Posts Tagged ‘Hela’

Chapter 16 – Dance of the Munin –

(Click here to read from the beginning)

Grisella’s fish were long dead by the time we reached the front of the castle, and my wife was shivering in shock. The lower half of her green dress remained soaked, and despite my warming arms around her, I kept hearing the rattling of teeth.

Ganglati stood solemn before the great doors, barring our way. No torches burned in welcome, and only the moon illuminated her wrinkled face. All was quiet around the castle, the dead resting in their mounds no doubt.

“I’ll be taking those fish, miladies,” she said with unusual gentleness. “They need to be prepared for the feast. May I ?”

Reluctantly, Grisella’s hands parted from her chest. Still clutching the hem of her skirt as a basket, she left an opening for Grisella to reach in.

“Thank you, Milady,” said the maid with a smile, “I’ll be taking good care of them.”

My wife nodded, and we watched Ganglati head for the kitchen entrance to the left.

Mordgud stepped around us to grasp the door handles. “Now that this is settled,” she said grimly, looking down, “we have a funeral feast to attend.”

I nodded, bracing myself for hours of wailing. Surely there would be professional mourners, veiled in black, pulling at their hair and crying out the loss of those three who were sacrificed. Hlin would love to see how they do it here, I thought. It was likely around three in the morning and I was less than enthused at the prospect of staying up all night for this.

When Mordgud pulled open the fresh pine door and its rotting wood companion however, the sounds of a great of a celebration poured out. She gave a crooked smile and winked as she waved us in. (more…)

Chapter 15 – Down With The Fishes –

 

I was startled awake by the knock on the door, just one tap, repeated every few seconds. Ganglati I suppose…

My wife was still purring, head on my chest. How strange that I have a wife now, I mused, when not long ago I had a husband. For that matter, am I a widow if I’m the one who died? Or am I still married to him? I suppose it doesn’t matter, if Hela held her end of the deal, since Mary Arden’s body lives once again.

With a hand on her forehead, I pulled Grisella’s eyelids open. No response. The rapping at the door continued, so I lifted her up enough to free myself. As I walked past the iron frame mirror, I spied my reflection getting her own gambeson from atop the chest. Her face sagged as she slipped it on.

Is the other me good to my family in Midgard? Does she make little horses out of twigs to amuse William? I hope she has a kind soul. (more…)

Chapter 14 – The Black King’s Bride –

 

 

My wife shook herself and then stood straighter, still clinging to my waist as we watched the queen return to her throne.

“Before she can begin her mission to Guthugg,” Hela began as she sat, “we shall…”

I went pale. “Guthugg? Have you lost your mind? You can’t send her there! I won’t let you.” I enfolded my wife in my arms.

“She can do what we cannot,” Hela countered with a slight shrug.

“No. Just… no. Find someone else,” I said.

“Gna?” my lover asked. “Why are you shaking? And what’s Guthugg?”

I took a few deep breaths. “G-Guthugg,” I spat. “That’s the Christian Otherworld. That’s where she wants to send you.” I brandished a fist at the Hela.   “I won’t let you send her there to be enslaved or destroyed!”

“Gna,” the Queen spoke gently. “Even you must agree; something has to be done.” (more…)

Chapter 13– Feast of the Dead –

Amazingly, we made it out in time for the evening feast.

Grisella was a fast and eager student once I got her relaxed. Gifted even, and I had no regrets on that front about our accidental marriage. If you really want to know the details of our lovemaking – and it was lovemaking, not sex – then you have a dirty mind, and I approve. I’m still not going to tell you though. Some things should stay private between wife and wife.

Down the stairs we went, hastily dressed. I ignored the outer bone doors to my left and went with her through the ebony ones. I gave a lustful glance to the vast library as we passed, but there was no time to dally since we wanted food. After all that exercise, assaulting Hela was also a lower priority than dealing with my tummy’s rumblings. Our hands were still bound. Let them wonder at that, I thought with a grin.

One last set of doors and we were in the great hall, filled with people in their best tunics, sitting on benches at the trestle tables. Same layout as when I first faced Hela, minus the dust and most of the cobwebs. I wondered how they managed to go from that “deserted for decades” look to a “fit for feasting” one every night. And presumably back to the creepy version afterward.

A minstrel played a violin nestled against his beard, a sad haunting tune, slowly making his way around the room. His colorful costume had saw-tooth trims of white and red on his long burnt-orange coat. He bowed to me as he passed and kept going.

Deeper within, Hela sat on her throne of bone. Sun had set, so again I couldn’t discern what the stained glass behind her was showing. Come to think of it, there was that whole ruined side of the castle behind what I presumed was an inner courtyard – so how was it ever illuminated? Her impassive gaze paused on us, then continued. She wore a dress of flowing black velvet tonight. Only her bony foot moved, slowly tapping along to the tune. Heh, never would’ve pegged her as the foot-tapping kind. (more…)

Part 11 – A Great Hitch –

I was still pacing when I heard her steps. I turned and saw Grisella in the doorway, hands clasped and looking down.

“Sundered spirals!” I exclaimed, “What did Hela do to you?”

Brows wrinkling, I rushed to my companion’s side to lead her in.

The dead woman looked away. “She… she made me the age of my death, old and ugly.” Her hair had turned to a dirty blonde, its straggled edges laying limp on the green of her dress.

Eyebrows lowered in confusion, I asked: “What are you talking about?”

“I be fourty-two when I died,” she said with a frown. “You met me looking the way I was at twenty-two. I’m not the pretty thing you wanted to share a bed with anymore.”

Taken aback by her words, I then leaned in to inspect her more closely. Sure enough, there were more wisdom lines on her face, the kind that came from loss and anger.

“Oh, that,” I said. “I suppose you’re right. I hadn’t noticed.” (more…)

Part 10 –A Slight Hitch

I took Grisella by the hand as we walked back to the castle. There were curious gazes upon us, especially when I led her through the resident’s entrance.

While her eyes darted about in the corridors – her first sight of these parts no doubt – she said nothing. A small smile graced her lips all the way to my room.

As she followed me through my doorway, I noticed her demeanor change and I paused. She scanned the room as if she might find another exit. Her gaze stopped at the bed’s quilted blanket. Lowering her eyes, she started pulling on the front lacing of her green kirtle dress.

“Grisella,” I asked, “is something wrong?”

“Ah, no Milady,” she shrugged. “It just be my first time with a woman. It all be fine.”

Suddenly uncomfortable, I shifted my weight.

“Why do you think I brought you to my room?” (more…)

Part 9 – Looking Up From The Mud –

Calm yourself Grisella, I told myself, don’t be giving them the satisfaction of seeing you cry.

Face down in the dirt, I took a breath. I’d been so intent on ignoring Bertha that I had not seen her trying to trip me. Whatever heaven you be in Father, I prayed, please give me strength, send me help.

“Go back to your mound,” she said with scorn. “We don’t want your kind touching our food.”

I gathered the onions, avoiding eye contact with my tormentors. It had been getting worse of late, since they’d seen my mark on the Day of Bathing.

The old gods were little good to me here, and the new god was no better. Maybe I’ll try being a good Christian when born again to Midgard, I thought, then made a sour face. There be little difference between the followers of either faith, I reminded myself. No matter what I did, I’d be alone if I could not mould myself to be like them.

Brooding in misery, that was when my dark angel appeared.

She was the first in a long while to take interest. Clearly a goddess, yet she was awkward, with a haunted look in her eyes. Like me, she seemed lost, alone.

Then to my surprise she acted like lads did – the ones who found my looks pleasing. Well, this at least I understood. It was something I could give, in a place where none wanted anything to do with me.

I’d not lain with a woman as one does a man – it being a sin and all – but then none had asked. Being already as damned as I could get, there be nowhere lower for me to sink. So, I thrust my chest out and put on my best smile for the lady. Being a whore for a goddess, that be better than what I had so far. Well, until she found someone prettier, less boyish, as the lads always did.

“Perhaps we can be friends? I am Gna, messenger of Asgard, or was until recently.”

Friends? Is that what they be calling unnatural relations these days? I can do that… (more…)

Icy river

Part 6: Deals with Death –

 

Tightening my grip on Mordgud’s hand, I steeled myself for the stench of decay, but it was the scent of ripe apples that welcomed me to Helheim. On this side of the wall, the dusty Hel-Road became moist black earth, the barren ground around us a carpet of yellowing leaves, and dead trees were replaced by fruit laden ones. It was like I’d just stepped into Vanaheim on a peaceful Fall day just before Harvest.

“Not what you expected, I gather,” she said, bemused.

“Not at all. Where are all the dead?”

“They’re here, you simply cannot see them, and few come this close to the great wall.”

Over the tree line I could make out the black glassy spires of Elvidnir, twisting their way into the sky as if to pierce it. Even at this distance, Hela’s castle was an impressive sight – made as it was of shiny obsidian rock.

(more…)

Part 6: The Hired Help

“What do you mean, farmhands?!” Odin bellowed from his throne, voice echoing in the rafters. “Gefjon, I gave you land as you wanted, and now you want to recruit Asgardian Gods to work your fields? Preposterous!” Three steps separated us as I petitioned below, with Frigga’s high chair to the right and Balder’s on the left. Neither were with us, though a shaft of light from the westward window graced the Bright God’s empty seat. This was a private audience.

Throne

Throne

 

My buckskin dress was sweaty, smelly, and clinging uncomfortably as I crafted my response, though it was a relief to cast off the fur coat. I thought my feet would be clean from the snow, but too many trampling boots had made mud of the patriarch’s path. Normally I enjoyed the feel of mud between my toes, but it was now adding a distraction to my rising irritation. (more…)