Posts Tagged ‘underworld’

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 7: Mirror, Mirror –

Ganglati provided me a room in the castle, tastefully decorated in dark burgundy and black – quite lavish actually. The canopy bed had all manner of beasts carved into its dark red wood, as did the dressers, chairs and such.

I spent quite a while flopped on that bed’s comforter, drawn into staring at the embroidered spiral of life tapestry that hung above me. I missed the one in Asgard with constellations. It always brought me comfort when I wasn’t on the road, sleeping under the stars. At least I’m still alive… sort of, I told myself, running a hand over my hair.

After the not-quite-nap, I wasted more time frowning in front of the standing mirror. I looked surprisingly good in Hela’s colors. Royal blue was best for blondes, but all-black made me look more dangerous. Better for intimidation than diplomacy, and since I was tired of being pushed around, I liked it. The job, I wasn’t so sure of.

My new linen coat – stitched in diamond patterns with silver thread – marked me as agent and messenger of Death. I glanced down at myself. Leather boots and riding breeches completed the outfit. A belt held the short knife Oathbreaker in its sheath. Syn would love my new uniform, I reflected with a faint smile; she flat out refused to wear our official white “shoot me now” tabard, as she called it. My chest tightened with the memory. I missed her.

Don’t trust them, she’d tell me if she stood by my side. Reveal nothing. Show no weakness. You’re too naïve Gna. I sighed, almost feeling her hand on my shoulder. Mordgud and Ganglati had been kind to me, welcoming in their own way, and I didn’t know when I’d be allowed to see Hoof-Tosser. Could I truly spend years in service here alone without trust or friends? Asgard had rejected me and I’d sworn myself to the tender care of other side. I’d made my own bed of thorns, and now I had to lie in it. (more…)