Before Laufey, standing beside saplings still as ice, a dark apparition appeared. That it was a man Laufey could not tell. The creature had the shape of a man, but was severely disfigured, one arm smaller than the other, legs stunted, and head crushed. It swayed in the wind, lonesomely, taking great care to stay in the shadow, but they all saw it's eyes. Each glowed in the darkness, a cool white hot blue.
"What are you? Why are you here," Laufey said, drawing his knife and brandishing it towards the creature.
The old man, breathed deeply, it's lung vibrating richly.
"Mmm, not what," he said, bobbing it's head. "Not what, but who. I mean you harm if you are to harm me young children."
Stepping into the light, Laufey got a clear look at him. He was covered in moss and fur, like a troll from his father's stories.
"What is your business here on my mountain?" His eyes scanned them all, slowly. the girls stepped back, gripping one another tightly, while Anke, and the triplets joining Laufey from behind.
"What did you do to our friend? Where is she?" Laufey demanded.
"She... She is fine. Young and healthy." His voice shook and quivered with such force that Laufey felt the rhythms in his chest. "You are on an adventure, to find the treasure hidden in the glacial pass."
"How did you know that," Laufey said quietly, keeping his fear muzzled."
At this the creature's eyebrows raised slightly in surprise.
"You, your companions... They are very loud. It was bothersome, and informative."
"Give her back!" Geira screamed, lurching forwards in Ragna's arms. "I'll kill you, you whore's whelp!"
The old mannish creature, loosened it's jaws and cracked its neck.
"I won't," it said flatly. "Of this I am certain. The little lamb has too much meat on her." Hearing this, Geira began to shout but was stifled by Ragna.
"We couldn't change your mind then?" Ragna said, her eyes darting between herself and Laufey.
The treasure was a bartering chip, Laufey thought. Ragna was pleading with him for it.
The creature was less perceptive. Slowly it mused and combed through its massive beard with it's fingers.
"Mmm... I require things that you cannot provide, but in the valley of the great ice is a fortune... We mutually seek it, you see. Bring it here... Bring it in two weeks. And she will yet live."
Clenching his fists, Laufey felt helpless, but it was clear to him, his options were strained. Lowering his knife, Laufey looked the creature in then eye and nodded.
"I don't think we have much of a choice." Laufey grumbled.
"No... No, no... Good. Bring what I need. I will find you here."
Then, with a shimmering light blooming around it, the creature vanished. Leaving Laufey standing idly, in shock, filled with indecision.
"What shall I do?" He thought, and looked to the branch that had melted in his hand.