Trigger Warning: Mentioning of death.
Parentage is and has always been an important factor in who you are and who you will become. For some, having a "high-class" father would give them comfort and riches. However, for myself and my siblings that is not exactly the case. Living in a deep cavern, with dripping water and cold rock and dirt floors is not something one would expect with our parentage. Feeling like a hidden secret as your mother and father come and go as they please, not allowing you out of your own desolate space.
That's why when the strange men came and took us away, I felt nothing but happiness and excitement. It barely fazed me when our mother did not come to stop the men from taking us. Maybe this would be our end, but at least I would get to see the outside world. Even if just for a few seconds. The sun was so bright, it felt like a fire burning on my skin as we emerged from the darkness. Just then, the anxiety took hold.
"Where are you taking us," I asked the man holding on to my binds. "And where is our mother?" I looked around, hoping to see her coming up the side of the mountain for us. But nothing.
"You will see girl," was the only response I received. Behind me my brothers struggled a little. As they were smaller than I, the men had assumed they would be easier to lead, but it was obvious they were not-so-pleasantly surprised to find they were stronger than they looked.
With each rise of the sun we traveled, and rested with each moon. Mother still did not come for us. Even the men had noticed as we came closer to the border of our lands. "Isn't it strange," the man asked the other who was playing with my brother. "It's as if they want us to take them," he said before taking a bite of his food. "Not one has come to rescue them, there has been no fight since before we arrived on the mountain."
"Maybe they're just not up for the fight," the other man said as he patted my brother on the head.
"Maybe," the other said as he looked at me. I thought of saying something, maybe pretending I knew of something they didn't, but then I thought of my father. Looking at the men it was strange how they looked so similar to him, almost God-like in their appearance and mannerisms.
He wouldn't have sent them, would he? I thought to myself. I stayed quiet through our travels, playing with my brothers and reassuring them through the nights. It was almost comical watching the men make new chains for them each time they grew, which was each time they were fed. Maybe that is why mother didn't feed them as much back in the cave. I would no longer be confused for the oldest as they grew.
I took my time enjoying the scenery as we continued our journey. Listening to birds I had not been able to hear before, the only thing that made it difficult was the sunlight. The burning sensation made the journey more difficult, luckily as my brothers grew they were able to shade me from the light. Sometimes we would run into an area the men seemed to know well. Bodies would litter some areas, some causing us to detour around them as they covered vast amounts of land. The souls of these creatures sometimes roamed, as though they were unaware of what they should do now. It gave me comfort to talk with and help them.
When we reached our destination, however, the anxiety came back with a force that could stop anybody's heart. Looking up to the top of the greenest mountain I had ever seen there was no questioning where we were. The glowing light from the top was nearly blinding, leading to an even stronger burning sensation on my skin, giving me even more reason to miss our cave.
Surprisingly, it didn't take as long as I had expected to reach the top of the mountain. A group of buildings were scattered around the tops of many mountains, bright marble white walls with the golden roofs shining brightly as the sun sat high above them. Beautiful birds chirped and flew around us, as if they were curious about the new visitors. My brothers and I drew closer together as we came to the biggest of the buildings. The white marble stone towered over everyone, except my brothers. Their bodies fit almost perfectly through the opening as we were led inside. Relief swept over me as we entered and the only light that existed came from torches set in the wall. Light flickering here and there made it easier to look at the different designs around the pillars and walls, set in gold.
"Welcome," a booming voice rang out. Looking ahead sat a man whose body overtook the chair he sat in. The man was covered in furs, fabrics and golden jewelry. Golden necklaces covered his neck, a bright golden arm band wrapped around one of his forearms, a beard as long and majestic as the hair that flowed out from underneath his shiny silver helmet. One eye twinkled as the light from the torches flickered over his face. A patch sat above one cheek where another eye had once been.
Two black birds sat on top of the throne, watching curiously as the men brought us in closer. Standing, the man was obviously taller than the others, his robes and armor reaching the floor with a clank that seemed to echo through the hall. The two black birds, crows as it turned out, flew in opposite directions to perch on either side of our group as if to watch what was about to happen.
"So these are the children," the man said as he came closer. "Loki's children." I looked over at the man in front of us who nodded his head and moved aside. "I am Odin," the man continued as he walked towards us. Once he was a short distance in front of me he reached out his hand.
"They call me Hel," I responded as courteously as I could manage. My brothers chimed in behind me.
"They call me Fenrir," said my oldest brother.
"Jormungandr," said the other.
Smiling, the man looked us all over. "I had a dream," he said as he continued to hold on to my hand. "Hel, you will be a ruler." He kept smiling as he took the chains from my wrists, seemingly making note of the differences. Flipping each wrist over he spent more time examining the rotting flesh on my left side than the living flesh on the right.
"I prefer the dead over the living," I responded, "they treat me with more respect." At this the man nodded.
"Then my dear, you shall rule over the dead." He pulled me away from my brothers. "You shall rule the realm of Helheim. Where men, women, and children who do not die bravely in battle shall dwell. Until the end of time."
No time was wasted before I was taken to the threshold, and that is how I found myself at the boundary between two realms.
"Are you ready," the man asked.
"For now," I responded. "Until Ragnarok."