Heartcleft Road 19 – Gna’s Story

Posted: September 9, 2015 in Aesir & Asynjur, Alfar & Duergar, Deities & Wights, Gna, Hlin, Jotnar, Stories, Syn
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Women of the Armored Combat League

Chapter 19 – Torn Between

(Click here to read from the beginning)

Once more, twelve dead Asgardians in their finest armor made around us the circle of law. Shining Balder stood out in his pale tunic, one of the few men among many fallen shield-maidens. It was odd seeing the exuberant god of peace being so quiet.

Mordgud waited on my left, both of us wearing black. Hlin was across with white tabard over mail. Syn beside her had shrouded herself in the brown hood of her cloak, hiding eyes in shadow once more.

Will siding with Syn make things better, I wondered, biting my lip, or am I gambling away the last few friends who will have me? I clenched my jaw, glancing at Garm. No, these two watched me fail, without warning me to my fate, all for political gain. They are jailers and puppeteers, not friends.

Mordgud gave me a pat on the back, with a smile I refused to return.

“Cheer up,” she whispered, “you passed your initiation test with flying colors. Once we settle this affair, you can go visit your son William.”

What? I… she…

“At stake is Gna’s current state,” Syn said, taking a step toward us, denying me time to further query my companion. “May I question you on this matter, keen Warden of the Dead? I assume you know more than she does.”

“You may, and I do,” Mordgud answered, crossing her arms.

“What then, were the terms of her pledge to Hela?”

Cocking her head, Hel’s gatekeeper answered: “In exchange for the life of William’s mother, Gna offered her own life to Hela, to serve in whatever way our Queen chooses. Details were… not specified. I stood as witness. Currently, she has been assigned duties as Hel-maid and messenger of the Underworld.”

“Indeed,” Syn nodded, “and should I understand she was killed? Or is she alive? The details greatly matter in determining this case.”

Mordgud smiled, black metal bracers ringing as she uncrossed her arms. “Hela visited death upon her, to draw a portion of her life. She exists in a state between life and death for as long as Hela so chooses.”

Syn clutched her hands together. “So would you say she’s half-dead? How dead is she precisely?”

Mordgud narrowed her eyes. “Why would that matter to you?”

“Please answer the question, unless you have something to hide.”

“Very well,” Mordgud conceded, though her eyebrow rose. “She is one-quarter dead, and three-quarters living.”

I shuddered at her answer and put a hand on my face. Was my skin cold? I didn’t feel particularly cold, though the weather seemed warmer than when I arrived.

Syn gave her a thin smile. “So though her whole life was offered, you’re saying Hela only took a quarter of it in payment, correct?”

“Yes.”

“Then it seems we’ve resolved our matter,” the defence announced, flinging back her hood to show a feral grin of victory upon her delicate elven features. “One quarter of her is in service to Hela and at her disposal. Three quarters of her are alive and pending Odin’s judgement. The dead part cannot be killed, so there is no injury or offence to the Crown’s holdings from my attack upon her. The living part is, of course, ours to deal with as we wish.”

Silence hung for a moment, while Syn licked her lips. Cheeks slightly flushed, black pupils wide, I was pretty sure she was turned on. Where was she going with this?

Mordgud stared, then chuckled. “What do you plan to do, Asgardian ? Carve her up and bring her torso to Asgard for sentencing?”

I swallowed, and Hlin looked away. Syn’s melodic laughter rang out like a bell, eyes glistening with a hint of madness. She would not hesitate in doing the deed if she felt it necessary. Scary woman, that one. I’d seen the remains of foolish men who tried to steal what she guarded. Creative didn’t even begin to describe it.

Wiping tears of morbid amusement, she answered: “Oh, nothing of the sort, though the thought is entertaining. I simply propose we bring her back to Asgard with us, temporarily, and come to some agreement as to how we shall share her service between us.”

Mordgud frowned. “You cannot take her without my say so, and I do not trust you to return her. Odin would likely just throw her into a pit to spite my mistress.”

“Um…” I said, “Don’t I get some say in this?”

The Bridge Keeper put her hands on my shoulders. “You are safe with us, Gna. We offer you sanctuary.”

“Unless,” Syn mused with a crooked smile, “Gna were to refuse sanctuary.”

Mordgud’s eyes widened. She glanced at her opposition, then back to me.

“Gna,” she intoned, “You’re asking for sanctuary, aren’t you.” It wasn’t a question.

“Well,” I answered uncomfortably, lowering my head, “if I could be guaranteed a return to fulfill my pledge to Hela, I’d be… willing to face Odin’s mercy?”

“Gna, I’m serious. Ask for sanctuary!” Her grip tightened almost to the point of pain.”

“No,” I said more firmly. “I will serve Hela. I will also answer for my crimes to Asgard. I do not ask for sanctuary.”

Behind her, Syn was doing the dance of joy. It was merely a shifting from one foot to the other, but I’d seen it often enough to know what it meant.

Mordgud let go of me, closed her eyes and sighed deeply. “Very well. I will accompany you to Asgard, on the condition that our stay there last no longer than a moon. If one or both of us do not return intact, it will be a declaration of war and the ship made of dead men’s nails will sail.” She glared at Syn. “Are we clear, Advocate?”

Syn’s left eye twitched. She hadn’t counted on my having a hellish escort, but she nodded all the same. “Agreed. We will come to an arrangement that allows her back into the service of your realm within the span of a moon.”

Hlin whispered to her companion, forehead creasing in concern: “Can we really promise that?”

“We can,” Syn answered firmly. “Odin doesn’t want a war any more than they do. This is the best deal we’ll get.”

As if clouds parting from before the sun, Mordgud’s expression brightened. “It is indeed the best offer you’ll get out of me. I’ve always wanted to visit Asgard, and I rarely get a chance to leave my post.” She took me arm in arm and leaned in with a smirk. “Just think of what fun we’ll have together, my little Hel-maid.” Under her mirth, I heard a promise of payback for putting her in such a position.

“Um, yes. Fun! That’s exactly what I need right now,” I replied with an awkward smile.

“Excellent! Just let me bring her to Hela for debriefing before we go and…”

“No,” Syn said firmly as she came and took hold of my other arm, “you’re not going back behind that gate with her.”

Looking from one to the other, I felt like a piece of meat between hungry dogs, hoping they wouldn’t tear me apart. “Ladies? Could you please let go of me now?”

They stared at each other for a minute, until Mordgud let go. “Of course. Let me consult the Queen before we depart.” She gestured to Garm, and the giant hound of the Underworld came bounding across the bridge to sit beside us. “Garm, be a dear and make sure our guests enjoy the hospitality of Helheim until I return.” He nodded vigorously, drool flying to land as foam on top of my head. I wiped it, trying to keep my composure. She turned to me, raised her index finger and said: “Stay.”

I nodded, then looked up to the hound. Good doggy, I thought, don’t eat me.

I never eat while on duty, he replied inside my head, hot breath upon my face. Well, that was good to know.

Hel’s warrior turned heel, once satisfied I would stay, and crossed the bridge with a dozen dead jurors trailing behind her.

“Well done, Gna,” said Syn with a pat on the shoulder. “Have no worries, we’ll soon be getting you safely home.” Finally, some good news! It would have been more comforting though, if she hadn’t recently stabbed me or seriously considered dismembering me.

“So, Syn… we’re friends again, yes? I mean… you paid me back in pain for my attack so that we’re even now, right?” I wasn’t quite sure who I could trust anymore, and my nerves were getting a little frayed. Yet I knew I could believe her words. Dark elves, despite frequent deceptions, never flat out lied.

She didn’t answer, merely smiled.

 


Author’s Note:

Thus ends Gna, Book 1. She can go back to Asgard, be reunited with her friends and seemingly do some sort of time-share, so all is well, riiiight? Right.

Her saga turned out much longer and more exciting than I thought. There’s some world-changing events ahead as she returns from the underworld, but now I need to take a little break and tell stories of the other Ladies. Fulla’s Temple starts next week!

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Comments
  1. Ly says:

    This is getting really exciting now! Not that it wasn’t before. But it almost feels like I should be watching it on a big screen on the edge of my seat!

    I wondered if the ‘shared service’ thing was a possibility. I can’t wait to see where this goes.

    And through this all I’m wondering when Grisella will be back in the picture?

    Liked by 1 person

    • lofnbard says:

      Grisella needs a bit of time to recover and discover herself anew. I’m not sure if and when we’ll see her again; all I have is an outline of book 2 and some drafts of the next chapter. I’d be surprised if she didn’t show up at all.

      Shared service would be interesting indeed!

      Like

      • sonyjalerulv says:

        Arrgghh! Talk of a cliffhanger. That’s so mean. 😉 Seriously, I’m very curious to see where this will lead. I wondered too what will happen to the Gna/Grissella relationship. How that will affect the Asgardians judgment of her. After all, she is married to a Hel-Maid. She have ties in both world now, even after she is done paying her due to Hela. Can’t wait to read the rest. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Úlfdís says:

    OMFG your killing me. So much more to know! I admit, I’ve become a bit obsessed by Gna, more so that even Gefion in your first story, and I ADORE Gefion! Looking forwards to Fulla’s adventures though…squee!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lofnbard says:

      Ha ha ha, I’m glad you’re enjoying Gna’s misadventures! I hope Fulla also brings you joy. She’s quite different from the previous two. Wouldn’t be much fun to read about otherwise…

      Like

  3. sonyjalerulv says:

    I loved it. It was very fun to read. But it was also thought provoking. Many interesting questions are raised in that story. The choice to base the story in the 15th century instead of during the Viking Age allows you to explore the impacts of the changes on the other Worlds. Like Hela having to deal with Christian souls. Or Gna questioning briefly the pertinence of her role.
    Very well done.

    Like

  4. wynndark says:

    *Incoherent Screaming*

    Ahem, now that my reaction to the cliffhanger is over…I’ve absolutely got some comments to make on other parts of the story, but first, Thank you so much for writing this! This has been an amazing story all around and has given me a lot to think on about Gna.

    Actually your work with Gna has helped me to create a link with Her, breaking (or at least cracking) what seemed like an insurmountable wall between myself and the deities of Asgard. For that there isn’t enough thanks for me to give.

    May you and your work continue to be blessed by the Gods.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. lofnbard says:

    Heh heh, I do love me some cliffhangers. 😀

    It’ll be a while until I can continue Gna’s because this story’s set in relatively modern times, I need to catch up on what the other Ladies have been doing and bring the gang together. The main point is, they’re still around despite having no worshipers to speak of.

    I would love to read and answer comments on other chapters! So glad you like the story. 🙂

    I hear ya about the gods of Asgard. But while the guys tend to end up creating conflicts that make exciting stories, the women are generally more inclined to peace-weaving. There’s still conflict, but it’s more internal battles, intrigue and relationship issues. Not the stuff the saga writers were most interested in. The Ladies are all pretty cool and worth knowing. Gna’s their innocent, optimistic, outgoing extrovert I associate with Gemini. She’s good when you need to make a leap of faith, or improve communication. Frigga’s Court redeems a great deal of the misdeeds of Asgard. They mend what is broken. They bring hope.

    The next Lady’s story is… well, what do you when you realize you’re a terrible person? That your wrongdoing has caused suffering, and there’s just no way to undo it. Not little mistakes. I mean truly unspeakable things, though they seemed justified at the time. How can anyone bounce back from that?

    Like

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