Section 121: The Nordic Draugr
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In a majority of my travels, I dueled with beasts that have breath in their mouths and beating hearts in their breasts. There is a single way to defeat most of them, cutting their life short through the specific means my contemporaries or I had devised. There are exceptions, such as the wooden stake for the Vampyre, silver bullets for the Werewolf, and so on. The Nordic Draugr is a creature that has already had its knot tied and string cut, leading to some difficulty. It comes from a forgotten era, one with far more magic and great heroes than the present.

Anatomy

The Nordic Draugr are reanimated corpses of former heroes and warriors. These bodies have been laid to rest in private burial chambers, many of which are still hidden to this day. The corpses returning to life occur due to accidents or curiosity, however, when one of these sites are disturbed, the body can not be put back to rest.

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I've come to realize that the Draugr itself is actually not the body of the human, instead, it's the soul. When disrupted, malice invades the once pure soul and reinhabits its body. I must reiterate that this is not a human — there is no humanity left, replaced instead hunger, torment, revenge, and restlessness. Do understand, they do not lack intelligence. Is it the intellect of a human? No. Draugrs are smart in their pursuit of flesh, utilizing tactics to ambush them and tire their opponent during battle. That stated, one human element does remain: their skilled combat experience.

Due to the bodies' statuses as honored warriors, they are given a hero's burial: they're laid to rest whilst wearing their armor, their signature weapon(s) are often displayed nearby, and they are left with several mementos from their fighting days. This makes them incredibly dangerous, as they can be immediately armed upon awakening. Appearances vary between Draugrs, but what is most common is their decomposing bodies. In my limited encounters, Nordic Draugrs have been nothing more than skeletons covered in a thin and tattered layer of leathery, green skin.

The main danger posed by Draugrs is that they lack the feeling of pain. Overlooking their own injuries, they seek revenge with no regard for their safety. The single way to end an attack is the removal of the beast's head.

My First-Hand Account

My first encounter with this beast transpired in Iceland. This night, the 23rd of January, was a dark one. The midnight air would have frozen my canteen had I not kept it surrounded by blankets in my pack. I was traversing a summit in search of the mythic Frost Giant when I came across a village. It seemed to be recently abandoned, as I saw no lights in their home or fires raging outside. There was barely a smolder in the communal fire pit which laid at the center of this village.

I circled the area, calling out for people in my rudimentary Icelandic tongue. I got no response. In my sleuthing, I found that much of the meat storage in the town had been savagely ripped down and dragged through the snow. It appeared that much of it had been eaten as well, with now frozen chunks of beef and lamb penetrating the thick slush. My initial idea was a pack of ravenous wolves or a bear had smelled their foodstuffs and claimed it as their own. This has happened before, numerous times, however, it's mostly with campers deep in the woodlands.

I began entering the vacant homes in hopes of a clue. Instead, I found corpses. One was of a little girl, no more than ten years old, and her father. Both had been mutilated, their limbs were torn off with great force and much of their blood at been drained, leaving their bodies a sickly white and green. It was the fifth house I checked, it was a unique one, part of it had been built into the mountain. I mention this because the back end of the house had been torn through.

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Behind this cavity was a tunnel, about 150 paces in length, which led to an expansive cave. Icy stalactites protruded from the ceiling above me. I found the creature within the room, sleeping whilst standing upright. A pile of meat laid opposite of where it stood. I tried my best not to awaken it as I approached. My previous assessment that this was just a cave was incorrect, this was a burial site for a warrior. An altar laid at the center of this room, one of white marble, where the body should be laying. This was a soldier of moderate rank, as displayed by their shield, which had been hung on the cave wall behind the altar. Its sword was removed by the Draugr and placed into a scabbard around its waist.

My weapon was unholstered, still equipped with the silver bullets from my previous Werewolf encounter. I wasn't sure of its usage against The Nordic Draugr, however, it was too late for me to rummage through my supplies without disturbing it. I fired twice at its skull, piercing through both times. The creature remained standing and turned in my direction. It began its surprisingly swift approach and drew a sword from its belt. It swung at me with great strength. Its movements were extremely jerky, allowing me to easily dodge it. I discharged another round at the creature's chest. The bullet passed through the space where its heart should have been. The beast remained standing and fighting.

I began to worry at this moment, thinking I had finally found an impregnable beast. I had been running low on ammunition and did not want to waste my reserves of silver bullets in case of another Werewolf ambush (Northern Europe is notorious for this). I unsheathed my blade and began returning swings. Despite its sloppiness, the Draugr was an experienced opponent, blocking most of my strikes and giving swift retaliation. It sliced through my coat on my sword arm, drawing blood. I retaliated by removing its free arm with a prompt swing. The Draugr's attack did not slow. I felt myself grow exhausted and desperately searched for a method to end this battle. In my growing fatigue, the Draugr performed a move where it collided my blade with its own, quickly twisted its hand and weapon clockwise, and pushed my sword from my grasp. I moved for defense and pulled the shield from its mounted display. I obstructed several would-be fatal strikes until the shield was cut asunder.

Once again left defenseless, I unholstered my pistol and made my way for the tunnel that led me here. I rolled under the Draugr and gained my footing. It pursued my location, and once it barely reached the exit, I fired twice at the ceiling, ejecting the stalactites. They fell with great force onto the beast and pinned its lower half within the cave. Its free half continued to swing its blade and attempted to gain its freedom. I removed its sword arm with another bullet and kicked the weapon away from it. It continued to struggle against its trap.

With its own blade, I removed the demon's head with a single strike. It ceased its fighting.

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