Chapter 17 – Bridge of Blades –

(Click here to read from the beginning)

I was floating on fluffy clouds, eyes closed, enjoying how they gently rocked me back and forth. But as the winds rose, their motion shook me with rising violence.

“Stop shaking me,” I commanded, but they did not obey. I opened my eyes.

A giant face filled my entire view of the sky, that of a man more wrinkled and ancient than time itself. What manner of wind god is this?

“Who… what?” I blinked a few times.

“Wake up Mistress,” he said with a scratchy voice, “you are needed.”

He was no giant, his face was merely inches from mine, and his breath smelled of fish. Not the fresh kind.

“Ugh, what is it?” Beside me I felt Grisella, and on turning saw that she was still sleeping. Right, they helped me get her into bed last night.

“Mistress, you must come at once,” he continued.

“Give me a little space, will you?” I sat up as he slowly shuffled to the foot of the bed.

“Your friends, they be at the tower outside the gates. Lady Mordgud requests you come immediately.”

Friends? What friends do I have left? I checked on the one beside me, softly snoring with a smile on her face. She was pale but looked well, her spirals a little wobbly though clearly stronger.

“Who’s at the tower?” I enquired. “And who are you?”

“Hmm. Goddesses, two of them. Asgardians. And I be Ganglot.”

I scrunched my face. Had they really come for me? I couldn’t go with them now, sworn to service as I was. Still, it would be good to catch them up on recent events.

“Ganglot?” I asked. “Isn’t that a woman’s name?” I scratched my head. “I’ve also been meaning to ask Ganglati why she has a masculine name.”

He gave me a look, tilting his head, like I was a simpleton asking why the sky is up.

“Never mind, doesn’t matter I suppose. What do you do around here Ganglot?”

“Maintenance,” he said, “East wing, mostly.”

Now it was my turn to give him a look. The East wing was the side of the castle that lay in ruins. Whatever, doesn’t matter, don’t antagonize the staff.

“We will take care of Grisella. You go,” he said, answering my next question.

I didn’t like leaving her, but my duties to Asgard and Helheim demanded it. I gave her a tender kiss on the forehead.

“Be well, get strong,” I whispered.

He waited outside while I quickly washed and dressed, feeling a pleasant flush of excitement. Maybe Frigga isn’t so angry with me after all, I wonder who she sent? Oh, I hope Hoof-Tosser is there too!

===

I walked slowly along the path that wound its way through the Land of the Dead. It smelled of freshly turned soil, moist and dark, a softly yielding black road that muffled every step into silence. The slight scent of apple burdened trees along this stretch of the road made my lonely stroll a bit sweeter.

I’d said my goodbyes to Grisella and promised to return, but now the outside world awaited. It was good to be needed again. Why, I almost felt like my old self again!

I would have run, and indeed had tried to. But even as Hela’s chosen, the faster I ran, the slower I went. Slow deliberate steps were the fastest way to get around in this Odin forsaken place.

“Bloody speed limits,” I cursed aloud. “Can’t Hela make exceptions for official business?” I wanted to feel the wind against my face, my blonde braid bouncing at my back. Soon, I told myself, Soon I’ll be out of here and free to ride as fast as I want.

Few were the dead that fared with me. This close to the Hel-Gates they became little more than misty shapes. Some floated above the yellow carpet of leaves on each side of the road, likely waiting to welcome family members as they arrived. Their sight unnerved me. I too would be but a mist, trapped here indefinitely, if not for my station as a Hel-Maid – Asgardian powers and titles meant nothing here. Overripe apples fell and rotted on the ground, since none were solid enough here to pick them. What a waste, I thought. A mug of strong cider would be wonderful right now for my nerves.

I was increasingly eager to leave the throng of ghosts behind as I approached the great wall that separates Helheim from the living lands. Its lime-mortar bled down like white blood over uneven gray stones, and jutting bits of bone left little doubt as to what dark magic cemented it.

Though the wall rose to dizzying heights, the Helgrind’s massive wrought-iron doors were no less impressive or impenetrable. Tightly encased in the gothic arch of the fortifications, they barred my way. Bumpy slag inclusions gave its panels the disturbing appearance of screaming faces. It was with great reluctance that I placed my palm upon their ice-cold surface to push, them being made of death-metal as my mother’s elven kin would say.

I yelped as the iron bit into my skin, tasting my blood.

“I recognize the might of the Heljar-meyjar,” said a gravelly woman’s voice. It vibrated the gate like a drum and resonated through my body. “Hel-Maid, you may pass.”

I stepped back, rubbing my hand with a frown, and the portal screamed open with the voices of a hundred women in childbirth – just enough for me to squeeze out.

Hesitating a moment, I pulled on my sleeves. They seemed a bit shorter than those of my blue gambeson. Or maybe I was just nervous and wasting daylight. I angled my torso to pass through the slit and avoid touching it any further than necessary.

I could only imagine Frigga’s dismay and the disbelief of her Ladies when I explained the situation. With a brief audience on the way out, Hela had given my orders: You will have a month to settle your affairs with the living, perhaps train your replacement, before your duties start as messenger of Death. When you return we shall discuss the length of your service to me in payment of your debt.

As the screeching echoes faded away I strode outside onto the bleak and barren field outside the walls, finally allowed a little speed. I mulled over the queen’s words as I jogged. Moving always helped me think – and the faster the better.

It was a relief to hear I could return to Asgard, a bigger one still that I might one day return to serving Frigga. The tricky part would be to serve one queen well enough to earn release without angering the other. If I burned my bridges,… I’d be stuck here forever.

A few dead trees lined the cliff ahead, overlooking Gjöll, the River of Knives. Any fool trying to swim across would surely be shredded by the sharp steel that flowed through its icy waters – before being smashed asunder against the rocks. It proved an effective barrier to the living trying to sneak in, flowing the length of the wall from the sharp southern mountains down to the freezing Northern sea of Niflheim.

The roar of rushing water and crashing metal grew louder as I approached the bridge, and if I’d closed my eyes I would have thought myself amid a bloody battle between screaming armies.

Garm sat on his haunches beside my path, staring across the gulf. The Hound of the Underworld was eight feet tall at the shoulders, with shaggy black and chestnut fur. The white of his muzzle, paws and tail-tip seemed to drip with blood, and I shivered as his gaze fell upon me – this dog could have swallowed me in one gulp and then begged for more.

My hand slid up to my belt of its own accord, seeking the pommel of a weapon for comfort. I stopped myself. Such a move would only anger him, and provide about as much protection as a letter opener against a wolf. You are a diplomat Gna, I admonished myself, so act like it.

“Greetings Garm,” I said brightly as he turned, making my voice as cordial and casual as I could. “We serve the same Lady now, yes? Please let me pass.”

I stood very still as he got up on all fours to face me, sniffing inches away from my head. I held back a sneeze, my nose tingling with the musty smell of fur. His prying eyes were circles of black on a sea of sunset orange, with tinges of red. Not the sort of sight you want to encounter in a dark forest – strange eyes always meant magic, and magic meant trouble when it wasn’t a friend’s.

“I am a Hel-Maid now!” I announced. That’s what the Helgrind said, and I fervently hoped he didn’t also need a taste of blood to confirm it. “I have orders from Hela to greet visitors at the tower, so… please let me be on my way?”

He snorted, sending flecks of snot flying onto my face, cocked his head, then nodded approval. I swallowed, and then stepped onto the only path across the rapids. This time I knew not to look down at the sky-pointing swords the bridge was made of. Keeping my gaze on the cloudy gray horizon, it felt perfectly smooth underfoot and its surface glinted as if layered with sheets gold.

Soon I was on the other side and approaching Mordgud’s watchtower. I appreciated what a striking structure it was, made of the shiny black stone that covered the outside portion of the great wall behind me. The tower stood ten or so yards to the right of where all my gear still sat, amid yellowing grasses on the ground, a few steps from the Hel-Road. I stared for a moment. My belongings seemed untouched, the blue and white tabard still neatly folded atop the tan leather saddle bags. There was, however, a layer of dust covering all of these, and my old gambeson armor was sadly nowhere to be seen.

I crouched, lay the tabard on the ground, and opened my bags. Hand axes, cook pot, silver drop-spindle, scroll, dried apple slices, elecampane roots… everything seemed to be there. I took out the double-ended drum tipper and looked around. Where could Hoof-Tosser be? Likely he’d be sleeping by now. I smiled, eager to drum him back into horse shape. “Welcome Back Rodrick” would be a good one to sing as I did, he always enjoyed that one. Knowing him, he was likely leaning on the side of the tower hidden from the road.

Unless someone stole him of course. I clenched my teeth. He’s a handsome flat drum. But surely Mordgud wouldn’t let that happen, would she?

I stood, ready to search the tall grasses for my friend, when two welcome sights stepped out from behind the tower. They came to stand between me and the bridge: first Syn, the one who guards, then Hlin, the protector. These were the only ones trained as warriors in Frigga’s court, though I had some basic skills of my own. Their appearance brought back fond feelings for the many adventures we’d shared over the centuries. The sullying of Snotra’s dress and the quest to replace it. Gymir’s wretched riddle. Unraveling Hörn’s ancestral curse. Tying back the feather on Yggdrasil´s red branch. Fighting the cannibal weeds out of Gunvald´s fields. The battle for Blith´s mind. Ah, those were good times indeed!

“My friends,” I said, with open arms and a smile of relief as I turned, “You wouldn’t believe the week I’ve had. It’s good to see you again!”

Hlin’s face was grim as she pulled out a sword and raised her kite-shield. A half-Giantess, she was no small woman, and only a fool would take her graying hair as a sign of weakness. It was only with guile I ever beat her when we sparred, and any trick I pulled only worked once. She was in ring-mail battle gear and made no move to embrace me.

“Yield,” she simply said. “I have no desire to fight you. Surrender now and you will not be harmed.”

“What? Hlin, what are you doing?” Wide-eyed, my stomach lurched. She was the embodiment of honor and heroism, the one Frigga sent to save the day when her followers were in mortal danger.

“Betrayer,” hissed Syn as she moved to my right on the Hel-Road. She too was ready for battle, wearing brown studded leather armor and lowering the tip of her spear toward my eyes, left hand holding it at her hip. A hood shadowed her elven features, but they could not hide the hatred in her eyes. She was usually sent by the All-Mother to stand as a guard amid the shadows… or to quietly remove inconvenient people from the playing field.

“You have been branded a traitor to the realm,” she spat.

I brought a hand over my heart, feeling like I’d been stabbed.

“I can explain!” I pleaded, opening my hands in supplication.

“You can explain to Lord Odin,” Hlin said, “after we bring you in.”

“But Frigga…”

“She waived her right to judge your crimes,” Hlin interrupted, “and will defer to her husband’s decision.”

I lowered my head and spoke softly: “Doesn’t she understand I had no choice? For my children…”

“She does, and calls your actions a mother’s folly,” the half-Giantess nodded, “yet you clearly have sworn yourself to service with Odin’s enemy.”

“You made the All-Mother weep,” Syn accused with venom. “Even now she sheds tears, though you are one of us no longer.”

“What do you mean?” I said aghast, “I am one of you, a Goddess of Asgard!” Yet my armor was black, no longer sky-blue and cloud white as Frigga’s herald.

Hlin sighed. “You are not. Snotra has removed your gerdenstaffr from the holy shrine. You are Goddess no longer and have lost all rights within the Golden Realm. Whether you are to be imprisoned or banished is yet to be determined.”

“Wait,” I said, blindsided by news of my fall from the All-Mother’s favor, “how do you even know of the deal I made, and how did you arrive so fast?”

They looked at each other in confusion before Syn raised an eyebrow: “A moon has come and gone since you left Asgard in disgrace. Have you so enjoyed defiling corpses with your new mistress that you did not notice the passage of time?”

Stunned, I looked down at my hands, noticing for the first time their bluish tinge. What had Hela done to me? And why was a whole month missing when I only remembered a week? I would have words with her.

Syn was almost behind me, and I had to choose fast. Banishment I could live with, but imprisonment would prevent me paying back my debt to Hela. If I couldn’t serve my time, I’d be sworn to her indefinitely. My eyes narrowed, a decision made.

“Phooka,” I whispered, vibrating the word with all five of my vocal chords so it resonated throughout my being. Arms wide, I was swallowed up by my five spirals and vanished from sight.

I don’t need to win this fight, just not get caught.

Warbling the air within my mouth, I called Right Step in the language of winds and raised my foot. In the span of a breath the little spirit was there, pushing up under my boot as hard as he could. With his boost I vaulted over Hlin, landing and rolling behind her. If I can reach the Bridge of Blades, I thought as I spun toward my goal, I’ll be safe. I finished in a standing position and started sprinting to my salvation.

The war-maiden turned and I could hear the jingling of armor with her feet pounding heavily behind me; her ring mail was not meant for speed or silence.

Of course she heard my landing and could guess where I was heading, but with some zig-zagging I could shake her off. Syn was faster, but not even she could match speed with one who ran like the wind.

If only I had taken the time to get a second wind ally – or was in any world but Helheim – this would be so much simpler. Then I would run up into the sky where they could not follow. Still, this is good enough to… “Oooof!”

My ankles were suddenly entwined in weighted ropes and I fell face first, eating the dirt of the Hel-Road.

“Not so fast, cloud-girl,” Syn taunted. “We’re not done with you yet.”

I’d forgotten about that weapon of hers, but how could she aim when I was…

Hlin grabbed my feet and pulled me back toward her companion. I tried to sing a spell but it was impossible with my mouth dragging on the ground.

Syn soon took hold of my braid, lifting my upper body off the ground. I screamed in pain, wishing I’d hacked off both sides of my hair so she’d have nothing to hold. Then she slapped me, adding to the sting of road-burn on my cheeks.

“I see you,” she said. With a feral grin she blinked slowly and I noticed one of her eyelids was blue.

“May the Vanir bugger you unconscious!” I cursed at her. She knew a flower that allowed one to see through elven glamour when rubbed over the eyes. My invisibility was useless, as were all my other illusions.

“We can both see you,” Hlin said. “We smeared on the ointment before we arrived, expecting you would try to vanish.” She sighed. “We know all your tricks Gna, there’s nothing you can do that we are not prepared to counter.”

Planning and preparing for all possible dangers was her specialty. In this I could not defeat her. None of my elven spells would help; the hero of the Asynjur knew me far too well.

“You know all my old tricks,” I said between clenched teeth. “But how about new ones?”

Syn hissed as darkness oozed out of my pores. Dropping me, they backed away from the Hel-born mist. The Dark Blessing required consent, but they didn’t know that. Fear was my ally just then.

I had time to stand and back away a few steps before Syn shouted: “Barrow wight! Kill it!” Her eyes were crazed as she rushed me with her spear, intending to impale me through the chest. I retreated as fast as I could but Hlin saved me, tackling Syn onto the ground.

“We need her alive! Calm down, she’s not a blood-sucking fiend.” Looking up to me, Hlin continued with less conviction: “At least… I don’t think she is.”

I had no time to argue the point. Since they were between me and the bridge, I chose to run all the way back to my saddle bags. Where in Hel is Mordgud when I need her? She would be a match for Hlin while I dealt with Syn. I was good, but I couldn’t take on Frigga’s two best warriors on my own.

Looking down, my fingers itched for the Asgardian tabard folded at my feet. I desperately wanted to be on the same side as my friends, yet I couldn’t let William will grow up without a mother. I reached for the hand axes in my pack.

I’d wasted precious seconds with indecision, allowing them to reach me. From behind me, Syn struck my left arm with the blunt end of her spear, sending me careening toward the tower… and right into Hlin. I took a shield bash to the face and started falling backward.

I barely registered the pain and blood of my broken nose before Syn swept my leg out from under me with the blunt end of her spear.

I rolled back over my left shoulder as I fell, then lunged into a forward roll, snatching my packs as I did. I slipped my left arm through the straps and stood – the bag would serve as my shield – and extracted one of my hand axes. The many layers of my gambeson left only head and legs unprotected.

“You cannot win, Gna,” said Hlin as she approached, before pushing me back with another shield-bash. “Give yourself up before someone gets hurt.” She stood between me and the tower

I kept an eye on Syn who was again circling to my back on the side of the Hel Road.

“If you’ll stop hitting me,” I exclaimed, my voice distorted by a nose full of clotting blood, “we can try to talk through this reasonably.”

Syn swung at the back of my head, this time with the spear point. I ducked, but as I was hunched over Hlin kicked up in my face. Will you stop with the face already, I fumed.

I went with that momentum and shoulder slammed my smaller opponent, knocking her onto her backside. This allowed me to make a run for the tower. I stepped over her legs as she shrieked a curse. The black stone wall would at least protect my back, if I could get to it. I might even be able to get inside and bar the door until Hellish reinforcements arrived. Isn’t this place always guarded? Where the feck are my supposed allies when I need them? I took a gander toward the bridge and spotted Garm still sitting on the far side. Stupid dog! Why aren’t you protecting me from the Asgardians?

Hlin pursued as I ran away and around toward the back of the watchtower. If Hoof-Tosser was there, I could wake him and make my escape. I briefly considered and dismissed running to frozen Niflheim’s border. I was injured and had too many enemies there.

I was faster, but Frigga’s hero was smart. She didn’t try to catch me, she went directly to the tower, knowing I had little other choice for protecting my back. Just like in the game of tafl, the best way to take down a warrior was to attack the back while they were fighting at their front.

I stopped to consider my options. A half-giantess before me with her back to the wall; Frost Giants behind me; a ‘reformed’ Dark Elf assassin creeping up on my right. Things were looking pretty grim. Normally this was when I prayed, but I wasn’t quite sure who to pray to anymore. I sighed. In for a penny…

“Hela, if you can hear me, please send help! I can’t do this on my own.”

I cursed my own stupidity, letting myself be distracted by the making of friends to relieve loneliness, rather than ensuring my powers could protect me. With just one more wind ally, I could walk all the way up to the top of tower. From there, I could safely make faces at them all day long. What else could I do now? Mordgud’s dagger at my hip was out of the question. I had no idea what it would do to people and these were still my friends.

I waited for Syn to get closer, watching her twirl the spear defensively around her. She knew how good I was at throwing axes. Heck, we played at this for sport with blunt axes. She could block the first three I threw, though the fourth always got her. Sadly, I only had two axes with me.

Next she’d be swinging for my head, knocking me down before… normally she stopped the spear at my throat. This time I wasn’t so sure.

Okay, I’m a Hel-Maiden now. Surely we have some offensive powers?

In desperation, I raised my palms toward the elf and willed her to stop, slow down, be driven away. Nothing happened.

Again I tried, taking a deep breath and focusing on the chilling memories of my death dream. The skin tightened on my skull as the shadowy aura spread around me. Not me, her! Stop her! I mentally shouted. Splinters of darkness shot out of my palms, such that no spear could block. She stopped, and dropped her spear. I watched her face turn to a grimace of fear as she backed away, clawing at the air.

“Nooooo…” she cried out before falling to her knees, hands over her face.

I cringed. I wasn’t sure what I’d done to my friend – though she was trying to kill me – but still it felt wrong. Hlin started running to assist her.

This was my chance and I made another dash for the tower.

I was almost there when I heard the swoosh of her sword coming down toward my head, forcing me to whirl around and block with the bag. Syn was still kneeling alone, which meant that Hlin’s sprint had been a feint. She pivoted the swing to a side strike, and I took a mighty blow to the left arm. It didn’t cut through, but it hurt and made me stagger.

I swung at her neck with the axe. As I’d hoped, she raised her shield to block my attack. My weapon bit and splintered the top of it wood. We took a few more swings at each other before I suddenly realized I’d lost track of my elven foe. Syn was no longer where she’d fallen.

That’s when I felt her dagger slice between ribs under my shoulder blade. An ordinary knife shouldn’t be able to pierce my armor, alas hers was anything but ordinary. I opened my mouth to scream, but only heard the gurgle of blood and the pounding of my heart as I stood, stunned by the pain of my lung being stabbed.

Hlin took a step back as I fell to my knees, with a look of pity on her face when she lowered her weapon. This victory held no joy for her, only sorrow.

Syn came around to grab my jaw, forcing me to look up into her cold angry eyes. The axe fell from my limp fingers and the pack slid onto to the ground.

“Unholy barrow wight! How could you do this to Mother?” she spat. “She took us in, gave us home when we were forsaken by all. She even let you have your little vacation when you went all moody,… and this is how you repay her, by betraying us all?” Her face twitched, a little foam coming out the corner of her mouth. “And.. and… giving me visions of my death?”

So that’s what that was, I thought numbly.

She was nearly feral when it came to protecting Frigga. I just never thought that viciousness would ever be directed at me. Mother Frigga forgive me, for I have failed you, I prayed silently. Coppery blood flowed into my mouth as I coughed. Here lies Gna, I eulogized myself silently, who died defending… what exactly? This was a stupid way to die, far from what I’d could have hoped for. Sorry I have to leave you my friend, without even a goodbye. I love you Hoof…

Then my world went dark.

 


 

Author’s Note: My two closest friends moved to Finland two weeks ago. One of them is my usual editor. I’ve been grieving, stressed, and not much in the mood for editing. I’m starting to emerge from that, proof being today’s chapter. I’ll be visiting my family in France for most of September, but I believe I’ll be able to edit and post weekly from my tablet. 

As always, comments are much appreciated, and I hope you enjoyed Gna’s big fight scene! I’d been looking forward to posting this one for a while. The original was written over a year ago, right after the first few chapters, when my writer’s circle had a fight scene story theme. The dozen or so chapters before this one didn’t exist when I first composed it. Obviously some adjustments were necessary, and I added about two pages, but it’s essentially the same. My Ladies aren’t much into fighting, but that doesn’t mean they can’t when it’s needed. It was a lot of fun to write. 🙂

I’ve got two more chapters of Heartfelt Road left to edit and post. I think that will be a good break point for “Gna, Book 1”. Other Ladies need bardic love too. The most likely candidates at this point are Fulla (most recently written and mostly edited, but I only have a few chapters in a longer story), Lofn (a LOT of chapters, a full story arc similar to Gna’s,  but older and requiring a lot of editing), and Sjofn (a short story arc, some editing). You are welcome to sway the bard with sincere pleas for your favorite. 😉

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Comments
  1. Ly says:

    Awesome chapter! Another cliffhanger, but I’m glad to see more 🙂

    I keep wondering how Gna will get out of this, what loophole can be found..

    And through it all I’m also wondering if her son will have someone to be his mother after all.

    More soon please!

    Like

    • lofnbard says:

      What’s interesting is how the goddesses fight. It’s not exactly like the gods.
      Too bad Syn killed her…

      Liked by 1 person

      • wynndark says:

        A couple of comments here, first the action of this fight was very well done, and I don’t think I’ll forget the “May the Vanir bugger you unconscious!” insult anytime soon.

        Gna’s “last thoughts” being for Hoof Tosser was painfully touching.

        And back to the action: I’m guessing you mean the goddesses fight differently in that they worked together and weren’t going straight for smashing/cutting Gna into a bloody smear on the ground? I ask because as a relatively small man, the way they are fighting here is pretty much how I fight…or would be if I was fighting someone with ancient weaponry (and a buddy) at least. Almost all of my experience in that arena comes from boxing and as someone that is both short, and heavy for their height, you Have to fight differently than the taller bruisers you get paired up with, is that sort of how you mean they fight differently?

        Like

      • lofnbard says:

        What I meant is that goddesses don’t go off to battle because they want to defeat someone, or because they want to get some valuable thing. That’s the “hero’s quest” you see in god stories. Usually the Ladies fight to preserve or restore something precious to them. Does that make sense?

        As for the battle scene choreography, I do martial arts, so I have some concepts of what works. Hlin is a tank, but doesn’t want to hurt Gna. Syn is an assassin, and doesn’t care if she gets hurt, but is hampered by her anger. Gna is a fencer, trying to stay alive while knowing she’s badly outmatched. They’ve fought many times before in practice and know their strengths.

        I’m glad you found the battle believable. It was a lot of fun to write. I’m close to Gna’s build, so I have some inkling about fighting bigger badder bruisers. 🙂

        Like

      • wynndark says:

        Ahhh, now what you meant makes perfect sense. I must say that the Ladies reasons for doing battle make a whole lot more sense than just going raiding, even if that is on occasion what needs to happen for one reason or another. Sometimes someone just needs to get stomped on, but there needs to be an actual reason behind that other than someone’s bruised ego. Thank you for the clarification.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ly says:

    Also *hugs*
    I know you’ve been sad and I’m glad you’re starting to feel better. *More hugs*

    Like

    • lofnbard says:

      Thank you. I tried to “make good art” with the sad, but that didn’t quite work. I tried to accept those feelings at least, rather than try to distract myself from them. It takes a little time.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Teka Lynn says:

    I was not expecting the treason charge! That made me jump in my chair.

    I’ve beta read/edited/proofed for friends via email. If you find yourself wanting an extra pair of eyes, just let me know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lofnbard says:

      Ha, cool. Thank you for sharing that! Yes, Gna keeps digging herself deeper in the doggy doodoo without realizing it. Even with all she’s been through, you can’t get much lower than having one of your best friends literally stab you in the back. That hurts on a lot of levels, in addition to the whole dying part. But is Syn not justified in believing her a traitor? Gna makes a lot of excuses, but she *is* now sworn in service to a major power that is an official enemy of Asgard. Nothing’s free, and there are always consequences.

      There’s also her trying out her newfangled Hellish powers on her friend… making Syn experience her own death… that’s hard to forgive. Murder may be a bit excessive a vengeance… but does one wrong cancel out another wrong? Are they even now? Or is Gna now irrevocably beyond redemption in the eyes of Asgard and the other goddesses?

      As for the editing, send me a message and we’ll talk 🙂

      “BARROW WIGHT!!! KILL IT!!!”

      (Possibly my favorite line! A barrow is a burial mound, so she’s being called undead… which she kind of is…)

      Like

  4. Úlfdís says:

    I too was surprised at this turn! I hadn’t expected her friends to react that way, though knowing how pissed off I’d be at that sort of perceived betrayal….i can’t wait to see what happens next, and why Mordgud and Garm didn’t help!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lofnbard says:

      Yeah, you learn your friend is now sworn to the service of your mortal enemy. That puts a strain in the relationship. Tomorrow, you’ll find out why Garm and Mordgud weren’t there to help. 😉

      Like

  5. Amber Drake says:

    This was a really exciting read!
    And such a cliffhanger!

    Like

  6. sonyjalerulv says:

    Being forced to walk as long as she is inside the gates… for Gna, that’s yet another form of torture, isn’t it? lol She who loves speed so much.
    The BARROW WIGHT line was great. Fitting insult in the circumstances. And vision of her one’s death as an attack weapon? Clever!

    Like

    • lofnbard says:

      Ha ha, yeah, she doesn’t like being slowed down.

      I tweaked Syn’s rage a few times for the right effect. The original fight scene was written just after the first few chapters, for a battle themed writer’s circle. When I got to it again, Gna had a few more tools I was now aware of. Syn knew all her old tricks, and couldn’t be defeated that way. The Dark Blessing required consent.

      So what tools do the servants of death have? Well, for a novice Hel-maiden, making you face the fear of your own death seemed an appropriate skill — one that could be used as a form of attack. With a little mentoring, she could probably do more… but does she *want* more deathly spells ? Isn’t she losing more of her Asgardian “good girl” image every times she delves into dark powers? Nothing is ever truly without cost, even if that cost is *merely* self-respect and self-image.

      Like

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