Posts Tagged ‘UPG’

Dancing in the Woods

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Chapter 2 – Power –

 

Blood thudded in her throat, loud enough to hear her heartbeat, and sweat greased her palms. Joy was marred with a nauseous dizziness, fearing she might ruin her chances with foolish words.

A date, she thought, a real date!

They sat at the same tree, facing the sounds of the ongoing celebration.

“Better,” he said, with a finger to her lower neckline.

“You like? I thought it would be… better. That you would… like it… more.”

“Stop,” he said with a hand to his forehead, “you are dazzling me with your vocabulary. I will have to seek a sage to understand your poetic elocution.”

“Hmmph,” she responded, blushing furiously as she crossed her arms. “See if I go making efforts for you again.”

“No, no, I appreciate, and have brought you a gift too. See?” He held up a bottle. Not a common clay amphora but an actual glass bottle, green with ornamentation etched into it.

“What, ale? There is plenty of that at the party.”

He shook his head. “No, this is a potion.”

She leaned forward onto her hands, eyes alight. “A p-potion? A potion for what?” (more…)

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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…” (more…)

Birthing Rope

Prologue – Nations At War

(Story index) – Next Chapter

Odin’s daughter cried out when she was born – a wail worthy of any Valkyrie announcing the death and sorrows to come. It made him proud, showing her battle spirit was strong. Even the chanting crescendo of seven midwives was not as loud as the scream of his newborn shield-maiden. Strips of red cloth hung from all rafters in the birthing hall, and blessings rained down from these like the blood of her ancestors, drop by drop in the dim light of clay oil lamps. None sat on the benches lining the side walls, and green fresh-cut grasses carpeted the ground of the birchwood longhouse. Three log pillars supported the roof. The women, clustered near the one at the front, used the door flap to let in more air as needed. He was at the opposite end, where breathing was more challenging. Burning pine sap vapors filled his nostrils with a cleansing scent, made cloying by the stifling heat. His blue tunic was soaked, clinging to his skin, sweat dripping from his brow onto the thundering drum he held.

The youngest midwife poured one last ladle of reddish water upon hot stones in the pit at the center of the hall, raising a scalding cloud of steam. Until now, that hiss had been the grandmothers and grandfathers breathing life into this new spark. The last pouring though, that was for the first breath of the babe, and the warming steam all around saved her from the cold shock of separation. It eased the transition from the womb to the world.

He had lost so many good people during the war, it was good to see new life from his loins. When her end came, as it comes to all, seven mourners would raise wails within these walls to ease her passage from the world into the mists beyond. To the Vanir, death and birth were journeys that mirrored each other, Odin reflected as he pounded the last birthing beats on his oiled drum. For now though, his heart swelled with joy and a large grin split his face. It was time to approach his newest daughter! (more…)

Sexual Content. Fertility Rites.

 

A flash of color settled among the leafy ash trees above. “Wheep-wheep-wheep! Tuh-tuh-tuh-tuh-tuh, rrrrrrrrr.” I smiled at the black-faced redbird, shaking his tail feathers as he sang.

Awee awee awee awee awee,” rang the female’s answer. I turned my head, spotting her grayish-white plumage in the nearby linden tree – red in the beak, wing-tips, tail and crest. That’s what I liked about cardinals; the ladies also spoke up when they wanted sex.

Lavender-colored musk-mallow flowers crowded the tree-line along the cobblestone path, a warm breeze faintly carrying their lusty scent.
(more…)

Trigger Warning. Sexual Content. Fertility rites.

 

I was so young, barely a woman, on the day everything changed.

Those descended from the royal line of Nerthus are gods among my people. I never wanted to be a goddess, but that choice was not mine to make. By order of our Queen, I was sent to the remote plains of Northern Vanaheim with a single servant – to be the local goddess among common folk who had not seen me grow up.

My temple was a large hollow mound, with standing stones all around. Within it I reclined on my couch, sipping smoke from the long stem of a white clay pipe, and awaited my supplicants. A dim orange light infused my hall from the wind-eyes[1] all around; holes covered with thin vellum leather, stretched and oiled.

Beaten gold coins hung as jingles from my breast-band and belt. Below those, a blue string-skirt hid what little modesty I had left.

My dark-haired handmaiden led the couple in, all of them wearing only breechcloths[2]. The pair clutched each other, nervous as they peered through the misty hall. He was a bare-cheeked lad and she a young woman, recently married no doubt. They showed identical braids of light-brown hair down the middle of their backs, as they approached the tripod brazier on the left side of the room.

“An offering,” he said, taking herbs from the bowl beside the burning coals. “To please the goddess we honor, that she may bring us fullness.” The fumes rose as he cast them, with tentacles of smoke spreading their heady scent through the room. He inhaled and stepped back.
(more…)

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… (more…)

Chapter 18 – The Price of Murder

(Click here to read from the beginning)

I couldn’t move. I could barely feel my body as I lay there on my back, but there were voices.

“I’m sorry, all right?” a voice said. “I didn’t mean to kill her. She was my friend too.” Syn, that had to be Syn.

Silence. I could imagine Hlin’s disapproving look. Mothers have mighty power when it comes to making people feel guilty. Good! Let her feel shame, I thought.

“I was so angry,” she continued. “She wouldn’t yield, and after she used that hellish magic I… lost control. My old habits kicked in.”

I heard a deep sigh. “That may be, but we now have a corpse rather than a captive, and that friend is lost to us forever. So close to Helheim, we may not even be able to bring back the body for a proper mourning and funeral,” Hlin said.

“I’ll carry her back myself,” Syn answered softly, her voice cracking. “I owe her that much.” (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 8: Little Friends –

I rolled out of bed and shambled to the window. Pulling the curtains, I was greeted by the sun peeking over a forested horizon. Except it was too red – had I slept through the day? Blinking a few times, I realized it was merely a painting of sunset covered with curtains. It wasn’t even on the outside wall.

“Funny, very funny,” I muttered, remembering this was my room in Helheim. Crypts did not have windows.

I ambled to the wooden water basin near the door and gave it a sniff. I was wary of what might pass for hygiene around here, but the liquid was clear and without a suspicious odor. Come to think of it, I hadn’t really noticed much in the way of smells since I’d died. After splashing water on my face to wake up, I went to find a towel, washcloth and soap.

Thoughts of the previous day brought me a smile, and I marveled at the improvement of my mood. I had to see her again, I decided. Being alone wasn’t good for me, and I’d do almost anything to avoid returning to that frozen state of Silence.

Once dressed, I stood at the mirror. My skin had more color, looking less dead than yesterday. I whistled an old wind summoning tune as I redid my braid. From there I practically flew down the stairs to the outer doors.

She was leaning against the garden fence, fidgeting with the drooping end of her belt as I stepped out, and she wore a green kirtle dress today.

“Greetings Grisella,” I said. (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…)