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Gram: Wrath

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This story is No. 2 in the series "The Saga of the Seven Swords". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: When the ancient dragon Fafnir decides to devour all of Sweden, Buffy and Willow must embark upon an epic quest to acquire the one weapon that can stop it.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Miscellaneous > Myths & LegendsbrokenmimirFR151753,5732134,54510 Dec 121 Feb 13Yes

Chapter Twelve

I don't own anything. Buffy is not owned by me. It is owned by rich, talented people. I'm a nobody. Please don't sue me.

Insane Troll Logic

“Next, a swimming competition!” Olaf boomed.

“Swimming?” Buffy asked. “Isn't it a little... sub zero out there? Where would we even find liquidy type water.”

“When one cracks the ice, wet water is found!” Olaf countered. “We will crack a large pool, that you may prove your skill as a swimmer!”

Buffy made a face. Ever since she had drowned fighting the Master she hadn't been a huge fan of the water. She could swim just fine, and if she had to then she had to, but she wasn't as practiced at it as she had once been. Despite living near the beach, she had become strictly a sun bather, and with her move to Scotland, not even that.

Olaf led Buffy, Willow, and a large crowd of trolls into the forest. They hiked for nearly half an hour through the dense trees, before coming upon a huge, snow covered clearing. Two trolls lifted enormous sledge hammers and began pounding on the open area, which swiftly cracked, revealing a frozen lake under the snow.

Since Willow hadn't conjured any warming flames for them like they had had during previous days in the forest, Buffy was already shivering despite the brisk walk. Looking at the thick layer of ice that was rapidly being cracked apart by the excited trolls, she turned pale and looked at her friend. “I'm going to be a Buffycicle.”

Willow nodded, wide eyed herself, before placing a hand discretely on Buffy's arm. She muttered quietly under her breath, until a slow, creeping warmth began to emanate from her grip, spreading across the Slayer's entire body. She stopped shivering, and smiled tightly at her friend as Willow gave her one more reassuring squeeze and removed her hand.

While they had been doing this, the best troll swimmers had been arguing among themselves about who would compete. Trolls being as they were, the argument had been little more than a quick but violent tussle, which culminated in a single broad, hairy troll being the winner. He stepped up beside Buffy, towering over her at more than eight feet tall, trying to intimidate her with his size.

Buffy just ignored him, stepping up next to Olaf and watching the trolls finish clearing the lake. “So, what's the what?”

Olaf gestured at the water. “A swimming competition! You and Hallvard will compete to see who swims better!”

“So, what, see who does a lap the fastest?” Buffy hazarded. “Or a bunch of laps?”

“Laps?” Olaf snorted. “This is a swimming competition! Laps! Ha!”

Buffy had a very bad feeling suddenly about the nature of a trollish swimming competition. “No laps then.”

“You and Hallvard will climb in the water. The loser is whoever can swim no more!”

“Thank you, Willow,” Buffy muttered quietly. An endurance swim in a frozen lake. She could really start to hate troll games, she decided.

The Slayer combat uniform was designed for use in all weathers and terrains, and was well made for swimming. Buffy removed her belt, packs, and pouches, before slowly stretching her muscles, wincing slightly as she moved her shoulder. The only bright side that she could think of about the competition was that the lack of speed swimming meant that she probably wouldn't have to strain her injured shoulder too much.

The troll stripped down to a loincloth, revealing a body covered with so much black fur that he resembled a bear more than a troll. “That's gotta be cheating!” Willow objected. “I mean, he won't even get cold like that!”

“It is legal!” Olaf said. “The point is not to survive the cold! It is to prove the better swimmer!”

“Suddenly don't feel bad about the warmth spell,” Willow muttered under her breath.

Buffy smiled slightly, her Slayer hearing having heard her friend's comment. Only Willow would feel bad about cheating to save her life.

“Begin!” Olaf shouted, and Hallvard cannonballed into the lake, sending freezing cold water everywhere. Buffy noticed with horror that the water which struck the ground turned to ice almost immediately. She took a deep breath, steeling herself, before slowly climbing into the lake.

It was worse than she had imagined. Even with the warming spell, the water was so cold that it felt as though it burned her skin. She began to shiver almost immediately, and she noticed that even the huge, hairy troll was starting to shiver.

Once she was completely in the water, Hallvard swam over to her and began to wrestle with her, pushing her under the water and holding her there. She hadn't been prepared for the move, but she had managed to grab a quick lungful of air before being dunked. For a single moment she thrashed about in a panic, before she brought herself under control enough to twist her body around and kick off against the troll's chest, breaking his grip and putting some distance between them.

As Buffy surfaced she heard Willow shouting in outrage. “Fowl! He's trying to drown her!”

“It is legal!” Olaf disagreed. “It is the point of the swimming competition!”

“You mean the winner is whoever manages to drown his opponent!?” Willow squeaked.

“Yes! It is a fine sport, is it not!”

Buffy swallowed hard, her eyes wide as she looked at the troll, who grinned evilly as he began to swim towards her with powerful strokes. “Any chance you'll just give up?” she asked hopefully.

Hallvard laughed. “Puny blonde! You drown now!”

“Thought not,” Buffy muttered.

When the troll came close, she suddenly dove deep, her eyes closed as she descended, the water too cold to keep them open. Coming up beneath him, Buffy grabbed his ankles and tugged, pulling the troll under the water with her. She then came up behind him, wrapping an arm around his neck as she went for a choke hold.

They burst back to the surface, the troll using his powerful legs to kick them back above the water. Buffy opened her eyes and tightened her grip, trying to cut off air and blood flow to the troll's brain. Unfortunately, her strategy didn't seem to be working well. The troll proved surprisingly flexible as he reached back over his shoulders with his long arms, grabbing her by the head with both hands, before beginning to pull.

Buffy latched on tighter for a moment, wrapping her legs around his chest and squeezing him there as well even as she tightened her hold on his neck. Unfortunately, he managed to get a good grip on her head, and had begun tugging hard at her. While his positon offered him no leverage, he was strong enough not to need it, as Buffy could feel the muscles in her neck straining. She knew that if she didn't do something soon he would do her serious, potentially fatal, damage.

She pulled her arms from around his neck, and as he took a deep lungful of air, she swung both palms with all of her strength over his ears in a terrific clap. He howled in pain, releasing her head, and she pushed off of him, swimming back to gain some room to maneuver, carefully rolling her sore neck as she did. Hallvard turned about in the water, glaring at her fiercely.

“Hallvard!” one of the trolls shouted. He tossed a small hand axe to the swimming troll, who caught it one handed, before giving a couple of practice swings. He grinned at Buffy evilly.

“Fowl!” Willow shouted. “He's got an axe!”

“It is legal!” Olaf countered. “Axes are not against the rules!”

Buffy shivered. She was so cold that she couldn't feel her fingers or toes anymore. Her shoulder was sore. Her neck was sore. She was still somewhat hungover. And she had another competition afterwards, before she would get the dwarf that she needed. All of that, and she now had an axe wielding troll swimming at her. It was shaping up to be a lousy day.

Buffy swam towards the troll, waiting until he got close enough to almost swing the axe before flipping back and kicking the water hard. The freezing water splashed him in the face, causing him to cough and sputter, and giving Buffy a chance to act. She grabbed the handle of the axe just above his grip, before launching a blow to the back of his hand with stiffened fingers. Troll anatomy was the same as human in the hands, and her precise strike caused him to lose control of his muscles for just long enough for her to rip the axe from his grasp.

Buffy turned the weapon backwards, and slammed the flat back down on his head hard. The troll blinked stupidly at her for a moment, so she swung again, and then again and again. Slowly his eyes rolled up in his head, and she grabbed him by the horns and forced him under the water. He thrashed about weakly, reawakened by the dip, but was unable to effectively defend himself.

“Herr Buffy wins!” Olaf shouted. The trolls began to cheer, as Buffy hauled the huge brute back to the surface by the horns. He grinned stupidly at her for a second, before letting her haul him back to the edge of the lake and out of the water and onto the snow covered shore.

If she had been cold in the water while struggling, it was nothing compared to how she felt as she stood in wet clothing on the shore. She began to shake so violently that she had trouble standing, and she blinked stupidly at Willow as she approached. “I... don't feel good,” she slurred.

Willow grabbed her shaking friend, her heart pounding in fear as she began to cast a spell. Buffy was pale as chalk, and her fingers, ears and lips had all turned blue. From where she held Buffy's shoulders tiny blue flames began to creep outward, spreading until they were lightly scattered across her entire body. Her wet clothing heated up, with steam pouring off of her as she dried.

Buffy first regained her color, and then her eyes became more focused and her shivering stopped. She smiled at Willow weakly, but then frowned as her eyes unfocused again. “Wills,” she said, before collapsing against her friend, the world spinning. Willow quickly put out the magical flames, before muttering a quick spell to dry her friend's clothing. “I'm dizzy.”

“It'll be okay,” Willow said nervously. “Just warmed you up too fast. I think.”

One of the trolls walked over and picked Buffy up. Willow noticed two trolls carrying Hallvard as well. “Nothing to worry about!” Oalf said. “Swimming competitions need recovery! We will sup and drink much ale, and then we shall have the third challenge!”

Before long Buffy found things becoming clearer again as she sat at the feast table with a warm wool blanket wrapped around her. Blinking, she looked at Willow, who appeared to be very concerned. “Wills? What happened?”

“You're okay!” Willow said excitedly. “You got hypothermia, so I warmed you up, but I was in too much of a hurry, so you warmed up too fast, which was not of the good, and you went into shock!”

Buffy blinked again as she absorbed her friend's babble, before finally replying. “So I'm okay now?”

“Well, you don't seem to have had a stroke or heart attack or anything, so I guess so,” Willow said after examining her friend magically. “But don't do that again! I was so worried!”

“Don't be. Compared to that hangover, I feel like a bazillion bucks.”

Before long Olaf joined them, and the rest of the trolls trooped in as well, taking seats around the feasting tables. Platters of food were brought in, and with them large tankards of ale. The trolls immediately dug in, and Buffy and Willow quickly joined them.

Near the end of the meal, a young female troll approached Buffy, fluttering her bushy eyelashes and preening to show off her polished horns. “You're so brave,” the troll cooed. “And mighty!”

Willow looked at her friend, frowning slightly. “What's with all the trolls being into you. I mean, I get why the men would be, but all thewomen?”

Olaf overheard her comment, and chuckled deeply. “Most trolls were born and raised here, Witch! To them, a small, pink, hornless human is a strange creature, whether man or woman! What difference does it make what you are, if you are strong! Marrying you would give them great status!”

“Um, thanks and all, I mean, I'm sure you're a very pretty troll, but...” Buffy said awkwardly.

The troll smiled as seductively as a seven foot, muscular troll could, placing a hand casually on the Slayer's shoulder. Before Buffy could say or do anything, she found herself grabbed from behind and pulled from her seat. She was then turned around and held off of the ground, facing her attacker.

The troll was a veritable mountain of muscle. She stood over nine feet tall, with a thick mane of red hair and glaring black eyes. “She is my little sister!” the troll snarled. “Do not corrupt her, temptress!”

“I wasn't!” Buffy yelped. “She came over here and was talking to me...”

“So my sister is a seducer?!” the troll roared, outraged.

“No, she was just talking. Anyway, I wasn't going to do anything...”

“What, she isn't good enough for you!?”

“Wait,” Willow interjected. “Are you mad 'cause your sister was flirting with Buffy, or because Buffy wasn't flirting back?”

“Do not confuse me with your words and reason!” the troll said, dropping Buffy to the ground and pointing at her dramatically. “I challenge you, tiny human! For my sister's honor!”

The trolls roared in excitement, and Olaf raised a hand. “I shall make this challenge be the third task. If you win, then you shall have the dwarf. Lose, and you must bring his brother to me, and pay reparation to Tyra for the slight to her sister Bergdis' honor!”

Buffy groaned, but stood, shaking her head. “Fine, at least this is normalish. Kinda, anyway. So, how do we do this?”

Olaf lead Buffy and the huge troll woman, Tyra, outside, where several trolls quickly unfolded an enormous bearskin on the ground. The creature had apparently been the size of a small house in life, and created a surface larger than her training room in Sunnydale had been once stretched upon the ground. Beside it were a pile of six wooden shields and a pair of heavy war hammers.

“The holmgang is fought upon the skin!” Olaf boomed. “The loser is the first to be pushed from it! You take a shield and a hammer, and exchange hammer blows back and forth until one of you is knocked from the ring. When you break your shield, you may retrieve another, but you only get three!”

“Wait, wait, wait,” Buffy interjected. “We're just gonna stand here and trade licks?”

“It is the holmgang!” Olaf said. “It is a test of honor and strength!”

Buffy sighed, before walking over to the shields and inspecting them. She had been hoping just one of the troll challenges would be something normal, and instead it was just as weird as all of the rest. Picking up the shield, she examined its straps. She had never used one before, but she quickly figured out how to wear it effectively. Grabbing one of the war hammers, she stepped into the ring.

Tyra joined her, sneering as she did. “Do not think you can beat me because you have defeated many of our males! I am the strongest troll! You will not get away with besmirching my sister's honor!”

“Hey, I wasn't trying to smirch anything!” Buffy objected.

“Rahhh!” the troll roared as she suddenly swung her war hammer with impressive speed. Buffy barely raised her shield in time, her body not set, the blow sending her flying nearly to the edge of the bear skin before she skidded to a stop.

“Fowl!” Willow objected. “She wasn't ready!”

“It is legal!” Olaf said. “The holmgang begins when one steps onto the skin!”

Buffy climbed to her feet, flexing the fingers of her shield hand to try and restore some feeling to them. The troll's blow had been powerful. Gripping her war hammer, she swung hard, turning her body to use her core muscles and hips to increase her power. Tyra's shield shivered under the force of the blow, knocking her backwards several feet before she brought herself under control.

Tyra grinned, swinging the hammer hard, but this time Buffy was ready. She braced herself, and instead of simply blocking directly she angled her shield to cause the hammer to waste most of the power of its swing. Despite her efforts she slid backwards nearly two feet as a small crack developed on her shield.

Buffy swung again, this time stepping sideways as she did so that her blow fell more towards the rim of Tyra's shield. The hammerhead delivered the blow to the much smaller area, shattering part of the wood in a shower of spliters, and twisting the troll's body around, sending her stumbling backwards.

Tyra righted herself, before swinging again, aiming once more for the same spot she had struck the previous time. While Buffy was able to once again deflect the majority of the force, this time even managing to avoid sliding so far backwards with the blow, but she grunted in pain as her shield split in two. Before she could do anything to recover the troll pressed her shield up against her, crowding her back closer to the edge of the bearskin, using the advantage of her shield and her mass to keep Buffy penned in.

“Fowl!” Willow tried again. “She's not letting Buffy get a shield!”

“It is legal!”

“Is anything illegal!?” Willow demanded.

Buffy grit her teeth and set her feet. She refused to lose, especially not to a troll with a petty grudge while she was trying to save millions of lives. She shouldered Tyra backwards a step, before gripping her hammer two handed. Setting her body, she wound up for the most powerful strike that she could deliver. She used every muscle she had, from her toes to her fingers as she swung a massive blow at the troll's shield.

Her attack caught the wood near the damaged section, and like her own, it broke, shattering completely. Unlike Tyra's blow, Buffy's hit sent the troll flying backwards in a shower of broken wood. Buffy stalked forward grimly, her hammer at the ready. Tyra shook her head, before standing and swinging once again.

This time Buffy was shieldless, and she had no interest in taking the powerful troll's attack anywhere on her body. When she ducked the powerful blow, Tyra ended up spinning around from her momentum, and Buffy took advantage of it by rushing at her, pushing her in the back with the haft of her hammer. Shoving hard, the Slayer kept her legs churning as she rushed the surprised troll out of the combat area and onto the snowy ground outside.

The trolls began to cheer again, and Olaf shouted over the noise. “You have won again, Herr Buffy! You may have your dwarf!”

Buffy grinned, dropping the war hammer, before stepping next to Tyra and offering her a hand. The troll met her gaze for a moment, before grinning toothily and accepting the help up. The crowd cheered again, before dispersing. “No hard feelings?” she asked.

“No,” Tyra said. “You are truly mighty. I would welcome your suit of little Bergdis.”

Buffy gulped. “Um, sorry. I'm kinda already interested in someone. I'm sure she's, um, great. I've got a little sister myself. Love her to death, but I think she's made of trouble.”

“Yes, mine as well,” Tyra said with a nod. “I hope to see you again someday, little one!”

“You too,” Buffy said, smiling stiffly. Most of her didn't want to even think about trolls again... but part of her had actually enjoyed herself. It had been like a vacation roughing it; it appealed to the warrior she had become, but most of her was really looking forward to returning to a world of shopping, TV, and indoor plumbing.

“Will you be staying for another feast?” Olaf asked.

Buffy shook her head, smiling slightly. “Sorry. Got to see a dwarf 'bout a sword. Thanks though.”

He grunted. “Come again anytime, Herr Buffy! May you ever be strong of arm! Next time maybe we can have a true feast befitting a warrior of your stature! It has been too long since I have feasted on plump, succulent babyflesh!”

Buffy's smiled turned stiff, as she suddenly remembered why she didn't want anything to do with trolls. “Thanks. That's... great. Really. I'm just gonna go... get the dwarf now. Bye!”

Author's Notes
Once again, actual Norse sporting activities don't require much tweaking to be the sort of stupid things trolls would do for fun. Normally Norse swimming competitions would only involve wrestling to try and keep your opponent under. Several stories mention athletic competitions ending with some axe work, however, so I don't feel like it was too over the top to include such a thing in the troll version. Also, most of the time they wouldn't have tried to do it in the dead of winter.

Buffy suffered from moderate hypothermia, before Willow warmed her up magically. It was too rapid, however, giving her rewarming collapse, a sudden drop in blood pressure, which can be very dangerous. I would like to point out that I am neither a doctor, nor an expert on cold weather survival, and my information about this comes from various websites.

The holmgang was a traditional kind of Norse honor duel. The version I showed was similar to those used fairly late as a way to have a duel without having as great of a risk of death. It also took place in a much smaller area, as a normal bearskin is a pretty small space to fight in. Different places and times had different versions of the fight, but mine wasn't too unusual.
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