Fugitive From Hel
Then, one day, when he thought that the sheer agony of his ordeal could not become any worse, he came to what sounded like a stream, which his legs carried him into. The viscous liquid burned the open sores on his feet and ankles worse than his exposed lungs did when Lofarr ripped his rib cage apart during the blood eagle. Serkr screamed in horrific agony at the searing pain that every step brought to each nerve in his body. And there was nothing he could do to stem his suffering. The force that controlled him was much more powerful than his own free will.
On and on Serkr traveled in tremendous pain. With his eyesight gone his other senses became much more acute. The wretched odors that reached deep into his nostrils were those of death, decay, and the sour scent of the venomous stream he was traveling through. His ears could actually make out the mucous consistency off the oozing fluid which had now reached nearly up to his waist.
Then, suddenly he heard the sounds of a horse's hooves echoing as they crashed down upon the boards of a bridge ! Serkr turned his head in the direction of the great noise. As his legs continued on he heard a female voice speak from a short distance off.
" I am Modgud human. I guard the bridge over the river Gjoll, and by the color of your flesh I can tell that death has taken you. Travel down and to the north, and you will find the road to Hel. " she said in a low raspy voice.
Serkr yelled out as he passed under the bridge.
" Is that my final destination ? " he asked.
Suddenly, he heard the woman laughing in a high cackling tone.
" You, my unfortunate friend, will continue past Hel's great hall, and continue on to the great Corpse Shore. There, where not even the might of Great Sunna's rays can reach, you will become the plaything of the great dragon Nidhogg ! " she explained, and then began to laugh harder.
As Serkr moved further and further away from the bridge he yelled back to the woman :
" Is there nothing I can do to change my fate ? "
Modgud giggled ominously.
" You wove the path that you are now walking upon. Each agonizing step that you take, is a result of the evil acts that you committed in life. Nothing, and no one, can change your final destiny ! " she told him.
Not long after passing by the bridge Serkr could feel his legs rising up out of the venomous slime onto a shore. It felt good to be out of the burning liquid that had tormented him for so long. When his raw bleeding feet came down upon the road that led to Nastrond, however, he wished that he was back in the acidic stream. For the road was covered in sharp stones, each of which made a searing pain shoot up through his legs and end in his spine. Though he tried not to, Serkr could not help but moan every time his legs made him take another step.
He walked but a short distance before his legs did something that they had not done it what seemed like a lifetime. They stopped ! Serkr could not see, but he did sense that there was a great obstacle of some kind in front of him. The object itself did not bother Serkr at all, but the pitiful wailing that was coming from the other side terrified him !
Serkr listened intently, trying to decipher with sound what he could not see. Then he heard the familiar creaking noise of hinges, rusted from years of usage, swinging open. It was then that he realized that what lay before him was a door. The thought of what was slowly opening the door sent a shiver up his aching spine.
Without warning Serkr felt strong hands grab hold of him. They lifted him off of the ground as though he had no more weight than a feather. Before he could even scream he was flying through the air end over end. He stopped with a thud when he hit what he assumed was another of the condemned who was lying on the floor. Slowly he felt himself sliding off of the cold damp body that he had landed upon. As he did he fell into a gelatin like fluid much thicker than the disgusting ooze he had encountered in the stream.
Serkr's body convulsed from the intense burning pain of the venom as it sizzled on his rotting flesh. In life he had believed that death was the end of pain and suffering, but now he realized that for some death was only the beginning of an eternity of agony.
Overhead, and above his own screams, he could hear a chorus of hissing from thousands upon thousands of serpents that had woven themselves into the ceiling that covered the hall of torture that he had entered. He also heard the voices of beings much like himself . And they were coming closer !
" Hafr ! Come here ! Look at the size of this one !! Nidhoggr will enjoy ripping the flesh off of this stout fellow ! " he told his companion in a happy voice.
" Yes, indeed Almod ! He is truly a meaty morsel for our pet ! " the second voice replied.
Serkr heard the voices coming ever closer, and then felt a searing pain in his stomach !
Hafr ran the point of his spear into the corpse and lifted him up out of the acidic goo.
" Let me have a closer look at this murdering swine ! " he told Almod as he studied the ugly creature screaming in pain at the end of his spear.
" Hmmm ! " Hafr hummed as he stroked his beard.
" He is a big corpse, but I am not sure he is fat enough to satisfy Nidhoggr's voracious appetite. " Hafr said in an amused tone.
" There is only one way to find out ! " he shouted as he opened the rusted gate to the cave where Nidhoggr dwelt.
Serkr screamed every time the guard took a step. He could feel the point of the spear ripping into his innards as he dangled helplessly on the the end of the spear. Then Serkr felt himself being lowered . When his feet hit the floor the guard named Hafr pulled the spear out of Serkr and he fell backwards onto a hard stone floor. As he lay there in sheer agony Serkr heard the gate being closed once again, and it became relatively quiet. Above his own moaning, however, he could hear the loud breathing of something very large.... and it was coming nearer !
He tried to crawl away from the creature, but he soon hit a wall of stone. With his back pressed tightly against the rock, Serkr placed his hands out in front of him to fend off the beast that he could hear grunting only a few paces away. When Serkr suddenly felt the creatures hot breath on his face he lashed out frantically with both of his fists. He was able to strike the creature several times before its jaws came down hard on his right hand .
The great beast jumped onto Serkr's chest pinning him to the floor. As Nidhoggr began to slowly gnaw at his hand he could feel its pointy sharp teeth as they ripped through both flesh and bone. Serkr squirmed in agony like a worm on a fisherman's hook, but could do nothing. He screamed until his voice failed him, and then all he could do was wait silently as the great dragon ate him.
The creature chewed off his limbs first and then let its sharp teeth crunch their way through his groin and hip area. Without the ability to scream he was able to hear the sickening sound of his intestines being sucked out of his body. The pain was unbearable, but for Serkr there was no release through death. The living can only die once he now realized, but the dead can die over and over again for an eternity.
The last thought that Serkr had was when the dragon's jaws began to wrap themselves around his head. With a last horrible crunch his skull cracked ..... and yet in his mind he was still screaming !
Serkr awoke laying up to his neck in the burning venom that constantly dripped from the serpent ceiling. His screams alerted the guards that he had returned to the hall, and they immediately made their way over to him. This time it was Almod who speared him in the gut, and carried him over to the gate. A moment later he was once again lying in the cage with the great dragon hovering over him.
Knowing now what he could expect to experience in pain and horror from this beast he kicked out with his legs, and punched with his fists, as best he could to keep the terrible dragon away, but it was as if he were an ant and the creature was a great wolf. Once again Serkr screamed and cried out for mercy as the creature began to slowly devour him. He tasted the monster's spittle in his mouth as the beast bit off his lower jaw, and then he felt his head being crushed again !
Day after day the cycle repeated itself . Again and again he would be speared like a piece of meat on a fork, and then thrown into the den of the great beast to be slowly devoured. Later he would reawaken in the venomous hall only to have it all begin again.
He could sense from those around him that they had been here for a while, and had given up their will to fight back. They were resigned to their fate, and simply submitted to the beast while accepting their agony. Some no longer even screamed as they were eaten. Serkr, however, became angrier and angrier. He knew that he could do nothing to harm the dragon Nidhoggr, so he decided to take his revenge out on the guards, who day after day threw him to the monster. Serkr had noticed that just before the spear's point entered his body, the guard who thrust it forward, would make a slight grunting sound. He was also very sure that the guards stood directly in front of him when they speared him. He allowed them to feed him to Nidhoggr several more times to test his hypothesis before trying to strike back.
Then one day, when Almod came for him, he heard the familiar grunt of his captor. Serkr side - stepped the spear point, grabbed the shaft of the spear, and ripped it out of the giant beings hands. With great speed he flipped the weapon around and thrust it where the guard should be standing. Serkr smiled when he heard his tormentor scream out in pain.
As the guard fell onto the venom covered floor Serkr stabbed at Almod's body again and again. He did not stop until he did not hear the being cry out any more.... and then he laughed..... a high pitched maniacal laugh that echoed through the entire hall. So loud was it in fact that Nidhoggr stopped feasting and turned its head towards the iron gate that separated it from the hall.
Hafr, who had been attending to another morsel for Nidhoggr, could not believe his eyes when he turned and saw Almod being stabbed over and over again by the blind corpse. It all happened so fast that there was nothing that he could have done to prevent it. No condemned soul had ever fought back, let alone attacked and killed a guard !
Hafr dropped his spear, ran to the door, and left the hall as quickly as he could. After locking the door behind him he made his way to Niflheim to get help. As he ran through the thick mist he shuddered at the thought of having to tell Hel, the great Mistress of Niflheim, what had happened !
- End Chapter 7
Next : Chapter 8 : Hel's Court
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2016.