Boy faces wurm.

≪Got it! Focus on The Tower!≫

The room was replaced by a grassy field. Hans found himself next to a large berm that surrounding an ominous looking tower. The sun shone over head, the birds chirped. All and all a nice day, Hans thought. And no sign of any thunderstorms.

Unfortunately, he had to worry about the cavemen, wearing loose furs and carrying wooden clubs no less, rushing his way.

“I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto,” Hans muttered.

There was some sort of rumble, felt more from the ground than heard, but his attention was focused on the cavemen, which had suddenly scattered. Hans wondered why, knowing it couldn’t be good. Fresh loam rained down as a huge shadow suddenly covered him. He looked up, and stepped back.

“Who wakes Jormungand, the World Wurm?” it managed to hiss and roar all at once. Clods of earth and grass were still rolling from the mound the serpent had covered him.

Hans watched the huge winged serpent rise out of the remains of the berm. He became “defiant” again, muttering to himself, “This has got to be some sort of nightmare.”

Beady eyes, a foot across, glared down at him. It looked sort of like a Chinese dragon. It had no legs but Hans wasn’t particularly concerned with that detail.

It hissed. “A morsel? I wake for naught but armies. Let Hel take you for her amusement. Go. I dine on the likes of elephants, not fools.”

Suddenly the wurm, Jormungand, was distracted by seemingly nothing. It stared up to the top of the tower for a few moments.

“Yes, Father. By your will,” the serpent spoke reverently.

Then it looked back at Hans, up and down, in reappraisal.

“The great Fenrir slain? By the likes of you?”

≪Dogface bit it?! Not bad for a human.≫

The serpent reared up, but still watched Hans out of the corner of his eye. It said in a pretentious tone, “My father, Loki, commands me to take vengeance, but I must be cautious, lest you slay me too. Still, let us make this look good.”

Something slammed Hans into the wall. It was the tip of the snake’s tail, which had encircled the tower. The great serpent lunged at Hans again and again, but his great size made him clumsy, only exacting glancing blows, if that. Hans dodged easily enough, but no opening for escape made itself apparent.

“Enough!,” the serpent bellowed. “If I take a more convenient size I think I shall be better able to deal with you. Then maybe you shall make a fine meal after all.”

Jormungand shrank down to a smaller, but still pretty damn big snake. He struck at Hans, easily catching an arm in his jaws and then wrapping his coils about him.

The serpent’s coils began to tighten. In moments Hans began to hear his bones cracking.

Hans struggled, but without warning his strength left him. At the moment he stopped struggling he was freed from the snake’s coils and dumped unceremoniously to the ground. He looked up to see Jormungand grow in size once more, looking like the dragon again, but not as big as at first.

Looking down on his prey, the serpent laughed. “I always knew Father placed too much faith in Fenrir. Now I shall be accorded as most powerful. I wanted to thank you for that, human, and for the meal you’re about to become.”

≪You’re going to WHAT?!≫

The last thing anyone expected to happen was for the ground to open up beneath the mortal. The human yelped in surprise and flailed as he fell into darkness.

“What? Come back here!”

He struck, only to plow his snout painfully into the earth.

Laid out on the ground, Jormungand muttered, “Witch. He was mine. Don’t even think this is over.”

A raven squawked derisively as it flew away.

Next: CHAPTER 4–COMPASSION

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This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to persons living or dead is coincidental.