Posts Tagged ‘UPG’

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.
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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.
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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… (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…)

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.

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Part 5: Hilt or Blade –

Blue gambeson

Blue gambeson.

A dark foggy path stretched before us as we rode, pierced only by pinpoint stars in every direction. Grey mane in one hand, the other held the Winds, sweat beading on my forehead from the strain. I felt foreboding mixed with hope, now that we were finally making progress, and glanced nervously behind us every now and again. This had been one of the most gut wrenching days of my life, and I feared more misfortune would befall me ere I lay my head to sleep once more.

Our trail ended at a shimmering wall, distorting the stars that seemed behind it. We followed the Deer through, and I got a mouthful of heavy snowflakes as I opened it to speak. Lit by the first hint of dawn, blown by blizzard winds, flakes froze the moisture on my scalp, settled in wet masses on my golden hair, and covered my blue coat with whiteness in mere minutes. I had no power to spare to calm the storm, and it wouldn’t listen to me anyway. The winds of Niflheim were always cranky but right now they were angry with me.

Trapped us, they howled. Free the Four Elders, their hoary voices demanded, their icy breath stinging my face. (more…)

Pleiades_large

Part 3: The Empty –

 

Hooves pounded behind as I jumped off the Cliff of Heaven, finally free from Heimdall’s Seven. Air became solid under my feet, for I ran as only Sky Maidens can[1].

I looked back to my steed following in my escape. But sky ran out and solid air failed as I sped across the border of the Aesir world. Blue sky changed to fog and I lost my footing, only to start slowly spinning out of control. Still I could see Hoof-Tosser behind as I spun; feel him in my head and heart. But when he too crossed the boundary from blue to gray, it all went wrong.

He screamed and struggled as I saw his shape shrink and fold, the ancient curse taking hold once more. Our mind-link was painfully ripped from my chest, and without it he returned to the form in which I first found him: a wide flat drum without voice to speak words, deprived of limbs to direct his motion.

“No! You are free! Hoof-Tosser return to me,” I commanded, knowing full well he had no way to comply.

I extended my arms as far as I could, to catch the rim and re-kindle our link, but he was too far away.

The drum merely tumbled, as did I, deeper into the thickening mist. (more…)