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Through the Flames

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Espen is dead, but the world keeps on turning, and she must move on as well. She dons furs and leather and the keys of the Doors, and steels herself for a lifetime of frost and mourning so that his sacrifice is not a senseless one.

x

The jaws of Fenrir haunt her still. She cannot see them from Eric’s house, but sometimes, she feels like the rocks buried under the snow are jagged fangs, and that the ground trembles with the world-shattering groan of the great maws opening.

x

Sometimes, she is dragged out of her sleep and the memories of a cold sunrise by the faraway howling of a two-wolves pack. She isn’t sure if the lights she sees flickering outside her windows, flaming red and ice blue, are real or conjured by her mind.

She locks the door anyway.

x

Night falls and she casts a glance at the marks on the wall. They cover it, a proof of the invisible passage of time, but it's been a long time since she added another line to the old wood. Long enough that a time when this wall was nothing to her is an eternity past.

x

They find her while she hunts, or tries to - one does not make themselves a hunter in a fortnight. They creep on her from the never-ending shadows of the mountains.

It is their senseless chatter that gives them away. She waves a torch at them and sneers at their pained snarls. Immortal beings know no pain, not like she does.

 

They do not come to eat her.

 

She almost throw her fire at their slender figures, scare them away, but loneliness and snow are poor companions to a grieving mother. Wargs are hardly better, but they hunt - anguish never fed anyone.

x

She does not dream anymore.

x

She falls asleep to lost tales of great hunts through the sky and wakes up with two heavy bodies across her bed. She is surprised the brothers sleep, but enjoy the peace while she can.

x

She does not miss silence.

x

They run through the snow during moonless nights, the two brothers and her. Although they never left their casual cruelty behind, too old to abide to mortal moral, feasting upon her flesh does not seem to cross their mind.

 

Their hunting call washes away the uneasiness night used to bring. She knows where the predators are, and she is not afraid.

x

Fenrir asks for his offering and she obliges, the memory of her son ever present in her mind. She knows the way of the old man, knows where to find Bifrost and where to bring the children. She knows, and she hates that she does.

 

She is a woman who bears the loss of her son on her very face, a mother with a burning heart. They are not afraid. They follow her with less cries than she thought they would. If she chooses those who live in pain and unrest in their family, they may even come willingly, eager to trade abuse for an heroic end

 

She wonders if that was what made Espen run from her, before his heart and his bravery.

x

It breaks her heart every time.

x

They never scream when they fall, not even when she has to push them. They might be dead long before they hit the surface of the lake below; she does not try to look.

x

She burns their bodies like the vikings of old, like the heroes their sacrifice made them.

x

It is necessary. It doesn't mean it is easy, only that she doesn't have a choice.

x

Briefly she wonders if Fenrir is aware of his two sons following her trail up the mountain to the great pit of his jaws.

 

They call her mother, too.

x

Years come and go. She feels timeless, suspended in this land between reality and mythology and yet both at once; she looks the same as when she came, like the old ghosts roaming empty houses. Stuck in a loop.

x

Tales speak of an ageless woman followed by wolves who comes to steal away children from their beds. The dark voices of her beasts, growling in the darkness, warn of her arrival, but no one can hide from her gaze. She is guided by fate, a valkyrie choosing young warriors to fight with the gods.

 

They call her the Mother, who comes looking for her child and leaves with others’. They are not wrong, though she does not keep them.

 

She sends them on her son’s way, to keep him company where she cannot follow.