Fugitive From Hel
Hel's Threat !
" If anything like this ever happens again, " she told him, " then it is you who I will feed to my pet Nidhoggr ! "
Those words rang in his ears as he stumbled over something in the mist. Hafr bent down and picked up what he expected to be a branch or a rock. What came out of the mist, however, was an arm ! The terrified Jotun reached down and felt for the other arm. When he had it in his grasp he lifted the body up above the mist. What he saw startled him so much he dropped it immediately !
" Soti ! " he shouted.
Hafr dropped the body and turned to run back to Hel's hall. As he did he fell on top of another body. This time, however, he did not have to see the face to know who it was.
" Nefr ! " he whispered as he scrambled to get off of the second corpse.
Hafr jumped to his feet and drew his sword. He spun around in a circle expecting Serkr to suddenly jump out from almost anywhere. When no one appeared, and he was sure he was alone, Hafr turned and ran back to Hel's hall as fast as his legs would carry him.
Hel was sitting on her moldy throne when the doors to her great hall flew open ! With narrowed eyes the Mistress of Niflheim shouted at the inconsiderate one who dared to disturb her without being summoned.
" Who dares to enter my hall unannounced ! " she exclaimed as she pointed at the unwelcome intruder.
At this point Hafr was more afraid of the human corpse Serkr than he was of Hel . He ignored her angry words and quickly ran up to her decaying throne.
" Hel ! The human has killed Nefr and Sotr and escaped !! " he shouted.
Uncharacteristically Hel jumped up off of her throne and screamed in a shrill voice !
" The human has escaped ! " she repeated.
Suddenly Hafr remembered where he was and bowed to his queen.
" I fear so my lady ! " he told her nervously.
Hel reached out and grabbed Hafr by the neck.
" Release Garmr ! " she ordered.
" I want this piece of dead meat brought back here at once ! " she added as she threw Hafr to the floor.
Hafr picked himself up, bowed to his queen and ran out of the hall as fast as he could. In one leap he jumped across each of the many steps that lead up to the hall, and when he landed on the damp ground he immediately headed away from Hel's hall. A short distance away Hafr entered a cave known as Gnipahellir. In the back of the pitch black cave he could here the unmistakable growling of the beast known as the " Best of Hounds ". Hafr stopped dead in his tracks when he saw the blood red eyes of the horrible canine glowing in the darkness.
Hafr stood perfectly still for a moment to allow Garmr to gain his scent. After a moment the growling stopped and the canine gave out a raspy bark. Then, and only then, did Hafr move forward and untie the Hel Hound !
" Go Garmr ! Hunt down the corpse that has escaped ! " Hafr yelled as he pointed toward the cave entrance.
The hound bolted out of the cave and was soon lost in the distance.
Hel left her hall and walked through the mist to the Gjallarbru. There she was greeted by Modgud, the guardian of the great bridge. Hafr and Garm were already there by the bank of the river Gjoll. The Jotun bowed to his queen as she approached.
" The human apparently waded through the venomous water to escape. " he told her as he pointed to a muddy footprint.
Hel looked across the great expanse of the river Gjoll and then spoke without emotion.
" If I thought that either of you allowed this walking corpse to escape I would kill you right now with my bare hands,..... but for the dead to leave Niflheim he would need to have been given back his eyes and his free will. " she said, and then paused for a moment in thought.
" My father and his brother Helblindi had a hand in this ! " she told Modgud and Hafr.
Garmr brushed up against Hel wanting to be petted, but the Queen of the Dead ignored her pet and pointed at Hafr.
" Bring my wolf drawn cart here. This is now out of my hands. This has become Odin's problem ! " she stated as she stared out across the river Gjoll.
Hel stepped off of her cart in front of Odin's great golden hall. As she had expected Odin, as always, knew she was coming, and had told Heimdall to allow her to pass. Before she could even reach out for the handles of the massive doors they slowly opened. And there before her stood Syn, the guardian of the great hall, with one hand on the door handle, and the other firmly wrapped around the shaft of her spear.
" My Lord ! Hel has arrived ! " Syn shouted across the hall.
" So ! Your father has allowed a very dangerous human corpse to return to Midgard. I suppose that you have come here to ask the Gods for their help in capturing this " draugr " that now walks among the living . " he told her without blinking his eye.
Hel was in no mood for the Lord of Asgard's sarcasm. As she slowly walked across the hall, to where Odin sat upon his high seat, she spoke with a hint of anger.
" You will bring this corpse back to Niflheim, or I will release my minions into Midgard to bring him back....... and I am sure you know what that means ! " she explained to him bitterly.
Odin's eyebrow raised high onto his forehead in shock at what Hel had just threatened.
" They would destroy everything, and kill anything that lives ! " he shouted back at her.
Hel stopped directly in front of Odin.
" And who knows.... they might not stop in Midgard either..... there are eight other worlds ! " she told him sternly.
Odin did not like being threatened ! Unfortunately there was not much that he could do to change the situation. He did not want Hel's minions in Midgard, and that made this the Gods' problem. Odin shook his head from side to side in disgust before answering.
" I will take care of this mess that your father has created ! " he replied angrily.
" It might take a while for me to get some Asgardians on the ground in Midgard though ! " he added.
" May I remind you that my father Loki is also your blood brother. " she lectured the Asgardian in a cold tone.
" But that is neither helpful, or relevant, to our current situation. Your word is enough for me Odin. I will return to Niflheim to tend to my duties. " she told him before turning and walking away.
As Syn opened the door to the great hall to allow Hel to leave the Mistress of the Dead turned and spoke one last time.
" Heed my warning Great Odin. Capture this walking disease or I will unleash a horror upon Midgard the likes of which has never been seen before ! " she reminded him.
Odin stood up and clenched his fists !
" I assure you that I heard you the first time, Queen of Niflheim ! " Odin replied through clenched teeth.
Thor arrived at the great hall and threw open the doors before Syn could reach for the handle.
" Why have you summoned me father ! ? " Thor asked without saying hello.
" I was fighting Jotuns near the Midgardian border when you commanded me to come ! " Thor bellowed.
Odin was not having an especially good day, and did not appreciate his son's anger.
" Have I not the right to ask the protector of Midgard to do his duty ? " Odin asked angrily.
" Have the Jotuns found another way into Midgard ! ? " Thor asked in a lighter tone.
Odin calmed down once he heard his son's anger disappear.
" Not the Jotuns this time my son. A human corpse has escaped from Nastrond, and is threatening to cause untold havoc in the blue world. And worse yet, Hel is threatening to release all those in her charge to go after him if we do not capture the draugr and bring him back. " he told the Thunder God.
" I will stop this draugr, and return him to Nastrond where he belongs ! " Thor said confidently.
Odin nodded his approval.
" Because this must be done quickly, I will be sending someone with you. " he explained to his son.
Thor was about to protest when a large female figure stepped out of the shadows.
Thor looked at the familiar outline of the Goddess, and then turned back to his father.
" Skadhi ? " he questioned.
" There is no better tracker and hunter than Skadhi my son ! " he explained with a smile.
- End Chapter 12
- Next : Chapter 13 : To The Land Of The Goths
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2016.