Happy Saturn’s Day.
Hel sat on her throne brooding over the god standing in front of her. She was wearing her black robes which hugged every curve of her body which was a shapely. A body which the right side was simply a beautiful strong Nordic Woman with very pale skin and golden blond hair. The left side of her body was akin to a freshly dead corpse. Not the rotting death described in most mythology. Rather deathly pale, Lips on that side were white and her left eye frosted over in death. Hair was white as the grave. The skin was not broken but had that wrinkled quality of a corpse that had been dead for maybe a few days. She was a pale looking monster really. Like a living beautiful corpse.
She, however cared little for such things as most of her existence she was the absolute monarch of Helheim, the realm of the dead. Those who died of hunger, thirst, disease and other natural causes found their way to her realm. The honored dead found their way to Odin’s Valhalla. The rest of the dead were her’s. Not that life in Helheim was a terrible one. It was just life continued only in a world of grey with little pleasure. She was sure some of its citizens still had sex but it was the dull motions of a temporary relief from boredom. Mostly people continued to work and exist, but there was no feasting, no mead and very little laughter in Helheim. The only person who seemed to gain any happiness was Hel herself and only when the world of mortals tried to cheat her or make a deal for their souls. She liked such deals and they often actually made her smile. Something she very rarely did as most of the time she was grim-faced. She was much like her father in her love for such dealings.
Her father was the god standing in front of her throne. Loki, the trickster god. She was his daughter along with her two siblings Fenrir the Great Wolf and Jormungand the world serpent. Fenrir also dwells in Helheim, still bound waiting for the last days and Ragnarok. The world serpent still surrounded the world, though it was the world of this island realm of Odin’s preservation magic. All Children of Loki and the Giantess Jotunn Andgrboda. Such an unholy union produced to fierce creatures and only Hel herself even resembled anything human and to most she was a monster as well.
Her father by contrast was a hansom looking god. His face and body one that women swooned over. His hair long and brown, his face clean-shaven and his grey eyes that would melt the hardest heart.
“Hel, are you even listening daughter?”
“Sorry father, I was thinking of something.”
The voices contrasted. His masculine and melodic and hers otherworldly and haunting.”
“Damn girl, this is important. This new human player could ruin everything.”
“I don’t think so father. I would wager that Odin fears him as much as Fenrir. Frigg seems to think him the one of her dreams. This Grey Wayfarer.”
“Perhaps, but Ragnarok can be delayed. How many times delayed now?”
“Too many to count father. Fenrir grows inpatient.”
“Fenrir is always impatient. Hel, my dear. I have struggled to be the king of the gods now for centuries and with no result. I have come to see Ragnarok as the only way to have a chance of a new beginning.”
“Or end it all, father. Leave us all with nothing.”
“Better that than the eternal servitude that has been Asgard. This Grey Wayfarer must be helped along the path toward the end we want, not what Odin wants.”
“Playing with fate father? I thought you would rather set back and see what happens.”
Her tone was sarcastic. She knew full well her father could not help but meddle.”
“So what is your plan father? Negotiation, tricking him to doing things your way?”
“No daughter, my plan involves throwing you at him.”
“Me, but I would have to leave Helheim. That has never gone well for me father.”
Truth was her powers were absolute in Helheim, even Odin would think twice about challenging her here. He after all gave Helheim to her to rule. That changed the moment she stepped beyond is borders. Not powerless to be sure, but far less in power. Vulnerable.
“I know. But it also necessary for all of us to take risks at this time. Truth is, I will be taking a few of my own. I want you to befriend him and lead him towards our ends.”
“He will take one look at me and distrust me. He knows the legends father. Unlike you, I cannot disguise who I am.”
“Which is why I commissioned the dwarves to make this for you.”
Appearing in his hand was a mask. It was silver and looked the face of the woman.
“What is it?”
I put a little of my shape-shifting power in it. Hel my dear daughter, this will make your left side look like the other.
“Interesting, but what if I refuse anyway.”
“Worried about the prophecy about you, my girl?”
Hel scoffed looking disgusted.
“What my dear girl. Is it so impossible that you could fall in love. That the heartless Queen of Helheim might be capable for love after all?”
Hel actually laughed. It was unnerving and the walls of Helheim reverberated with its echo swallowing the mirth of it in absolute sadness.
“If that happens father, the end is truly upon us.”
Loki laughed this time.
“And that is what we want dear daughter. Fenrir wants to bite Odin, I want the throne of the gods. The world serpent wants to ultimately feast on the world and you my daughter, what do you want? Yes, the souls of the dead that will die in Ragnarok outside the confines of battle will be legion. Your ranks and power will grow.”
“I already have enough servants.”
“Yes, but how many are like Balder or some of the other warriors you have robbed of Valhalla. I mean do you ever figure out why he didn’t go to Valhalla? You have to admit you can appreciate the delicious irony of a great beloved warrior ending up here instead of Odin’s Mead Hall?”
Hel smiled wickedly. Yes, it had been to her a delicious feast for her soul to see the one greatly loved now wondering her halls with the same lost expression as all the rest. No feasting, fighting to drinking for Balder. Just the long night of an ordinary life with no end. He father had a point, if she could find the way he missed Valhalla and do it to other great warriors that would be enjoyable. Robbing Odin and Valkyrie of their champions would bring a smile to her face. This Grey Wayfarer might be just the one to show her what she needed to do that to a lot more warriors.
“Very well father. I will do what you ask. Leave the mask and I will use it.”
“Excellent. Befriend him and push him our direction. While you are doing that you will have all the time you need to perhaps uncover the secret to robbing Valhalla of its champions.”
Loki set the mask down next to Hel on the table that held her empty plate and knife. He then smiled that disarming smile at her and then turned and left. Hel looked at the mask. To have both sides of her look the same. To just be the beautiful daughter of Loki. The thought made her feel ‘alive’ like she hadn’t felt in decades. This was a worthy quest. Ragnarok would come and her and her two brothers would know vengeance against Odin and the citizens of Asgard. The Grey Wayfarer might very well be the key she was looking for.
The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.