The origin of Ettins is unknown; most dismiss them as aberrations of Orcs, others as some unholy union between Orcs and Ogres. The truth is somewhere in between. The exact time the first Ettins walked Athien is not really known, however they are inexorably linked to the Orc race, and always have been as long as anyone can remember. The union of an Orc and an Ettin can produce offspring of either, as can, strangely enough, the union of two Ettins. However there are no recorded incidences of the union of two Orcs producing an Ettin, therefore the debate continues on how the first Ettins came to be. In any event, most Orc tribes treat Ettins as they would any other Orc, albeit with the respect and fear such a large, violent creature demands.
The population of Ettins is roughly a tenth of Orcs, and there is only one known Orc tribe that consists entirely of Ettins. Most of the time the Ettins mingle with Orcs freely and have the same status and rights as their smaller brethren within their society. In general, Ettins have shorter tempers, are more irritable, and less tolerant of anyone standing in their way. This is largely attributed to the fact their two heads are often squabbling, for it is most common that over time the two heads of an Ettin get on each other's nerves and spiral into dangerous love/hate relationships. The squabbling sometimes turns violent and can even lead to death. For while an Ettin can survive with one of its heads “dead” or removed, it is a sad existence and inevitably leads to what remains of the Ettin taking its own life.
Occasionally, the two heads get along, have common cause, and work together to achieve common goals. These are by far the most powerful, respected and feared Ettins. One such Ettin is Skoll Bonestorm, who has grown in stature over decades amongst the Orc tribes. It would be difficult to find an Orc on Athien, that does not know of Skoll, or even one who could not recite stories of his exploits in great detail. For Skoll is an example of what an Ettin can achieve when its heads work together. Skoll is even more remarkable, since he is the first of his kind to be summoned, which has only increased his powers and renown.
Like all Ettins, Skoll has extraordinary fortitude and constitution, being able to withstand remarkable amounts of punishment in battle before being felled. The union of his two minds makes Skoll similarly resilient on Between where opponents find themselves struggling to shatter his will, and drive him off. These traits have accelerated his rise amongst the chosen and made him a preferred choice of the new gods seeking to bolster the strength of their Warbands.
The 54mm resin miniature of Skoll Bonestorm can be purchased here.
Narrative by Andrew "Guns" Galea
Edited by Colin "Bobliness" Hill
Miniature painted by Gavin "Slardy" Clarke