Fatherless Eir 1 – Purity

Posted: September 13, 2018 in Eir, Handmaidens, Vanir
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Valkyries Riding

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Chapter 1 – Purity –

Battle raged all around, the screams of men, the splatter of blood from a battle axe plunged into a neck. And always, the howl of the wind. No, not the wind. The howl of women keening.

The men that fought were gray shadows of themselves, their shouts muted. Only the blood was bright, red, colorful. So much blood, everywhere. She walked in a daze between them, seeing other women in gleaming armor wandering with her. Here, one would pierce a man with her spear, watch him fall with a smirk, then reach into his gut like a carrion crow gorging on innards. The women‘s coloration looked more normal, but their hands and arms became shiny with blood when they reached into a corpse . And there, from deep inside the wounds, they would pull out their prize with an ululating shout of joy, holding it aloft. She couldn’t quite make out what they had in their hands, only that it was dazzling, like staring at the sun, and she had to look down.

Her own arms, she realized, were also covered in glinting metal, and in her hand was a weapon. Curved like a sickle, it was sharp on both sides, to hook and to slash, to trap and to tear.

Looking up, she saw her own target, a bear of a man who fought and slashed with the fearless ferocity of a boar. His blade circled with slashes all around, and wherever he struck, men fell.

Odin will be pleased,” she heard herself say as a smile formed on her face. Raising the sickle blade as she advanced on her prey, she blocked one of his slashes and trapped the sword. Perplexed as to why his blade had stopped in mid-air for no apparent reason, he looked around warily, pausing his carnage. That was enough distraction for a spear point to bloom through his gut, and she laughed at the surprised look on his face as he glanced down. The spear was pulled back, and he roared, freeing his blade and whipping around to decapitate his slayer. Which he did, but then the rapid blood loss caught up to him and he fell to his knees.

Don’t like to kill them, do you?” a female voice said beside her.

No need,” she answered.” A distraction suffices, and I have enough blood on my hands. And now if you’ll excuse me, I have a core to claim…”

Drenched in sweat and panting, the copper haired lass sat up in bed. Eyes wild, she scanned her bedroom. No blood. No warriors. Just a peaceful morning with birds chirping outside. She clutched the fluffy down comforter, crushing it between her hands.

“Just a dream. It was. Just. A. Dream.”

Her mother opened the door, dressed in a rich brocade of yellows and gold thread embroidery. Real gold. They were royals after all.

“Darling, I heard you scream,” she said with a crease on her forehead. “Did you have that awful dream again?”

Eir nodded, catching her breath and cursing softly. She threw off the covers and grabbed a green robe that hung on the bedpost at the foot of her bed.

“I hate the Aesir, Mother, hate them! And no matter how many dreams they send me, I will never go to Asgard. They are cruel, bloodthirsty barbarians and I am not one of them!”

“Of course you aren’t,” her mother cooed as she embraced her daughter and caressed the copper hair that matched her own. “You’ll stay right here in Vanaheim and enjoy the Peace of Mother Nerthus.” She felt her daughter relax, head on her breast, and then tense up again. “What’s the matter darling?”

“No matter what I do, they’ll still call me a half-breed. I’m sixteen, and I still don’t have my powers. Did you have to pick the most hapless, powerless Asa-man who came ashore? You won’t tell me his name, so I can’t even curse him!”

Her mother looked away, making shushing sounds.

“Names have power, precious. If we say his name, he may hear us. You know how devious the Aesir are in their sorcery. So you must never say his name. Understood?”

“Yes, Mother,” she agreed.

“And a lesser Aesir is a lesser evil. I cannot undo his blood in your veins, but I can minimize the harm. I would call it a youthful mistake, but honestly, there is nothing about you that I can regret. If not for this folly, you would not have been born. And you are my cup of joy. I love you darling, more than anything. Please believe that.”

“Love you too, Mother,” the girl answered with a sigh.

===

The celebration went about like it always did.

Musicians bowed and plucked jaunty melodies on the strings of their langspil. Drummers thundered on their flat drums. Flautists wandered through the crowd, dancers making dust rise by the beating of their feet on the ground of the commons. Boring. So boring. First Harvest was no better than the Seed Dance. She leaned against the drinks table, an enormous tree stump polished and engraved. Not that she drank anything more than watered ale. It was just the only place to lean and look at something other than people enjoying themselves at dusk. She could be at home, embroidering something nice, or perhaps making up a dance to the tune of her dwarven music boxes. She did love to dance. Just not here.

“Ho, freak, did you break your nose falling from Asgard? Because your face looks like a turd.”

She sighed, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath as she flattened the green brocade of her dress.

“Jaden,” she hissed at the brown haired boy, “my favorite former friend, how goes your dear mother? Has she recovered from that embarrassing encounter with a cow on the road?”

“Sod off,” he spat, “that was years ago.”

“And yet,” she tutted with a finger on her chin, eyes aloft, “people are still talking about that manure. Why, I believe it was exactly the color of your shirt. And that winged collar of yours, wasn’t that fashionable last year?

“Half-breed filth,” he muttered as he grabbed a wine cup and stormed off.

There was no escaping it, she’d have to mingle and set all these buffoons in their place once more.

“Getting pudgy, Ingrid?” she said to one girl who glared while she passed. “Maybe you shouldn’t be eating so much cheese, I hear it makes you fart. I mean, fart more than you usually do.” The girl blushed as Eir giggled and continued through the crowd.

“Algot,” she crooned to a dark haired boy, “stop making that face, it will get stuck that way.”

He didn’t reply, just turning heel and walking straight off. She smirked. Maybe now they’d leave her alone with her misery.

Maybe I‘m worthless, she thought, a wretched half-breed without a father, but you are all less than worthless. Nearsighted morons the lot of you. Why won‘t you just leave me alone? I don’t need anyone. I’m fine. Just fine.

But she wasn’t fine. She was desperately lonely. The few friends she’d had as a child had all turned on her. Whispers from parents about her father had turned into whispers between children. They saw her as different, and for a child, different was never good. Not being a fighter, she had sharpened her ears and tongue into weapons of social destruction. She was heading back to the table when she heard an outcry, making her head swivel like an owl’s. Whatever was scream-worthy would be juicy enough to serve as future arrows in her quiver.

Half-dancing, she made her way through the colorfully dressed swaying crowd, dodging couples with an easy grace. And there on the ground, surrounded by jeering faces, was Jaden – his shirt thoroughly soaked and nose bleeding between his fingers. Her breath caught when at first glance she thought him covered in blood, but relaxed realizing it was red wine.

“What’s your problem?” he shouted up to a tall thin boy with almost white blond hair and a cruel smile. A single spot of red was on the shoulder of his pale tunic. I decided to nickname him Ghost.

“Do not talk to my girlfriend,” the thin boy sneered. “Do not approach her. Do not even think of her. Or I will see you tied to a rock at the bottom of the lake. Do I make myself clear?”

Jaden tried to get up, but Ghost’s boot caught him in the face and pushed him down. The circle of teens around them were muttering malicious comments to each other with the mounting excitement of wolves smelling blood. Prey. A wounded member of the herd. I looked around, but older folk were so wrapped up in their dance that they didn’t see. Or if they did see, didn’t care enough to intervene.

Ghost stepped onto Jaden’s hand, crushing it with a twist that summoned another scream.

“I said, do I make myself clear?”

“Go fornicate cows,” Jaden glared up through gritted teeth.

This was getting out of hand. He may have been an oaf, but he was still a former friend. A good friend, once upon a time. Eir let out a breath and stepped into the circle, painting a lazy smile on her face as she started clapping.

“Bravo, bravo, well done whoever you are,” she purred. “I’ve been wanting to teach this fool a real lesson for ages, and here you come and do it for me.”

Ghost turned his head to her, brows furrowed.

“And I’m not done yet,” he said, slightly bored. “Please step aside, fair lady, so that I may finish his lessoning.”

She blinked, and felt a flutter of pleasure. When was the last time a boy had called her pretty? She couldn’t remember.

I do a good deed and get a compliment, she thought. Maybe this party isn‘t a complete waste of time after all. She had to admit, the mean boy was kind of handsome.

“Pish posh,” she said with a wave of the hand, “he’s my whipping boy, has been for years. I can’t just let anyone step in and break him, now can I? What would I amuse myself with? I don’t even know your name.”

His eyes narrowed, then widened as he looked her up and down. He liked what he was seeing, and she felt that flutter again.

“I am Gösta, Gösta Arvidsson. And who, lovely lady, might you be?” Preening, she took a curtsy, and lowered her head to stifle a giggle. Her nickname wasn’t so off after all.

“I am Eir Grettasdottir.” At his blank stare, she frowned. “But you may know me better as Eir Föðurlaus.”

“Oh. Ohhhh. Eir the fatherless. I have indeed heard of you,” he said as he bowed.

“Do you mind getting off my hand while you flirt?” Jaden whined. He was a stocky sort, not at all like the almost elfin Gösta.

The tall boy’s face twitched in displeasure, but he stepped off his fallen foe to approach her.

“And it is indeed a pleasure to meet you,” he said as he took her hand, brushing lips against its back. She swallowed, heart pattering. Since when did boys pay attention to her? No herald had announced this news. “Ah, let me fetch you a refreshment. I shall return,” and with that he strode off.

Gathering her skirts, she went to crouch near Jaden and stared at him.

“Why did you do that?” he asked in a sullen tone. “I had it under control.”

“Of course you did. And you’re welcome, not that I expect any thanks.”

“So why did you do it?”

“Because,” she glared, “it pisses me off when I need help and everyone looks the other way. Just like they did with you now. I swear, ‘not my problem’ should be engraved on the crest of Vanaheim. Why can’t people just help each other, or at least not make things worse?”

“That’s fair, I guess,” he said with downcast eyes. “Thank you.”

“Now I’m going to have to make this look good for the crowd, else he’ll come back and finish what he started. Just know that no matter what I say or do, Jaden, you’re still a horse’s ass and I despise you for the torment you’ve put me though.”

He looked up, confused. “Whaaat?”

Then she slapped him.

“Putrid little beast,” she said aloud, “do not get in my way again, or I’ll do worse than he did.” She rose with all the grace her royal training afforded her, saw the approval of the cruel crowd, and turned heel just in time for Gösta to arrive with a golden cup in hand. She felt a sudden cold sweat. That had been too close. He had almost heard her being merciful to the oaf. Mercy, or at least the appearance of such, was not something she could afford. Not if she wanted to survive and maybe have a boyfriend! It gave her no strain to let a great smile grace her face.

===

Later in the evening, a thought crossed her mind as they sat under a tree. Alone. With bushes between them and the crowd. And his eyes roving all over her.

“Didn’t you say you had a girlfriend?” She asked with a cock of her head.

He laughed. “No, she’s my cousin. But I couldn’t very well stop him from pestering a relative, could I? A sister, certainly. This was more convincing. He won’t be bothering her again.”

“I don’t know,” she chuckled, “he’s pretty thick headed.”

“Oh,” he said with an arched eyebrow. “Should I continue his lesson then?”

“No, no, I think you made enough of an impression for him to remember a while.”

“My turn for a question. Why,” he gestured over her torso, “do you hide that lovely body of yours under thick shapeless brocades?”

She took a sip to hide her reddening face and think of an answer. “People tease me when I dress up. They tease me when I look plain. Plain is less effort, and has less bits for them to pull on.”

“What, are they twelve? Do they actually pull your hair and ribbons?”

She looked away, eyes moist, and gave a tiny nod.

“But…” he looked aghast, gripping the grass, “you’re of the royal line. You are superior to all of them in rank.”

“And that does me absolutely no good at all. Doesn’t matter to any of them,” she said with a lump in her throat, looking to the ground. “I haven’t even come into my powers, and I don’t know if I ever will. To them I’m just a dirty half-breed, a reminder of what they lost to the Aesir. They don’t see me. They see someone who took away Frey, who enslaved Freya, who robbed them of Njord. It’s not fair. It’s not like I chose who my father was. And nobody cares.”

He lifted her chin and stared into her eyes. His were icy blue. “I care,” he said.

And that is when all her sorrow and all her resentment burst like a dam. She started sobbing and couldn’t stop. No one, no one had cared outside of her household.

He took her into his arms and let her cry herself out. Someone finally cared for her, and it was the grandest thing in all the Nine Worlds.

 

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Note: Gosta is a variant of Gustav, staff of the gods. Arvid means “eagle tree” from Scandinavian arn “eagle” and vidhr “tree”.

 

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Comments
  1. […] Fatherless Eir 1 – Purity […]

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  2. […] Fatherless Eir 1 – Purity […]

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  3. Ly says:

    This is one of my favorites of your stories so far – loving the updates!

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  4. Amber Drake says:

    Great chapter!
    I feel for Eir.

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